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Empathy vs Compassion / ep40 show notes

Updated: Mar 27, 2020


What is it? - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

  • Webster’s: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

Affective empathy - the sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions; can include mirroring feelings

Cognitive empathy - perspective taking; our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions

Other words related to empathy: Understanding, sharing, awareness, sensitive, vicariously, experiencing, sensing emotions, empathy and personal growth

Build social connections with others

Helps you learn to regulate your own emotions

Promotes helping behaviors

Polyvagal state - Safe & Social


What it is - Kindness, caring, a willingness to help others

Empathy + wanting to help = Compassion

Requires being in safe state while also down the ladder

  • Being anchored in safety while tapping into the defensive state and feeling it

Necessary for helping professions

Being empathetic is not enough

  • Signals danger to someone already in danger

  • Shows pain, shock

  • Client or patient’s story will shift, thinking they are causing the shock or the pain

We may evaluate the empathetic pain

  • Being down the ladder w/o the safety makes us evaluative

What is Empathy? - Greater Good Magazine -

Importance and Benefits of Empathy, Kendra Cherry -

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