Empathy Deficit Disorder

I’ll be blunt; some people simply lack empathy and compassion. They can be thoughtless and their comments can be hurtful. It’s not a criticism; they just lack empathy.   I’m not saying they are being deliberately hurtful, it’s simply their nature and sometimes it can come across as abrasive and callous.  I call it ‘EDD – Empathy Deficit Disorder’. 

A short time after my dear Mum died a friend made comments that took my breath away.  I’ve now experienced that grief has no boundaries, it has it’s own agenda, it takes the time it takes, and when we are at our most vulnerable we need to be mindful of the people we let close.

Whilst reflecting about my Mum and her sudden death, my friend said “Yeah Rob at least you’ve still got your birth Mum, that’s a good thing isn’t it? That’s something to be grateful for right?”  In that instant I felt she devalued and negated my Mum and my life’s relationship with her as being ‘real’, because after all ‘you still have your birth Mum’ (in her eyes my birth Mum was my ‘real’ Mum) so I was lucky and really had no need to grieve the loss of my adoptive Mum, right? - Wrong!

I was just so stunned at her lack of empathy, especially as she had lost her Mum a few years before so I had assumed she would understand my loss.  My mind staggered as she said it, I was dumb founded (and I’m not often lost for words) but I was in that moment.  I took the emotional hit inward and kept it for later when I was in a space to express and grieve.  Her premise to live by was just ‘be positive, don’t say anything negative, don’t acknowledge how you feel, look on the bright side…’ - a real perfect ‘Pollyanna princess'. 

I value gratitude so much, I value finding and focusing on the positives in any given situation, but I also value the realness of acknowledging our authentic feelings and allowing the expression of them (in non-destructive ways). 

You need to be mindful and very careful where and with whom you share, not everyone will be open with empathy to connect with you at vulnerable times, but don’t let this rob you of your own empathy for others.

Love to hear your thoughts.