Toxic people–narcissists, borderlines, anti-socials, even some passive-aggressive folks–are not going to care much about how you’re feeling.
Are you with someone who is empathy deficient? Someone who shows almost no interest in your thoughts, feelings, needs, or wants?
That could be a parent, partner, ex, sibling, or co-worker.
It’s so hard to comprehend when someone doesn’t seem to have the interest or the bandwidth to take you into account, right?
#Hijackals are empathy deficient! I like the clear definition of empathy that is offered by Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge in his book, The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty: “Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling, and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.”
It sounds so natural and straightforward, doesn’t it? But, for those raised in difficult situations, abusive situations, or toxic homes, there is likelihood that Baren-Cohen says that have empathy allows us to mostly accurately understand and identify where other people “are at.”
When a person has experienced incest, child abuse, neglect, violence, or been brought up in a home with alcohol or substance abuse, they were likely raised by people who had low regard for children, and high regard for themselves. These adults in charge of that home were often dismissive, degrading, demanding, or destructive to children. Big damage can be done!
Machine Transcript (sorry for the typo’s… AI is not quite with me yet!)
Do you ever get the feeling that the person that you have in mind, the person that you’re concerned is toxic…the person that causes you to question your sanity and second guess yourself, may be a little short on empathy?Well, you’re probably right because hijackals are empathy, deficient. And empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and then to respond to their thoughts and feelings with appropriate emotion and hijackals just aren’t interested in you. They want something from you. They see you as supply and stores, but they’re just not interested in who you are, what you’re going through, what you think, what you need or what you want.
Welcome to save your sanity, help for handling hijackals, those difficult, toxic, and often disturbing people in your life. I’m Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, their relationship help doctor and I’m here for you. You’ll get the insight, skills, strategies, and support to stop tolerating verbal and emotional abuse. Whether it’s happening now or happened to you in the past, maybe by a parent partner X relative or even a coworker, time to take life back to recover and to rediscover you, your values, dreams, desires, and realize them and healthy ways in healthy relationships. I’m so glad you’re here.
Hello again and welcome. If you’re joining me for the first time, I’m delighted that you’re here. If you’re a frequent listener, I’m equally delighted. And in any case today we’re going to be talking about empathy. It’s such an important component of a world that works and where people feel, uh, safe. And so I wanted to do an in depth look at it today because one of the things that I, I say often is that everybody needs to see the cycles. And that’s why I wrote my online program to help people see the patterns of hijackals, those relentlessly difficult toxic people who cause us to question our sanity and second guess everything. And when you can see those patterns, you can deal with them more effectively. And of course I’m here to help you do that as well. But you’ve often probably, Oh and by the way, you can get that course on my website, transformingrelationship.com and just click on the navigation and you’ll see the products there.
One of the things I often talk about is that hijackals don’t have much love to give you, but what they really have are uses for you. And I know that sounds so harsh. I know that sounds difficult. I know it sounds like something you don’t want to believe. And for many good people, what we try to do is we try to rationalize and justify and excuse the behaviors so that we can say, Oh well, you know, if they only had more love or they had more patience, or if they haven’t had their earlier things in life, things would be different. And all those things are true. However, you weren’t there earlier in their life. You cannot go back and change that. And as you know, most hijackals don’t have much interest in understanding that they could do things better because of the damage that they’ve experienced.
That they honestly have to believe that there is nothing that they are doing wrong and that everybody else is the problem. But when we think of it, they do have uses for people. They use people for their own gain. They use people for validation. They use people from money. You know, many times you’ll see some graphic on the internet that says, you know, there is no one will fall in love faster than a narcissist who’s lost their job. You know, that’s one way of looking at the way people have uses for you. But the big question comes up, how can humans treat other humans as objects, really dehumanizing them, really taking away their feelings and their rights and they’re having any interest in them that you just think of them as objects. And we need to think about that a lot because if you have had your empathy eroded when you were a very, very young child, something happened to you.
You were raised, perhaps, in neglectful situations. There’s a variety of things that could have happened. And for a very small percentage of hijackals, um, they were actually born with different wiring. But the wiring that we, we, um, create and take on and manipulate and, and is malleable and changeable. We can do things with that, which is why the whole purpose of therapy exists. But when we’re in a situation where somebody just doesn’t seem to have any empathy and they’re solely focused on the pursuit of their own interests, they have all the potential in the world to be lacking in empathy. And that happens a lot. So when someone treats someone else as an object, you can count on it that their empathy has been turned off.
And that’s sad. It’s very sad. And you might want to, as I said, make excuses for it or reasons for it, but it’s much more than you can do. You just need to get some understanding that this is actually what’s going on. Because when empathy is switched off, a person only thinks about their own interests and when empathy is switched on, then they can think about other people and their interests and feelings and thoughts too. So I’m going to give you a definition of empathy that comes from a book with a very startling title. And that title is the science of evil on empathy and the origins of cruelty. And the author, he is a Simon Baron Cohen, and he gave this definition. Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.
So there’s two parts to that. There’s the ability to recognize their thoughts and feelings and then to respond to them appropriately. And that it requires then that you not only can identify that other person’s feelings and thoughts, but that you can, you have the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion. And when people are imprisoned, when they are deeply into their own self focus, then it’s not a temporary state of mind. Their empathy cannot recover. So being able to empathize means being able to understand accurately the other person’s position and to identify where they are and find solutions to what might otherwise be incompatible goals. And empathy is something that when you experienced it from another person, you feel valued and validated that that this person sees you and hears you and acknowledges you and is listening to you and interested in you. And that’s a very big thing because empathy avoids any risk of misunderstanding and it allows you to avoid causing of fence because you’ll anticipate how things could be experienced by another person.
And so this, this is very important because if a person doesn’t have these capacities, it becomes very obvious. And I know most people, and I’m sure you because you’re a good person, want to make the other person better than they are in a sense, you want to ascribe to them over they really do care or they really do see that or I’m sure they feel, I’m sure they didn’t mean to behave that way and we make all these rationalizations and justifications for them. But that really doesn’t help because someone is who has poor empathy is going to be the last person to realize that they have poor empathy. And that becomes an a whole other matter. Now in this whole empathy thing, this author, he, he made a scale and he talks about people who are, what he calls zero degrees of empathy people and people who are at the bottom of this scale, the level of zero of this true zero. He says that even when it’s pointed out to them that they’ve heard another person, it means nothing to them. They can’t experience remorse or guilt because they just don’t understand what the other person is feeling. And this is what he calls the ultimate extreme zero degrees of empathy.
And you know, he talks about, uh, several levels and I’ll just give you an idea what they are so that you can think in terms of how much empathy the person you might have in mind is. But at level one, he says, et person may still be capable of hurting other people, but they have a little bit of ability to reflect on what they’ve done. And they might just show some regret, but they just don’t have the capacity to stop themselves from hurting someone. And then at level two, this person still has major difficulties with empathy, but they have enough of a glimmering of how another person would feel to actually stop themselves from being physically aggressive. And I’m paraphrasing his words here because this is his scale and I want it be clear with you. So at level two, it may not stop them from shouting or saying hurtful things, but they’ll typically not going to, um, really physically hurt somebody.
And if a couple of people say to them, well, how dare you do that? Don’t you realize how much you hurt her or how terrible that was and how awful it would be to hear. Then they kind of grab a clue that that’s that some, some empathy. But you can hear as I’m, these things that this is difficult. You know, being with people who have to be talked through an empathic response is too, too much work. It really is. I mean, if you have a person who’s artistic, whole other matter, you know, they’re, they don’t have the same functioning level. They don’t have the same ag capacity for empathy, for a different reason. But for people who have lost their empathy, lost this ability to see things because of things that are happened to them or their hard wiring is faulty. These people are truly, as I said, in the title of today’s episode, empathy deficient.
They just don’t have it. So then at level three, a person knows they have difficulty with empathy and they might compensate for it. Maybe they won’t get into relationships. So they all avoid jobs where they have constant demands on their empathy and they’ll really make an effort to, uh, pretend to be normal and in, or they may realize that they just don’t get jokes or that they don’t read facial expressions well and they’re not quite sure what’s expected of them. And, you know, there are people who are, you know, have difficulty with socializing, have difficult too with um, reading the cues and clues that other people give the non verbal clues in particular or that they don’t really hear the, the intonation they, um, we, that something is said to them. And at the fourth level that’s where kind of have a low average amount of empathy and it’s kind of blunted.
Empathy doesn’t really affect everyday behavior too much, but they’re still aware and they’re uncomfortable. And, and um, Simon Baron Cohen says that there are more men than women who live at that level. And then at level five, he says that individuals are marginally above average and empathy and more women than men are at that level. And they’re far more careful in how they interact at work in, at home. And they don’t just say what’s on their mind or they don’t spit out their, um, their opinions to dominate or intrude em. They don’t rush to make decisions. They have conversations and they work things through and they take their time. And then at level six, which is a top level, this is where there’s remarkable empathy, am maybe a little bit too much, maybe a kind of state of hyper arousal, always, um, sensing everything that’s going on in the room going out of their way to check on people.
And um, that can be extremely exhausting. But there are people who do that and they do it very naturally and they are very empathetic. And so this evolves things in our brains and in the brands. I’m not going to go through all the brain mind research, but in our brain we have things that are 10 parts of our brain that kind of make up the, uh, empathy circuit. So if we have as, um, Baron Cohen causes zero degrees of empathy, we use, don’t have any awareness of how we come across to other people or how to interact with other people or how to anticipate the feelings of other people and what kind of mystified why it relationships don’t work out. And this deep seated self-centeredness, um, is going to isolate you into a place which is where most hijack Kohls reside, which is self-referential living.
It’s all about them, what they need, what they want, what they think. And equally about not having anything negative said about them, overreacting to anything negative said about them being extremely sensitive in that regard. Um, almost having a blaming you before anything really has happened. There are a little bit sort of ahead of the party there and it’s a very, very difficult time. And when this is really severe and is when we get into things like psychopathic behavior, it can lead to acts of cruelty and leave a person with complete insensitivity to other people and somewhat socially isolated. And when you’re with somebody like that and many hijack goes can be like this, they may not be like this all the time, but they can be like this. It means that you are always on risk of being on the receiving end of verbal insults or physical attacks or experiencing a lack of Kara consideration. In fact, you are always in danger of being hurt in one way or the other. Hopefully not physically. But you know, that extends to that. It extends to sexual behavior because people don’t have empathy. And so this whole study of empathy becomes extremely important. Sometimes we think of empathy as being able to see someone else’s point of view and it just means that I can understand your perspective. So my brain says I get it. Um, but
they don’t really feel it. And emotional empathy, um, is when you really feel the other person’s emotions. You know, there’s a saying these days about, well, I caught feelings. Well, emotional empathy is light that, but what we’re looking for really is kind of compassionate. Empathy is what we understand. Usually when we see the word empathy is feeling someone else’s pain and taking action to help. And this is usually the most appropriate. We may not be able to help them, but we jump in with them, we talk with them, we’re there for them, we’re supportive and we can be helpful. Now when you’re with a hijack Hijacker, this is not going to be happening because they don’t have that ability. They don’t have the willingness either on the whole, but for people who fall into the narcissism or antisocial categories, antisocial, being sociopath, their core psychopathic empathy, is that a low Arab?
It truly is. They don’t care about other people very much. Back to the idea that they don’t care about them, but they have uses for them. And there’s a pig difference there and I hope you really understand that, that I know it’s hard to wrap your head around, but there are people who just want to use you and they may have good words to put around it. They may tell you that they love you, they may see all kinds of things that you want and believe because you’re hooked on hope that that person really is a good person and you’ve been making excuses and dancing for two for a long time. But sometimes, and maybe today’s the date, you have to have some perspective. You have to actually realize that that person is only interested in you when you have something that they want in the moment. And then the rest of the time they’re not interested in you.
Now I talked about the program, seeing the cycles and I really, really encourage you to take that online program. It’s a 13 videos articles. And then for each video there’s a worksheet. And that worksheet is not simple, is to lead you deeply into understanding how high jackals behave, what their patterns, traits in cycles are. Y you may have not seen it, why it may be something that you overlooked, um, and why you need to understand completely what’s going on and then make better choices for yourself. So remember my website transforming relationship.com and then in the navigation at the top, just click on store and you’ll see the, seeing the cycles there because you want to G play understand this. So when you are fully recognizing all of this and its impact on you that you will then not allow it to continue to happen. Or should you leave the current relationship or step away from your parents if that’s the relationship that you will be able to see those cycles before getting involved with another human.
So things have happened to hijab calls, you know, if they have borderline tendencies, they’re probably been very, very, um, damaged when they were young. A great deal of anger has built up and it’s never far from the surface. And people in, in that condition, they, they honestly believe that people are, are, um, out to disrespect them. Even if someone disagrees with them, they, they see it as disrespecting them and they think that they’re being confrontational when they’re not. They think they’re, um, behaving badly towards them when they’re not and they hatred and the anger and all of the resentments in them bubbles up. And when that happens, a person who tends to, how borderline trays, they just have no chance of stopping it from coming out of their mouths. And then, you know, they’ll apologize. And, and yet they’ll do it again for the very same reason because they do not have that ability to change.
And then narcissists behave differently with it. Um, many times the person who is a narcissistic has had situations where they have had to protect themselves, uh, at the feeling level, very deeply at the feeling level. And so as small children and so they’ve learned ways to survive that are quite negative. You know, they have often, if they’re co overt narcissists, they have a sense of entitlement and arrogant, send me firstness. And if they’re covert narcissist, they’re continuously playing the victim, but they feel to recognize the importance of relationships going two ways. That’s the really big thing that we see as a feature of the lack of empathy when we’re dealing with people with narcissistic tendencies. And then of course as I mentioned, there are people with psychopathic tendencies and sadly there they are the ones with the hard wiring and they are the ones most difficult to change if they would be interested in changing because they actually do enjoy seeing other people suffer. So their ability to have any empathy is totally reduced. So here we have a situation where the, if there isn’t empathy, what is there? Well, someone’s going to have uses for you. Is that enough? Is that enough to stay in a relationship?
when I say dancing for two, do you recognize that? Do you make someone better than they are? Do you make excuses for their behavior? Do you go back and remember when the love bombing and, and it all started or how they can be the most wonderful creature on the planet when they really, really want something or they’re really, really afraid you’re going to leave them. And then the rest of the time they treat you as though either you’re not there or you’re lower than dirt and you don’t have any particular value to them at the moment. So many pieces that have to do with this empathy thing, but [inaudible] the existence of people who are at that zero negative, um, [inaudible] is really a fact of life and
it’s something that you can’t change. You can’t teach someone else to have empathy in that particular makeup of that person because first of all, they’re not going to hear you. They’re not going to for one moment believe that there’s anything wrong with them. You know that you’ve already had that experience, I’m sure of your width one or you were raised by one. So these are important things to understand this empathy deficient characteristics. And I’m not going to go into all the brain science as I said, but there is significant amount of um,
information that shows us this empathy circuit. And if it’s short cut or if it has not been well developed, then we’re going to have traits and patterns and cycles of high jackals. And there’s a direct correlation with those people that I talk about, that you have experienced, that I have experienced, that we see in the world,
Between them and their lack of empathy. So such an important thing to consider. You know, I’ve said so many times, what’s the number one thing that I can teach anyone? And for those of you who have been listening, you will know it’s ABB always believed behavior. No matter what a person’s words are, if they don’t align with the behavior, always believe behavior. Because behavior is an honest representation of someone’s beliefs. They can say anything to the contrary, but their behavior tells you who they are. And we liked to dance for two Elm. We liked to make excuses because it says something about us too, doesn’t it? Like we chose them and so we want to make it right. We want to make it feel good. But there comes a time when is so important to simply acknowledge, I am really dealing with a person who has limited, if any capacity or willingness to demonstrate empathy. And empathy is so important. It is important in daily life. It’s what relationships, useful relationships, helful relationships, loving relationships, fair relationships, workable relationships depend on
and if it’s not there, you are always working with an empathy deficiency.
And there are no work arounds for that because you are going to give, give, give, give, give and they’re going to take, take, take, take, take. And it’s always going to be a lack of equality, reciprocity, and mutuality. So I’ll just repeat for you Simon Baron Cohen’s definition of empathy. Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion. So if someone tells you they love you and they are not willing to listen to you, comfort you and show interest in you, ask questions, any of those things, you can bet your bottom dollar that they are down a quart on empathy and it may be an entire tank that they’re depleted in. So I hope that helps you to understand it’s nothing that you’re doing is nothing that you can make up for.
It’s something that is so important to understand and to just be able to take four steps back, look at it and say, Oh, that person is empathy deficient and I cannot make up for it. I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change them because they already believe that everything is my fault and that are absolute without blame, accountability, or responsibility. So this all sounds familiar. I hope that this has been helpful to you. Remember come over to transforming relationship.com you’ll find my membership site over there, the optimized circles. That way you can be totally off social media interacting with me and other members, lots of things. Therefore, you also my YouTube channel for relationship help fo our relationship, H E L P every Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific time. There’s a live stream for a whole hour where you can join in, ask your questions and I will answer so just go to youtube.com/for relationship help. I am glad that you were with me. I’m glad that we’ve had an opportunity to talk a little more depth about empathy and I hope it’s been useful to you. I hope it has given you an insight to know it is not your fault that that other person is not interested in what’s up with you. Know that you’re precious and knows that you deserve better and take very good care of yourself until we talk again,
I’m so glad you spent this time with me today. I hope you heard something that touched your heart and empowered you to move forward. You can have the life and relationships that you most want and that begins with you within you today. I’m always here for you. Life can get better, and you heard that from me. The relationship help doctor. I’m Rhoberta Shaler, and I work with clients throughout the world through video conferencing. We can talk.