Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others


2016 was a heavy year for people collectively from celebrity deaths to the US election. Many clients have told me about their personal losses, anxiety and disappointments. When you are in your own emotional pain feeling another’s emotional pain overwhelms you. I am here to reassure you, you are not alone it was a rough ride for many people, including myself.

If you are a sensitive person you may wonder why you suddenly lack compassion and patience for others. Anger, fear and numbness block the connection to your heart. When you feel contempt, judgment, or fear towards others you lose that mirroring of empathic response and feeling. You disconnect yourself out of a fear of being hurt again, yet, empathic response and experience require connection which means risk and vulnerability.

After a trauma or period of intense stress you can experience a sensation of being shell-shocked and reactive. When a person’s nervous system becomes overstimulated it goes into the fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (shuts down into numbness) response. In psychological terms this could be an adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, go to a licensed professional rather than the internet.

Why don’t I feel better yet?

It is a new year and a new energy, although energy does not merely change with a flip of a calendar page, it is a process. Wait a good 3 months to give the energy a chance to build and move collectively. Individually, you are not damaged or broken. A disconnection has occurred and it has happened to many of us. Now the power is in your hands, what are you going to do about it?

What you can do:

My number 1 recommendation is to find an empathic psychotherapist to work with you. Yes, even therapists, healers and coaches need their own healers. Here is a little secret, the best ones do! I had a session in January to release much energy around 2016 in order to help others like you do the same with the work I offer.

You need someone who understands sensitive people, grief/loss issues and trauma reactions. This person will help you process the issues that trigger you so you can release them and connect again to your natural empathy for others.

While you are waiting for an appointment or in between sessions

(a) Practice mindfulness -Become aware of the present moment and that is all. This relaxes your mind, body and soul allowing you to reconnect to your empathic response.

(b) Engage in a meditation practice- Focus on your breath, it trains your nervous system to slow down and teaches you to become the witness to your thoughts. When you observe your thoughts and sensations you can choose a more empathic response or perhaps a non- response.

(c)For helpers- remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others. Read How To Maintain Your Energy When Helping Others for how to do this practice.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net


24 thoughts on “Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others

  1. Both mindfulness & meditation are great techniques to support a persons journey back to their centre.
    Inner healing is a path that allows a person to grow through any challenge they’re encountering.
    Blessings 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you! For part of my life, I trained and supervised helpers. Lots of them. The single most important tool a therapist or coach can bring to the table? Their own strong, healthy energy. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Excellent advice Lisa. Everyone goes through trauma at some point in their life. It’s important to be gentle with ourselves and those we guide through the healing process. As you say, “Remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others.”
    I wholeheartedly agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Appreciating the topic for empaths like me, Lisa. January feels like TWO months and I’m ready for the resurrection of something NEW and HAPPY and BRIGHT! Is it easter yet? lol
    One of my New Year’s intentions is expanding my meditation practice. So I appreciated your gentle reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so important to learn how to be gentle with oneself. That’s the first step in becoming the witness to both our own thoughts and the swirl of energy around us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, the election! What an off-putting thought. Now, when I read something about either of the candidates on Facebook or anywhere else I close the window. So so sad about everything. Pitiful how the game of the powerful turns decent people against people…But their political game will never kill compassion in my heart. I have family members with convictions totally opposed to mine. I had people blocking me for ranting about issues I could not understand. But at the end of the day, our political sympathies, just like our religious beliefs, should not change who we are as people. Yet, I understand how some of us can be affected by these issues. But I believe there’s always a way to turn darkness into light. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • The election has been a trigger for many people Mihaela. From my training and background, I see that a lot more is going on than political disagreements. These events are mirroring past wounds which have not been processed . It is a great opportunity for healing and growth for all of us. Yes, there is always a way to transform darkness into light! ❤


  7. Great post Lisa! I’ve definitely felt the intense energy! It’s so true that even healers and coaches need their own healers! I’ve been there many times. We also need plenty of self-care, that way we can better serve our clients. Thanks for a great post! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love your suggestions here Lisa. And might I add, I chuckled just a little at your suggestion to get a therapist 🙂 Simply cause I often tell my hubby, I the counselor/healer needs some healing too. While I often joke about it…its so so true and so needed. All of us are a work in progress.
    xoxo, Z~

    Liked by 1 person

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