Home » anxiety » Sympathy is NOT Empathy

Sympathy is NOT Empathy

Yesterday was not good.
Yesterday was, in fact, rather awful.
Migraine pain, overwhelmed at work, & just plain irritated, all I wanted was to be left alone to do my job.

Just let me work, K?

Yet, there were some in my vicinity who just had to give me their point of view on my situation.

No, I didn’t go up to them and say “I’m in a foul mood, talk me out of it.”
Nor did I even say anything concerning my mood, my workload, or the state of the union in general.

I was answering a question for one, when the other person interrupted to comment that it seemed as though I was in a bad mood.

Yeah, I am – now, back to the question.
But – didn’t I want to talk about it?
No, not especially. Can we just work?

*sigh* apparently not. Lovely woman that she is, she really wanted to try to help me out of my bad mood… but I was -a) in pain from the migraine, & b) just plain fed up with the day, I had gone into “overload mode”.

“I know just how you feel…”

Um, no. You don’t. You can’t.
Because, you see, that would be empathy. And unless you were born into my family, raised by the people I was, lived through all the experiences I have, & made all the exact same choices I’ve made…

You can never know exactly how I feel.

You can sympathize. Definitely.  You can commiserate, sure. But true empathy? Where you can literally feel my feelings?

Mighty rare, and I don’t think it was happening in this case.

I kind of blew off the advice.
I knew what I needed.
I needed the day to be over, so I could come home & decompress. I needed to break down & cry in my shower- wash away all the tears and let the ugly just be there. Let it wash over me, and through me, so it could pass.

So, while I appreciate the thought, and the willingness to want to help?

Just let me be in a bad mood all by myself, please?

Let me be, & this too shall eventually pass.

Try to “jolly” me out by telling me to “don’t let it get to you”?

And you’ll put yourself on the list of people I will most likely avoid when I’m not feeling 100%.

Because, no, in fact, you have NO IDEA how I’m feeling.



5 thoughts on “Sympathy is NOT Empathy

  1. I’ve been where you are. And, because you are my friend, I will jump down in that hole with you. Let’s do this together.

    That’s my lame attempt at empathy.

  2. Coming home and crying in the shower is something I do, and it seems like it’s the only place I can have the privacy to get it out of my system.

    I hope this little note finds you feeling better! HUGS

  3. I have told my husband it’s nothing you did, please leave me alone and he continues to pick at me until I tell him and get upset and then he gets annoyed at my emotional mess and then I feel worse and then we have an argument. When he could have just listened and let me be and I would have been better eventually!!! Or he tells me I need to just let it roll off my back like he does. Why do people always have to make it about them??? Ugh.

    • Men seem to have an integral need to “fix” all the problems; they can’t leave it alone. Rather like a bug scab, they have to pick, and pick, and pick until it’s bleeding and gross again, instead of quietly healing all by itself under the crusty cap of yuck.

      Then they wonder why we get even more angry than before, blowing up at them? Well…they were the ones making a mess out of a nice, quiet, crusty scab.

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