“A deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it”.
“To show empathy is to identify with another’s feelings. It is to emotionally put yourself in the place of another. The ability to empathize is directly dependent on your ability to feel your own feelings and identify them.”
Empathy comes naturally to human beings. We can easily identify and resonate with someone else’s sadness or joy. Compassion, on the other hand, needs to be nurtured and practised.
Awareness of suffering and identifying with suffering are remarkably different practices. There are many people and situations in our lives that invoke compassion. The recent events around the globe immediately trigger compassion in most of us. Day to day however, we are confronted with people and situations that test our compassionate capabilities.
Before you step out of your compassionate heart and lash out with anger or resentment, consider this: We are all human beings seeking, trying and learning about love and life, avoiding sadness, loneliness and despair, and caring for our children and our families.
Viewing others through this lens leads you to identify similar shared feelings, an integral part of empathy and a step towards compassion.