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#11: Knowing the Differences Between Empathy & Compassion

Day 58: How Does a Therapist Grieve #11?

Knowing the Differences between Empathy and Compassion

This may be a controversial topic because there is so much out there that tells us we lack empathy in the world. I don’t necessarily agree (mainly with the semantics of that). I think there is a lack of the ability to tolerate an empathetic connection beyond 4 seconds.

Empathy is a feeling with—one human’s nervous system connecting to another’s to take the perspective and feel the emotions of another. @brenebrown speaks of empathy as a skill set—something one can learn and grow and build on. I define this skill set as the ability to sit with pain, and not have to fix or do something with it.

Empathy is so important AND it takes a lot of energy and capacity, especially when so many of us were not taught to tolerate our own emotional distress super well to begin with.

This is not a push to shy away from empathy—this is a call to understand where and how you use it so that we can all show up with more capacity for it.

Whereas empathy requires the renewal of capacity, compassion does not. Compassion is something I believe we all have in us--the energy of love, felt towards another being. It is big and all-encompassing, and generally makes you feel like you’re channeling your highest, wisest version of you.

@brenebrown’s research has found that people who have access to their compassion most consistently have one thing in common—they set boundaries—they are clear about their own needs and wants, and communicate these well to others.

In this time of so much upheaval and heaviness, I urge you to think about where you are engaging in empathy and where you are engaging in compassion.

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