Because we are stingy with feelings and cannot express them


If affection were money, some people’s checking accounts would have very little movement. A smile, a compliment, a confidence: operations that are too expensive, more risky than a bet on the stock market. Better close the vaults and keep everything safe.

The great Molière left us the perfect portrait ofMiserly, jealous of his money and humanly arid. In more recent times the psychotherapist Umberta Telfener she managed to summarize in two words the lack of warmth and sharing that characterizes contemporary relationships by speaking of “crumb love”. While the philosopher Umberto Galimberti some time ago he raised a significant alarm: our society will increasingly be made up of emotional illiterates, because we are unable to emotionally care for others.

Which is what the actor and screenwriter tells us Marco Bonini in his book If you love someone say so (Longanesi): the imprinting of a father who did not know how to caress his children e say I love you to the wife, who in fact left him. “There is a common thread that goes from our childhood experiences to the relational ones of our adult life. If we have not learned as children the ability to express ourselves and give ourselves to others, we will find ourselves with feelings stuck in a closed circle of complaints and selfishness “, he admits Julius Caesar Jacob, psychotherapist and writer. “It is an attitude so widespread today that it is a collective pathology, which we unfortunately mistake for normality, but which makes society bankrupt”.

The positive experience is missing

A question of immaturity, therefore, rather than real selfishness. We don’t give to others because we haven’t learned how to do it. «To grant ourselves, to welcome, to truly enter into a relationship appear to us as gestures that endanger our integrity. If we offer something, we lose a part of ourselves. If we keep our distance, no one can hurt us, ”he explains Marzia Cikada, systemic-relational psychotherapist. “It happens because we have never experienced how positive being sentimentally selfless is.”

Numerous researches have now confirmed that those who are more generous are also happier. The act of giving activates the brain reward circuits, that is, those that give us a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. It is the “effective altruism“.” Those who are more empathic, those who feel a real desire to be with others are richer “, clarifies Cikada.” It is a pity that it is easy for us to do the opposite. “In psychology, we talk about alexithymia, to indicate poor emotional awareness and the inability to distinguish and identify moods. It is the illiteracy of which Galimberti speaks that is expressed both with the difficulty in recognizing the needs of the other, and with the inability to respond to these needs.

We get lost in unnecessary details

In relationships, those who pull out the dropper try to share as little as possible. “The reason is that these people are afraid of losing control of their lives and ultimately their power,” says Telfner. They are those partners who have staked everything on their career, or those parents who, if they have to spend two hours with their children, do not know what to do and say. “And then thereand new technologies push us to focus on the fringe aspects of existence: so we care more about the number of our followers than the expression on our partner’s face », adds Cikada.

And then, Galimberti is right, a new education would be needed because “sentiment is not a natural gift, but is acquired culturally”. Each of us can take a step in this direction. “Wondering how much we know how to understand the people around us and how much we really do to deepen the bond with them”, concludes the psychotherapist. Because if we learn to welcome the emotional dimension, life will acquire a more intense flavor.