According to various internet results, sympathy generally describes the reactionto the plight of others, while empathy is sensingthe plight of others and feeling it physically, emotionally or mentally.
Empathy is a function of the intuitive/6th sense side of all of us. Let’s expand this to say empathy is the sensing the energies of people, places and things around you. These energies are picked up by brain and like any other sense, are translated to tell us what is going on. How? Through feelings…through moods (mental reactions to things)…through sensations on the body (chills, tingling, goosebumps, etc)…through feelings (fear, overwhelment, anxiety).
If the brain “does not know any better,” it will go to whatever it knows to assign a reference and emotion to the energy and tell you what it thinks it is. If you saw “The Exorcist,” there’s the reference. If the brain doesn’t go past instinct “fight or flight,” it will assign fear. Awareness and intention are the keys to fully understand and develop this sense to our best advantage.
We can then re-route the neuro pathway away from “fight or flight” and shift it away from emotional reactions and dramas and make an appropriate decision to create the desired outcome.
Desired outcomes can be such things as: (1) this is not my emotion and I will not take it on (2) this is not a problem/concern I can/need to solve and I let it go (3) this does not shape my world and I choose to create instead of react to false data. Basically, you manage this sense, instead of it manipulating you.
So, if this sounds doom and gloom, why is empathy the greatest sense? It is the one thing that will tie us all together. When we feel our impact on others or feel each other’s pain, we will be more conscious of our actions.
Once you understand what the brain is picking up and what it truly means to you personally, you can then manage it to the result desired. Powerfully, you can either choose to be affected…or not affected…by the energies being picked up. Think of it this way…as a sense on a bright sunny day, your eyes tell the brain “it’s too bright out here.” So you can either whine about “it’s too bright out here” or put on sun glasses…you always can make the choice that best suits you and those around you. Go from fear to joy…and the world changes.