I just saw this short and fun video on empathy vs sympathy with the voice of the wonderful Brene Brown and I had to share it with you.
Empathy vs Sympathy
It’s just 2’53” long but it shows in such a simple and funny way what empathy really is and isn’t and what sympathy is. And why you should go for offering empathy when someone is in a vulnerable place.
As a highly sensitive person, I am very receptive to people’s feelings and I often find myself in the role of the bear from this animation.
I am happy to be the “bear friend” for some of my closest friends when they need me. And to have them as my “bear friends” when I need this from them.
What Is A Bear Friend And How To Be One
Being the “bear friend” is a priceless role that you can play in someone’s life. And it only takes an open heart and a willingness to feel what the other person is feeling.
On the surface, it doesn’t look like you’re doing much when you are the bear friend.
But for the person stuck in a black hole, it’s the best thing you can do for them.
Just being there for them, no judging, no advice giving, no pitying, no blaming allows them to connect with you and feel like they are not alone.
And that connection is what actually makes things better.
It’s the connection that lights up the room and warms their heart so they can move into a place where they can get themselves out of the dark hole.
I think it’s important to understand that when someone is stuck in a dark place they are not able to receive any advice whatsoever.
And anything that you’ll say to them with the intention to help, no matter how well intended that is, will make them feel unseen, unheard, more alone or even angry.
The only empathic response you can give is one similar to what Brene Brown suggests: “I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just so glad you told me.”
Enjoy the video and let me know what you think in the comments below.
With all my love,
P.S. If you wanna read more on empathy and compassion I’ve written about the differences between empathy, compassion and pity here and about authentic listening here.