To understand other people, citizens of today look at things from an empathetic or sympathetic point of view. Without a doubt, feeling sorry for someone in physical or emotional pain and mentally putting yourself in the shoes of the injured person to feel their pain is a virtue that has a positive effect on us as individuals and as a society.
We are all aware of how empathy can lighten the burdens of others. Especially to greatly reduce physical pain when hearing someone else express sympathy, but not when hearing unsympathetic comments. Similarly, patients deal better with bad medical news if their doctors are sympathetic, showing that they personally understand what the patient is going through.
However, I believed the fact that for that virtue to become complete requires the addition of some complementary behaviour that turns it into empathy. Recognising and understanding suffering, feeling sympathy for the sufferer, even enduring the uncomfortable feelings he and the sufferer are going through and perhaps most importantly, working to alleviate the suffering, is emphatically the beautiful and proper meaning of this virtue.
So that sympathetic person who has raised himself – if you can say – on empathy and whose goal is to reduce the negative feelings of those individuals and increase the positive ones after witnessing the pain of others, has to be more strict in the face of the pain of others. Exactly, here I do not mean that the pain of those around him should be less. Instead, you must learn to feel the pain without being affected by the action. Empathic people are just as likely to feel pain as anyone else, but in some way, they can tolerate it and work.
On the other hand and often, when people are in pain, they resist effective treatment because it will be temporarily more painful. You see that person walking around for years with knee pain because they can’t stand the idea of surgery and recovery.
Thus empaths cannot help others to make difficult decisions, because their help depends on the feelings of the victim. Hence you may realistically agree with me that empathetic, behaving stressed people can do difficult things that the suffering person might not want — but for their own good. What I mean is that empathy can also be tough love, giving honest advice that is hard to hear or saying goodbye to an employee who does not suit you!
In the end, like anything else of great human merit, the key to turning empathy into mercy is to use your conscious abilities to transcend your feelings. Learn the true meaning of sympathy — if I’m not exaggerating. Not only receiving someone else’s pain, but also giving your joy and happiness to someone who is suffering.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla is a physician, medical innovator and writer.