In the Dictionary of Synonyms, they say that the following terms are all the synonyms for compassion: empathy, feeling, spirituality, understanding, courage, sympathy, etc. My opinion is that people mix up some very important things.
I have a different opinion when it comes to compassion. These two terms are always presentes under one name no matter how big difference there is between them concerning negative and positive emotions.
“Everyone says they need to be sympathetic and I’m a clear proof that it’s harmful to health”, said one woman.
“Could you explain this to me a bit better, please?”, I asked her.
“My daughter is so unhappy with men that she is always alone. I tell her that if her father was a fool, not all of men are like that. I sacrificed for her, I was left alone to raise her and she does not compensate it to me with a fine behaviour. But I cannot do anything about it. I’m a good mother, compassionate, it take it so bad that finally I got sick”
“You want to say you are empathetic?”
“It must be that, I’m compassionate, I care for her constantly that I will eventually die because of it”
Compassion is greater than any other trait because it is the root of a various number of different traits. When a person is compassionate, there is no desire to hurt other people. Their body, speech and mind are purified, care for the welfare of the close people increases and shows, and conditions within them such as mildness, patience and happiness increase. Since compassionate people are calm, they do not cause fear in the minds of other people, because they are considered reliable. Those people do not feel strings with their passion; the fire of hatred does not burn their hearts because they are chilled by the waters of the compassion. Having all this in mind, one should strive to constantly develop compassion towards others as to themselves.
This is emphasized in the Bible by a sentence: Love your closest ones as yourself.
The problem is that people mix up the meaning of compassion with empathy. They think those are the very same terms, and they usually act empathically. Empathy is a negative state of mind and compassion is positive. Today’s people know that compassion is a positive trait, but unfortunately they identify compassion with their own negative sense of the situation – empathy.
“What do you mean, now I do not understand a word of yours?”, asked the woman from the beginning of this text.
Being compassionate is the feeling of being close to a person, understanding their problems and giving active support from a safe, stable position of the mind.
“But I am exactly that type of a person!”, she said.
No, ma’am! What you are doing – thinking that you understand your daughter’s problems, pitiering her and her life and taking part in her pain, forcing only passive participation in her problem, you are becoming an aspiring person. Getting along with her, you’re just an even bigger burden, so you make it difficult to understand the situation because you unconsciously cheer yourself with the most unreliable and most common practices. She only has one stone around her neck more that pulls her to the bottom. Your actions are not of any help to her. You may have the best intent, but obviously you do not think about your actions. Think about whether you are doing it all out of selfishness, because it’s a lot easier to let go “down the river” of the events and just despair, crouch and so “pour on the wound” for what you suffer for. Do you understand the difference?
“But I want to help her”, the woman was crying.
If you want to help her, you must first understand the difference between the things you are doing and the things you should be doing. You are empathic – you participate in the emotional state of your daughter without a stable support, constructive help and consolation. You make it difficult for you because you multiply and spread her negative thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. To help her you need to be stable and understand the position you want to make it from. You can understand her, but you do not have to suffer with her. She does not have any benefit out of it. You can soothe her if you support her but not suffer, to comfort her but not to suffer openly, if you give her a constructive advice and not repeat her negative attitudes and beliefs, if you give her freedom of choice without interfering in her decisions no matter how necessary you find it.
When someone does not have the stability of making decisions or passes through a difficult life moment, we can only help them if we personally have a stable ground. When we give a clear attitude, but also understanding, we give the hand to our closest ones, thereby inviting them to step onto the stable ground. We can not help a drowning person if we jump from the boat crying, but if we give ou hand peacefully from the safe spot on the boat. In order to help we personally have to be the safe spot.
The lady left my office sad because she was actually making a drama about someone else’s problems just wanting to draw attention from her failure, glorifying herself, hiding her own flaws, dealing with other problems running from her own ones.
Think twice if you can recognise her within yourself!