Anxiety Is The Most Common of All Mental Illness

Does A Lack Of Empathy Cause Higher Incidents Of Anxiety?

Posted Jul 13, 2010

You certainly cannot please everyone, but what happens when the mainstream in any culture holds expectations that are for the most part unreasonable and perhaps unrealistic? Maslow's hierarchy of needs comes into mind with this question, specifically pertaining to the emotional needs of love, belonging and esteem. A typical cause for anxiety is when a person who struggles with anxiety has bought into an unrealistic belief and value that he or she cannot meet. At the point of realizing that he and she cannot meet such an expectation based on a belief or value, one of two things happen. Either he or she abandons that unrealistic belief and value or he or she begins to see his or herself as being incapable of achieving. With people who struggle with various forms of anxiety the latter is the case, it is that fear of being rejected by others in the manner they have already rejected themselves, that drives their anxiety.

In short lack of empathy for ourselves and others leads to anxiety in our society. In the days since LeBron James made his decision to move to Miami, I have encountered enough hate filled articles about him to make me wonder, if he killed someone and I missed that piece of news. To be fair, I too have been guilty of making disparaging remarks in response to things not going my team's way, most recently being with the now concluded World Cup.

The point is, with our high expectations for others we look up to for [insert your reason here], we create a culture of anxiety for ourselves, others and more specifically our children. For the number of fans who burned down LeBron's jerseys and made threats of burning down his home, and for Dan Gilbert and his letter of admonishment, what these individuals are teaching their and our children, is that if you don't meet my expectations you will be rejected.

To display an unforgiving attitude when our expectations aren't met by those representing us, shows a lack of empathy on our path. It also breeds a culture of anxious children and adolescents. Mainly people who are afraid to give their all in just about anything, for fear that they might experience rejection on a perceived cosmic scale like none other. At the end of the day, for those who suffer from anxiety it's seems better, easier and more sensible to play it safe than to take any risks. The paradox with cultures which endorse a hard lined attitude toward setbacks is that they experienced a significant drop in their number of success stories. Most people prone to anxiety will simply operate in a "safe" zone, not wanting to better themselves by being innovative and taking any measurable risks.

But there is good news, regardless of whether or not LeBron James helps his new team to earn a title championship, I believe he has demonstrated a rare kind of courage, that bares testament to his recognition that all living beings are worthy of a healthy love for self, and he is willing to afford himself the dignity of taking reasonable risks.

There is also more good news, anxiety is a disorder that people who suffer from can overcome. Through intensive therapy, people who struggle with anxiety, particularly, panic disorders, can learn to preference their expectations and develop an authentic appreciation for themselves.


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