I believe in taking care of oneself. Granted, there are times I want to be the small spoon and have soup made for me, but for the most part, I try to be self-sustaining.
Along those same lines, I tend to keep those around me at a distance. It’s safer that way, but I’m slowly learning I need to open up more.
When I see people in need, which is technically subjective, because they may, or may not, actually be in need, I sometimes lend a hand. Other times, just having empathy for the person is more appropriate – especially if the person interprets assistance as pity and finds it disrespectful, or off-putting.
In situations I have no control over (again subjective, because one could argue that every situation can be influenced), empathy always wins. On the other hand, in situations I can directly impact, I let my actions do work (guided by sympathy).
When I talk about sympathy in this regard, I mean the action of showing pity for someone else – regardless of whether they need (or want) it.
Personally, I feel (word-choice) that empathy is more important than showing sympathy – at least when it comes to oneself, because being able, or at least trying, to relate to others in need makes us more human.
Every time I see someone that is, by my ignorant determination, less fortunate (again subjective, because one could argue they are more fortunate in hundreds of ways), I try to position myself in their shoes and imagine who that person is, how they landed at this spot at this time, what they do for a living, and what a day-in-the-life is like.
The stories I make up for some people are quite far-fetched. It’s all part of being an experienced people watcher.