Compassion vs Empathy - Who is the winner? (2023)

Do you cry when you witness someone's suffering? Do you also feel pain when a friend is in trouble? With such emotions, many people feel a sense of satisfaction.

They have the idea that being able to feel for others is like living an enlightened life. However, as we experience these emotions, we often refer to them as compassion or empathy.

Although they look similar, both emotions are different from each other. It's actually compassion versus empathy! Wonder how? Keep reading to learn more about these contrasting emotions.

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Compassion vs Empathy Infographic

What is compassion?

(Video) Sympathy, Empathy, and Compassion: How do they differ and which one do people prefer?

What is empathy?

How to deal with empathic distress?

Tips for becoming compassionate

final thoughts

Compassion vs Empathy Infographic

Compassion vs Empathy - Who is the winner? (1)
Compassion vs Empathy - Who is the winner? (2)

What is compassion?

Derived from the Latin word "compassion" meaning "to suffer with". Therefore, feeling compassion is the same as feeling empathy. But when someone feels compassion, they want to act.

You feel the pain of the sufferer. You put yourself in someone else's shoes as you want to achieve more.

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In fact, a compassionate person's feelings are so strong that he is compelled to act. Also, he can't stand another person struggling with life. They offer comfort, support and work towards a positive outcome.

For example, if there is a distressed student who cannot pay the tuition. Then the compassionate person will comfort the disciple. As an act of mercy, he will lend the student the money and ask him to repay the loan later!

practice compassionhelps in many ways. FORlearnstates that compassion helps to increase happiness and self-esteem. Furthermore, it does not lead tofatigue!

What is empathy?

Empathyit's about putting yourself in the other's shoes. When you see someone in pain, you start to feel the same thing in your body. You begin to imagine yourself in that particular situation. In addition, you develop the same emotions that the victim is exposed to.

An empathetic person does not need to go through the same situations or events. However, he has the ability to imagine what the victim must go through. And everything happens becausemirror neurons.

But when a person feels empathy, he does nothing to control his emotions. Rather, they take no action to alleviate it.Emotions of the person who is feeling themempathy for!

For example, when a person with empathy sees a beggar on the street. You will understand what situation the beggar is going through. The empathetic person can also remember their difficulties. But it will not take any further action.

Many misunderstand that sympathy and empathy are similar. But they are not. When a person is understanding, he cares and understands the suffering of others. But empathy goes beyond sympathy.

You feel empathy because one day you came across such a situation. Also, a sympathetic person feels hopeless, but has never been in such a situation.

Compassion x Empathy

To compare empathy and compassion,InvestigationWas performed. neuro scientistAsk SingersjOlga Klimeckiconducted this investigation. For the experiment, they divided the participants into two groups.

One group trains inEmpathyand the other in compassion. And his research has uncovered some intriguing differences in brain regions.

(Video) What Is More Important, Compassion or Empathy?

For. Findings related to empathy

This group activated theIslandjanterior cingulate cortex. Insula has a connection between emotion and self-awareness. And the cingulate cortex in the face of emotion, the register of pain and awareness.

B. Insights into Compassion

This group activated thecorteza orbitofrontal medialjventral striated. The medial orbitofrontal cortex has a connection with reward in decision making and learning. While the ventral striatum is also connected to the reward system.

Characteristics found in both groups.

1. Empathy

This group found it stressful and uncomfortable. they scoredEmpathyso irritating and uncomfortable.

2. Compassion

While this group was more inclined towards positivity. They had positive attitudes towards decision-making, learning and rewards. Also, they were starting to feel good about themselves. They were willing to help the participants in the empathy group.

Although this study reflects that compassion is better than empathy. But empathy also has a positive side. There are many benefits of empathy when it is a blessing to manyBusiness.

Difference between compassion and empathy

Compassion x EmpathycompassionEmpathy
Definition Feeling of sympathy and concern for a person who is suffering.The ability to understand and feel exactly what the other person is going through.
evoked feelingsA feeling of pity, concern, and sympathy.a sense of understanding
Measures takenIt implies that the compassionate person will helpThis does not mean that an empathetic person will help
kind of feeling evoked.Positive feelings like love.Mostly negative like stress.
common answers"I see your pain. Please let me know how I can help you."I understand and see your pain"

How to deal with empathic distress?

Research suggested that empathically trained participants found this problematic. Such situations can lead to empathic distress.

In addition, negative feelings, health problems or evenexhaustion. But there are ways to control this situation!

1. Take a break

When you see someone in need, but you can't be by their side. So it's better to take a break! Take a deep breath and ask yourself what feelings are running through your mind.

Think about the things you need right now. Check yourself first. Because when you are in a difficult situation, you cannot help anyone around you!

2. Ask yourself

Start second-guessing yourself when triggered by stressful events.

  • What provoked me?
  • I think?
  • What am I imagining?
  • What action should I take?
  • Is the person real and telling the truth?

You can use questions to structure your thinking. Your perspective will change. You will be able to reduce distressing feelings. Once you achieve this, you will be able to tend to the needs of others with care.

(Video) Why I’m against empathy | Paul Bloom

3. Practice compassion.

As mentioned earlier, compassion expresses concern for another person. In addition, it helps to alleviate this suffering. A compassionate person can easily communicate with a person with love and kindness.

In addition, you can also participate in atrain compassionProgram to help you build your resilience. And help you connect with others in a positive way.

Tips for becoming compassionate

1. Don't judge

It is difficult to guess the factors that led to a person's despondent state. Therefore, it is better not to judge. Instead, think about the struggles in life and how each person struggles to make the best of it.

Also, don't label any decision as right or wrong, good or bad. Instead, step into someone else's shoes. will help you practiceEmpathyand understand the person better.

2. Be a good listener

Several times we get a person to stop talking and start building our assumptions. But, as an act of compassion, listen carefully to what the other person has to say! Let him pour out his heart.

If you listen with an open heart, the person can find solutions. At the same time, he will accept the truth about himself.

3. Practice kindness to yourself

We tend to put ourselves down more often. Instead, remember that people are born with flaws. We all make mistakes and learn from them. Then,self hateit will not help you in any way. Instead, forgive yourself and move forward in life with a positive attitude.

4. Be Present and Pay Attention

Try to pay attention every time you meet someone. Also, avoid multitasking, browsing mobile devices or watching TV. Also, make eye contact and use positive body language. Because with attention you can better feel the emotions of the person. And seen as an act of compassion.

In addition, you can also practiceloving kindness meditation. It is a great practice to bring more compassion into your heart.

final thoughts

Although they sound similar, compassion versus empathy can be difficult to understand. YesEmpathyit helps to connect, so compassion helps to take appropriate action. Both are related in their own way, but useful in many ways!

A more compassionate mind, more concerned with the welfare of others, is a source of happiness.

- O Dalai Lama

article sources


(Video) Empathy vs Sympathy: Which one are you?


1. Paul Bloom: Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
(Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs)
2. The Difference Between Compassion and Empathy | Shai Tubali
(Shai Tubali)
3. Using Sympathy vs Empathy vs Compassion at Work - the Correct Way!
(Achieving Excellence - Level Up Your Life)
4. Why Empathy Is Not the Best Way to Care | Paul Bloom | Big Think
(Big Think)
5. Brené Brown on Empathy
6. What is empathy and compassion? [Relationships for kids]
(Muse Wellbeing)
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