I Struggle With Empathy

By July 11, 2021No Comments

The only people in my family that I talk to are my mom and dad. My parents have never been married and fight constantly. I have learned to deal with it, but it has been causing some underlying issues that are bothering me. I get angry very easily, and I cannot control it. I also don’t feel bad for anything I say or do, even after the issue has been resolved and I have calmed down.

I do not see love or affection in my day to day life, so I don’t know what to do when I do get it. I watch movies and have an admiration for books about the topic. I feel love for others, but cannot express it in any way possible. This angers me deeply because I want to go into psychology and neuroscience after I finish high school. I want to be able to help other people but can’t even show affection properly.

I would like to see a therapist, but every time I bring it up to my parents, they dismiss the idea and it never happens. I have tried to write about issues that reflect how I feel, nothing seems to really help.


Help Yourself:

  • Thank you for taking the time to write to Teen Central. Empathy is a complex thing, and it sounds like your relationship with your parents is taking a toll on you emotionally. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out.
  • There are many people that can help you when times feel really tough, and we want you to know about them too. Sometimes we need someone to talk to right away, like in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, but everyone else is sleeping. If this happens, please use these numbers: 1-800-273-8255 or text HELLO to 741741. 
  • You said you don’t talk to anyone but your parents, but it sounds like you could use someone else to talk with about how your feeling and what’s happening in your life. Do you have someone else you can talk who you trust? This could be another family member, teacher, friend, religious or community leader. Starting that conversation is often the hardest part. We’ll talk about that a little more.


  • You mentioned an interest in psychology and neuroscience after school. Great! (Obviously, we’re huge fans…) Have you ever heard of mirror neurons? Look it up if you’re interested. Basically, we are wired to experience the feelings of others ourselves. Have you considered that spending so much time around your parents fighting and conflict is what’s making it hard to see love and affection in your life and makes it hard to let go of so much anger? Is there a reason you’re limiting yourself to only talking to your parents? Consider how you may feel if you expanded your “circle” and started spending time with other people.
  • Think about the ways that people show they care about each other in the movies you’re watching. Even though you may have a hard time feeling love (or recognizing when you’re feeling it), you can always practice being kind, loving and showing appropriate affection to friends, family and people that you care about. You may find that people are kind and loving in return, and you create the type of experience you’re looking for. Some of the information in our LEARN section about SOCIAL SKILLS may be helpful.
  • Have you considered reaching out to your school guidance counselor for help regarding a therapist? As you get older, you have more choices about your mental health, and this may be a good way to access the help you want.