be emphatic not sympathetic

Is it empathy, or is it sympathy?

I often use the words interchangeably but I do understand that empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings. While sympathy is to be apart of someone else’s feelings – particularly in sadness and/or sorrow. 

Either way, I feel like I am constantly expected to empathize or sympathize with others and what they are going through. 

Today I want to talk about empathy.

I understand you are a working mom and are trying to manage a household from work.

I understand you are doing something life-changing that is taking all of your time. 

I understand you have different priorities now.

I understand you are tired. 

I understand you have difficult coworkers.

I understand….

I understand….

I understand….

Honestly, I think I am really good at understanding what people are going through. What gets me though is when those same people do not seem to understand that I have similar things going on. 

I have said this time and time again over the years, maybe my problem is that I do not complain enough. I pull up my big girl panties and do that damn thing because I need to. Because complaining will not fix anything. Not even complaining, but voicing my concerns seems to fall on deaf ears. 

I read a book once, no I cannot remember the name of it or what it was even about. Something that was mentioned in that book, that really stuck with me is not to discredit someone else’s struggle or pain just because it looks different than yours. WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH OR DEALING WITH IS NOT ANY MORE IMPORTANT  THAN WHAT ANYONE ELSE IS GOING THROUGH OR DEALING WITH. We are all humans going through shit – let’s treat each other as such. 

I am guilty of this. When someone tells me they are having a bad day because they were unable to take a nap, I laugh. I wish all I had to worry about was fitting a nap into my day. Not usually do I think that that nap might be vital to their well-being and mental health. That nap might be the reset they need in a day to power through. 

All I am trying to get out with this post is to say, think about how someone else may be feeling. Take those frustrations you have in your life and imagine what those same frustrations may look like to someone else. 

I am not asking you to feel sorry for me, I do not need sympathy. I need understanding. I need someone to at least pretend to understand. Little to most people realize that a lot of us are fighting the same battles.


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