Quote Originally Posted by kiddykat View Post
Sympathy also implies feeling sorry for others. When you feel sorry for others, you are also disempowering them.
This can absolutely be true, but strangely enough, expecting too much from someone who is suffering is also disempowering. Perhaps that is why empathy is helpful because it provides a clearer perspective. We are all limited, so the motivational soundbites that tell us we are limitless can be depressing when the people with all the benefits and opportunities are cheering it on saying, 'look here, i made all the right decisions and my life is amazing because of it.' People who are sick, have chronic pain, depression, etc. cannot achieve infinite goals. The expectation can be completely demoralizing.

I think the most empowering thing for another person is to respect their perspective on their own life as having legitimacy. If they say they are too tired or in too much pain to do something, then it makes sense to respect and believe it. If they believe they can achieve something despite a limitation, then support that too. If the person changes their mind and perspective on their own empowerment, support that perspective without judgment. Respect is the foundation of any true compassion, and I think it can be felt alongside feeling sorry that someone has had so much pain.

I feel sorry for homeless people who are sick, mentally ill, and without help. It is possible to feel something akin to pity with respect if you acknowledge that the circumstances that brought someone to their place of suffering are compelling enough that they could bring you or me to that same place. If you don't feel above someone's pain, it is possible to be truthful about the horror of it, acknowledge how incredibly unfair it can be, withhold any judgment on the person, and realize that this suffering person who inspires pity is in every way our equal.