Apathy vs Empathy
Apathy and empathy are often confused with each other due to how similar they sound.
The two words are, however, very different.
The apathy vs empathy question boils down to the confusion between these words and pity, guilt, depression, sympathy, etc.
It is, in many ways, a simply semantic and language question, and can be easily solved.
Here is the difference between the two “pathy” words.
“Pathy”, by the way, means feelings.
What is Apathy?
Apathy is an emotional state that people fall into. It can be described as lack of enthusiasm or a lack of concern. A person who is apathetic is unresponsive and lethargic and will often not react to problems that come along.
Apathy can occur during situations where someone is so completely overwhelmed that they stop trying to deal with the situation and simply give up. In this case, a temporary state of apathy can actually be beneficial if you rightly assess that the situation is out of your hands and you should simply stop thinking about it.
However, this is often not the case. Apathy frequently occurs because the individual loses faith in himself. Yet this feeling is not objective. If your parents told you that you will never amount to anything, it does not objectively mean that it is true. Your mind has accepted this premise and you act accordingly, but the premise itself is objectively false. The correct response in this case is to uproot the false notions implanted into the brain by the parents.
Remember that you are not your beliefs.
What is Empathy?
Here’s where the apathy vs empathy question comes to a head. Empathy, you see, is not an emotional state. Empathy is the capacity to share and understand the emotions of others. When you make an emotional connection with someone and you can feel what they are feeling, that’s empathy.
Some people run into problems when they have too much empathy. I’ve witnessed this issue in real life and generally these people tend to absorb emotional gunk and problems that don’t belong to them. The solution here is to be selective with your empathy; you must instruct your brain to only utilize its empathy faculties when it is appropriate. If a random stranger you know nothing about lost his or her job, you shouldn’t be crying for three hours afterwards.
Empathy is one of the keys to a better humanity. Many of the people who have given great things to humanity often have tremendous amounts of empathy. The suffering that they feel in others drives them to work towards ending that suffering. Successful or not, these people are often massive givers who forget that, sometimes, receiving is also important.
If the empathy force is strong in you, make sure you remember to sometimes receive from others. If not, you will burn out.
Finally, sympathy is what you feel for another. While you don’t viscerally feel their negative emotions (which you do with empathy), you feel your own negative emotion which compels you to help them.