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Sympathy - It Is Creeping Back Here

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by anthony, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    I agree with Anthony - there is a very FINE line, yet sympathy and empathy are worlds apart.... theyre very different.

    Best way I can explain how *I* see them are :

    Sympathy = 'I feel very sorry you are in your shoes' - And my sense of the rational doesn't matter. Consider me your Kleenex tissue - I am feeling things like 'how dare they'... 'I feel pity for you', etc

    Empathy = I am going to place myself IN your shoes with a sense of objectivity. Thus, not being so blinded by pity - I will place myself in your shoes and understand your argument, whilst still maintaining a sense of objectivity and the 'bigger picture'.

    Sympathy = youre right, I feel so sorry for you
    Empathy = Whilst I can understand this must have been quite painful - I can see the forest, and not just the trees
    She Cat likes this.
  2. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    Just as a personal aside - and no one has to agree with me :

    I don't like when people give me sympathy. It makes me feel very powerless. I don't see any reason why someone should feel sorry for me. Despite what has placed me in this position I would much prefer someone say - 'you have seen a lot and been through some very tough things - and you're alive. And you're strong'. I'm uncomfortable with the idea of someone pitying me. I don't even want to pity myself. I'd rather lose the subjectivity which goes hand in hand with emotions like pity, and regain some objectivity - seeing myself from a little further away and saying 'wow, it's actually pretty amazing you're still standing'.

    I've only been working with my current therapist for a couple of weeks and it has done absolute wonders. It has been SO hard. I barely sleep the night before a session and I really don't WANT to go. But I force myself to go. Because I don't want to spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself - no way! Sympathy is not a healthy emotion for me - its a very EASY one. But it's not particularly productive. I don't go to therapy so somebody can hold my hand and go 'ohhhhh that mustve have been awful - let's cry together'. I go to therapy so I can hear 'its ok if you cry - you are SO entitled to cry....... and when you're done, we're gonna work on what we are going to DO about that'. I am personally very grateful for my therapist and she comes at me from a sense of empathy. I'm not treated like a victim to be pitied - but rather a person with a LOT of strength and wisdom as a result of what has happened. Frankly, I wouldn't pay someone a lot of money to cry for/with me - I can do that for free. I'd rather pay them to ~understand~ why I'm crying and go about the business of fixing it.
  3. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    I soooooo agree with you, about sympathy. I don't want sympathy either.
  4. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Who's trippin' now? Staff Member Premium Member

    I have to agree with you superjen. I was recently in hospital following an O/D. Once I was 'better' (physically), I saw a psychiatric nurse, who was so pitying and sympathetic that I seriously wanted to punch her. (And I don't have any anger issues!). She just asked me questions then sat there with this pathetic look on her face, saying "oh dear, that must have been horrible for you", and "I can see why you might find it hard to cope, it must be very hard". I didn't want her sympathy, I needed her help to get me to a better place. Anyway, we got no-where fast. I got to the point, where she was so nauseating, I said what she needed to hear to get me out of there.
    She Cat likes this.
  5. She Cat

    She Cat VIP Member

    CB, your post made me giggle, as far as you wanting to punch her, but sad to that someone in her position would use sympathy, and think that is what you needed.....
  6. gdf

    gdf New Member Premium Member

    Pity and sympathy are close cousins it seems. I would take sympathy over pity but empathy is a more equal acknowledgment of our mutual humanness when given. Sympathy seems to put us in a lower status (as the receiver) than the person dispensing it, but then I guess Hallmark wouldn't sell many "empathy" cards. ; )
  7. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    The Hallmark thing made me giggle and think of a scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (was watching it last night). The Sympathy-gram shows up at the door and the sister answers.

    *Woman In Nurse's Outfit, singing*
    'I heard that you were feeling ill
    Headache, fever, and a chill
    I came here to restore your luck
    'Cause I'm the nurse who likes to.... *door slams*

    That would make a cracker of a Hallmark Card. One that plays the music when you open it.
  8. Pogonip

    Pogonip New Member Premium Member

    Having been a soldier, I will always consider myself a soldier, and coming from a military family the idea of wanting sympathy and the whinning that goes along with seeking it seems so intolerable to me. I can understand and put myself in others shoes and I am a good listener, but my nature is to be a problem-solver. However, I envy people who know exactly what emotion they are feeling at a given time and express it. Between my up-bringing, and the emotional numbness that often goes with PTSD, I cannot openly express my emotions, particularly negative emotions. So, I hope that by trying to understand where someone is at and offering what strategies I find helpful that that is not overdoing it and being sympathetic rather than empathetic.

    Are there times when someone seems to be trying to seek sympathy they are simply trying to express un-expressed emotions because it is a new behavior? How do you know when your expressions of emotions cross the line to sympathy seeking?

    Pogonip
  9. Cynthiatoo

    Cynthiatoo New Member

    I want to heal, sympathy seems superfluous. I want solutions and I read the forum to find them, which I do and hopefully offer some. I find it impacts physically on me to see so much sympathy written into replies. The nerves in my arms and shoulders start hurting. I wish there was a section just for sympathy and it was not allowed into other threads or diaries. It puts me off writing my diary. When I do start I will make sure I write that.

    I don't want anyone going mad on me for being uncaring for writing this either, I am caring and sympathetic, I just dont want forty thousand sympathetic words written in amongst practical constructive advise.

    I am new here, but I want a straight path to getting better.

    Now I will take my numb arms and shoulders off before I get really p##sed off.
  10. Cynthiatoo

    Cynthiatoo New Member

    Too much talking. Sorry guys, I may have offended. I think I am overwhelmed and should stop.
  11. anni

    anni Bucephalus ( an old war horse ) Premium Member

    Cynthiatoo,

    There's no such thing as too much talking, please don't worry! I just clicked on this thread because I don't quite understand what's up with it, but now understand it better, so thank you! :) Everyone is different, too, so what kind of works for one person might be awful for someone else. I thought you just plain said what you were feeling, and were not at all offensive.

    Sorry to jump in like this, but you seemed a little worried that something you said might have been 'wrong' or offensive? I took it as explanatory. :) I get overwhelmed. too, however, when an emotional button gets pushed.

    Anni
  12. Cynthiatoo

    Cynthiatoo New Member

    Thank you Anni. I am actually experience anger for the first time. It has only happened since being on the forum. I used to internalize it and shut down instead. I was actually feeling really angry when I wrote those posts and because it is new to me, I didnt know how to manage it. I assumed it would be yukky for others. It's a good thing and growth and I will learn that it is OK to feel angry. Thank you.
  13. anni

    anni Bucephalus ( an old war horse ) Premium Member

    Hee! I have very little anger impulse, too, and tend to call it 'being indignant', or something less dramatic, so I know what you mean! I still do not have that knee-jerk, off the wall flash-anger that some do, which I guess I'm glad I don't have to deal with but wish it were easier to express things. It is healthy, I'm sure, to be able to begin to express oneself. I tend to be very contained when doing so still, but better than nothing! :) For what it's worth, maybe you felt terribly angry, but you didn't sound out of control or unreasonable at all! Strange how awful it feels, isn't it? I don't know if I'll ever get further than where I am with this, but it's better than not having any at all! :)

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