There is often a SMH scenario when distinguishing the difference between sympathy, and empathy. Clearing up possible confusion is my first order of business. According to Dictionary.com, feeling sympathy means you feel sorry for someone’s situation, even if you’ve never been there yourself. Empathy is when you truly understand and can feel what another person is going through. At times, sympathy is a wasted emotion on me and usually occurs when making happiness a priority. Please hear me out before you paint a bright red target on my forehead and toss rotten tomatoes at me.
Sympathy over my mother’s death last year was appreciated. It played a large part in keeping me emotionally intact as I completed her three week, overwhelming home hospice process. It seemed fitting to hold space for the moment she decided to leave this world, as she did for me when I arrived. Although mom always felt the next right action was to travel before her children, she didn’t receive that honor. Her only son took the journey before her but returned as a guide when it was her time.
Sympathy over tough decisions made to advance in life, however, is unnecessary and at times can cause me to see red. Only for a split second, before explaining that I view this as a cause for celebration! Desperate times require desperate measures, and I believe in ripping the band-aid off to address life before a scab even has a chance to develop over the wound. Major life changes mistaken by my inner circle as sympathy requests, (but were really baby steps towards happiness), were working three jobs to get out of debt, divorce, the end of stagnant relationships ( a few this year), and a layoff (from a job I hated but was too terrified to leave ). In these type of situations, opportunities for growth always over-rules the need for sympathy.