Be Present: Empathy Vs. Sympathy

“If you love me, don’t let go… hold onto me ’cause I’m a little unsteady,” lyrics from the X Ambassadors, “Unsteady.”  I’m sure that we all feel unsteady at one point or another. We seek different people to remain collected, a spouse, a friend, brother or sister so on and so forth. But I’ve learned something about people; we all have a different limits or levels of tolerances to be there for someone—I hope this makes sense.

For instance, some people simply lose themselves, put their life aside, to be there for a person. Others, well, they work around their schedule. And there are others who have little tolerance for “negativity” or “complaining.”  Whichever the case, I’ve learned to test the waters. Sometimes I miss the mark. But knowing how much information we can reveal to a person is crucial because depending on the person, we have different outcomes.

  1. You have the person that will listen and think you’re just complaining.
  2. The one that will listen and wish you good luck, “crossing fingers for you.” (cheerleader kick)
  3. And the one that will be present. “I’m here.”

Also, when life becomes a bit of burden to us, we have two different types of characters:

  1. The one that will treat you like a disease and stay at a distance.
  2. And the other person will be present, as I stated.

I’ll post the video below this post too. But we also have different types of listening to people. And I’m either paraphrasing or quoting the following: Empathy vs. Sympathy.


  • Feels Connection
  • Perspective taking: (1) The Ability to take the view of another person. (2) Staying out of judgment. (3) Recognizing emotion in other people & communicating.
  • “Feeling with people.”
  • “I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.”
  • What we should say: “I don’t know even know what to say right. I’m just glad you told me” (hugs).
  • “Because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is a connection.”


  • Drives disconnection
  • Judgment
  • “At least…” (g., Person A: “I had a miscarriage.” Person B: “At least you can get pregnant.”
  • Tries to find the silver line aspect of it.
  • “Try to make things better.”

Until I saw this video, I truly didn’t know the difference between empathy and sympathy. Sometimes we do things unintentionally, and other times we sincerely want to find a solution for a person. However, my point is that I have learned to recognize these characters in an individual or test their level of “being there for me” because we can get hurt if we expect too much from a person. We all have our limits.

Screenshot of the video below

Also, when we feel alone or unsteady, I feel that it’s a perfect time to connect with our spiritual selves. They’re times to figure out different outcomes or answers. Times to test who truly is there for you. Then we have to go through the healing process because the thoughts of “you weren’t there for me” linger.

And my last thoughts, if our friend/family member feel a bit blue, it’s a good idea to take them out a bit. Call. Visit them. It makes the world of difference. These aren’t high expectations, I would think. They’re small things to do for a loved one or someone. I know that it makes me happy when people have done this for me.

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