The term “empath” may be familiar to you in reference to the Myers-Briggs scale, indicating someone who is intuitive or feels things. However, if you’re an empath, it’s likely that you already know it.
I was an empath even as a small child but didn’t know it for many years because I wasn’t conscious of the term. It took me much longer than usual to realize that other people felt differently from how I felt, and that not everyone could understand my internal experience (or even wanted to). Eventually, however, I did realize this, and have spent the past decade trying to understand not only my own experiences, but empaths as a whole. Now, as an empath with several years of experience, I’m aware that there are advantages to being empathic. However, there are also pitfalls to empathy that can make life difficult for those who have this psychological trait. So, what are the cons of having heightened emotional awareness?
1) Overwhelming emotional experiences
One of the biggest challenges for empaths is learning how to handle the intensity of their own emotional experiences. This is due to a phenomenon called emotional contagion. Emotional contagion is defined as “the tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person”. In other words, empaths are likely to involuntarily take on the emotions of those around them. Empaths are able to accurately sense and distinguish between other people’s feelings, but it is difficult for them to prevent themselves from becoming overwhelmed by strong emotional experiences that are out of their control.
2) Lack of boundaries
An empath has a hard time differentiating between their own emotions and the emotions of others. This can lead to intense personal relationships, where they feel like everything is shared, but it can also cause them to neglect themselves because they think other people are more important than them.
3) Sensitivity to stimuli
Being an empath means that you are sensitive to stimuli of all sorts. They can be sensitive to light, sound, taste, or smell. Also, they may have a difficult time going out in public because of loud noises, unpleasant smells, and crowds of people.
4) Physical symptoms
Being an empath makes it hard for you to distinguish between your own emotions and those of other people, which leads to physical symptoms of diseases or other ailments. This can cause them to think they are sick even though they are perfectly healthy.
5) Mental overload
Being an empath means feeling everything that’s going on everywhere, which leads to mental overload and being overwhelmed by emotions. They have no way of selecting what to feel and the emotions can become too much and can cause them to shut down. Also, if the emotions and feelings of others are constantly coming into their area, it makes it very difficult for them to stay in a positive mindset. They may feel like they’re drowning in negativity and sadness, when there’s no reason for them to be sad. Mental overload and constant bombardment of emotions from those around them can also lead to emotional burnout and develop into severe anxiety for the empath. It’s not uncommon for empaths to also suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of all the emotional damage they’ve accumulated throughout their lives. This can also result in an imbalance of serotonin, the feel-good chemical that helps keep our moods balanced. Without it, stress levels rise and depression becomes more likely. The best thing empaths can do is protect themselves with meditation, visualization techniques, and other protective methodologies. They can also avoid letting others take advantage of them, practice self-care routines, and even use their abilities to help heal others.
In conclusion, compassionate empaths are sensitive to energy and emotions. They can easily become overwhelmed by the negative feelings of others, which is why it’s important for them to monitor their exposure levels. In this article we’ve explored what a compassionate empath is, how they may experience life differently from other people, and some ways compassionately empathic individuals can protect themselves from being over-exposed to negativity.
To learn more about the adventures of a real-life empath, grab a copy of my book HERE.
Photo by Jessica Delp on Unsplash
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