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Understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy

In Chapel we have been looking at some of Jesus’s teachings. This week Mr Sturrock looked at ‘Love your neighbour’. There were many points he shared with the pupils, but there are two ideas that I wanted to share with you.

Firstly, he highlighted the difference between sympathy and compassion:

Sympathy looks in and says, “I’m sorry.
Compassion goes in and says, “I’m with you.

Sympathy looks in and says, “I would like to help.
Compassion goes in and says, “I am here to help.

Sympathy says, “I wish I could carry your burden.
Compassion says, “Cast your burden on me.

Sympathy often irritates with many words.
Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding.

Mr Sturrock then made the link between our ability to show compassion to others and the way we show kindness to ourselves. The two are intrinsically linked, as the command says ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’. Research has shown that showing kindness to ourselves:

  • Strengthens our sense of self
  • Boosts our self-esteem
  • Helps with our confidence
  • Improves our sense of optimism
  • Helps us cope better with stress
  • Improves resilience

But how can we be kind to ourselves? The top 10 tips were:

  1. Talk kindly to yourself
  2. Practice gratitude
  3. Perform acts of kindness to others
  4. Reflect daily
  5. Self- care
  6. Be responsible for yourself
  7. Invest in your interests
  8. Practice mindfulness
  9. Spend time in or around nature
  10. Think of the opportunities

Pupils were then challenged to:

  • Make time this week to improve your self-talk, challenge yourself to talk yourself up.
  • Take time each day to reflect on your impact on others – is there anyone who has had a better day because of you?
  • Consider how you can improve your ability to show compassion towards others.

My prayer for this week is that we can be kind to ourselves and learn to show compassion so that we can have a positive impact on those around us.

Mr Simon Cuthbert