Empathy: actually feeling the experiences and emotions of another person.
For me, empathy has proven, often, to be rather debilitating and exhausting. It requires quite an effort to extract myself from another’s woes in order to be of any use to them or to myself. For that reason, I consider ’empathy’ rather a hindrance than a gift.
Compassion: the almost instinctive reaching out to another when they are troubled or suffering.
Compassion is a natural out-pouring of a loving spirit. It is a gift and a necessity for the advancement of my spirit and the spirit of the entire world. It is the innate desire to help, to be kind. It is the ultimate expression of Love – a gift to a world weary of strife and stagnation.
However, one has to exercise caution. Compassion should be exercised without any expectation of outcome. Also, I must practice discernment and not allow others to abuse my gift. I think self-care and self respect must come first. I need to be aware of the chronic ‘people-users’ and ‘takers’ around me.
Having compassion for others does not make me a ‘saint’, by any meaning of that word. Far from it…there are many times when my Ego gets in the way, and I may behave selfishly. But I keep on trying to improve myself and to put the Ego in its proper place.
So, all that being said, I will stop inflicting my ideas on this topic onto my patient readers. 🙂