Empaths and Anxiety: Is There a Connection?
Empathy assists you in understanding the feelings of others and sees things from their perspective. This essential social response can promote compassion & care for other’s prosperity.
Everyone has a natural empathy ability, there’re many types of empaths from low level to the highest, but it is generally considered more of a skill than a fixed characteristic. It develops through a combination of our experiences and relationships, beginning with childhood caregivers. It is significant to note that genes also play a minor role in the development of empathy in a person. As a result, people end up with differing levels of compassion as an adult.
Are empaths real? Yes, they are. Some people, who are known as empaths, have such high empathy that they seem to take on the feeling of others.
Luckily, if you are an empath, you might find yourself absorbing the emotions of all those present around you. When they experience happiness, you get merged in their happiness. When they experience down, you carry that impassioned burden, too.
Then, it may come as little surprise that there is a potential link between high empathy & anxiety. Here is what to know about that link, along with a little bit of guidance on protecting your emotional well-being.
Firstly have a look at the chief types of empathy
Understanding the various types of empathy can make it easier to understand how anxiety and compassion intersect.
Cognitive empathy. This describes the ability to know what someone else feels. For instance, specific clues in body language & tone of voice might offer insight into their underlying philosophies and sentiments.
Affective empathy. This refers to one’s ability to share what someone else feels. Such emotional empathy, which generally happens automatically, can foster compassion and motivate you to offer support.
Empaths tend to have high affective empathy. When you care about face worry and stress, you experience sentimental pain right along with them. As long as they continue to strive, you might feel anxious and concerned about their account.
Empaths and general anxiety
If you survive with general anxiety, you may spend a fair amount of time worrying about the future or cycling through unwanted negative thinking.
You might bother about a choice you made that affected a relative or a friend. Or, you may face over broader fears.
You might wonder, “How would I feel if that were I?”. This thinking can spur your willingness to help and make it easy to picture yourself in a relaxing situation. But when you have tremendous empathy, existing anxiety can feed off the sentiments of people around you, making you feel even worse.
Empaths & social anxiety
A study found support for a negative correlation b/w social anxiety & cognitive empathy. People with lesser cognitive empathy are more likely to have higher levels of social anxiety.
Those with higher affective empathy & low cognitive empathy, on the other hand, seemed to be experiencing more social anxiety.
Remember, high affective empathy typically means that one experiences emotional pressure along with others. But with lower cognitive empathy, you have a more challenging time getting to know what other feel, so you may struggle to make sense of what those emotions mean.
This can quickly become confusing & overwhelming, especially when it comes to unpleasant sentiments. That’s why it may be challenging to find perfect jobs for empaths.
Lower cognitive empathy can make it testing for you to navigate social situations & get along with your surrounding. You may need an empaths survival guide if social interaction is usually a challenge for you, you may start feeling quite nervous about it. It may seem easier to remain stick with the only few people you understand, & the idea of having a conversation with anyone else might increase your anxiety.
Another take on this connection
A more minor 2011 study trusted Source took a different view at the link b/w social anxiety & empathy.
Researchers had participants of varying ages, completely different assessments of anxiety and social anxiety symptoms. They found that participants with high social anxiety also displayed greater empathy.
Yet after they correlated the results to take general anxiety into account, participants with higher social anxiety displayed greater cognitive empathy, not affective empathy, contrasting with the other studies’ results.
The role of perspective-taking:
These different findings might come down to perspective-taking, a key component of cognitive empathy.
Social anxiety involves significant fear and worries about the way others perceive you. For example, you might eventually evaluate yourself through the eyes of other people and become hyperaware of positive and negative judgment, including shifts in body language, facial expression, and tone.
So, even when you spend a lot of time thinking about how others see you, your ideas may not be accurate. The reason is your mind works in a different way, operating from the assumption that they see the identical flaws you see in yourself.