I Feel Your Pain

Back when former U.S. President Bill Clinton was out on the campaign trail, he would cast his eyes down, press his lips together, and then say to his fellow Americans, “I feel your pain.” He masterfully played the empathy card and that may have been a contributing factor to his successful election in November 1992. I voted for him in ‘92 and ‘96, but I always felt that his “I feel your pain” shtick was kind of hokey.

I’ve always thought of myself to be a sympathetic person. Sympathy is largely used to convey commiseration, pity, or feelings of sorrow for someone else who is experiencing misfortune. I could feel sorry for people who find themselves in tough situations or who are suffering. Sympathy is acknowledging someone else’s pain. It’s what I felt toward individuals who are disabled or handicapped.

But I have now discovered the difference between sympathy and empathy. Empathy is the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the pain, emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person. It’s choosing to not just acknowledge the pain, but to feel the pain with those in tough situations or who are suffering.

And now I can honestly say that I am experiencing true empathy, maybe for the first time in my life, for temporarily or permanently disabled people. Because now I am — temporarily I hope — disabled. I am handicapped. And now I feel your pain.

30 thoughts on “I Feel Your Pain

  1. ladysighs February 2, 2023 / 3:19 am

    Some things we can fact check. Empathy/Sympathy we can only imagine what others mean. What others say they are feeling about pain, I must believe.
    Experiencing something like pain/handicap is the closest we can come to understanding others.

    I like your assessment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadje February 2, 2023 / 3:26 am

    We can imagine someone’s pain but to truly know it, we have to experience it too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paula Light February 2, 2023 / 6:01 am

    Very well explained. I hope you feel better soon 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango February 2, 2023 / 2:20 pm

      Thanks, Paula.


  4. newepicauthor February 2, 2023 / 6:14 am

    I always liked Bill Clinton even though many others called him Slick Willie. When I went to Brazil and people found out that I was an American, they would ask me what Monica Lewinsky was like, and how was I supposed to know that, as I never met her. Keep up with your rehab and I am sure things will get better for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stine Writing and Miniatures February 2, 2023 / 6:59 am

    This is totally NOT the same thing as empathy really but I got a new infusion to accompany my current meds for the psoriatic arthritis called Simponi Aria and for the first time in I don’t know how long I didn’t have pain like I do every day. Now as the medication wears off it is so much worse, maybe because now I remember what it is like to not have pain all the time. Anyhow, just keep doing the exercises they tell you to do and you will get your strength back and the pain will decrease.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Roy February 2, 2023 / 8:04 am

    I think you hit the nail on the head, there. You now feel the pain of others in your plight, but, really, only now. Clinton’s claim was just theatrics. That, or a figure of speech much overused.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marleen February 2, 2023 / 8:51 am

    That’s an awesome discovery, Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marilyn Armstrong February 2, 2023 / 10:04 am

    It’s hard to explain the difference between sympathy and empathy, but you’ve done a good job. I met Clinton a couple of times and he really WAS empathetic. If ONLY he had kept his zipper closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango February 2, 2023 / 9:26 pm

      Ha! Yes, unfortunately he will forever be remembered for the infamous blue dress.


  9. Nope, Not Pam February 2, 2023 / 11:03 am

    Some people are very emphatic, I’m not. I can be sincerely sorry and sympathetic, but I don’t feel others pain

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango February 2, 2023 / 9:29 pm

      In most cases, I’m the same way. Or was, anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jay February 2, 2023 / 12:40 pm

    I read someone that empathy has the meaning of “your pain in my heart”. I’m not sure it’s true, but it would make sense. I confess I struggle with empathy, I either experience too much or not enough. Again, I hope for a speedy recovery for you! Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Travtrails February 2, 2023 / 1:04 pm

    Very well explained. Experience teaches us to differentiate between true sympathisers & fake ones

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JT Twissel February 2, 2023 / 4:21 pm

    Good points. I think some people are naturally empathetic but most have to experience pain or poverty to know the difference between sympathy and empathy. Clinton, from what I’ve read, knew poverty.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Gr8BigFun February 2, 2023 / 4:59 pm

    It’s funny hearing you talk about Clinton’s schtick. He was a master at connecting with his audience. In my line of work, I had the opportunity to meet him (well shake his hand). Moments before the meeting one of his handlers came over and explained how Mr. Clinton would come over and shake our hands.” We spoke for a few moments longer about the former President as we waited. As part of that conversation, the handler said, “If you watch closely, once he finishes shaking your hands he will turn to walk away, then stop, turn back, look right at you and gesture like he’s going to ask a question, then mumble something, smile and walk away. In that one motion, he manages to make you feel important enough to want to ask you something and at the same time too important to not take up any more of your time.” Sure enough and as if right on cue the exact scenario played out and another one of my colleagues who was not privy to the conversation still goes on about how Clinton turned to ask him a question like it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. Truth is there was never a question, it was all playing to the crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango February 3, 2023 / 1:45 am

      He was, indeed, a master politician.


    • Marleen February 5, 2023 / 4:54 am

      When Larry Summers is mentioned, think also Bill Clinton.

      How America Helped Russian Oligarchs Steal Billions

      Liked by 1 person

  14. leigha66 February 2, 2023 / 8:52 pm

    It is eye opening when you feel the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jilldennison February 2, 2023 / 10:26 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head regarding the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy isn’t always fake, most people truly do “feel sorry for …” a person going through a tough time, but sympathy also holds an element of “I’m sorry for you, but glad it isn’t me.” Empathy is more like, “I’ve been there and can actually feel your pain, for I’ve experienced it before.”

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.