Don’t Let Your Empathy Run Rampant

Empathy is a human trait admired by everyone. But, you should know the dangers of unchecked empathy that can get you in a world of trouble and give you a reputation that could haunt you in career and personal relationships.

Over-the-top empathizers risk being hurt by those who would take advantage of a person’s good nature. Empathy for a loved one can result in anger if you perceive that they’re being threatened by an outside force.

For example, if you have a child in school and s/he comes home crying one day because a teacher (or another student) treated her badly, your empathy for your son or daughter makes you angry at the person who hurt her feelings.

You might feel aggressive toward the person who hurt your child and have thoughts of hurting him or her. Emotional intelligence can help you turn those thoughts into another type of thinking process that leads you to settle the situation in a calm manner rather than letting your aggressive nature play out in the wrong way.

Empathy-based guilt can also cause problems in your life. You’ve likely heard of people who survive a catastrophe such as an airplane crash who can’t get over their feelings of guilt for having survived when others didn’t. That is empathy-based guilt.

Those who suffer from empathy-based guilt may go into deep depression that keeps them from being productive or responsive to their families. They’re so mired in grief and empathy toward others who didn’t survive that they may lose everything if they don’t seek help.

Too much empathy can destroy a relationship. Empathy in a relationship can have a negative effect if you can accurately tell if your partner is becoming bitter or seeking revenge in the relationship.

While feelings of love can help restore a relationship, feelings of empathy can eventually destroy it. You can also be manipulated because of empathy. Some people (psychopaths, especially) seek to take advantage of those who empathize with them.

Letting people take money or other type of help from you because you’re sensitive to their suffering could take a toll on your own life and those around you. Empathy can be a good thing – but only if you use your emotional intelligence along with it.

There are three types of empathy you may have – cognitive empathy, which is when you can put yourself in another’s situation and understand how they feel. Emotional empathy is when your emotions are similar to another person and you can actually feel what they are feeling.

Compassionate empathy is when you make the effort to help another person because you feel a need to respond. All types of empathy can be good and add meaning to your life unless you let it run rampant and become a negative impact in your own life.

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