Thank you for your post. I am wondering if you had a particular question regarding your current concerns.
Please tell me more about your symptoms, and I may be able to provide suggestions.
I smile when people tell me about their problems. I know I should care about other people but often feel that they are not significant or feel embarassed that I can't help them directly and I feel a smug grin coming on which I try to suppress but often can't
Being able to show empathy to people I care about and stop hurting them when I give them the impression that I don't
Do they give you feedback that you are hurting them?
I see...how do you show empathy?
I find it difficult if I can't physically help. If someone is upset I find it difficult to share their upset in a demonstrable way
One way to show that you share their upset feelings, for example, is to name the feeling to them.
For instance, when someone tell you "I was so angry because that person pushed me to the side," You can respond by saying, "I can see how upset you are feeling."
If you name the feelings, you are showing empathy to the other person
I usually smile with embarassment which immediately causes a problem as it appears that I'm laughing at them.
Yes, when this happens, let the other person know that you have a tendency to have a nervous laughter
That you smile or laugh because you felt anxious from the challenges the other person is feeling
I do but they don't believe me or don't trust me
statements such as "I'm sorry, I may be smiling, but this is a nervous smile because of the struggles you are going through"
"When I get nervous, I have a tendency to do this. But I'm sorry to hear about your struggles."
turn around to them
Do you actually feel joy when they are struggling?
I will try that again but this has been going on for years and it is difficult to establish trust
I can see that...as long as you apologize and quickly explain and turn it back to the person by naming their feeling, this should get better
Sometimes I feel that I wouldn't be worried about what has upset them and feel smug even when I can see that they are upset.
Why is that?
are there unresolved issues in your life that these things trigger a memory
Because I have a sense of superiority I guess though quite unfounded. I was brought up to think I was perfect and could do no wrong. I know that is not true but still feel a sense of nothing can touch me and I don't want to appear vulnerable or weak
If you ask originally how to deal with this, I believe you just answered your own question. You may have to be vulnerable in order to feel empathic towards other
How can I let myself be more vulnerable. Are there any strategies that will help or do I need to just let caution go and dive in?
Yes, if there are times when you need help, ask. If there are times when you feel hurt, scared, or sad, reach out to other people
Another strategy is by journaling....writing out past experiences that made you feel challenged, sad, hurt, etc
By writing it out, it makes you vulnerable as you are expressing these feelings.
The problem is that these instances always take me and my wife by surprise. Everything is fine and then she tells me of a problem and I start suppressing a smile which she sees and it quite rightly hurts her to think I don't care.
But you do care!
and it's hard to show this to your wife
I urge you to write down past experiences that made you feel sad, scared, and hurt and share this with your wife
Yes very much so. I will try the journalling
Also, by writing to this forum, you have taken the first step to be vulnerable!
which is typically the hardest step
Thanks Brad . I will try this. Do you have any other suggestions of where I can get helpif I need further support / feedback?
Yes, please continue to name feelings to be empathic and the journaling will help you understand the different expereinces you have had. Also, sharing these experiences to your wife will also help her understand why you react the way you do. Rest assure, I do not think you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. You can always contact me if you I can be of further assistance by typing my name int he first line of your post.
I wish you all the best!
Please consider pressing the "accept' button for me to receive credit.
Thanks Brad. Will do. Paul