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Grief Support Groups Serving West Los Angeles, Encino and Agoura Hills

Empathy vs. Sympathy

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There is a reason that the word Connection is part of our name — Hope Connection. You could easily make the case that Connection is, in its own way, just as important as Hope.

Nowhere is the power of connection more apparent than in the difference between two seemingly similar emotions: Empathy and sympathy. Dr. Brene Brown has a wonderful video where she explores the difference between the two emotions, which she says “are not just two different approaches to confronting the emotional challenges of others; they are diametrically opposite responses in many important ways. Sympathy places another’s problems at a distance from us, places us in a position of superiority, and ‘drives separation.’ Empathy, on the other hand, requires that one internalize the feelings of another. That shared experience drives interpersonal connection.”

The healing power of empathy is an integral part of the experience of every Hope group. The essence of empathy begins with feeling your own emotion, especially as it relates to the person with whom you are empathetic, and expressing to the other person that you’ve been there. But in a Hope group, you don’t even need to express that fact verbally — everyone in the group’s simple presence identifies them as someone “who has been there.”

It does not take many weeks in group to realize there is no response that you can give that will suddenly make things better, and that’s ok. Healing is a process that begins with sharing and most especially connecting with others who are also willing to give their whole selves to being empathetic.

We hope you find some healing thoughts from Dr. Brown in this short video as she explores the nature and value of empathy.

A film by RSA Animate.

Video from KarmaTube

By HOPE Connection