Understanding the difference between empathy and compassion
Empathy and compassion are similar in meaning but they do have some differences between them. It is true that both of them refer too feelings, but the difference lies in the nature of these feelings.
Compassion refers to feelings that you feel for another person who is grieving in some way. You let them know that you are sorry for them, but you don’t make any attempt to find out what they are actually thinking. You probably do not understand the full extent of what this person is feeling, but you give them comfort it saying that you are sorry for them.
Empathy is also offering feelings of compassion, but on a higher level. You can actually feel what another person is going through because you have gone through the same sort of situation or you can imagine the situation and can therefore have the same feelings. This is the basis of being able to empathizing with another.
In the case of empathy you share the feelings of another person whereas in compassion you offer comfort but you don’t share the feelings. Empathy is like stepping into the other person’s shoes because you feel so deeply for them and you truly understand how he/she is feeling. You do not do this when you feel compassion because you really do not have the same level of understanding of the situation. This is the main difference between empathy and compassion and is, in fact, the only difference that exists between the terms.
It is a lot easier to feel compassion because empathy is more complex. Empathy requires a higher level of understanding about human beings and their emotions.
- Compassion is a sympathetic feeling towards another without really understanding or trying to understand the situation.
- Empathy involves a deep understanding of the experiences of another so that you can actually share their feelings.