Episode 51: The Dark Side of Empathy

Empathy has the power to help us understand, connect, and feel some of the emotions that other people are feeling around us. This is a great skill to have, but it also has a little bit of a dark side. Today, we’re talking about how we can use empathy in a way that protects both us and others.

We explore how empathy can help us connect and understand others, but also how it can lead us into a trap of judgement and emotional challenges. We chat about the idea of ‘selective empathy’ and how it affects our society and personal relationships. We also discuss hyper-empathy syndrome, where people feel emotions so deeply, they can’t separate their feelings from others. We highlight the importance of setting emotional boundaries so you can still be empathetic without losing yourself. Plus, we share some great self-care tips for parents. We’d love for you to join the conversation, but remember, this podcast doesn’t replace professional advice!

What you will learn on this episode:

  • How the dual nature of empathy can lead to both understanding and patience, as well as judgment and emotional challenges.
  • The concept of selective empathy and its role in creating societal divides and affecting personal relationships.
  • The concept of hyper-empathy syndrome, an extreme condition where empathy can strain mental health.
  • The potential for compassion fatigue in individuals with hyper-empathy syndrome.
  • The importance of setting emotional boundaries to maintain empathy without compromising your individuality and well-being.
  • Self-care strategies, especially for parents, underlining the necessity to care for oneself as much as for one’s family.



*This transcription below was provided for you or your convenience; please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.

Hi and welcome back to Leadership Parenting. As promised, I’m back to continue our discussion about empathy and to specifically look at what can sometimes be called the dark side of empathy. So I want to start with just a little story. I was on a plane the other day and there was a toddler that was unhappy the whole flight. I’m not exaggerating at all. It was the whole flight from takeoff to landing, this little boy just cried and screamed and arched his back and kicked. He was probably about maybe almost two and he was so loud and so disruptive and I’m pretty used to kids and just usually not even noticing when this happens, but this was impossible to not notice. It was an evening flight and the plane was dark and it was pretty quiet except for this little guy. I think we took off around eight-ish and landed around 10, 1030. And because of the noise and the literal meltdown, the whole flight 10.30. And because of the noise and the literal meltdown, the whole flight. The flight felt much longer than that, probably twice as long, and there was this family sitting. They were sitting with the little boy a few rows ahead of me and I couldn’t really see them very well. I could see when they got up and walked a bit with the little boy and I could hear them trying all of these tricks right the food, the blankie, the iPad, whispering, singing man. They were pulling everything out of their bag and it did not stop him. He didn’t even take a break. I don’t know how little lungs and a throat can manage to scream that long without a break, but he did. 


Finally we landed and as we walked off the plane the couple in front of me was very vocal about it all. They were sighing and waving their hands dramatically. They were a little bit older and they were complaining just really loud on the walkway from the airplane to the terminal oh my gosh, that was the worst flight I’ve ever been on. Misery, pure misery. The husband said that was the worst. 


The lady said, and even as they walked by the flight attendant and said the worst flight ever not you, but they were so loud and I’m sure so many people on the plane heard them and we were right behind them and at one point they stopped in the hallway and looked straight at us and started complaining more about those parents not doing anything, just letting that child ruin everyone’s flight. So my husband said oh, they were doing their best, poor little guy. He was just so tired and the woman kind of paused and nodded. She looked perplexed actually, that he would talk back to her in some positive way. And then she shook her head and got this really big frown on her face and she said no, I have three children and they’re grown now and none of my children did that. They were not allowed to do that. This was the parent’s fault all the way. Now my husband looked at me and raised his eyebrows. We had just said to each other when we landed oh, those poor parents, that baby missed his sleep window and I think I said, yeah, his little nervous system is just wiped right now, like we had both been disturbed by the sounds. But it hasn’t been that long ago that we’ve sat with our kids at that age and with our grandkids at that age. 


We keep trying during that whole flight to put ourselves in the shoes of those parents and every time I got overwhelmed by that screaming, I know I was thinking in my own mind those parents. And every time I got overwhelmed by that screaming, I know I was thinking in my own mind, what if that was me and this was my kid and I would be so worried about everyone around me. So I kept working really hard and trying to stay in this place of understanding in the face of their difficult situation and it actually kept me really calm and it also felt like the right thing to do and I’d been thinking about empathy and about the questions I get about empathy and I was thinking about what a great tool it is and how it’s helping me stay calm and how it’s the right thing for that. You know those parents because we’d been there. We felt judged before. 


So I was here with this mantra in my mind and then this couple was just so blatantly negative. Well, I totally stiffened and my husband smiled, put a hand on my back and ushered me forward because I think he knew I was starting to lose it inside the judgment and the harshness that she kind of spit at us felt like an attack on me, on my kids, on my grandkids and on all the moms I work with who are frequently judged by people like this. And I think my husband knew I was close to disagreeing with her out loud, which would not probably have gone well. So he ushered me forward very gently and we parted ways and I practiced slow breathing and I calmed myself down and I recognized that the whole flight with a screaming two-year-old could not ruffle my feathers like a conversation with this couple in a five-minute walk off the airplane. 


Now I want to take a look at empathy. I worked hard to have it for these parents and the little boy and it served me well. It kept me out of judgment these parents and the little boy and it served me well. It kept me out of judgment, it actually kept me from feeling like a victim on that airplane and hopefully it was a support to two very tired and frazzled parents. I have no idea if they understood how hard I was working to have empathy for them so I wouldn’t be upset or be judgy. And I even went to find them and tell them be judgy. And you know, I even went to find them and tell them you know way to hang in there. That was hard but on the other hand I realized as I was calming down that I had little or no empathy for that older couple. In fact I was actually deep in judgment, almost seeing them as villains, the very example of what’s wrong in this world and why parents are so beleaguered, tired and judged. And as I realized that I looked across the baggage claim and I saw those two people standing on the other side of the carousel, still mad-faced and grumbling, and as I was standing there so proud of myself for having all this empathy for the little family with the screaming child, I realized I’d fallen into one of the little traps of empathy. 


And this is what I want to talk about today the pitfalls of empathy, or what we might call the dark side of empathy, and there’s actually a few of them and I thought this story might illustrate one of them. To start us off, because a lot of times we can have empathy for one person and then not for another, and this is actually called selective empathy and it shows up in our world every day, especially in situations of anxiety or contention or trauma. Our empathy becomes selective and that makes us identify with our own group and side against people in the out group and, honestly, there are times when this is very valuable to us. Think of having to go to war to defend your country, where you have to keep your empathy reserved for your brothers in arms to protect them. Or even in a sports arena, you can’t be so worried about how the opposing team is going to feel if you block their goal attempt. You reserve your empathy for your own team. 


So hopefully you can start to see empathy can be used as a tool. It has its times and places to be used where it’s helpful and supports us in our values and our goals. And when we talk about it as a tool, it actually makes more sense for how we can use it wisely. For instance, we can help our kids have empathy when they play sports or try out for a dance team or debate an opponent or apply for a competitive job, and apply that empathy within context, where they manage their empathy to be there in a basic form, but not to get so worried about their competition, feeling sad that they don’t play or don’t apply for the job. What we’re teaching is a global understanding that all people have feelings and that there are times to be aware of that and basically understand it, but that we don’t have to be responsible for them. But that we don’t have to be responsible for them. So empathy is always going to be powerful. It’s a skill and, as we discussed in the last episode, empathy is a tool to help us ultimately connect and support each other, because it helps us see another person’s perspective and sympathize with their emotions, start to have that cognitive empathy for their emotions and maybe even feel their emotions with them if it’s appropriate, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, and all of that will help us build stronger relationships. 


So as I stood there in the airport, feeling so powerfully protective of those parents and patting myself on the back for my empathy, I realized I was being incredibly selective. I was actually in judgment of the older people. Not a great feeling for me, especially as I was writing this episode, but really good for me to be aware of. Not so helpful also as far as trying to help the world get along and be more peaceful, because bottom line chances are that they were probably great parents to their children and probably very good-hearted people who got caught up in their own traps of judgment. So I thought this is a great opportunity for me to try and a little experiment to see what I was feeling and how I could work with it a little around my empathy. 


So I started of trying to get some sympathy for this older couple and I noticed their age. They were struggling a little bit as they were walking. They were definitely still looking really unhappy and muttering and having a hard time pulling their bag off the carousel and as I started to watch this, I started to have some sympathy for them, which means I started to see them having a hard time. And then I started to think well, I wonder what it’s like to be in their shoes. I wasn’t feeling yet what they were feeling and I never got to that point honestly, and I didn’t feel like I needed to, but I started to think well, what might their life be like? Maybe they were dealing with health issues. Maybe their parents were harsh with them when they were little and they had these old rules in their mind that they couldn’t handle being broken. Maybe I would have been defending them on some other trip if I saw people judging them harshly. Maybe somebody’s saying oh, I hate being behind old people, they’re so slow, I can’t stand it. I think my empathy would have gone out to them and all of a sudden, I would be their defenders. The possibilities were starting to open up for me and I actually felt my anger and my indignation toward them soften. 


Empathy is a powerful tool. Empathy is a powerful tool, and today we’re talking about how empathy can even create roadblocks for us individually and in our relationships, especially when we’re not aware of how it’s at play. Selective empathy is something our whole society is dealing with. We get behind our own groups and beliefs and have a hard time seeing another’s perspective. So this is one pitfall that we can be on the lookout for and what to do when we have this happen. Well, when we’re in this position, we can also use empathy to help us take a peek at the other person’s perspective. Maybe just use that cognitive empathy to try to understand it from their viewpoint. And it’s important to know you don’t have to go any farther if you don’t feel comfortable. If you have a person whose belief is so opposite of yours, you don’t have to actually go as deep as emotional empathy, where you feel what they are feeling. Even just considering what they might be feeling and why, can bring you closer in connection in very good ways. 



Another huge pitfall probably what we’ll spend more time talking about today happens when we get overwhelmed with empathy. I have far more women in my practice that have a hard time managing their empathy, meaning they have too much of it and it causes a lot of problems for us. You might be one of these where you feel what other people are feeling, feel it so deeply that it kind of overtakes you and lingers and affects you. You might have a child that feels this way, or a sister or spouse. I find that often kids are just born with this and I’ll call it a gift. Sometimes we call it being an empath. We won’t go deep into that word and that meaning, but when you’ve got someone who so easily feels empathy, it can really be overwhelming having the gift to look at another situation and see it from their perspective and feel their feelings. I have struggled with this in my life. As a child, my mom had her hands full with me. 



One example there is a TV show when I was really little. It was called Lassie. It was about a dog, a collie I think, and it was old when I watched it. It was reruns. I think it was first filmed in the 1950s but it ran as reruns when I was growing up and it was very wholesome and it was about a boy and his dog. That always seemed to be the hero of every episode. This dog had kind of like human characteristics and whenever someone would be lost or hurt or in trouble, lassie was the dog that would go and find that person and come back to the boy and they would go and rescue the person and it was always a huge tearjerker where someone almost dies and the dog and the boy and they would go and rescue the person and it was always a huge tear jerker where someone almost dies and the dog and the boy with this huge heart always saved the day and there was intense music and sappy music and eventually every Sunday night I was a mess of tears, a puddle on the floor because I felt everything Lassie and her boy felt. My mom actually banned the show. I was not allowed to watch it because I just got way too upset. My brother not so much. He’s a great kid, kind sweet. My brother just didn’t get engulfed in the feelings of the characters. He would look at me like I was crazy. I would be sobbing on the couch and he was like what? It’s just a show. 



As I grew I found that my ability to feel what other people felt made me the friend people came to to tell their worries and problems to. I would call them, check on them, problem solve with them. My mom called me Dear Abby, another old time character that used to write a column in the newspaper where people told her their problems and she gave them advice. I share this to maybe establish that maybe I was one of those people in the world that had a problem with empathy. I was often praised for it, but I actually ended up on having too much of it because as I grew up, I found a lot of life to be very painful. 



I often felt the heartbreak my friends were going through. It made me a great shoulder to cry on. But when my friends left and I was back in my own room I found I sometimes kept crying for them, feeling what they were feeling and having a hard time letting it go. And then I would sometimes not say something to someone, maybe not stand up for myself as bravely as I might, because I would often be thinking about how the other person might have felt if I did it. I would kind of become this receptacle of feelings where I could hear and hold people’s painful feelings and so they wouldn’t be alone. But the problem was that often they would move on and I still felt what they were feeling. I even had some times where I’d spend a whole weekend kind of sad, a little frantic or hopeless because of what I believe my friend was feeling, and then come to find out that after we talked they decided to just let it go and had actually had a great weekend and they bounced back while I was still carrying the sorrow and the pain for them. So I had that happen quite a few times when I started to see a pattern that was not very healthy for me. Not only did my suffering for others not change the path of their experience. It sometimes kept me stuck in the suffering when they had already broken free of it. 



So this is one of the problems that comes from having empathy without balance, and what I mean by balance is having beliefs that support you in staying separate from others, having boundaries that apply to your feelings and help you see your empathy as a tool to connect you with others while still maintaining your separateness. I had to learn how to do this and it helped that we talked about it in graduate school. I remember sitting in class and them describing the power of empathy and then the pitfalls, and they were talking about me and here in that moment I had this huge aha experience. This is why it was so painful to be a tender heart. This is why I felt like sometimes I had this little cloud of depression around me. I was soaking up the feelings of other people and I didn’t know how to be separate. I learned how to do that as we talked about it. I started to see my patterns and then I was able to set some boundaries, and I still practice it today, because my inclination is to go deep and feel it and soak it in, but I’ve also learned to have this awareness of when that’s happening and to take a step back and see empathy as something I can apply and move it back on the continuum to be able to have my own separateness. 



Be able to have my own separateness. I see it in my clients all the time, where boundaries get blurred, where empathy runs unopposed, without a clear distinction between you and me. So I come at this topic from personal experience and I think many of you know what this feels like, or you have someone in your life that you love, that you see this happening to, and the more you understand, the better you’ll be able to use empathy as a helper to you rather than a burden to you. So there’s actually a fairly new term that’s being used to describe this, and it’s called hyper-empathy syndrome. Hyper-empathy syndrome describes situations where we are too in tune with other people’s emotions and even feel their emotions at the same level of intensity as they do. You could even say that this is when we care too much, and when this happens it’s hard to regulate and deal with the feelings. 



The symptoms of hyper empathy include a very strong emotion when you see other people sad or hurt, even if it could just be in a picture or a movie, and sometimes it could make your stomach hurt or make you feel sick. And remember we call this somatic empathy, where we’re actually feeling it in our bodies. Even after a few days of being with someone who is feeling some deep emotion, you might still feel sad when you think about someone else’s pain or when people tell you their problems, it may feel like you’re going through them too and it could be overwhelming. People may call you oversensitive if you have these feelings a lot, because it’s good to understand people’s emotions, but if we don’t manage it well, it can be bad for our own mental health. We can end up in relationships where we depend too much on someone else feeling okay and kind of lose touch with how we are feeling and what we need, and this might even lead to having a hard time asking for what you need or even standing up for yourself. Or even standing up for yourself, because it can be hard to say no to people when we’re feeling bad for them, focusing so much on their problems or their feelings that we forget to take care of ourselves. 



When we have too much empathy, we can start to over-identify with other people’s feelings so much that it’s hard to tell the difference between them and us. And this is really tricky because empathy is so good but if it’s taken to that extreme level, to that far end of the continuum, it can mean that it blurs the lines and we can become enmeshed or, you know, where you can’t tell the difference between what you’re feeling and what someone else is feeling. It really messes with our own identity and we can call this over-identification. Another thing that can happen is having what we call compassion fatigue, because when we’re continuously exposed to other people’s suffering, and especially when we’re in professions like healthcare or kind of what I do, or even I would say the profession of motherhood, it can lead us to feeling so worn out and tired of constantly feeling compassion for other people, especially when those lines are blurred where we don’t know how to separate out and be okay again when we’re feeling with somebody else and their feelings. Now here’s an interesting thing that can happen when we have compassion fatigue. 



It’s not just that we get tired, it’s that we tend to go into a defensive and protective mode and sometimes that looks like we get numb or maybe feel like it’s hard to feel our feelings Overwhelmed to. That demand for empathy and support can kind of cause us to shut down or withdraw. It can also cause us to avoid conflict, avoid disagreement, avoid saying no to people, avoid letting anybody down, because we’re having a hard time dealing with that emotion they are feeling because we’re not quite sure how to separate out and let them have their own emotions. We’re so empathic with them. Now, where I find this can really sneak into our parenting is having so much empathy that we are kind of trying to overprotect our kids because we just don’t want them to feel bad and we know what it feels like in their shoes and we’re having a hard time separating that out and feeling. Really I think it comes down to a trust that they’re going to be okay. 



So sometimes in parenting we’ll jump in and try to overprotect or we might find ourselves enabling our kids, giving in to everything they want or trying to help them avoid any kind of discomfort, not setting boundaries with them, not trying to encourage them to do things that might be scary or hard. All those things that cause us to grow also are going to cause some level of discomfort, right. So if we’re really overly empathic, we can start to anticipate the things we think our children might be feeling and be fearful about, and then try to protect them from it and end up actually getting in the way of their growth. And maybe even another thing that could happen is we can step away from teaching them or giving them consequences or kind of disciplining them, because we’re really wanting to just only give them positive emotions. Ultimately, what happens is that when we get over identified with people and we get deep, deep into empathy, we start to lose that sense of self-awareness and self-control and it makes it hard for us to set boundaries and it makes us it hard for us to take care of ourselves, because we’re always imagining what the other person might be feeling. 



I have so many women that I work with that have a really hard time saying no to their friends or even disagreeing with their friends, because they’re so tied in to how they might be feeling. And what’s interesting is that oftentimes they’re not in a situation where other people are doing that for them. Times they’re not in a situation where other people are doing that for them, because when you are the identified empathic friend or person in your family, a lot of times people start to believe that you can handle all of that and that you don’t need someone to listen to you and that you probably have it all together and you’re so compassionate and kind and supportive that you just don’t ever struggle. And I have the privilege of hearing from women that find themselves in this position and they’re tired, they’re exhausted of being the deeply feeling one in their circles. You guys, this is, in a way, a beautiful blessing to be able to have the ability to be very empathic, but it also has that dark side and there’s a balance that I think we can come to so that we are able to give our children this great example of being empathic and loving and supportive, but also keeping our separateness, keeping our individuality. 



And so when we talk about empathy, it can kind of feel like we’re giving two messages. One you’ve got to be super empathic, work really hard at it, get in people’s shoes, you know, don’t think about yourself. And then here I am, in the very next episode, saying, okay, you can’t be too empathic, you have to think about yourself, you can’t always be in somebody else’s shoes. And it’s tricky because both of those statements are true. You need both sides of this coin. This is why we talk about having empathy in balance, and my takeaway for today, hopefully, is to keep in mind how we can have empathy as a sweet, protective and useful skill in our lives, without losing ourselves, without going to that place of overwhelm and exhaustion, and I really think that there are some things that we can do to make this happen. So let’s walk through just a couple of steps that I want you to keep in mind and I think it’s going to help you really balance out this empathy continuum and kind of get in that sweet spot in the middle. 



Okay, number one, the most important thing of all self-awareness. If you’ve been with me at all through this journey so far in leadership, parenting, you will know that self-awareness is the very first pillar in our resiliency system, because understanding our own emotions triggers boundaries. Recognizing when we’re feeling that emotional drain that’s the first step, that we need our attention, that something’s going on and we don’t have to be afraid of it. That’s just a sign that you’re out of balance. When you’re with your friends and you’re feeling emotionally exhausted because you’re worried you’re worried about upsetting them or you’re worried about the problems that they’re having and you don’t feel adequate to make them better, that’s a little signal that something is out of balance. Remember that’s coming from your values. The only reason why it bothers you is because you care so deeply. You don’t have to change that. It’s how you act upon it that’s going to restore the balance to your life. So you can hold on to that sweetness and that tenderness for them. But you can also keep yourself distinctly separate. So self-awareness is checking in and just paying attention to how you’re feeling and honestly believing yourself. When you notice something’s off, being able to say I trust myself enough to take a look at this, listen in and do something about it. And that leads us to number two. 



It’s so important to set boundaries Between you and other people, and most of us think of boundaries as being physical. Like you can’t cross this line, I won’t let you do this, or if you do this, I’m going to do that. But there’s another way to look at boundaries and that is just a distinct separateness between you and someone else. And I think when we hold this idea in our mind, we don’t talk about this often, because we’re always talking about connection and getting closer rather than keeping a separateness. But I think it’s important when we’re talking about empathy that we can have empathy for someone, be connected to them without taking on their emotions as our own. 



I like to think of us as walking around in big plexiglass bubbles, kind of like, you know, plastic eggs that have this membrane, and no matter how close we get to someone, there’s always the clear membrane that defines where we stop and they begin, the clear membrane that defines where we stop and they begin. I want you to just put that visual in your mind, especially when you’re listening to your child’s sadness, your spouse’s fear of something, your friend’s upset, and hold that image as you then try to see it from their perspective. No matter how close you get to them, no matter how deeply you feel, no matter how much you care for them and even are willing to do almost anything to help them, I want you to envision this little membrane that keeps you separate from them. This is absolute truth. No one can be absorbed by another person, and this is a very good thing, because we need to have our autonomy and our individuality, and that’s actually what helps us be such great helpers to the people that we love. 



I love the analogy of being in a boat, when someone you love is in the water and they’re calling out to you to come to them and be with them. What is the safest thing you can do when you’re out in the middle of the open ocean and someone you love is drowning in the water? If you jump in with them and you leave your boat, you both go down. You can’t do that. We’ve got to be able to stay in our boats, stay in our individuality, be able to see that there’s a difference between me and them, and to be able to hold tight to our own space, and then we can reach our hand out to them and love them and care for them. No one can do our feelings for us, but we can stay with people. We can throw them a life vest. We can help them when we’re responsible to keep ourselves in the boat, not in the ocean of emotion. Then we are going to be able to maintain our stability and be able to help them more. 



There’s no self-sacrifice that can make another person better. It’s not our job and it actually gives the wrong message to our children and to those we love that we should be able to do it for them, and often they’ll walk away with that feeling maybe not consciously, but subconsciously that someone else needs to do it for them because maybe they aren’t capable. We don’t want to give them that message. It’s actually very disrespectful to them, right. The message we do want to give them is that they are important and they’re not alone. And compassion is that bridge of us being kind of feeling like we want to get in the water with them. We want to feel it for them, we want to do it for them, but we can’t. The bridge between helping them and feeling like we’re not helping them is compassion. We don’t have to alleviate other people’s pain to actually help them feel better. Just staying with them, just hearing them out, just reaching out to love and support them, it is enough. So those are four steps. Let’s see what are they? Self-awareness, establishing boundaries, staying in the boat, staying separate, while reaching out in compassion. Those four steps are what help us set realistic expectations to be there for the people that we love. 



So let’s talk just a little bit about something you can do real time. If you’re ever feeling that pressure, that call to be so empathic that you feel yourself kind of getting kind of sucked into the vortex of losing yourself in all the pain of somebody else, as soon as you notice that’s happening, I want you to do one thing first, and that’s to take a deep breath, notice the tension in your body and, as you breathe in, let that tension kind of relax. Put your hand on your chest, feel yourself, breathe. What this does is it helps clear your mind, it gives you that connection to yourself which is going to give you that sense of individual safety. Then I want you to find one or two keywords that represent how you want to feel when you’re helping someone Trust, compassion, individuality, safety. 



The keyword that I love the most is trust. I think being able to trust that the way that this world is set up, the way humans are built, the way that I believe that God created us, is that we are enough within ourselves to be able to get through all the hard things. I also don’t believe we’re supposed to do it alone, but we have within us the ability. This is what we’re building this resilience, this trust, and that’s the word that is my favorite word of all. This resilience, this trust, and that’s the word that is my favorite word of all. I trust that I’m going to be okay as I’m making these decisions about how much empathy I show and how much I reach out and how much of myself I give to someone, and even, maybe more importantly, I trust my child or my friend or my spouse whoever that is that they also have the ability within them to be able to get through this hard thing, and that compassion is that bridge right. So, as we close today, I want you to strive for a balance between empathy and staying self-connected, recognizing that you can be compassionate and empathetic without sacrificing your own well-being. 



You know, one of the other things that happens when we are overwhelmed by empathy is that we start to shut down and we stop being as empathetic as we could be because we don’t know how to handle the fire hose of emotions that we just can’t seem to live with because they’re so heavy. And so I think that you know so many people that tell me I don’t have empathy. I don’t have empathy. When you talk with them, what happens is they’ve had so much empathy in their lives that they’ve been overwhelmed by it, and so they’ve kind of learned to defend against it or shut it down. So sometimes this is also a dark side of empathy, right. 


Like I shared in the beginning, I can be over empathetic with somebody, one group and totally miss another group. Or I can be overly empathetic and just shut down my emotions because I can’t handle the overwhelm of it. Or I can be so empathetic and just kind of lose myself in the process. I can be so empathetic and just kind of lose myself in the process, and many times this is actually part of what solves that mystery of depression and anxiety. When people feel like they’ve got that ability to control the level of empathy that they’re giving out and the emotion that they’re feeling, we find that depression lifts sometimes and anxiety goes down. So I invite you to play with this Just notice where you’re at on the continuum at any given time. 


Practice that centering and that grounding and then you’ll be able to reach out and offer empathy to someone after you yourself are grounded. I’d love to hear your questions about it. Please email me you can find the email in the show notes, as always, and I love to be able to carry on this conversation and answer any questions you have. You guys are great lovers and supporters of your family and I hope that you will give yourself the same kind of love and support so that we can all thrive and use this beautiful skill of empathy to bring us closer together. I will talk to you next time. Take good care. The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal, medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again, and take care.

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