Empathy v Narcissism…

Today we are sitting by the water, it’s a glorious sunny day in the first weeks of autumn here in Australia… The breeze is just beautiful, wafting that wondrous salt air in from the ocean…

We are watching a flock of Australian Black Swans, called a bevy with their offspring called Cygnets, floating gracefully upon the bay, where they come to breed each year. Their numbers are increasing, which is very exciting…

I have a thermos of tea, mugs & some melt in the mouth Macadamian shortbread for our seaside musings.

I have been reflecting upon some difficult issues in our modern society…especially the lack of empathy & understanding that sadly many are experiencing in today’s world…thus I have placed my professional hat on for the following reflection…

water animal swans swan

In my professional life I have extensively worked with patients who had sociopathologies with mental health disorders. But I am not talking about these pathologies here…

Rather a trend in the unwillingness to have any empathy & understanding for others. Let’s take a moment to reflect upon what empathy is & does for our society…

Empathy

The definition of empathy; is the ability to comprehend & share in the feelings of others.

Empathy also plays an important role in our emotional & social wellbeing, especially in our ability to have healthy relationships as participating members of society.

Empathy is an essential part of our humanity. Having empathy one for another is what makes for a tolerant & cohesive community.

Jesus gives us His wisdom on this very topic…

[Treat others with the patience, tolerance, consideration, understanding & concern that you yourself would like to be treated.]

Luke 6:31 Refer 2

Therefore this trend in lacking empathy for others is concerning, as it has its roots in focusing upon the Self & disassociating the self from the negative impact one’s behavior may have upon another’s life!

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t look after ourselves. It’s very wise to guard our hearts against certain circumstances & with certain people.

And we definitely need to nurture our bodies, minds & spirits with nutritious food, healthy & restorative practices to ensure the balance of work, rest & play. I absolutely advocate for that!

No, what I’m reflecting upon here dear friend, is a culture in selfishness, self centeredness & narcissistic behavior that justifies itself, because it’s felt to be an inherent right of entitlement…no matter what the impact or consequences upon another’s life!

Let’s take a moment to look at Narcissism, so we have an idea what this entails…

Narcissism

First a little background history; the story of Narcissus has its origins in ancient Greek Mythology.

Narcissus fell in love with his own image when he saw it reflected in the still waters of the river. Eventually dying there at the river’s edge because his focus got stuck, as he could neither possess nor turn away from the image of himself that he was in love with…

The Roman version added that Narcissus could not be convinced to move from his focus on Self, refusing to see that his behavior was negatively impacting the people around him, especially his parents & those who loved him.

Narcissism is defined as;

A sense of self entitlement, selfishness, self centredness, egotism, a constant need for admiration of one’s image or physical appearance, egocentric & lacking in empathy.

Modern technology has definitely given momentum to this culture in the focus & concentration upon the Self in both the real or desired image that can be projected. Then with the explosion of Social Media this has been taken to feverish new heights.

We are witnessing new depths to Narcissitic behavior in the actions & reactions that sadly social media both enables & perpetuates.

We are seeing the increase of cyber bullying to horrendous new levels quite often behind the protective curtain of anonymity! We are experiencing a lack of empathy & understanding in our global community, that is greatly concerning.

So, let each of us be very aware that every action, inaction, reaction & word either spoken or written that we put out there, will impact another’s life either positively or negatively.

Let us have empathy & understanding for one another. And let us treat each other with kindness & consideration, the way we truly would like to be treated in kindness & consideration also.

And let us not get stuck like Narcissus, in falling for an image of Self, real or desired, that we can neither possess nor turn away from…That will eventually bring death to our souls.

Until next time…dear friend…

Jennifer

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Empathy v Narcissism…

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  1. A very thought provoking post Jennifer. I had no idea of the effects of narcissistic behaviour until quite late in life. Sadly, I have met a few in recent years. The Serenity Prayer comes in handy. P.S.Please send us some of your lovely weather.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. We have had storms and rain for a good part of March. Would you believe it dried up yesterday afternoon and I was out in my garden for 2 hours. It is to stay nice for the next week. My prayers were answered.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an important post, Jennifer! We are in dire need of more empathy and less narcissism in this world. We need to diminish our “self” to give God’s light room to shine through us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer, this is a very timely post! I can’t believe what people say on social media and the bullying that goes on. People think they can hide behind a screen and say anything they want to say. Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus and the scriptures. He is the answer! Your writing always encourages me🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Pam, this behavior is very concerning, it has had some devastating consequences upon lives here in Australia, as I’m sure it has all over the world. It truly is not okay & putting Jesus words & advice in practice is the forerunner for change.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a very thought provoking post as I think narcissism is on the rise in our society. May God help us to be filled with compassion and moved by Him to love others.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A society centered on narcissism cannot survive. That is quite evident when we look at the chaos in so much of Western society. I often think we are approaching the Rome that Paul addressed in his letters.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I appreciate your thoughts on empathy and narcissism. It’s been an interesting two years in America with so many articles swirling around about narcissistic leaders. We all definitely need to develop more empathy and rank it among the highest virtues! Thanks for sharing your insights, Jennifer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great post! Sadly, things don’t seem to be heading in the right direction with empathy and narcists. As a parent I try very hard, and have always tried, to instill thinking outside yourself with my son. We started with learning to treat the cat kindly when he was a toddler. My dad was a narcissist and it’s an ugly beast. The most challenging part, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that they don’t know they are narcissistic. Thank you for bringing this topic up for thought. It needs lots of attention, in my opinion.

    My apologies as I’ve been behind in reading blogs. Trying to get caught up. Hoping today is a lovely one for you🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely having you drop by Mishka, 😀
      There is a marked difference between mental health pathological disorders such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder & the culture of narcissistic behavior.
      Sadly the latter is a choice which is what we are seeing increasingly in our Western society.

      Well done with your parenting strategy, teaching empathy in the home is very important.
      Hoping you have a better day today…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I totally agree. As a society/culture, we have become more narcissistic. Just another clue that this world is not our home and it is coming to an end. Thanks for sharing on Grace & Truth this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. An inspiring post. Empathy is about firm boundaries between the self and other, which can be crossed in order to take a walk in the other’s shoes with their foot size. Empathy is oxygen for the soul. So if one is short of breath due to the stresses of life, get expanded empathy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lou, I’m familiar with that metaphor too, we have an old saying here in Australia, ‘don’t judge another unless you have first walked a mile in their shoes’ in other words unless one has been in that exact situation one should not judge but have empathy & understanding 😉

      Like

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