The Dark Side Of Being An Empath: 5 Powerful Ways The Highly Sensitive Experience The World Differently
Even though empathy is a natural human trait, people often call those who are more sensitive than others Empaths. Someone might be referred to as an empath if they embody natural empathy yet their awareness of the world around them seems to be heightened. More commonly this is known as a highly sensitive person. Highly sensitive people have a strong awareness of the world around them, particularly the energy and emotions of other people. If they don't learn proper boundary setting skills, they can sometimes take on other people's emotions as their own which can lead to mental, emotional and physical overwhelm. There has been some research done that actually shows that people can take on the emotions of other people. In these studies, they found that frowning as someone else is frowning can actually trigger our brains to interpret the facial expression as our own feeling. This process is also known as emotional contagion (EC). It turns out that our mirror neuron system allows us to be able to feel what someone else may be feeling as they are showing a certain expression or motion. The same areas in our brain respond as though we were doing the action or feeling that emotion ourselves.
Only a small number of people are empathy-deficient or devoid of empathy altogether, and highly sensitive people make up about 15% to 20% of the population. A highly sensitive person will have an overactive or sensitive nervous system which gives them a heightened awareness of the world around them. The areas of their brain that regulate emotions are more sensitive than others. So even though there may not be such a thing as an empath since empathy is a natural human trait, there are definitely people who are highly sensitive. It's said that this heightened level of awareness or sensitivity is due to adverse childhood experiences. When someone has been abused or traumatized as a child, they learn different ways to cope and survive in the environment they are being raised in. A child who always has to be on guard for the next traumatic event learns to become hypervigilant to be able to predict when and if something is going to happen so they can be prepared. Shahida Arabi from Thought Catalog writes about the ways in which highly sensitive people experience the world differently than those with natural empathy. Here are a few of them, but make sure you read the full and very interesting article over on the Thought Catalog website.
1. Basically, highly sensitive people are emotional detectives who are able to read the energy of a room and the people in it. The only thing is, they have been gaslighted by others so often by telling them that it's all in their heads that they learn to block out their insights and often doubt themselves. The thing is that if you or someone you know is this way, the times you're right usually outweigh the times you're off track. So it's important to always trust your gut feeling and not just discount it as paranoia. Self-trust is key. Remember that you don't need outside validation from anyone to know how you feel.
2. Another thing to keep in mind is that highly sensitive people or empaths seem to be targeted by toxic people. Narcissists, in particular, tend to prey on highly empathic people because many empathic people don't have healthy boundaries yet. The narcissist will use the compassion and heightened conscience of the empathic person for their own agenda. These toxic people prey on those who won't call them out on their behaviour and those who will continue to forgive them time and time again without having to take any accountability. Narcissists themselves are empathy-deficient people, so they love to feed on the endless empathic supply they get from the highly sensitive empathic person. This is why self-care is so important for us all.
These are just two of the ways that highly sensitive people experience the world so make sure you check out the rest in the link below.***
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