The Problem with too Much Empathy

The Problem with too Much Empathy

We regard empathy as a noble virtue. Something to build on and aspire to. However, too much empathy may be ruining your life. Here’s why!

First of all, having a degree of empathy is wonderful and certainly, the world needs more empathetic and compassionate souls.

But this article isn’t tackling the global consciousness of the world. Instead, it focuses on individuals who seem to be born with more empathy than they can handle.

It’s not their fault. Some people are naturally more empathetic than others. There is an entire culture of people who identify with being empaths.

Empaths are people that experience a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.

The Problem with too Much Empathy

The real issue is society never teaches you how to manage this ability. It really is up to the individual to understand themselves and navigate successfully through the world.

The other major issue is just because you feel strongly in an empathetic way towards someone or some situation doesn’t actually mean you understand the situation better.

You may like to think it does increase your understanding but more than likely your feelings are guiding you astray.

Feeling things doesn’t mean you know more

The reason our feelings guide us astray is that feelings are not there to guide us. They are there to facilitate us and get us to pay attention. They do not tell us their own story.

This I feel is a common reality of people who listen too quickly to how they feel.

For most people seeing is believing. For people who are strongly empathetic feeling is believing.

The reason this is a poor method of basing your beliefs is that feelings can be interpreted endlessly.

It depends on lots of factors. Of course, feelings come and go also, like the wind. Making a long term decision on the temporary feeling perhaps is not the best way to live.

Mother and Child

Let’s take the classic maternal case of the mother and a child. If a mother feels too strongly for every issue the child faces the mother is in danger of doing everything for the child.

Certainly in infancy, this is essential. The baby won’t get very far without that maternal care.

However, if this continues into the later years, the result is the mother raises an incompetent child, that is used to their mother doing everything for them.

They may grow up useless, they may never leave and the real kicker is that they may resent you for it.

The real world is likely to overwhelm such a child as they become an adult.

Such a person may be susceptible to depression as they realize the rest of the world isn’t treating them like their mother and that they are really not as special as they once thought.

The adolescent then goes into a cocoon of depression and hopefully emerges as a more robust butterfly as a result.

There are a lot of depressed Mammy’s boys and Daddy’s girls out there.

Ability to tell the truth

Being overly empathetic may in fact result in you lacking the ability, to tell the truth.

As a deeply empathetic person, you know too well how much the truth will hurt, so you hold back and tell a comforting lie as opposed to a harsh reality.

Not being able, to tell the truth, makes you a very weak person, lacking in honor and self-respect. A lack of these values will not benefit you in life.

However, with that said the biggest reason having too much empathy will hurt you is because you will spend your entire life putting yourself second.

A living paradox

This is kind of a paradox because the way you can help the most people and benefit society the best is by putting yourself first, leading and inspiring others to raise their game and become self-sufficient.

When you constantly put yourself second and in doing so aim to put everyone else first, you become like a crutch for them and once they are done with you, they move on and you look for another person who needs a crutch.

This is the cycle of the overly empathetic person.

Personal experience with animals

I’ve been incredibly empathetic when it comes to animals. You help one animal and another, and then another, and before you know it you realize there is an endless supply of animals that could use your help.

This empathy consumes you and before you know it, you have a choice to make, do I ignore the pain of these animals or do I devote my life to it, knowing I can never possibly do enough and then knowing I’ll always have that feeling of guilt inside me, because I know I can do more.

Before you know it you’re a drug addict that needs to find an animal in need in order for you to get your fix to stop the guilt from being overwhelming.

Now I’m all for helping animals and I’m so grateful there are people in the world that do but because of the type of person I am, I would destroy myself if I was a vet or worked for an animal charity. It would be the end of me.

When your greatest strength is empathy, it becomes your biggest weakness. You spend most of your life dismissing yourself in order to “help” everyone else.

Effects on Society

In recent years we can see that the more privileged we become in society the more empathetic people are appearing.

The more we want to protect minority groups, live in more socialist ways, listen to feelings over facts, and think being offended is a credible position to take in a debate.

Empathy is needed in the world. It is one of the things that makes us human and in many ways makes the world a better place to live.

The point I raise is to become aware of your own empathy.

Become critical of it and ask yourself do you in this particular moment in time benefit from being empathetic or are you in fact applying love in a way that weakens others and in the long run causes more stress due to the fact you’re taking away someone else’s independence and also your own.

You have to think, you can’t just feel everything.

Become aware of the fact you have a decision to make when it comes to applying empathy.

Sometimes you’ve got to be a tough bastard to watch someone struggle, but in the end, your lack of intervention is what will make them independent and strong.

Treating someone like they are endless, dependent victims is a very bad idea, which is what happens when we become too empathetic towards one another.

We see this manifesting into adulthood with people who are overly politically correct.

A nation of snowflakes

We are cultivating a nation of snowflakes, who get offended and play the victim card. They see how they feel as a way to validate their concerns.

Meaning the stronger they feel the more true their words are.

We only have to look at a child throwing a tantrum to realize this logic is deeply flawed.

Their agenda is to shape society so society serves them better, as opposed to becoming more robust, dynamic, and adaptable individuals who can navigate through all sorts of political terrain.

Teachers we remember

Remember it’s always the teachers, the coaches, and the managers that pushed us the most that we got the most out of.

Maybe you do better with a more positive approach, but I bet it was dealing with a more negative person that forced you to realize that about yourself.

When we look back at our lives, it’s often the assholes we have to thank for our success because they are the ones that inspired us to adapt, improve, and strive for more.

Empathy is a beautiful thing but use it and don’t let it take over your life.

Apply empathy when the situation requires it and not just when you feel like it. Because if you’re an empathetic person the truth is you’ll always feel like it and you may be doing more harm than good.

If you liked this article don’t miss this gem – Why “Follow Your Passion” CAN be Terrible Advice

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