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  1. #1
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Default Does sympathy take effort?

    I was wondering about this because sometimes I see people 'rationing' how much they sympathise based on things like how deserving the other person is, that kind of thing. Whereas for me it is pretty much automatic to step into the shoes of other people and try and see how they feel, even to my own detriment. I do have my blindspots though, where giving sympathy to a person does take effort, I'm just wondering if some people have much bigger blind spots.

    Edit: I may be a bit off on my understanding of empathy vs sympathy, empathy is experiencing the feelings of others yourself and sympathy is understanding (or attempting to understand) the feelings of others but not necessarily feeling them yourself, is that right?
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    Senior Member Rhapsody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    Whereas for me it is pretty much automatic to step into the shoes of other people and try and see how they feel, even to my own detriment.
    This is me usually. For instance, a couple years ago, my roommate and I signed a lease for an apartment and put down a deposit for it. At the last minute, the realty company informed us they'd given the apartment to someone else temporarily and they didn't know when we'd be able to move in. My roommate was furious, but when the realty company explained the jam they were in that had led to their decision, I actually felt really bad for them (and then it later turned out that they were probably just scamming us, heh ...).

    The times I have the biggest problem sympathizing is when my stupid ego is in the mix. If someone gets mad at me or makes me feel bad about myself in any way, it takes a lot of effort for me to look at the situation from their perspective. It's the same if someone is pressuring me to do something when I don't think they have the right to.

    There have also been times when I've purposely tried to withhold sympathy because I think I am too sympathetic and need to become more critical (this sounds harsh, but it's usually in situations where I've realized a person is the cause of the problem they've come to me about and I don't want to keep enabling them ... but I usually fail at withholding sympathy in the end anyway. )

    And your definitions of sympathy and empathy are the ones I go by!

  3. #3
    THREADKILLER Prototype's Avatar
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    Sometimes,... I guess it depends on the person you sympathize with, and how much you value their feelings... Other times it can be quite the pain in the ass. For the most part, I try to be as sympathetic as possible, good favoured feelings can pay off in the long run.
    ... They say that knowledge is free, and to truly acquire wisdom always comes with a price... Well then,... That will be $10, please!

  4. #4
    Queen hunter Virtual ghost's Avatar
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    Simpathy doesn't require effort.


    Faking of simpathy requires effort.

  5. #5
    morose bourgeoisie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    I was wondering about this because sometimes I see people 'rationing' how much they sympathise based on things like how deserving the other person is, that kind of thing. Whereas for me it is pretty much automatic to step into the shoes of other people and try and see how they feel, even to my own detriment. I do have my blindspots though, where giving sympathy to a person does take effort, I'm just wondering if some people have much bigger blind spots.

    Edit: I may be a bit off on my understanding of empathy vs sympathy, empathy is experiencing the feelings of others yourself and sympathy is understanding (or attempting to understand) the feelings of others but not necessarily feeling them yourself, is that right?
    My spidey sense tells me that the rationing you are referring to is a form of self-protection; it may be a way to prevent the sense of overwhelment that can come when an emotionally fearful (or uncertain) person feels something very strongly. Using the excuse that you need to acertain the other person's worthiness points strongly to this conclusion. It's a way of using judgment to avoid feelings.

  6. #6
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antisocial one View Post
    Simpathy doesn't require effort.


    Faking of simpathy requires effort.
    Could you elaborate? If it takes no effort why would you ever need to fake it?
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    I have a lot less difficulty with sympathy than I do with empathy. Sympathy involves a more objective stance so I can step back and reason my way to understanding, without trying to feel (or actually feeling) what the other person is feeling. For example, when I see a friend upset over the loss of something important, I can look at the situation and understand, objectively, that that situation is painful for that person. Empathy, on the other hand, I just cannot do. When someone else's pain oozes onto or into me I feel like I've been set aflame after gasoline has been poured over my head. I just want to stop, drop and roll...or run far, far away.

  8. #8
    veteran attention whore Jeffster's Avatar
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    I think sometimes showing my sympathy for people requires effort. The sympathy itself comes very naturally. I freely admit to crying at "Long Distance Dedications" on American Top 40.
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    I feel sympathy very easily, and tend to have to work harder at reserving my sympathy for those I can actually help or those who are truly deserving. (IMO, not everyone who cries victim deserves sympathy or help.)
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  10. #10
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juggernaut View Post
    I have a lot less difficulty with sympathy than I do with empathy. Sympathy involves a more objective stance so I can step back and reason my way to understanding, without trying to feel (or actually feeling) what the other person is actually feeling. For example, when I see a friend upset over the loss of something important, I can look at the situation and understand, objectively, that that situation is painful for that person. Empathy, on the other hand, I just cannot do. When someone else's pain oozes onto or into me I feel like I've been set aflame after gasoline has been poured over my head. I just want to stop, drop and roll...or run far, far away.
    I'm thankful that my automatic response is limited to sympathy, my ESFJ wife is like a sponge, she can't help but feel whatever the people around her are feeling. Maybe that is why ESFJs tend to go well with ISFPs? We have near bottomless optimism and positive vibes for them to soak in.
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