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Empathy.... Can you have too much?

By Cutiebeauty9
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30 comments

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11

As a social worker, I’d say you can’t have too much empathy. The world needs more. You do need to have strong healthy boundaries, so you don’t give until you drop. If someone is stuck in their pain and unable or unwilling to do the work to heal, there’s not much you can do but empathize.

@TheAstroChuck I agree

Agree

@TheAstroChuck, @MichelleGar1 I agree, as well.

Strongly agree, but if work in a helping profession you also need a huge support system and some sort of good stress reliever or two.

8

Empathy is understanding, not excusing.

This right here. I can completely understand and support you through this difficult recovery, but it’s completely your responsibility to do the hard work. I’m not going to forget that you blew your money on crack or pay your rent for you.

7

No I don’t think so. You can have complete empathy yet still not allow excuses. It’s a fine line and difficult to balance but doable.
Part of my job requires this of me.
It’s about taking responsibility and putting in an honest effort at times.

darthfaja Level 7 Jan 12, 2019
6

One can have boat loads of empathy, without being willing to be taken advantage of by those who would.
There are LOTS of those who would take advantage, and be perfectly fine with using their "victimhood" to justify it. Even if it's only to themselves.
That's one of those things which must be learned through experience, I think.
Boundaries are important.

KKGator Level 9 Jan 12, 2019

Been there

5

Life requires a balance of all that is needed to secure a humanist philosophy.

jlynn37 Level 8 Jan 12, 2019
4

The world is becoming more and more impersonal and narcissistic. Relationships are increasingly disposable. We need more people to become as empathetic as possible without burning themselves out.

Yes, I agree.

4

I see a difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is compassion or pity for another's misfortune. Empathy is putting yourself in their position, essentially feeling their same emotions.You may sympathize with a person who is mentally ill or abused. And personally, I think that sympathy can go a long way. Certainly further than most people allow. Sometimes sympathy is helpful to the other person. But some personality disorders crave the sympathy or manipulate through sympathy.
Empathy is different. It really can go too far for the person who is feeling the empathy, sharing the pain or fear of sorrow of others. An example might be the fictional character of John Coffey in the movie The Green Mile. Bearing the suffering of so many others can be overwhelming.

ohnoudun Level 5 Jan 12, 2019

Compassion fatigue is a serious problem in the helping professions.

4

Yes

Oh yes! Personality disorder basically means you don’t work well with other people.

4

I'm still tryin to find my limit. I take responsiblity though; even when it hurts! ?

4

The thing with trauma it is so individualistic. We can only get glimpses of what is happening to them from those trained to work with such cases. Fine to have and opinion on something but not the a deciding influence. And to empathize to much could break you as well.

Mokvon Level 8 Jan 12, 2019
3

I wanted to post this and get some feedback on whether others feel this way about visiting a Walmart. When I do visit a Walmart, because I am still not well off enough to always buy mundane stuff at a Target store instead, I always feel kind of depressed whenever I visit a Walmart. Because I look at the faces of both the shoppers and the employees and I see so much sadness and depression. Neither group looks like they really want to be there and I know way too much about how shitty Walmart treats its employees. So when I go there I feel like someone visiting someone in a prison, at least the way I've heard it makes people feel who've done that. The employees and the shoppers, for the most part, look defeated and that they know they are poorer than most and living on the bottom rungs of the society. This stuff is one reason I have always felt very angry at people who post stuff on FB and other online places showing pics of Walmart shoppers making fun of the poor people. Thoughts?

You should make this a separate post... More people would see it and reply...

@Cutiebeauty Nah, believe it or not, my ego's not that big..Thanks for the suggestion.

3

I was just reading up on this topic a couple of days ago. Here are a couple of articles I found...

[psychologytoday.com]
[psychologytoday.com]

3

If it incapacitates you, then yes. Otherwise not enough of it in the world.

t1nick Level 8 Jan 12, 2019
3

Good question.

CaroleKay Level 8 Jan 12, 2019
3

Mentally ill people can be assholes like everyone else.

brentan Level 8 Jan 12, 2019
2

I am extremely empathetic and it's one of the qualities I like most about myself. However, this has lead to people taking advantage of me and treating me badly. I'm still trying to learn how to stand up for myself and not allow that to happen.

2

All I see is a severe lack of it... Which isn't a good thing by the way.

Qwent91 Level 6 Jan 13, 2019
2

veggies! Have had this all my life...it manifests as giving people so much "rope" I get hanged!

2

My empathy is only a problem once I realise that the person is not unfortunate but in fact stupid. Then my empathy turns in to something else. Otherwise I always try to see a situation from their POV.

Nardi Level 7 Jan 13, 2019
2

I don't think there is a disadvantage when you try to put yourself in somebody else's shoes. It will never be the same, but you must try, this is the basis for the golden rule, for example. The problem is not having empathy at all, seen currently in people like our POS POTUS.

Mofo1953 Level 8 Jan 12, 2019

He put people above corporate profits when it comes to medical insurance by removing the mandate for people who can't afford it so that was empathy on his part. He may not empathize the way u specifically want him to but he is empathizing with what his supporters want in many cases and since u didnt support him u can't expect him to put what u want above the ones who elected him. That's what happens when a party nominates a horrible candidate that can't beat someone as bad as Trump. I'm sure many repubs thought the same about Obama not being empathetic to their needs and they would be just as valid and correct as the claims against Trump.

2

Sometimes you have to show tough empathy.

Sticks48 Level 9 Jan 12, 2019
2

The first point is a tough one to answer because I think it is different for each person, and they have to come to the point on their own, where they decide, I'm no longer a victim.
The second point, no you cannot have too much empathy. Empathy is understanding and knowledge and you can't have too much of either of those.

BeeHappy Level 9 Jan 12, 2019
1

does that depend on whether they are thankless, or deeply appreciative, or the mass of us in between, depending. i've wasted moons, years, even decades, on selfish, angry, undeserving people, like my ex-sister, who uses her mental illness as an excuse to be an asshole. (the brain disorders and diseases, run on both sides, of both sides of the family. so, i'm touched, too.) but, enough. enough with many people, they're not worth it. if they take you for granted, if they take advantage, if they pay back the favors with ugly unforgiving often imaginary grievances. they are emotional black holes. who live their greedy lives by nothing but lies. and. still get offended, even entitled, and enraged, if we don't believe the lies they choose to live by. fuck 'em. period. i've given up on 50 million americans. i'm done. including close family and friends. finally. at 55. frankly, they will never have real sympathy, let alone genuine empathy, for anyone, until their base needs, are met first, and foremost. yours are not even a factor in their world view. trust me. you're a means to an end. and. you will literally feel 50 pounds lighter. the moment you dump them. days later, even. weeks tops. after some time crying, of course, or months or years, getting to that point, in the first place. when you act on "your" thoughts, and "your" feelings, first, and what's good for "you", on the matters at hand, or with these relationships history in the rear view. you will never need to look back. we could all die, tomorrow. so why ? their emotions ? influencing your emotions ? why not reason. emotions, guilt trips, family "obligations", and unconditional loyalty, are the main motivations, for almost every single dumb self fucking choice, in my own long ass life. especially, when i've tried to do the 'right' thing, with people that are so profoundly 'wrong'. it's time to let them all go. for.ever.

1

Explain empathy to me. No- seriously- that's a sincere request.

DoDapper Level 8 Jan 13, 2019

The ability to feel what another person is feeling...

@Cutiebeauty - Nope. Still don't get it. Still a conscientious sociopath.

Sympathy is more intellectual. I understand why you behave as you do, I see that you have been damaged, I would not want to be treated that way. Empathy is emotional. You are hurting and I feel it too, I am hurting as well.

@ohnoudun - I sincerely do have a hard time conceptualizing the difference. I am possibly not diagnosably anti-social personality disorder. But my compensation is that I view myself as empathy-challenged rather than simply sociopathic. As much as I enjoy teasing. I do philosophically and behaviorally think the most efficient "selfish" behavior is being "selfless" enough to build the strength around you.

1

I don't think there's enough empathy in this world. Or if there is, it's not used right. Being compassionate doesn't mean being a pushover -- it means taking someone else's feelings into consideration, but still holding them accountable and not being taken advantage of. There's a difference between being kind and being a doormat.

bleurowz Level 8 Jan 13, 2019
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