• advertisement

Our Mental Health Blogs

The Anxious Empath: Anxiety and Other People’s Feelings

Are you an anxious empath? Learn why so many empaths are anxious and what to do about empathy, anxiety and internalizing other people's feelings. Read this.

Empaths are often anxious. Empathy is described as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. All humans have the ability to empathize in moments of tragedy, even if they have not experienced a similar situation. However, empathy is an innate trait that is more acutely developed in certain members of the population (Intense Anxiety And The Highly Sensitive Person). Empaths are individuals who are unconsciously affected by other people’s moods, desires, thoughts, and energies. They can, literally, feel the emotions of others in their bodies and attempt to carry these emotions on their shoulders without ever being asked. It’s for this reason that there are often anxious empaths.

The Trouble with Being an Anxious Empath

It sounds good in theory; empaths are caring, understanding, and great listeners. But they are often focused outward on others’ feelings, rather than on themselves. As an empath, you may struggle to comprehend suffering in the world and dream about fixing all of the world’s problems.

Quite a large task, right?

Being this in tune with others seems like a gift, but empaths are saddled with the burden of their own emotions as well as that of those around them. They feel a pull towards fixing, meddling, and emotional understanding; a call that often cannot be ignored.

The Empath’s Anxiety

Empaths are scientifically proven to be more susceptible to anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry indicates that:

Individuals with social phobia (SP) show sensitivity and attentiveness to other people’s states of mind.

Meaning that individuals who suffer from social anxiety may also be extremely empathetic and susceptible to the feelings of others. This study concludes that:

. . . socially anxious individuals may demonstrate a unique social-cognitive abilities profile with elevated cognitive empathy tendencies and high accuracy in affective mental state attributions.

This hypersensitivity to emotions also causes empaths to become ill and suffer from stress, experience burnout in the workplace, and suffer from physical pain more often than others (Are You Too Sensitive? Try These Tips).

Life As an Empath

Are you an anxious empath? Learn why so many empaths are anxious and what to do about empathy, anxiety and internalizing other people's feelings. Read this.

Empaths are often described as sensitive. They cry during movies, commercials, weddings, and funerals; I know these feelings all too well. I have attended parties where someone isn’t having a good time or the hostess was feeling overwhelmed, these minute situations have inhibited me from enjoying myself until all crises have been remedied and everyone is enjoying themselves. Empaths are extremely in tune with everyone’s emotions, but, sometimes, empathy becomes a burden too big for the anxious to carry. It is so important to learn how to adequately manage your feelings of empathy in order to prevent compassion fatigue and other symptoms of stress and anxiety.

 Managing Your Anxiety and Empathy

 1. Know Your Emotional Limits

Empaths are intuitive healers and people are often drawn to them for this reason. This makes setting functional boundaries so important. Learn the limits of your abilities; you cannot carry the world on your shoulders and that is okay.

2. Recognize New Feelings

Take note of the way different people make you feel — this is meaningful. Are you nervous? Do you feel deep sadness? Learning how the feelings of others manifest in your body will allow you to better manage the multitude of emotions you may experience around other individuals (The Importance of Emotional Regulation in PTSD Recovery).

3. Find an Outlet

Empaths normally push their feelings aside in an attempt to help others. Emotions always find a way out in the body. Make it a point to develop a routine or habit that you enjoy and one that helps you express yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup (Why Self-Care is Important for Your Physical and Mental Health).

4. Use Grounding Techniques

Whenever emotions become too strong, look around the room to ground yourself. Find an object, not a person, to study and focus on. Being aware of its features can ground you in the moment and bring your outside of the intense feelings happening in your body (Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques).

Make Empathy A Gift By Managing Anxiety

Being an extremely empathetic individual, especially an anxious empath, can often feel like a burden. You may feel as if your nerves are literally on fire when you walk into new situations or when you watch the news. Your anxiety may even trick you into thinking you have to fix the entire world (Anxiety Affects Our Perspective). This can cause symptoms like fatigue and digestive disorders, or the many other symptoms empaths face.

Find Whitney on Facebook, as DontTellMeToChill on Instagram, on Twitter, on Google+ and on her website.

26 thoughts on “The Anxious Empath: Anxiety and Other People’s Feelings”

  1. Sometimes it feels like empaths (including myself) are eager to compliment themselves in the form of stating a burden….It sounds mean, but this could relay some insight, that I have also struggled with. Sometimes you’re not burdened with the knowledge of others’ feelings, we are not mind-readers, as much as we are projecting internal anger or past hurt. You may be picking up an energy of theirs but it does not mean you know what the energy is coming from or that it’s about you. Sometimes, its just a projection all-together! Like when I am at work, I thought my female bosses didn’t like me and that I was sensing discomfort, upon introspection, I realized that I am terrified of female authority figures and that the discomfort was all my own!!! (Of course there will be discomfort from the other if you are uncomfortable around them too!)

  2. This is a really interesting article. I have a question. I believe I’m an anxious empath. I can pretty much turn it on and off as well. It doesn’t really bother me for the most part. However, I can feel people’s emotions just from a text message for example. Could just be regular words, no exclamation marks or punctuation to give off any emotions or no emojis. I can feel from just reading their words. Is that a usual thing for everyone else? Also, if someone tells me about someone else I could pick up that strangers emotion as well although I never met them. Is that also a usual thing? I’m just trying to understand everything more and I’ve surprised people by knowing things are wrong or even if their excited and even have the butterfly feeling. Anyone know anything more in depth about this? Anyone else can feel through a text and not have to be next to the person?

    1. Hi Ronda, yes, I experience a similar sorts of feelings. It drives me nuts because I sometimes sense things that the other person barely realizes is there emotionally. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can offer more depth as to what it’s about other than a keen awareness.

    1. Hi Laura, that’s a really good question. They’re very closely intertwined.

      Codependence is an agreement between people to stay locked in unconscious patterns. It can occur when one person’s behavior is determined by another’s, when one relies on the other to maintain destructive behavior, and when you sacrifice yourself for others. A codependent person has a pattern of relying on another to meet his/her emotional needs.

      The author says that empaths “attempt to carry these emotions on their shoulders without ever being asked”. This is indicative of an unconscious agreement, which is one aspect of codependence. But I’d say that the anxious empath’s proclivity to carry the burden of another doesn’t necessarily equate to a being codependent. That said, if the anxious empath has a proclivity to enter into relationships with narcissists and carry the burdens of the narcissist (to meet some unconscious need of his/her own), then perhaps the anxious empath could be codependent. In this way, the anxious empath and narcissist are locked in an unconscious, destructive pattern.

      This is not a hard and fast explanation, but simply my take on these terms from the knowledge I have.

  3. So I have a question. I’ve been looking around for years and still cannot find an answer. WHAT AM I? Everything I read is an Empath takes or reads or feels others emotions. Etc. But I mean I kind of do this as well but I can turn that part off along with all of my emotions. But back to my real statement, when I walk into a room the people around me empaths or not(normal people) have their emotions changed by mine, moreover in empaths than others. And I cannot find anyone else having this problem is it’s driving me nuts. Someone please help!

    1. Hi Zac, this is an interesting question you’re asking. If I understand what you’re saying, you feel you can turn your own empathy on or off, but others are deeply affected by your energy/mood/emotions. Is that accurate? I’m curious as to how you know they are changed? Are people telling you this? Generally speaking, emotions can be “contagious”. We have a network of “mirror neurons” in our brains. These mirror neurons signal what someone else is feeling based on facial expressions, body language, and reflexes. Not only do we attune to what is happening with another, but we sometimes feel the same emotions within ourselves. I think that you get that empaths are more inclined to what others feel. But your question is more about “what you are”. I can’t answer that. All I can say is that as an empath, some people have an energy that is just stronger in some way. If it’s an energy that is intense and frenetic, I might feel tense. Likewise, I’m also aware and affected by energy that feels loving, warm, and grounding. Feel free to elaborate a bit more on your experience!

  4. I was told when I was 19 that I have social anxiety I’ve always had trouble with the fear of judgment I still struggle everyday with this how ever the more I learn about empathy I believe that my anxiety is based upon my own empathy for example my grandma’s boyfriend has bad OCD and when ever he walks into the same room as me I get so anxious that I became unable to think of anything but why he’s upset my husband and I will be having a great time and put of no where i have this deep feeling something is on his mind or his mood will change and I ask repeatedly if he’s okay or what’s wrong and me asking over and overtakes him upset but I can feel it and then when he tells me nothing’s wrong it makes me feel worse because I know he’s lying can I please get others opinion on if I have anxiety or if I maybe an empath

    1. Britney, I have discovered Dr. Judith Orloff to have answers and amazing info and resources on ” empaths” . Her books and website have been invaluable to me in trying to understand the exact feelings and emotions you are experiencing! Good luck, and be kind to youself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Us

Subscribe to Blog

  • advertisement

in Treating Anxiety Comments

Mental Health Newsletter

Sign up for the HealthyPlace mental health newsletter for latest news, articles, events.

Mental Health
Newsletter Subscribe Now!

Mental Health Newsletter

Sign up for the HealthyPlace mental health newsletter for latest news, articles, events.

Log in

Login to your account

Username *
Password *
Remember Me