Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

The word “empathy” comes from a Greek term that means “to feel in” or “to feel inside” oneself, as one’s own, the emotional reality of others: a quality that is a blessing for the soul.  Empathy is the capacity of standing in the other people’s shoes, of feeling, understanding, perceiving, accepting and sharing feelings and emotions with others; it is emotional intelligence in action. As with all things, this quality needs to be balanced, lack of empathy will cut us off from our surroundings, an excess of it can thin out the diffuse line that separates our emotional life from that of others to the point of losing our own identity …


Someone without empathy can be a threat for society and for himself, because he can’t feel others he may wound or ill-treat them without turning a hair.  Because they can’t perceive the suffering of others, those who lack empathy are actual emotional illiterates incapable of understanding or taking pity of their fellow men,  even less so of creating harmony in a group.


Excess of empathy can also be harmful if we reach the point where we become insensitive to our own needs and emotions to the benefit of others; it is generosity misunderstood, a personal sacrifice that can lead us to the loss of our own identity or to become victims of manipulation.  Those who have excess of empathy are no longer in contact with their own reality and no longer know if what they feel is their own emotion or somebody else’s.  They can sacrifice themselves for others to their own prejudice, putting themselves at risk or even leading to self-destruction.  Excess of empathy can be love of mankind misunderstood resulting in self-inflicted violence or self-denial.


Empathy is an important skill for the emotional and sensitive knowledge of our milieu providing us with information that enables us to make the best decisions for common good, including the capacity of blocking out non-empathic individuals who are not aware of the violence they exercise.  Empathy and the information it gives us enable us to make other people happy, to help them or heal them if that is what they need, to protect the innocent from the destructiveness of the non-empathic.


In my opinion, empathy is of vital importance because it gives us the right measure of our feelings when understanding, helping, improving, enjoying, sharing or standing by others, it helps us  protect our own emotional life without letting ourselves being run over to the extent of missing our own course.


Speaking of negative emotions, during many years I have seen in my classes people whose excess of empathy made them block themselves out as the only means to avoid the suffering resulting from other people’s pain.  They were so caught up in other people’s suffering that they became unable to help or understand others and at the same time were totally incapable of understanding or helping themselves. By cutting off their feelings to avoid suffering, they stopped feeling themselves; they tried to live and understand life only through their minds and finally reached a point where their emotional life shrank to the extent that they couldn’t make emotionally and intellectually balanced decisions any more.


If we make decisions based on ideas that seem all right and reasonable but we don’t take into consideration how they make us feel, we’re heading for failure in the long run. When we have an idea and we are well tuned with our emotions, these will give us the right feeling about the experiences that the idea will bring about for us when it is implemented. Without such emotional information we may put in practice ideas that attempt on our feelings, ideals and longings and in the end on our soul. We’re all familiar with the “this is what I wanted, now I’ve got it and still I’m not happy” sort of feeling, the typical result of a decision made with head but not tested with the heart.


Pain is an emotional sign that should be overcome and not blocked off; otherwise we risk it becoming a chronic condition generating not only much suffering but many negative patterns that will limit our personality.  Instead of living a creative life that is the source of positive experiences and happiness, the “sufferer” spends his life seeking to avoid suffering, stops loving life and all he does is oppose it or protect himself against it.


The solution is not to block oneself off but rather to learn to handle our emotions allowing ourselves to feel them, letting them offer us their message, essential for the making of decisions that will bring us benefits and happiness instead of destruction and suffering. If we don’t pay attention to our emotions in our daily decision-making, we may end up immersed in the very suffering that we are trying to avoid.


The other case is positive empathy.  Feeling the love, the enthusiasm and the joy of the other person may fill us with positive emotions, of vital importance if we try to re-create them in our own lives too. Many receive this sort of emotions, they “consume” them and enjoy them, but they do nothing creative with them.  If something positive moves you, make the most of the gift that somebody else created for you and move in that direction, generate more energy and be an inspiration for those who in their turn seek to live on and learn to generate positive energy. Seek to provide your example and creativity for others, just as somebody else did for you.  Give back to the World the blessings that the World provided for you and everything will rest in balance.


Beatriz Fernández del Castillo



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This year I have had the opportunity to identify some people who were the perfect embodiment of the pattern of an emotional predator. In spite of their different ages and the fact that they belonged to different generations, their speech, their attitude, their modus operandi, were so similar that they were the perfect example of a very common behaviour in our time: that of the emotional predator.  I must say it is more frequent among men than among women.

A pattern is a system of ideas, emotions, attitudes and behaviours that  governs human beings and organizes them according to predictable, identifiable behavioural patterns.  People who think alike usually feel the same and have similar attitudes and actions.

Archetypes would be the source of these patterns, the original ones, according to Plato the perfect moulds, ideals deriving from the mind of God, ideals that influence us from the collective unconscious. Patterns are human derivations that are far less than perfect, resulting from change, from the world, from life, from circumstances, etc. … The world changes and by extension so do the collective patterns that rule us.

Although many people compare them, emotional predators are different from emotional vampires. Emotional predators are only after their own emotional advantage –generally involving sexual advantage-  regardless of any collateral damage they might cause. They are hedonistic, they are apparently happy, they are manipulators and they know well  other people’s weaknesses which they use to their own advantage. They usually have good social skills, are sexually attractive and have brilliant personalities in some aspects, although they also lack empathy and  don’t understand or notice the damage they cause in others.

How do we spot them? I’ll use as examples two cases, a man and a woman whom I have come across recently. Both are apparently charming and attractive, but they have  different motivations. He is the typical predator,  only prompted by the sheer pleasure of the conquest and oblivious of  the pain he may cause to his prey.  She is not so typical, she is moved by the pleasure of feeling loved and valued, but she is equally remorseless when she misuses her charm with others. None of the two wish to change, they show an apparent but ultimately false self-confidence and during the “hunt”  they both forget the main law that rules this Universe, that of CAUSE and EFFECT, which will  make them in turn the victims of other predators equally heedless of their suffering. Unfortunately, those who answer to this pattern, due to their lack of empathy, only learn by experiencing a taste of their own medicine.

They justify their attitude by saying that they warn others in advance of their intentions; they speak openly of their sexuality showing off in this aspect and  some of them even scorn the good use of relationships and sex, using others with complete disregard for their wellbeing.

The pattern of the good lover would be to use –not abuse-  the other, caring for and trying to benefit him or her .

In their eagerness to justify their own conduct, no matter how unacceptable, they  argue  that they respect any sexual attitude, ultimately trying to make others accept their conducts so as to ensure their power and their territory.

But they are also victims of themselves, even if they appear happy and cool; they dread serious relationships and always move in shallow waters.  As soon as anybody comes too near they scare away in their weakness,  end up eaten up by solitude, falling back into the vicious circle of the compulsive hunter, hoping to fill the void of a life without true love, full of emotional to’s and fro’s which they take for passion. Many of them in their childhood or as teenagers were victims of other predators and have eventually become one of them.  But that does not relieve them from responsibility, more importantly it should be treated as a challenge to end  the victim-aggressor circle.

The problem lies in the possible unsuspecting victims that cannot identify the emotional danger, no matter how obvious it appears. The lack of self-esteem prevents them from rejecting a charming person who approaches them showing interest and affection, even if false, self-interested or momentaneous; men or women with a feeling of emptiness, or who have gone through difficult circumstances in their lives, or have grown up without a family or essential values will always make an easy prey. If they fall into a predator’s clutches they may think it is an acceptable attitude and become one of them, there is a part of society that encourages and even values such behaviours.

If you come across an emotional predator and he or she is looking at you as their possible target, just wait, it won’t take long before they show their true colours. It is not a good idea to think one can  save them, a mistake  many naïve souls make in their eagerness to help and which they usually pay dearly for.  Always remember that  “two can’t play if one doesn’t want to”.

And if you acknowledge yourself as one of them, remember the film “Fatal Attraction” (Glenn Close and Michael Douglas), or even the popular sayings that a wise friend of mine reminded me of the other day and which I completely agree with: “what goes around comes around” or “you pick what you sow”.

The misuse of something or somebody by using them to one’s own advantage and to another’s disadvantage always has the consequences it deserves. Fortunately, anything that is not done in mutual benefit will generate the Law of Cause-Effect. And don’t get over-confident if it has worked for you so far, apparently without negative consequences, the Universe ALWAYS returns what you give, whether it is good or bad … at least that never fails.  Take care how you treat others, some day you’ll be treated the same way.

Beatriz Fernández del Castillo


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