Empathy is at the heart of connection and healthy relationships while sympathy pushes people away. It is easy to be sympathetic unintentionally and send the wrong message. To strengthen relationships and improve your loved one's feelings of connection and acceptance it is important to hone your empathy skills.
Empathy is understanding how someone else feels and then sharing that feeling. It means finding a place inside yourself that knows the same feeling that someone else feels and sitting in that feeling with them. If they feel sad, find sadness inside of you. Be sad together.
Understanding how someone feels doesn't mean you have to understand what they feel. You don't have to have been through their exact situation in order to know what the feeling feels like.
When using empathy -
Written by Brad Messenger, LMSW.