First, let us look at an empath. What is an empath? The term empath comes from empathy. What is empathy? According to Wikipedia, empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional (or affective) empathy, and somatic empathy.
Empaths have the ability to relate to other’s feelings and experiences. They are also capable of feeling and experiencing exactly what another is feeling and experiencing. Empaths can connect to other beings on a deep level that goes beyond logic and words and fully see and feel others past and present. Empathy is a state of being or an emotion that allows one to connect cognitively with another person. Another way of looking at this is a person who can put themselves into another person’s shoes and better understand their experiences and feelings. An empath can feel and understand another person’s feelings outside of their own perspective. Some empaths feel and experience things as if they are part of their own experience. For example, if someone is physically hurt, an empath can physically feel pain. If someone is angry, an empath feels the anger. If someone loses a loved one, an empath can feel the despair of the lost love.
We all have a natural ability to being empathetic to others for various things on different levels. However, empaths take on the feeling of others on a greater level. This leads to an empath finding themselves potentially absorbing the emotions of those around them. Taking on the joy and happiness of those in the room can feel rather livening. Taking on the sadness or fear, or guilt of those around us could be just the opposite. Absorbing those emotions may feel burdensome and heavy, especially if there is no way to help or assist them. There is a potential link between highly empathic and anxiety.
2 Types of empathy
We will begin to understand how anxiety and empathy converge by understanding the two different types of empathy.
- Cognitive empathy Is the ability to understand what someone else feels. An example is one may have specific body language or tone of voice that offers insight into their thoughts and emotions or reactions.
- Affective Empathy. One can take on the feelings of another. Feel what they feel. This type of emotional empathy can feed compassion and motivate one to offer support. When an empath is feeling the feelings of loved ones who are struggling with grief or stresses themselves, an empath can take that on, and it can create anxiety for the empath. Empaths and Anxiety
A person who suffers from general anxiety may spend time worrying about how things are going in life—cycling through negative thought patterns. One might wonder how one of their decisions may affect a friend. This may create thoughts of you in this similar situation. When one has high empathy, existing anxiety can feed off of the people around your emotions. Creating even greater anxieties, fueling them.
If one can feel the stresses or emotions of loved ones, they may feel guilty if they are unable to help them. One may feel as if they are disappointing loved ones when they cannot help. This could put a strain on the relationship causing one to withdrawal in other ways. As one continues to worry, the relationship’s health will domino into more stress and anxiety.
When an empath is dealing with overwhelming emotions just like any other, it affects them physically as well as mentally. Empaths are at greater risk for anxiety attacks and panic attacks, depression, fatigue, as well as other health risks that may accompany these things. Next, we will look at ways an empath can energetically shield themselves.
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