How Do You Show Sympathy
What is sympathy
The following is one of the best definitions of sympathy that I've ever read, and which will accurately set the tenor of the article. "Sympathy is a social affinity in which one person stands with another person, closely understanding his or her feelings. Also known as empathic concern, it is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier. Although empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably, a subtle variation in ordinary usage can be detected. To empathize is to respond to another's perceived emotional state by experiencing feelings of a similar sort. Sympathy not only includes empathizing, but also entails having a positive regard or a non-fleeting concern for the other person." Couldn't have said it better myself. That being said, again I ask the question, how do you show sympathy? Let's put this question under a microscope.
Standing With Another Person, Understanding Their Feelings
Suppose someone comes to you with their, to you, trivial problem. Their beloved pet died, and to them it's the worst things that's ever happened to them, and they're just devastated. Well, you lost your mother, sometime ago, and that's the worst thing that's ever happened to you. Is your comment to them, "it was just a dog, cat, or whatever, you can get another one? Now me, on the other hand, I lost my mother, I can't get another one." Or would your comment go something like this, "I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, I can see how much he meant to you, is there anything I can do to relieve your pain?" You see, their pet meant as much to them as your mother, maybe not in the same way, nevertheless their love came from the heart. Remember the subtitle, "the ability to stand with another person, understanding their feelings, well do you? Keep in mind their loss has as much validity as yours, so don't minimize, or trivialize it.
The Feeling of Compassion or Concern for Another
Let's explore this from another angle. Paul just loss all of his worldly goods in a fire, however he was compensated very well by his insurance company. He still express pain and anguish over his loss, from time to time. Think about this, even though material things, such as furniture, clothes, jewelry, etc, can be replaced, but what about photos, personal items he's collected over the years, from his travels, letters, cards, maybe even items of clothing, or furniture that he's cherished, and can never replace. Do you say, or think he's being materialistic? Before you let your mind, or your mouth go there, think how you felt when you had a loss of any kind.Your expressions of care, and concern could go a long way in validating his feelings of loss, and not making him feel any worse than he already does. I'm just saying. Could you perhaps offer to help him find photos from friends, and relatives, okay, maybe you can't do that, well just sit and listen, offering words of consolation without judging, and minimizing his loss. By all means, don't compare his loss to one you've had, none really can compare, at least not to him.
Responding to Another's Perceived Emotional State by Experiencing Feeling of a Similar Sort
How can we do the above, the Bible says, "cry with those who cry." Here's another scenario. Your good friend is recently divorced from her cheating husband. You know he was, in the vernacular of today, "a no good lying, cheating dog." (Oops, did I go too far)? Anyway, she never wanted the divorce, she loved him and wanted it to work, so her response is total devastation, constantly in tears. Do you say to her, "buck up, you're well rid of him, move on, stop wasting water over that bum," or words to that effect? To the converse, do you, when she seems so out of control, sit with her, and shed a few tears over her loss, realizing the same fate could also befall you someday, and what would you want your friend to do when you're in that state. You see what she needs at this point is pure ole, down home sympathy, not criticism.
So, remembering the first paragraph, in showing sympathy, could you, stand with another person, closely understanding their feelings, show compassion, or concern, wish to see them better off, or happier? What about responding to another's perceived emotional state by experiencing feelings of a similar sort, or have a positive concern for another person? So I ask again, How Do You Show Sympathy? Before you answer, put yourself in the shoes of the other person, and think how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. If, after careful consideration you find that your idea of showing sympathy is lacking in some way, take the opportunity to put into practice some of the suggestions listed herein. Then you will be able to properly show sympathy to deserving ones.