Many people struggle when it comes to getting along with family members. One common problem they may not have identified is that the person with whom they are having the personal ongoing struggle may be lacking in empathy.
Empathy In Family Relationships
This can happen in a marriage or partnership just as easily as it can affect a relationship with a mother and son, father and daughter, sister, brother, and so on.
Why is it so important to have empathy when dealing with family members? Family tends to have front-row seats to our problems, personality traits, moods, energy levels, and special quirks. In seeing and talking with each other on a regular basis, and in gaining knowledge of how each of us conducts our daily life, we may develop opinions about and attitudes toward each other and the choices we make.
Unfortunately, while the family may mean well enough when offering their opinions about how we live our lives, they can sometimes veer into boundary violations and become a source of tension and conflict.
Empathy, or lack of it, is one of the biggest problems that cause family members to get under our skin.
How to Deal with Family Members Who Lack Empathy
If you’re searching for a way to deal with empathy-lacking family members who seem intent on playing head games, issuing put-downs, or meddling in your affairs, here’s how to deal:
You might think that the more detail you give to family members, the more they will be able to see things your way and therefore be on your side, so to speak. This won’t always be the case. Some people just have loud voices paired with closed minds, and there isn’t a lot you can do to change that other than share much less with them.
Seek to understand, rather than be understood
Sometimes if we extend the olive branch, it makes people feel more at ease. Because they finally feel emotionally supported, they now feel more relaxed in how they relate with us enough to let their defenses down and open up their mind to us. So if you are feeling like people lack empathy for your situation or your way of being, just focus on them for a while to see if things improve at all.
Seek empathy from other sources
Often, friends can supply us with the emotional support and understanding we need when the family isn’t capable of doing that. It’s like the old expression about not being able to get blood from a stone. So if you’re ever feeling like you need to be heard and understood, go directly to the source -a friend who is high on empathy and who “gets you.”
Let it go
Recognize that while they mean well, some family members and even romantic partners may not have the ability to understand your circumstances. Thus, you might relieve yourself of some hostile emotions if you let go of the need to try and get them to see your point of view.