As a handy acronym if you're in a hurry, I can describe to you the difference of meaning with a small example: when you express to someone else, let's say your friend, the misfortune of a situation, you are sympathetic, and excessive sympathy is to put yourself exactly in the sorry person's shoes. You act like you're out of his bad luck, you literally act like you're in his place. If you are not in a hurry, please read the article
The difference between empathy and excessive empathy
Empathy involves feeling a person's feelings and expressing concern about what they are feeling. Sadness may also be accompanied by an inner desire for the person in front of us to be better and happier. Example: If you comfort your friend who has cancer and say: “Don't worry my friend, chemotherapy will help with that, be strong and I am with you
Empathy is characterized as an instantaneous characteristic or feelings that do not leave a significant impact on you in the long run, meaning the feelings of sympathy that you share with someone does not mean that you experienced the same emotions in the past, and is not based on shared experiences, you only share the person's sadness for a short period and try to relieve him
Empathy vs. Hypersympathetic
Realistic example to illustrate the difference
You can empathize with animals but you cannot be overly empathic with them, because as we said, excessive empathy needs shared experiences in order to fully feel what the other party feels, and this is not possible with animals because you are simply “human”, but you “as a human” are able to empathize only with Animal
What do psychologists say about empathy and excessive empathy?
Empathy and excessive empathy are both useful tools of expression, as we all want someone to fully consider or feel their feelings.
But as for sympathy, and as we understood its meaning, in the long run it may adopt the meaning of caring for the person more than being sympathy for him, and this creates a gap between the sympathetic and the needy, because you have reached the point of feeling it, but you are not going through - or did not go through - what happened He is in him, so you are lucky, it will pass you unnoticed, while he is unlucky and tormented, and this is something no man prefers, it gives him a feeling of despair burdened with lack of hope
While psychologists point out the importance of empathy because you put yourself in the other person's world - even though you remember who you really are - it is necessary to act tenderly and embrace the person who is sorry, necessary to form honest and serious relationships, because we come out of ourselves and be in the place of the other person Therefore, excessive sympathy allows the other to feel how we really feel his feeling, that is, we do not have to fabricate it, but people see it in us honestly.
With the increasing incidence of our empathy in different groups of human beings, scientists say we are at risk of forming more lasting relationships, becoming so strong that others call for our presence when they feel resentment or mistreatment, for example. Be aware that giving advice is the number one enemy of excessive empathy: “Are you sympathetic to us in our world of pain? So don't try to make yourself feel better and comfort yourself by saying those worn-out phrases to make yourself easy," yes that's how they think
You can't use excessive empathy, you can't play the role of empathy, as scientists believe that people start showing this trait from childhood, and they may develop in adolescence, and excessive empathy is sublimated in people who find people who look like them, they begin to show empathy to those who look like them more Compared with people from their family, relatives, or even their gender or ethnicity, it does not matter, the important thing is that they see this person as themselves
So far we have noticed that excessive empathy or empathy has taken on more importance than normal empathy, and it is indeed more important, there are types of excessive empathy, and just as it has its advantages, its negatives are many
The Dangers of Empathy: Why Can Excessive Empathy Be Unhealthy?
If we take one of its types, and let it be the first cognitive type, by definition, you can show cognitive empathy without having empathy in its true sense, for example, executioners need cognitive empathy to know the best ways to harm people who are lashed, and without any empathy towards them, and this is contrary to the idea of empathy, isn't it?
As for emotional empathy, it may be good and it may take a bad turn, good because it means easily feeling and understanding the feelings of others and this is desirable in even emotional professions, such as the health care profession such as doctors or nurses, so that they can respond appropriately to their patients, where they are likely to The patient feels an excessive emotional attachment to the doctor, and this helps him to improve, because he considers that his doctor understands his condition, and therefore listens to the doctor’s words and follows the advice
It tends to get bad when these feelings overwhelm us, become a part of us and get tired, to the point that some nurses or doctors become apathetic or rigid, perhaps as a result of adopting protection against excessive empathy, and so science recommends doctors to learn self-control in these situations On the other hand, they have a duty to self-control so that they do not collapse or become heartless.
We can counterbalance the types of excessive empathy by trying to follow the "compassionate" type, because it is more logical and beneficial. But anyway, "too much" of anything will turn against the excessive person, and while empathy can give our lives meaning, getting it wrong can do us harm. Below are the main dangers of excessive empathy
Excessive empathy can lead to misplaced anger
When we understand - because of our excessive sympathy - that the person we care about is in imminent danger, or perhaps just sense it "because of our extreme sympathy", it can make us seriously and disastrously angry
A small example shows you how problematic excessive empathy can be: Suppose you, as a man - or a woman - are standing with your 10-year-old daughter at a public gathering, and you notice that a large, heavy man in casual clothes, which makes you suspect him even more, is staring at your daughter. While the man didn't move and made no expression, perhaps just wandering, a thousand scenarios are running through your mind right now that would make you angry, just because of your sympathetic understanding of what he would "think" to do to your daughter as harm.
Are you overly sympathetic? So say goodbye to your money
For many years, psychologists have reported many cases of patients with excessive empathy, endangering the well-being of themselves and their families by donating their life savings to individuals in need at random, and by random we mean that donation to the needy is required as a humanitarian act Yes, but each according to his ability, right? So here we are talking about those who are hyper-sympathetic and who prefer to donate what they have over their basic needs, feel that they are responsible for every misfortune that others go through, as if they are guilty of what they have because others do not have the same
Confusing love with excessive sympathy damages relationships and may end them
Psychologists warn against confusing the feeling of love with excessive empathy, as love can make any relationship good or bad, and if it is bad, it can treat it, but empathy cannot do that, but excessive empathy accelerates the end of tense relationships
Excessive empathy may eventually lead to general fatigue
Physical, psychological and emotional fatigue, you will get tired of everything in the end, the repetition of shocks, crises, sadness and misery will lead to physical exhaustion in the end. Mark Stepnicki, a rehabilitation and trauma counselor, coined the term “sympathetic stress” to denote the emotional fatigue and what the empath suffers from when prolonged personal involvement in various crises
Psychology professors suggest that we should go as little as possible with excessive empathy rather than clinging to these tendencies, because of the dangers that man has not considered, perhaps it is better to turn to compassionate empathy as a means of empathy, it at least makes you think of a solution
Have you ever thought that being a very empathetic person could turn you negative?