Feeling Empathy for Another is Bad?

 Richard (@canadamagic) 7 years, 10 months ago

I had an odd moment yesterday that I have been giving myself time to think about.

I work at the front desk of a hotel so naturally I meet a lot of people and yesterday a young boy came to the desk to ask me a question. He asked me if he could have a fork for his meal which was irrelevant, however I did notice that he had rather oddly placed teeth. It wasn’t of course a condescending observation, but just more as a thing you notice when speaking to someone. I also noticed that he seemed to be uncomfortable with talking to me (part of my job is to be sociable with people so I assumed that it wasn’t me) and I got the incline that he was a bit socially awkward. Out of no where I got the rush of empathy for the boy, and i wondered to myself why that is?
Is it because of his appearence? He didn’t seem to be physically lacking, I mean that he didn’t look malnourished and I didn’t feel that was the reason for the empathy. But perhaps more so for what I predicted his social future may be like? Even so that is no place of mine to do so, I know nothing about the young man and would have no basis to develope predictions on.
So I thought to myself, is it wrong of me to feel empathy for him? Is it wrong to be empithetic for someones elses looks, because in a way that is shallow. That is in a sense judging someone based off of their looks and I felt odd that I should feel that way towards the boy whom I’d never met before. I couldn’t think of any particular reason to feel that way and I wonder to myself if it’s just in a shallow way on his behalf.
Do you ever think that there is a situation where it is wrong to be empathetic of someone? Would that perhaps do them an injustice as to not be treated like everyone else, or do you think that is a quality that they may benefit from? I’m still on the fence about how I feel about the senario so I figured I’d get the response from HE. Thanks for taking the time!

December 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Michael Heyn (205) (@michaelheyn) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

It isn’t necessarily wrong, everybody feels that way when we approach or are approached by someone who seems to have less than us. Just because it seems that we have more, we usually assume that our lives are better.

Anonymous (57) (@) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Pretend it is you, take it to the extreme.
And you happen, in this thought experiment to be in a worse state than just some oddly placed teeth.
Would you want every conversation you had with people to be awkwardly covered with more attention than the next person that person deals with?
You would have to be self-aware enough if you saw that person interact with the next person on a lesser level, to pick up that it might be because of your handicap and their sympathy towards you;

I mean, I can’t give anothers mindset on it, but every-time I play the above game, I end up at the same result; I always find that getting sympathy from people unless I was fucking dying or something can be frustrating, always want to be just treated an equal; so then aim becomes to treat them with the same level of respect I give to everyone for best result long term game strategy results.

TLDR: You are communication with another mind, not their avatar.

Bono (18) (@bono95zg) 7 years, 10 months ago ago


Anonymous (21) (@) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

@canadamagic, maybe this feeling did not came from his looks but from his behaviour? Maybe you felt like that because you sensed that he is self-conscious about himself, and that he is “hurting” himself.

Would you feel like that if when interacting with him you felt he was a strong person who could not care less about his own looks?

Just a thought.

Ray Butler (1,423)M (@trek79) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

@canadamagic, Yes empathy can be a bad thing; there are people in genuine need who have to swallow their pride and ask for help, we can get into semantics about how much people deserve from their own flaw to be in need versus how much is ultimately beyond their power to remedy, but then other people are good actors, they have made a solid career of milking sympathy from others, it is how they have adapted.

What is our personal function in the community? What is the function of the community? Where is the line of personal accountability versus the accountability of the community? These are ongoing questions and we each develop our own standards of decency versus risk assessment.

Stephani (176) (@dancingscyphozoa) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

I don’t like empathy. You shouldn’t feel bad for a person or their situation unless you’ve been in the same place, but even then, that’s sympathy. No one wants to be treated like “Oh I’m so sorry you’re not as good as everyone else, let me give you extra special attention to make up for it.” Cause that’s basically what it feels like when someone is empathizing towards you.

Anonymous (0) (@) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

@canadamagic, @dancingscyphozoa, Empathy is attempting to understand another person from their perspective. When you judge someone else, you are not empathizing with them. It is trying to look past their appearance and understand how they see the world, and why. Sympathy is when you see someones appearance and automatically feel bad for them.

Honestly the only situation I can think of when empathizing is harmful is trying to understand others more than you understand yourself

lifegamer (28) (@lifegamer) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Loved Phil’s line…”communicating with another mind, not their avatar.” Would be nice if We All thought as this. :)

And, No, Darlin’, empathy is not a ‘bad’ thing. This is simply your Soul Sounds going off because you were being presented with an aspect of your Self to be Seen.
Think of what really got your goat…this Little’s teeth, or his ability to seek a need in spite of them? What’s going on in your Life now that this boy brought a reflection of?

Ever hear the saying “I send you nothing but Angels.”? He gave you a gift…food for thought. You will know you hit the nail on the head when you explore those thoughts & your Soul Sounds calm with an Aha! moment. Look in the mirror again…this child offered you a mirror image…You’d be wise, indeed, to acknowledge this…It’s a “Seek & you shall find” thing.

Have fun with that…Self-discovery is an Amazing part of Life. :D
Good Journey!

Ray Butler (1,423)M (@trek79) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

I think sympathy is when you either don’t know how someone feels because it has never happened to you but you try to imagine how they may be feeling, sympathy is also when the same thing, or something similar, has happened to you and so you can reasonably imagine how they feel.

Empathy is when you vicariously feel the pain, or emotions in general, of someone else, or even many others. Empathy is a sense, sympathy is an intellectual extrapolation.

iamhedonism (1) (@iamhedonism) 7 years, 10 months ago ago

Empathy can’t actually be felt because you actually do not know how that person feels or how they view their life. You ”Assume” you know what they feel, but those feelings come through your filter. Sympathy is useless as well! As @trek79 pointed out it’s an intellectual response to a perception, not a visceral emotional reaction.

Tine (366) (@tine) 7 years, 10 months ago ago


| I got the incline that he was a bit socially awkward. |

^i think this was why you felt empathy

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