Sympathy is a feelings of pity and sorrow between somebody’s misfortunes.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share someone’s feelings.
New Oxford American Dictionary
Why there is a huge difference between the two?
To have a feelings is different from imagining and owning the feelings to yourself. Same as putting yourself into your own shoes.
As a teacher, a parent, an educator, a therapist, a boss, a patient, a student and anybody else reflects a huge differences in the two terms.
To be in our own shoes of such conditions and situations are better understood than those who don’t.
A mother of special need children has a huge impact on empathy to the parents of the same situation. Same as to the treating therapist to a patient who once became a patient of her own from a health problem due to a traumatic event. A teacher in a remoteness village where too far away from civilization and easy mode of transportation. A family whom house has been totaled from a house fire and bombarded with trials. I myself can testify these because I experienced on this level personaly.
In our present society feelings is not enough for everyone. We have to emphasize and empower empathy from our own to be an effective individuals from our profession and personal position.
If you once right now are merely on sympathetic view it is time to move into an empathetic level. I know that it will takes time to reach into such point, but going forward is better that nothing. Practice! Pracrice! Practice!
We make mistakes anyway, and from these mistakes we learned and understand more profoundly.
You and me can definitely makes a difference!