As I write these pages about a lack of empathy, I want you to know I speak from personal experience as well as what I've learned through reading and counseling. I have used examples from my own life, and many of the problems I describe have been very challenging for me. You are not alone!
we've been looking at the definition of empathy and some examples of it, as well as resources for learning more about it.
Here we are going to look at a lack of empathy and why it is so detrimental to a person's emotional health as well as relationships, and even to society in general.
Say a little girl grows up in a family system lacking empathy. Not only will she have a lack of empathy in relationships, but also for herself. For example, if those most influential in her life teach by words and actions that only their feelings and needs matter, she does not learn to understand her own feelings and needs. Hers are deemed "wrong" because theirs were "right". She will likely grow up with a lot of guilt about her own feelings and needs which she doesn't understand or feel she's entitled to.
If her own feelings aren't okay, why would other people's feelings be okay? So feelings in general will likely be a big problem. How will she know how to help others understand their feelings and needs if she doesn't even know how to do this with her own? She will have learned to invalidate her own feelings as well as those of others.
Another issue that may arise is that if someone else presents a feeling or need, she may bury her own in deference to the other person.
Yet another relational barrier that may be present is that she will enter adulthood feeling that there is only room for one in any given circumstance or conversation. She likely won't know how to validate, negotiate, compromise, and come to a positive solution for everyone involved. She will have a "me or you" mentality. Problem-solving will be very difficult and cause a lot of anxiety and frustration for her and everyone around her.
A lack of empathy can lead to many other problems as well. Continue to to read more about this important subject.