When one has the ability to empathise with another person, they will be able to put themselves in their shoes, so to speak. This is not to say that they will have the same experience, but they will have a sense of what the other person is going through.
As a result of this, the people they come into contact with are likely to feel understood, and this is going to have a positive effect on their relationships. The people they are close to are likely feel as though one appreciates them and even when they come into contact with people they are not as close to, they can end up having the same experience.
Through feeling this way, there is a strong chance that they will end up feeling a sense of appreciation towards them. This can then strengthen an existing relationship and it can be something that enables a new relationship to develop.
When one can empathise with others and the people they are closest to can also do the same thing, it is likely to mean that their relationships are in balance. Whereas if one can do this and they spend their time with people who can’t, their relationships are going to be out of balance.
They are not going to be relationships where give and take takes place; they are going to be relationships where one gives more than they receive. Another way of looking at this would be to say that one is more like a caregiver than a friend.
In this case, one is being taken advantage of by others, and this means that it will be important for them stand their ground. Even though other people may see them as someone who is there to meet their needs, it doesn’t mean that one has to put up with this.
If one finds themselves in this position, it can be a sign that they don’t feel comfortable with their own needs. Being there for others is then an indirect way for them to get their needs met.
However, even though one can feel ashamed of their own needs, it doesn’t mean their needs are bad. What it is likely to mean is that there was a time in their life where they were shamed for having needs, and this then set them up to focus on other people’s needs.
If this took place during their childhood years, for instance, it could have meant that they had to take care of their caregivers needs instead. It would then have been normal for them to empathise with their caregivers.
Through doing this, it would have been easier for them to meet their needs, and while this would have meant that their needs were overlooked, it would have been what allowed them to survive. These early experiences can then cause one to feel comfortable with this dynamic, and it is then not going to be normal for them to recreate the same experiences as an adult.
If one is able to step back from what is taking place and takes the steps that they need to embrace their own needs, they will no longer be willing to spend time with people who are not willing to empathise with them. They will no longer be playing a role and this is because they will be in touch with their true-self.
This is something that can take place through changing their beliefs and looking at what is taking place at an emotional level, for instance. They could be carrying an emotional build-up that needs to be processed.
The Other Side
When it comes to the people who rarely, if ever, empathise with others, it could be said that they are also out of balance. In this case, other people are going to put themselves in their shoes, but this is not going to be something that they do on a regular basis.
In fact, this could be something that never happens, and they could then come across as though they have lost their humanity. Yet even if one does have moments where they empathise with others, they could still be seen in the same way.
The people they come into contact with could describe them as cold and calculated, and this is because they can be only too happy to take advantage of others. This doesn’t mean everyone will see this side of them though, as there could be times when they come across as the complete opposite.
When this happens, they will act as though they care about others, but this will just be a way for them to get what they want. But while someone might not realise what is happening in the beginning, it might only be a matter of time before they see what they are actually like.
On one side then, they can come across as though they lack the ability to feel, and on the other side, they can come across as though they care about others. This is not to say that they will be able to deceive everyone though, as there are likely to be people who will see right through them.
However, even though their behaviour is having a negative effect on their life, it could be a way for them to protect themselves. If they were to feel, they could end up being overwhelmed.
All or Nothing
While there are some emotions that will allow one to feel good, there are others that will cause them to feel bad. Yet in order for one to experience the ‘positive’ side of spectrum, they will also need to embrace the ‘negative’ side.
If they were to block out one side, it is also going to cause them to lose the ability to embrace the other side. Thus, as a way to avoid pain, they can end up losing the ability to feel, and it can then be more or less impossible for them to empathise with others.
One reason why one can disconnect from their emotions is because of toxic shame, and this shows how painful this inner experience can be. If they were to get in touch with how they feel, they could end up feeling as though they are completely worthless.
Unlike healthy shame, toxic shame has no purpose; the only thing it will do is cause one to feel as though they are less-than human, and through feeling flawed, they can believe there is nothing they can do. Not having the ability to empathise in order to avoid feeling this way can then be seen as a small price to pay.
The Last Thing on Their Mind
In fact, the only thing on their mind might have been to stop themselves from being overwhelmed by shame, and this then means that they wouldn’t have been thinking about anything else. When they were overwhelmed by shame, disconnecting from their emotions might have been the only option that was available.
This could be a sign that this was something that took place during their early years, and disconnecting from how they feel was then a matter of survival. During this time, they may have experienced some kind of abuse and/or they may have been neglected.
If one can relate to this and they want to develop their ability to empathise with others, it will be important for them to process the emotional build-up within them. Along with this, they may also be carrying trauma, and this will also need to be dealt with.
This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.