Although these words are often used interchangeably but I would like to explain the differences between these two words. Sympathy is defined as “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune”. This is a noble feeling to express to let someone know that you feel bad for the things that they have experienced or are currently experiencing. Being sympathetic to people who are less fortunate than you are, or even from a different socioeconomic background can enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine.
Empathy on the other hand is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”.
I like to define empathy as “sympathy plus an act which attempts to alleviate the cause of pain”. Empathy moves you to action it is an emotion which will haunt. It will intrude your thoughts at the most inopportune moments. It forces you to match your compassion with and action. It is indeed a more noble feeling compared to sympathy. Here is a list of my favorite quotes about empathy.
The challenge of course with empathy is the fact empathy comes with a cost. It will demand something of you and it may force you to reexamine your view on certain topics. I believe that one of the most valuable things I could ever do as a mother is to raise compassionate children. This is one of my goals in life and part of my strategy to achieve this goal is to spend more time with my children. Secondly, I have made a resolve to teach my children how to care about people from different cultures and different backgrounds and part of that strategy is to learn more about different cultures together as a family.