The Anxious Empath
An empath is more empathetic, more tuned in and more sensitive to others than the average person. This means they’re more likely to shoe-hop (put themselves in the shoes of others), spot when someone’s not feeling 100% and spend time working through other people’s problems.
Empath’s are intuitive, when it comes to “gut feelings” and have a tendency to know certain things without being taught/told - (particularly the emotional stuff). They feel a natural compassion for others, particularly an underdog or victim of bullying - and tend to take on problems as their own. Those friends you have who are always there for you, time and time again, through thick and thin - they’re probably empaths.
Sounds great, right?
Empath’s spend a lot of energy on other people, often projecting their own levels of intuity onto others and assuming they’ll receive the same nurture and care in return. This can lead to neglecting their own needs, as they take care of the people around them. It can also lead to complex feelings of self-doubt and seeing more value in other people than themselves, which can then lead to feeling that their friendships and relationships depend on this self sacrifice, leading to even more self-neglect.
Because empaths absorb other people’s emotions, high levels of empathy are often associated with a tendency towards Depression and Anxiety.
It makes sense if you think about it: if you can spot micro changes in the moods of others through voice, body language and facial expressions then you’re going to know when other people are feeling shitty (even if they’re lying to you about feeling fine).
The relationship between anxiety and “listening to your gut” is a complicated one anyway, but this is x10 if you are an empath. Should I listen to my gut because I have a tendency to be right? Is this just my anxiety? They aren’t mutually exclusive, and it can lead to a distrust of others as well as yourself… all adding up to - you guessed it - more anxiety. Hurrah!
Of course, not all empaths are anxious and not all those with anxiety are empaths. So how do you tell? Well, the very nature of being an empath means you probably JUST KNOW... But for curiosity purposes, here are some common indications that you are an empath:
Sensitivity to the feelings of others
And taking them on as your own. This doesn't just extend to your loved ones. It also extends to animals, strangers, celebrities, TV characters, people featured on the news and even people who have been cruel to you.
Becoming emotional when watching TV
This is an extension of being sensitive - watching any kind of cruelty, sadness or violence can become unbearably draining for an empath - particularly when watching documentaries or the news.
Knowing when you are being lied to
It's easy to worry that you're simply being paranoid (especially because of anxiety), but chances are if you think you're being lied to, you probably are. The more attune to a person you are and the higher your empathy is, the better you will be able to read your loved ones.
Becoming an Aunt of Agony
Somehow, some way other people can just sense that you're a good listener. People just start off loading onto you, even total strangers. You invest a lot of time trying to figure out problems for other people and you become anxious about whether or not you are giving the wrong advice.
You're soooooo sleeeeeepy...
It's the kind of sleepy that's so exhausting, even sleep won't cure it. This is usually brought on by taking too much on, but can also be an indication that you are spending time with someone who is draining you (the so called "emotional vampire").
This is the Danger Zone. Being unable to block out the feelings, problems and emotions of others in the conventional way, an empath will sometimes turn to sex, drugs or alcohol to help them switch off. Learning to channel this energy into positive activities (like exercise or art) is imperative to a healthy and happy life. Speaking of which...
Being in touch with emotions is an valuable addition to creative pursuits, whether it's painting, drawing, writing, photography, singing, dancing, cooking, sewing or something else. Empaths tend to have a vivid imagination.
A love of "me time"
The need for solitude will build up (sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly). Quiet time is precious and getting it at the right times will stop an empath from feeling crazy.
Work life/ home life/ education and conversation all need to be stimulating and gripping to keep an empath engaged - the tendency towards an active imagination can easily kick in and lead the mind to wander, the heart to long and the hand to doodle if an empath is not interested.
A free spirit
An empath likes adventure, freedom and travel. They are curious creatures with a love of exploring. They often feel a close connection with nature and some empaths are drawn to the holistic and spiritual.
A hatred of routine
Rules and routine can feel actively imprisoning and stifling. Anything that takes away from freedom can leave an empath feeling drained and controlled.
An empath will only talk about themselves to people they trust, and this can take time. They also have a genuine interest in other people and enjoy listening.
Feel guilty about food
Many empaths don't like eating meat, poultry or fish because they worry about the wellbeing and treatment of the animal. Many also get anxious about non-fair trade goods, food that is bad for the environment (such as Palm Oil) and food that could be causing problems in other countries (such as avocados). This can also extend into feelings of guilt when buying other goods and services.
Celebrating the successes of others and cheering their loved ones up when they are sad becomes a priority in the life of an empath. Their own achievements and challenges are often underplayed. This can lead to them being taken advantage of as, although they'll put a lot of energy into supporting others, their own successes and pitfalls may go overlooked.
If you do find yourself in this situation, try to only put the most efort into the people who will put the energy into you in return. You can still celebrate with others, but a one-sided friendship is toxic and the energy and money you spend on selfish people will go unnoticed and unappreciated anyway.
Depending on how much negativity an empath has taken on, they can be prone to becoming disconnected, aloof, shy or upset. Despite the desire to "put on a happy face" when sad or frustrated, this will only add to their load.
I can't put enough emphasis on how important self care is for everyone. If you have high levels of empathy and a tendency to put others first, you may need to put some extra effort in to make sure you're looking after yourself.
Try to spend at least an hour a day doing something FOR YOURSELF.
Trust me, it will keep you grounded (and anyway, that will ultimately make you even better at taking care of those you love).
Calling all empaths...
If you have anxiety, then you know just how difficult it is to juggle real life with a chronic illness.
I'm working hard to write relevant content that will hopefully make it that bit easier to manage (and change some minds along the way...)
It's not as easy as just writing and pressing submit. There's proof reading, editing, HTML, social media and paying for sponsored ads to think of.
I'd love your help getting the word out there, if you could share this post on social media, I'd be so truly grateful.
(if not, could you please support me by getting coffee?)