Sympathy vs Empathy? 

This post is inspired by a Tedtalk I’ve seen a few days ago ,and very surprised that it has not gone viral if I may add ! It truly sheds light on how our perception can cause extreme results on systems ,situations and possibly even how others perceive themselves .Perhaps you’d want to take a look before reading through this blog post.You won’t regret it, pinky swear.

 

I grew up in a very small country town in Victoria. I had a very normal, low-key kind of upbringing. I went to school, I hung out with my friends, I fought with my younger sisters. It was all very normal. And when I was 15, a member of my local community approached my parents and wanted to nominate me for a community achievement award. And my parents said, “Hm, that’s really nice, but there’s kind of one glaring problem with that. She hasn’t actually achieved anything.”.” 

Stella Young 

Aside from the fact of Stella being completely charming , captivating and witty , She is speaking about a groundbreaking phenomena you may have noticed around you or even questioned in a shy manner within yourself .Whether it’s in events ,radio or talk shows where someone with a disability ( Its safe to state that I disagree with the term disability , which will be discussed in another blog post )  is asked to speak about their “success story”, however after objectively looking at his/her achievements you would find that their reward is somehow exaggerated. Which bares the question ,doesn’t that exaggeration in the reward make them feel that less is expected of them ? .

This lead me to think on a broader perspective . Questioning whether we’ve been seeing ourselves as the norm throughout our lives, and anyone who extremely deviates from our typical appearance or abilities will some how struggle in what seems to be “our life”. That whoever strives to live or fit into “our lives” and actually succeeds he/she is put on a stage and congratulated for getting there. I do believe we do it unintentionally, with the desire to help and encourage . However here is where I believe a fine line exists , between empathy , where we put ourselves in someone’s shoes trying to feel their emotions and sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone’s situation. On the surface or at first glance they may appear the same  , however .. It is in our actions where we differentiate which feeling was experienced.
“For lots of us, disabled people are not our teachers or our doctors or our manicurists. We’re not real people. We are there to inspire.” Stella 

For all the OT’s out there reading this , the yummy part is yet to begin. And I humbly ask myself these questions before I ask any of you.  How are we viewing our clients as soon as we step into that gym ? Are they people who need our help to be closer to normal , or closer to how they want to be ? Are we making sure it’s their goals , or the goals that society wants them to make ? Do we want them to fit in ,or be an individual and love their differences ?. If there is one thing I know about being an OT , it’s being in love with differences and seeing them as strengths not weaknesses.

“They are just using their bodies to the best of their capacity. So is it really fair to objectify them in the way that we do? ” Stella 

And it got me thinking , should we strive for a society that creates technologies and orthotics to compensate for others differences so that we all become alike ? Or for a society that sees our differences and treats us as equals.? 

I would like to take this moment and honor Stella’s memory , for she has passed away on the 6th of December the year 2014. May her soul rest in peace.

Always feel more than welcome to leave your comments below and sharing your thoughts!

A message to take home

 

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Wejdan sager says:

    Lovely observation, and heartwarming post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.. keep on writing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you wejdan for your warm support “as always ” will do my best 💕

      Like

  2. Sarah says:

    Glad that i found you; Thank you very much.

    Like

    1. It’s my pleasure to have met you 🙏🏼 you’re more than welcome anytime !

      Like

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