Empathy says ‘I feel you, we’re the same’.
Sympathy says ‘I understand what you’re feeling but that’s separate from me’.
Sympathy invites pity.
Sympathy leads to imbalance; an attitude of superior position that says, ‘I’m OK, you’re not OK. You have a problem, I don’t’.
Empathy invites acceptance.
Empathy means equality; empathy says, ‘I get it. We’re the same. Let’s share that problem and work through it’.
Empathy shows up, hugs and spends time.
Sympathy sends a card.