Sympathy, not empathy.

I used to think I was a really empathetic person. I’d put myself in someone else’s shoes and feel how they were feeling, then I’d lace them up and take them with me. The burden of carrying others’ emotional pain weighs me down immensely, but it’s only by looking at things objectively can I see this now. I was *that* friend who you told your problems and sorrows to. I was *that* friend who put all her mental and emotional energy into trying to alleviate the hurt and suffering. I was *that* friend who expected nothing but honesty. I was *that* friend who stood up for others in the face of injustices against them. I was *that* friend who was dependable if their was an issue. I was *that* friend who let others decide what we were doing so as to keep them happy. I was *that* friend who had a hard time saying “no” or abandoning people. 

My psychologist explained to me the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is where a friend is stuck in a hole, you’re at the top and you throw down a rope, you pull, they climb – help them help them self in other words. Sympathy is where you get in the hole with them and you’re both stuck.

I do sympathy, not empathy. As a matter of fact, I go to the extreme. I not only get in the hole too, I give the friend a leg up to get out of the hole and am left in there by myself.

I’m not a malicious type person. But I’ve had enough of climbing in holes for friends and being left with the darkness. Being left with meaningless words, that I’ve taken personally, because I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable expectation that when someone says something they mean it. 

I do take things literally – if you say you’re going to do A then I expect you’re going to do A, and if you don’t then I am going to get frustrated, because I had accepted A, I had planned and prepared for A to occur. A is A! If B is thrown in to the mix after A is set, I am thrown off balance. Because A is what was said, it wasn’t an option of A and B, it was A! 

Yes, I realise now that I fail to see the bigger picture. Yes, I realise that there are 26 letters in the English alphabet and essentially that is the bigger picture. I am very detail orientated. I do not know how not to be. If A is what I’ve come to expect or been led to expect then the other 25 letters become irrelevant at that time. At least I am aware of it now and can be upfront about my expectations. In the mean time I am walking away from burning bridges that I’ve set alight through being let down. I am no longer going to bucket water on to them from inside my sympathetic hole when there’s no rope being thrown down from them to me. And I will try not to be such a sucker for a sob story in the future.

This entry was published on July 14, 2016 at 2:20 AM. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Sympathy, not empathy.

  1. Beli it or not, I’m still struggling to “see” the difference, but the example really helps…
    Thanks A 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Believe it or not…😇

    Liked by 1 person

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