Discerning The Loving HeartBy Dr. Margaret Paul
February 27, 2023
When you meet someone, have you often wondered if his or her caring is real or manipulative? Learn how to tell the difference!
How often have you had the experience of connecting with someone - a friend or a potential partner - who turns out to be an uncaring person? At first you think this is a really good person, and then down the line you discover that the person is self-centered, narcissistic, angry, uncaring, and lacks compassion and empathy. You wonder how you could be so wrong, and what can you do differently next time?
There are two kinds of people who are incapable of empathy and compassion – narcissists and sociopaths, and the difference is that sociopaths are people who lack any sense of conscience. According to Martha Stout in “The Sociopath Next Door,” four percent of the population – one in 25 people – are born with the part of their brain missing – as shown by MRI’s - that is able to love and have a conscience, which means that they can do anything – lie, steal, kill – without any guilt or shame at all, and they are extremely adept at manipulation.
The Compelling Act…
Research indicates that narcissism often starts very early, as young as two years old. Both narcissists and sociopaths can learn to act caring, and some of them have such a good act that even aware people can be pulled in by them. They are often brilliant at telling you exactly what you’ve always wanted to hear. They are often charismatic and engaging – at the beginning. They might come on very strong, sweeping you off your feet with their attention to you.
The other reason caring people can be pulled in by narcissists and sociopaths is that caring people have empathy, and both narcissists and sociopaths can be experts at appearing to be hurt and needing help – physically, emotionally, or financially. If you are a caring and empathic person, you may be quite vulnerable to both the charm and the pain of the narcissist and sociopath.
If you are a compassionate person who easily feels others' feelings, you might find yourself drawn to people who are in pain. Your compassionate heart naturally wants to help, not only out of caring, but also because their pain is painful to you. The problem is that this person might not care at all about your feelings.
So, how do you become discerning about who has a loving, caring, and compassionate heart?
The first step is to focus on developing as much compassion for your own feelings as you have for others. Often, very caring people leave themselves out, caring about others far more than they care about themselves. This leaves them vulnerable to becoming the caretaker for a person who just wants someone else to take care of them, and then gets angry when they don't do it "right." If you develop compassion for yourself through the practice of Inner Bonding, you will start to discern much more quickly when someone is not really caring about you. If you are focused only on another's feelings, you won't notice what you feel, and it is your own feelings that may give you the ability to discern between caring and empathy, and a lack of caring and empathy.
The next step is to understand and accept that, no matter how caring you are to others, you have no control over how caring others are with you. You can't make someone be caring, and the more you take care of another's feelings and wellbeing while ignoring your own, the less caring the other will be. The other person may become a mirror for your lack of caring about yourself.
Too Good to be True…
Be careful of someone who ‘seems too good to be true,’ as they often are. If you’ve had the experience of having a friend, employee, or partner who seemed to be incredibly caring and then suddenly disappeared, don’t be hard on yourself. Some people are such good actors as to appear truly caring, and you feel shocked and heartbroken when they suddenly disappear. When this happens, be compassionate toward yourself rather than judgmental for being pulled in, and explore any vulnerability to people who seem to be incredibly caring.
The more you learn to take full, 100% responsibility for your own feelings through your Inner Bonding practice, the more you will be tuned in to someone’s extreme caring or lack of caring. The more you learn to trust your own perceptions, the quicker you will discern narcissism and sociopathy. The more you accept your lack of control over getting others to be caring, the quicker you will let go of people who are intent on getting caring but not concerned with giving it.
It may not take long to discern the loving heart once you have compassion for yourself, trust your perceptions, and accept your lack of control over others. People betray their intention to either give love or to get it, or to give in order to get, with everything they say and do. With practice, you can learn to discern the loving heart very early in a relationship. If you want to stop recreating the same negative relationships over and over, then develop your power of discernment through your consistent Inner Bonding practice.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions, and Relationships."
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By Dr. Margaret Paul