Realising the meaning of empathy

English wasn’t my first language and I don’t think Mandarin was either. However, I feel that sometimes, I understand the Chinese language (dialects included) better even though I have been 100% English educated from 2005 until 2013. 

The word that I think people often misunderstand is “empathy”. It is easy to mistake it as a synonym of “sympathy”. To me, when I learned those words, it was difficult to understand. Language is a beautiful thing, it is easy to understand once you start looking at the broader perspective of the origin of the word. 

To me, the difference between empathy and sympathy just did not fully make sense. However, once I have had a little more life experience as well as time to really think about the meaning (with the help of the equivalent in Chinese), I realised the differences and I suppose, the true meaning of those words and how we can actually apply in our daily lives. 

I believe that empathy is equivalent to 包容 and sympathy is 同情 in Chinese. 

For my own circumstances, I felt that people didn’t “understand” me, I felt more “sorry” from the others rather than empathy. 

I used to be angry, frustrated and even blamed the people closest to me for not understanding my situation and where I was coming from. 

But now I don’t anymore. 

It was unreasonable for me to expect others who were from different walks of life to understand me the way I wanted them to. The fact that they cared enough to try, was good enough. 

I’m not saying that I’m always calm and collected these days, but I feel that I have grown up slightly and that I am able to also be more understanding of others today.

When in doubt, just take deep breaths, step back (literally & figuratively), and think. Smile, and be grateful for the positives out of the situation and try to understand. 


chamomile tea – calming

Have a great week ahead, everyone. Smile more 🙂 


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