From Pity to Compassion

We connect with those we perceive as suffering via pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. Pity is a detached (intellectual) feeling one has for others who are suffering as one imagines themselves suffering if in similar circumstances. Sympathy is when one is emotionally moved by the suffering of others. Empathy is feeling the suffering of another, comforting them and sharing their pain as a means of alleviating it. Compassion is helping someone who is suffering to recover and ultimately realize their potential. Pity and sympathy are self-serving (feeling good about ourselves having these feelings) and require nothing of us. Empathy can also be self-serving and is often potentially harmful to the empath in terms of emotional stress and costly in time and resources. Unlike pity and sympathy, empathy provides real relief to its beneficiary. Compassion is when one is one with everything and as such one treats others as they wish to be treated.