Is it possible to show too much empathy?

I guess there will always be that one person that will take advantage of your kindness, or even mistaken it for weakness. But for the most part, no, I don’t think you can be too empathetic, at least not in the long term.

Looking back, I find it hard to believe I was once so one sided with my views. In retrospect, I think it was mostly because I lacked my own voice. It’s easy for us as kids and teenagers to want to be loved and often in that attempt we emulate those we so seek to impress. With that behavior, in looking back, it’s not surprising most of my views were not mine.

Lucky for us, time changes everything.

And it’s not something to be mad at either. It’s progression. Time does change a lot and hopefully it does so through progressive and positive change. As a young guy I’d confidently and passionately argue my views, and indeed although the outcome I sought had the best intention of still helping people, it lacked empathy. Lacking empathy mean’t that my impact was not lasting.

One of the things I’ll diverge to say I’m most proud of lately is that this blog is as much about gently opening your minds eye to something different as much as it is about fulfilling my own selfish desire to be a great writer. It’s so easy for us bloggers to use the words “I” and “me” because we are, in most cases, blogging about our own lives. That’s what lifestyle blogging is all about. Doing so, however, can lead us astray in terms of empathy.

Lately, a lot of thinking has been done around what it means to create change. To have an impact on those around us for the greater good. How can one have influence over others without making them feel undermined, undervalued or underappreciated? It’s a real challenge because most people can’t take themselves out of the equation which means others simply can’t see past us, and our perceived agenda.

It’s all too easy at times to feel that by giving more than you often receive, you’d feel a little underwhelmed in what you get back. I don’t blame you, no one wants to give and get nothing in return. Even true altruism feels good.

But long term, when we add up all of the little wins along the way, the results can be profound, even in the smallest of respects. But this takes giving more than you receive. It just does. I don’t know why. I don’t know if we ever will. One thing’s for certain; if we deploy real, genuine, and honest empathy, then for every instance where it doesn’t manifest into a win-win-win, long term, another time it will, two fold. Again, I don’t know why, it just does.

You know that saying, give more than you receive? It’s a real difficult one. Especially when you’ve been burned for it before. It’s hard when your kindness or empathy was mistaken for weakness. We fear it will happen again. And it may. But remember, time changes everything. Like anything in life, things take practice. Even the skill of empathy. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, at least once. If they burn that candle too short, it’s OK to hold back a little, saving your energy for those willing to receive it. It would just be sad to see someone like you hold back indefinitely.

Ivan.

Read #blogtober 14: The half way point! This is what’s up…

I blog regularly so I invite you to visit often. You can expect to see a post at least weekly. To ensure you don’t miss a beat you are encouraged to join my newsletter here. I won’t inundate you with emails, but if there is a message to get out or something I think you should read, watch or listen to, I’ll let you know. The best place to engage is in the comments or on twitter.

The only thing left to do is invite you to leave a comment below. I’d love your feedback or just seeing you say hi.

4 thoughts on “Is it possible to show too much empathy?

  1. This is an interesting question. I think empathy itself is lacking in society. Most people are self centered and self consumed. Look at social media and you’ll see a self absorbed bunch of narcissists. We all could be more empathetic.

    I might argue though that there’s a balance. I’m an introvert who tends to have a lot of empathy. In therapy, I’m learning I cannot give too much of my energy (empathy, care, thoughtfulness) to others because it will burn me out. Shouldn’t we first have empathy for ourselves? You can’t give from an empty soul.

    Have you ever looked up HSP? There is alot of research that backs up the need to protect our sensitive, empathetic nature. If we don’t, we will end up in a really bad state. I know because that’s me right now. I recently realized that I was in major burnout so that has caused a shift in my thinking. I have had to live really simple. I limit who gets my energy and who doesn’t. That sounds selfish, but it isn’t. The relationships that matter most get a lesser stressed version of me. If I’m giving away empathy to everyone, there’s nothing left for the people that really need me.

    This of course is based on the individual. I think some people feel charged by being around people. I know myself and I find it draining and depleting. I have tried to overcome my personality with helping more, serving more, caring about others more, but it truly was the worst thing I could have ever done to myself. I’m not here to fix everyone’s problems. Some people, sure. But I have to know my limits. Therapy has really helped me understand my introversion, to see it as a gift, and to protect it and only give it away when it is meaningful and valuable and doesn’t put me at risk for extreme mental problems.

    What works for me might be a terrible idea for you. So it’s each person’s job to figure it out. I highly recommend 16personalities.com. I really learned alot about myself from their free assessment. Infj over here!

    1. A lot of thoughtful input there.

      I haven’t heard of HSP, I shall look this up. As for the personality tests, I’ve done a few. Each give the same results so they are pretty good in being consistent, but I’m yet to do the one you mentioned though, I’ve seen alot of talk about it lately so I’ll be interested to check that too. Thanks for the direction.

      You’re totally right, you need to look after self first. Especially if you’re introverted (which I am too). Self awareness is a big part of all of this. A lot of people lack it so they get into all kinds of grief. Then some have so much but can’t control it and so it gives them challenges too. The fact you are getting ownership over this is huge. Life is one big journey.

      😁

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.