Sympathy is your understanding of a person’s experience.
Empathy is understanding a person’s experience.
This is why empathy is considered a more revered trait. Empathy is more profound. Apathy is less likely to coincide with empathy than sympathy, as empathy innately requires more action than sympathy. It’s similar to the phenomenon where someone responds to another’s distress with words, such as, “So sorry to hear!” or “I’m thinking of you”. Here, sympathy stops short where empathy would continue with encouragement, advice, or an offer to help. Sympathy retains action to the bearer’s mind. Empathy cannot be retained as doing for another feels likewise to doing for the self. Regardless, both sound like selfish feelings and reasons to act, but it’s notable empathy tends to be more prosocial, doing greater good than sympathy ever could.