Is it normal to feel like this?

Hello everyone, it’s me. I want to ask all those open to discussion on whether having feelings like these are normal in a sense. Just a curious soul wanting to know more about myself and how others may portray me. Also a possible trigger warning right now.

I’ve been told that I am too ‘insensitive’, but it’s just that I am much of a logical and rational thinker with defying thoughts. I am not trying to act different from anyone else, it’s just how my brain is programmed. The world is filled to the brim with actions of evil and whatnot. Many tend to feel sympathy for the victims, SA victims, War victims, just victims in general. But to me, I feel nothing about them, and when people come up to me and go ‘‘I feel so bad…look at this poor child, her mum passed after a car crash’’. Why are you telling me this? And why should I care about her? I have this thought process ‘‘As long as me and my loved ones are not the ones affected, I do not care even if the sky falls’’ Why should I care that she is an orphan? I’m not the one affected. No point wallowing over that fact. It’s God’s will, in my opinion.

Why care about them when you can care about the people around you and yourself? That is much more important. Unless the topic is truly something I am disturbed about, only then will I sympathise. You are acting as if pitying these victims can solve whatever issue. Which I believe not, my stance of how I view the current problems of the world are like that as well.

I just wished that more humans stand on thinking much more logically and rationally. So no, I do not see myself as ‘cruel or mean’ I just simply do not care about them. You are not the one being affected why are you acting all sad? It’s foolish in my eyes in all honesty. Why are you caring about them!? Focus on you, you are still alive and kicking here, why are you pitying over some random person on this vast world with over 8 billion people? They are just another human floating on this rock we call earth. There’s no point feeling such strong emotions over some rando you don’t even know personally. As long as you’re not being affected, that’s good enough. Right?

I’m sorry if my thought process has offended everyone, but I just want to know how people feel about me. Must I really conform to societies standards of having to feel bad for everyone. I simply cannot do that, not even to myself. I don’t feel bad for myself when something tragic has happened, I just suck it up and move on till another bad thing happens and blow off some steam. I only feel bad for my family, blood is thicker than water after all.

Please, If you want, tell me what you think about this! Thank you!

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Hey @Leow Thank you for sharing your thoughts so openly. It takes courage to express such personal feelings, especially when they might not align with how others think.

It’s natural for everyone to process emotions and events differently. Your logical and rational approach to life is a part of who you are, and it’s important to acknowledge that everyone has their way of coping with the world’s challenges. Feeling detached or not experiencing empathy in certain situations doesn’t necessarily make someone “insensitive” or “cruel”—it’s simply a different way of processing emotions.

That said, empathy is a complex emotion that varies greatly among individuals. For many, feeling empathy for others, even those they don’t personally know, can foster a sense of connection and compassion that helps build a supportive community. It’s also worth noting that caring about others doesn’t mean neglecting oneself or one’s loved ones—it’s possible to balance both.

Your focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones is valid and important. However, understanding and acknowledging others’ feelings can also enrich your own experiences and relationships. It might be helpful to consider that while empathy might not come naturally to you, exploring why others feel it can provide new insights and perspectives.

Society has a range of expectations, and while you don’t have to conform to them, being aware of different viewpoints can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and those around you. If you ever find these feelings challenging or want to explore them further, speaking with a therapist or counsellor might offer valuable insights and support.

(oops) I see you’ve posted this on Ask-a-Therapist, and while I’m no professional, I hope you stay open-minded to exploring new perspectives and I wish you all the best in your journey of self-discovery!

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(hmm…thought about it a little more)

food for thought: Scientifically, we do have mirror neurons that help us empathise with others, but sometimes, not everyone experiences empathy in the same way. For some, not feeling bad when bad things happen might be a coping mechanism. It can be a way to protect oneself emotionally from the constant barrage of negative events in the world. It’s also true that we don’t always have the capacity to empathise with everyone, especially with the overwhelming amount of suffering we are exposed to.

In my non-professional opinion, as long as this way of thinking doesn’t lead to harming others, it’s okay to acknowledge that everyone experiences and processes emotions differently. It’s important to find a balance that works for you, while still being mindful of how others may perceive or be affected by your actions.

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Unfortunately, most humans are emotional creatures. So even when you feel bad for your family, these are emotions that you are facing.

I get what you’re saying about societal standards making people “care” more about “bigger issues” when they should be caring about their immediate community. It’s probably a (negative) byproduct of social media where our teenagers (and us) are exposed to all these global happenings. Emotions stir and people get affected because they relate to them.

You don’t have to conform to society’s standards. Maybe you have had feedback from others but I’d say stick to what you believe in. Do the best for the people you love and if energy permits, try convincing people around you to do the same too. But even if you can’t convince others, that’s alright too - we can all co-exist with different ideologies.

Hello @Leow ,

Firstly, what a wonderful insight you’ve shared. I want to take a moment to appreciate the way you wrote your post. It was thoughtful, with many “I” statements. Well done. :clap:t4: :clap:t4: The topic you addressed is sensitive, yet you found a way to express your needs without offending anyone. That is a commendable skill, and I am proud of you. :grinning:

It sounds to me like you may be someone who has taken the time to reflect and make your own meaning of the world. I get the sense that on one hand, you’d like to feel a little similar to everyone else, while on the other, you’d also like to stay authentic to your views.

Having logical and rational thinking is a valuable skill, and you are right—some people’s brains are programmed that way, and there is no shame or judgment in that. With so many things going wrong in the world, it makes sense to focus on our own survival and those we care about. It’s part of our human evolution to prioritise our immediate circle because their well-being directly impacts us.

I’d like to invite you to reflect on whether your reduced empathy might be due to being exposed to a lot of sensory stimulation of pain and hurt (even in your early years), making your brain numb to others’ suffering as a coping mechanism. Or is it more about situations that are out of your control? For example, if a friend was emotionally hurt, how would you respond?

Here are some journal prompts for self-reflection:

  1. Think about a recent situation where someone shared their pain with you. How did you react, and why do you think you reacted that way?

  2. Reflect on a time when you felt empathy for someone. What was different about that situation compared to times when you did not feel empathetic?

  3. Consider your close relationships. How do you show empathy and support to those you care about, and how does it affect your relationship with them?

If I may clarify, when you say, “I feel so bad… look at this poor child, her mum passed after a car crash. Why are you telling me this? And why should I care about her?”
This is more about experiencing sympathy rather than empathy. Check out this video for more about empathy.

Empathy is a superpower and a wonderful trait to possess. It allows us to build connections and relationships. When we empathise, we can innovate and come up with creative solutions. Some of the world’s greatest changes or inventions came about because someone empathised with someone else’s pain. This ability to connect through pain helps us do better as humans. Here are some examples:

  • Braille System: Louis Braille, who was blind himself, invented the Braille system to provide visually impaired people with a means of reading and writing. His empathy for others facing the same challenges drove him to create a life-changing tool.
  • Vaccines: Edward Jenner’s development of the smallpox vaccine was driven by his desire to prevent the suffering caused by this deadly disease. His empathy for the victims of smallpox led to one of the most important public health tools in history.
  • Hearing Aid: Miller Reese Hutchison invented the first electric hearing aid to help his friend who was hearing impaired. His empathy and desire to improve his friend’s quality of life led to this important device.
  • Public Libraries: Andrew Carnegie, inspired by his belief in the power of education and empathy for those without access to knowledge, funded the creation of public libraries around the world, making education and information accessible to all.
  • Sign Language: Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet developed American Sign Language (ASL) to educate the deaf after being inspired by a young deaf girl. His empathy and dedication to improving communication for the deaf community led to the widespread use of sign language.
  • Mother’s Day: Anna Jarvis initiated the campaign for Mother’s Day in honour of her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who cared for wounded soldiers and worked to improve public health. Anna’s empathy for her mother’s work and the role of mothers everywhere led to the creation of this now globally celebrated day.

Yes, you are right, empathy alone won’t solve others’ problems, but it allows them to feel less alone, more connected, and hopeful for a better tomorrow. It’s a great first step towards solving something.

To answer your question, in my personal opinion, no one should have to conform to something that isn’t their authentic self. Trying to conform will most likely result in feeling resentful or bitter in the long run. However, I do hope that with time you will also allow your empathy muscle to grow stronger. The ability to connect with others in their time of pain and difficulty, even if you don’t know them personally, is a superpower that helps us be more humane and kind to one another.

Yes, you are also right that there is a saying, “Blood is thicker than water,” but this isn’t the full quote. It is often misunderstood. The full saying is: “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” This suggests that the bonds we choose and create (the blood of the covenant) are stronger than those we are born into (the water of the womb).

Perhaps, like this famous saying, we may also have a limited view or understanding of something, and there is always room to grow our awareness at a pace comfortable to us.

I hope the above has been helpful and if you’d like more resources or if there is anything else you’d like to share with us, please do. We’re here to listen to you, your feelings are valid and you matter! :grinning:

Take care,
CoolBreeze =)