Happy Friday! Well here is a new word for you…”Compathy”, Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day. It is another word to add to your arsenal of “feeling” words like Sympathy and Empathy, but with just enough of a subtle difference that you may find yourself needing to use it more and more. The suffix of all three words is –pathy from the Greek ‘patheia’ which means ‘suffering’ or ‘feeling’.
Sympathy’s prefix, sym- comes from the Greek sum or sún, meaning “with, in company with or together with.” While feelings are part of the word, it is possible to be sympathetic without actually feeling what others are feeling. For example one could be sympathetic to a cause. One who is sympathetic might be overheard saying, “Oh poor so-and-so…” and in the next breath commenting, “I’m sure glad it’s not me.” So much for sympathy. No wonder we are loath to sympathy from others. It smacks of pity.
Enter Empathy. From the Greek ‘empatheia’, when one combines em + pathy the literal meaning is ‘in’ + ‘feeling’. It’s a feel good word…much more to our liking than sympathy. Having empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; to consider their plight while also considering how you might feel in the same circumstance. It’s a bit more engaging. Being empathetic moves us emotionally and compels us to act with compassion, but it is not the ultimate of –pathies. One can remain detached more or less and still feel and respond with empathy.
Which brings me to today’s word of the day, Compathy. It’s little prefix of a word, ‘com’ is a loaded when you add it to -pathy. For this word’s etymology we turn to the Latin ‘com-‘ or ‘cum’ which means “together with, similar, extremely, completely.” Compathy contains an intensity that the other two words do not. Compathy is defined as “feelings, as happiness or grief, shared with another or others.” There is no detachment here, no standing on the sidelines. To have compathy means to feel the intense emotions of another with that other person or persons as if you share the same heart.
I can understand why compathy is more obscure than the other two words. Have you ever heard of it? I know I hadn’t. And my ignorance allowed me to be quite content, considering myself a caring, feeling, empathetic person…which is a good thing, right? The fact is my ability to care has now been challenged to rise to the next level; to allow myself to enter into the suffering and joy of others whole heartedly and with abandon.
We call a person who acts and feels this way an “empath”, but I believe we have it wrong. Empaths are truly Compaths when you get right down to it. And it’s something to aspire to. Not because I’m a masochist but because I believe having compathy is the one true way to connect with another person in a deep and meaningful way. It’s where love and healing and true joy happen.
Have a great weekend. Peace and love to you and yours.
sympaths say “poor you”
empaths say “poor you, I know…”
but compaths say “we”
~kat – 14 April 2017