The difference is subtle, but according to Wikipedia sympathy includes empathy (responding to another’s perceived emotional state by experiencing feelings of a similar sort) but also includes the component of concern for the other’s wellbeing.
So what got me thinking about this is that my sweetheart, who is an artist, (briandavisart.com) was rubbing his toe after having a large can of paint fall from a high shelf and land on it. He showed me the dent in his boot and I commented that it probably felt like getting stepped on by a horse, “I know how that feels. It really hurts when a horse steps on your foot.” This would be empathy.
However, the next morning, as I am getting ready to leave for work, my sweetheart, tells me to have a good day “and don’t get stepped on.” That would be sympathy.
Many children and teens have difficulty with these concepts – they are unable to understand emotions from the perspective of others. But through work with horses we can help them with this issue. You have to start with an understanding of why horses do what they do and evaluate that during your work with them. Why is the horse’s head up and his ears forward? What does that tell you about what the horse is doing and why he is doing it? This ability to observe, relate and adjust to another being’s perspective is vital to life success – AND HORSES CAN HELP US LEARN THE ABILITY!
We would love to introduce you to our wonderful horse, show you around the ranch and share with you how our horses may be able to help with whatever the issues are that you are facing – call us!