Be the change you want to see in yourself

Inspirational thoughts, ideas, quotes, and articles.


Posted by Catherine Morgan on January 29, 2007

picture by © ehirschenberger

HAS THE WORLD LOST IT’S EMPATHY? — by Catherine Morgan

We all see the news, and feel badly about the wars, the starving, the homeless, the poor, and all the other sad things we are seeing on television. On a smaller scale, we all know people with hardships, going through divorce, struggling with health issues, having financial problems, and many other difficulties affecting our families and neighbors.

When we hear all of these stories, we feel great sympathy and sadness. But, I think what we don’t do, is feel empathy. To feel empathy, you have to be able to put yourself in that other person’s shoes, and feel what they must be going through. True compassion comes from a place of empathy, not sympathy. In fact, most people don’t want our sympathy, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. What I am saying is that people don’t want us to feel sorry for them, they want us to have compassion and empathy for them.

I’m pointing this difference out because, we need to see that without empathy our sympathy is just a judgement, and being judgemental is never helpful. When we can “truly” empathize with the hardships of our neighbors, our families, and others in our lives, we are then in a position of compassion and kindness towards them. Even if we are not in a position to alleviate the struggle of the person we are empathizing with, we will be conveying compassion towards them and not pity. While your pity is a judgement, your compassion is a kindness, and kindness is what we all need in our lives.

I would challenge you to look at your own life, and see where you are sympathizing without empathizing. Then allow yourself to feel the feelings. I’m not saying that this is an easy thing to do. Empathy, is most definitely the harder of the two feelings. But, when you can push yourself past sympathy alone, you are a better person, a better friend, a better neighbor, and so on, and so on.

On a larger scale, if the world can find it’s empathy, it won’t be in danger of losing it’s humanity.












  1. Tomas said

    Thank you for the wonderful post.

    My English isn’t strong enough, but my Hi is the hearty.

    I fully agree with you that we didn’t need sympathy-we need each other and I’m eagerly looking forward to your comments on my blog. Our cooperation may change the world- at least our own hearts will be renewed for sure.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind comment. I will check out your blog soon….I just have to finish making dinner for my kids.

  3. Hi Tomas….I checked out your site, and I really like it. Since I think it might be a site that other people reading my blog would also like, I added it to my sidebar as a link. I hope that is o.k. with you.

    Thanks again for you comment.

  4. tribune said

    Hi! ^^ Catherine Morgan,

    As I began my own blog at not so long ago, I found that you are very active in sharing your thoughts and reaching out to touch people’s heart. I got deep impression.

    I am Joshua from Korea, one of the countries in the Northeast Asia, near around China and Japan. ^^ I am not sure whether you’ve experienced communication with Asians so far..but I would not be bad. ^^

    Anyway, actually, I have been thinking about how a human-being can be a source of positive power in relationships with other people.

    I’d like to share my idea with you. I think that people is getting away from the belief that they can be truly a source of positive power in their relationships with other people. Believing this seems to motivate people to reach out into heart and feel empathy.

    The obstacle to feeling empathy is negative self-awareness that emanates from consciousness of suffering and pain in the past relationships. Maybe the first step leading to feeling empathy with others is to feel empathy toward oneself. Restoring positive self-awareness is necessary to achieve the empathy toward oneself.

    Therefore, it is the restoration of positive self-awarenss that we start with for our great task today. I believe that we can be a strong source of positive power in relationships under any circumstances.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts ^^ It was good.

    Have a nice day! ^^


  5. Yes, I do agree. And, thank you for your comment.

  6. Tomas said

    Hi Catherine
    I am pleased that you liked my blog. Thank you for nice feedback.
    Thank you for the adding of my link. That makes us like co-authors. Therefore I feel need to say more about myself. The compassion and empathy aren’t just the questions of an artist’s musing, but my daily bread… I had a trauma and my head was broken. I walked on the edge of the death, but the miracle has happened (literally) and I even haven’t any outward signs of any disability now. However, outward appearance is very cunning-the world of people with disabilities became like a part of me. Thus terms compassion and empathy aren’t philosophical concepts to me, but, so to say, my daily bread-something I meet with in the practice almost daily.

    As I understood, you visited my blog Candleday My blog Captain’s bridge is alike. There I share my own artworks and musing, maxims and the translation of the whispering of my colors. But I have also the Modus Vivendi blog that I fully dedicated to the art therapy club that works in the hospital for the people with psychiatric disorders. I would like you visit it. Just click on the link

    In Modus Vivendi I meet not the reasoning on the power of self awareness to change our life, but the tangible fruits of love – people who work there not for a salary but of love.

    Art therapy… comprehension of our spirituality helps as to hear so put into practice the teachings on positive attitude and the miracles literally happen Modus Vivendi. The pictures of the colorful flowers appear in the darkest reality, in seemingly hopeless situation.

    I could only to rejoice and it was no wonder I have started Modus Vivendi blog on a voluntary basis.

    Unfortunately, just enthusiasm is not enough for moving forward. For example, there are lots of publishing houses that offer everything one can just to dream about, but there are application fees that annul all dreams in essence. . While living on a disability pension, even the postage expenses become the hugest obstacle on a road. As the disabled we can just dream at our window towards the world.

    Dear Catherine,
    I greatly rejoice at your linking, our cooperation may result in meeting the editor who would agree to share our story to the world for free-on his own risk… as a testimony of the love that overcomes all obstacles.

    I was talking about Modus Vivendi as if from outside, but that art therapy club is inseparable from me in essence. Likewise there are lots of good people, but just one hug of love. As we recognize ourselves in the eyes of other and when our hearts blossom with joyful Hi, the strangers disappear … comprehension of the spiritual oneness of all humanity join us and … I am proud to sign this letter in name of all whom inhabited the divine love.

  7. Tomas, thank you for your lovely comment. I share your compassion and hope, and I will check out your links very shortly. Most likely, I will add them to my site.

    Thank you again, for your kind words of support.

  8. yachtscrew said

    Dear Catherine, thank you for this forum. Reading Thomas I feel confused, I don’t understand.
    My first inclination is to pass. I guess I have to accept I have become lazy in this society that wants us to believe everything should come easy.
    Then my stuborn streak, or something kicks in. “Let me try to figure this out.”
    Where to start? What do I feel? Anger! Anger? Where is that emotion coming from?
    Well, I am angry BECAUSE I don’t understand…is that suggesting I am too stupid, somehow incapable? …Of understanding, of doing something?
    No, I won’t accept that. I sit… Wait for it. -That’s a struggle; everything today suggests “I don’t have time to do this! -WAIT!? I have so much on my plate to get through today…how can I afford to spend time trying to understand?”
    There is a subtle hint of fear. This is becoming a challenge. Why am I “wasting time” on this? I could be “losing ground”…the rest of the crowd is “passing me by” (as if I am in some kind of race to get somewhere, or get something).
    Again my stuborness comes to my rescue.
    Wait, I AM getting somewhere! I am beginning to understand! MYSELF. i BELIEVE THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT – to be able to see myself BEING in the world. As opposed to DOING IN THE WORLD.
    It is the beginning of understanding to see myself experiencing thoughts, feelings; – aware of my mind, thoughts in my mind, feelings from those thoughts of the world I am in.
    HOORAY! I made a little progress today.
    I believe it was RamaKrishna who said:”We are not in this world to become religious or spiritual, but to become aware.”

  9. Thanks for your comment. I agree…

    “We are not in this world to become religious or spiritual, but to become aware”.

    So true. And I am happy you made a “little” progress today, that’s really all any of us can hope to do.

  10. […] HAS THE WORLD LOST IT’S EMPATHY? — by Catherine Morgan […]

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