Empathy and Sympathy

November 17th, 2020 by Jashodhara Purkayastha

Satish,our friend, told us a story when he was coming from office. It was Saturday, so the local train was not very crowded from Churchgate. While boarding , he bought two Vadapav, a popular eatable in Mumbai.  Satish boarded and a found a seat in the train. The train left the station as usual. In the next station, a beggar of 10/11 years old boarded in the train. Satish was eating his Vadapav as usual and he noticed that the beggar was asking for food.

Feeling pity, Satish gave his second Vadapav to the beggar and said to his co-passanger,” I feel pity on them. They are deprived of basic needs. They don’t even have essential food”.

A middle aged man was sitting opposite to him. He said,”Don’t feel pity on them. It’s not good to feel pity, sorry or compassion for any person. Sorrow, pity all are negative words. When you feel pity on them, your negative thoughts enter to your body and slowly your mind fill with negativity”.

Satish replied, “I’m not a negative person”. The man smilingly said, “Sharing unhappiness and suffering come back to you. You must have experienced, when you throw a ball on a wall, it come backs to you. I mean to say, never show sympathy to anyone. Sympathy can make the person feel unfortunate”.

The man got down in Dadar but Satish requested him to provide his phone number. Later on he came to know that he was a Yogi.

Oneday Satish came to our home. Many like-minded  guests were present that day. He said,”Today we will discuss, Empathy and Sympathy”.One of the guests said,”I know sympathy but don’t know Empathy very well”.

Satish said,” Empathy is ability to put yourself in the place of another and understand the feelings of others identifying with them. You must listen to other person’s thought, nodding your head and attention to their body language.

One person asked,”is there much difference between Sympathy and Empathy?”

“Though not much difference but understanding the psychology of these two words are important.” Answered Satish. He told us a story which Yogiji had told them once.

Once a lady along with her son who was 15 years old came to him. The boy’s mother started complaining about him. The mother said that her son was very stubborn and not listening to her. Whatever she asked him to do, he always eager to do the opposite. Yogiji was listening carefully, nodding his head. He was keenly observing the boy.

Then Yogiji said” I was smiling in my mind and thought of my teenage. My mother used to complain about me to my relatives and neighbours. Then he asked the lady, “How old is your son and how old are you?”

“I’m forty years old and my son is fifteen years old, Yogiji” answered the lady.

“Did you directly become forty years? Twenty years ago, you were fifteen years. Is not it? Did you like your mother’s all words when you were fifteen years old ” ? Yogiji asked.

“No Yogiji”. I used to always argue with her when I was in class Ten. She answered.

“This is my answer 😁. Put yourself in his situation, you will find your answer. Identifying his problems is the solution to your question. It could be positive and sometimes even negative. Praying for healing, managing , strength, peace during painful situation is called Empathy.”

Sympathy is the feeling of sorrow,pity or compassion for another person. Showing concern for another person. Sympathy can make the person feel unpleasant.

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