But is it possible to be too sympathetic or to become overly so? As it turns out, this is one of those scenarios out there Can Lots of goodies. The condition called hyper-empathy, or hyper-empathy syndrome, involves being so empathetic that you actually capture other people’s feelings with the same strength or extent as your own — that you lose sight of what you feel and what you feel.
Since we all have a limited capacity for the number of things we can feel at once, well, this tendency can quickly lead to emotional exhaustion, negating the potential benefits of empathy in the first place.
What is excessive empathy?
As with any other feeling, the ability to empathize is on a continuum. If, on one end of the spectrum, you find people who really struggle to feel any empathy for others, highly empathetic people will fall on the opposite end, says Lorenzo Norris, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the George Washington College of Medicine and Health Sciences.
In this way, there is also a great deal of overlap between people with hyper-empathy syndrome and true empaths, who make up only a small part of the population (estimated at one to two percent) and are believed to have the ability to physically You feel what someone else is feeling. On an emotional level, both genuine empaths and people with excessive empathy treat other people’s feelings just like their own, while people who empathize (but no In either of the above camps) can differentiate between their own feelings and someone else’s, and determine when one feels versus the other.
“It’s not just a [hyper-empath] They feel your feelings, and they feel them so strongly that you could stay with them, or you could make them lose their emotions. Lorenzo Norris, psychiatrist
Although the ability to be So Attuned to another person’s feelings may seem like a superpower—and may certainly allow for some next-level vulnerability and intimacy—the problem is that the overly empathetic person’s inability to detach or validate the other person’s feelings when that is the case. correct to do so. “Not only do they feel your feelings, they feel them so strongly that they can stay with them [for too long]or it may cause them to lose their feelings, or set healthy boundaries,” says Dr. Norris.
3 signs of excessive empathy at work
1. Poor sense of self
Since a person with excessive empathy cannot easily, at all, differentiate between their own emotions and those of others, a person in this camp may also have a significantly foggy understanding of their own identity. “You may find it hard to pinpoint what makes you happy, but you can pinpoint what makes someone else happy,” says Joy Berkheimer, marriage and family therapist, Ph.D., LMFT about someone with hyper-empathy.
This can lead to codependent behaviors in relationships and friendships. “Apart from another person, an overly empathetic person may find that they don’t know what they want to eat or where they want to go or what they want to do, but they can say, ‘I know what this other person wants,'” says Dr. Birkheimer. As they struggle to identify their own needs and wants, chances are, they are not being met or met, which can lead to resentment in the long run.
2. Limited limits (if any)
A person with hyper-empathy feels intrinsically connected to others. “There is basically no independence or separation between them and their friends or partners,” says Dr. Birkheimer. As a result, they tend not to have any form of boundaries and will happily change their own plans for the sake of others, say “yes” to requests when they don’t have the emotional or physical bandwidth, or stretch themselves in an unsustainable way.
3. Emotional exhaustion and mood swings
Perhaps the most obvious sign of hyper-empathy syndrome is being in an almost constant state of feeling…all things. Life can feel very intense for a person in this situation because they are basically experiencing everything that the people around them are going through via the resulting emotions. And that could be it a lot to get stuck. “They may get to the point where everything is so chaotic that they start isolating themselves,” says Dr. Birkheimer.
Things can get worse when others respond negatively to the highly empathetic person. Friends and family members may do so Withstands “This person’s excessive need to empathize with them, which leads the over-empathetic person to feel angry or resentful,” says Dr. Birkheimer.
Cue: Another set of possible feelings an emotionally overwhelmed person has to deal with. Empath may be disappointed that not everyone in their life is enthusiastic about their efforts to help [carry the emotional load], and adds. “They’re like, ‘I want to give you all the things—why don’t you want that support from me?'” “When the other person is really just trying to move their feelings themselves.”
Effects of hyper-empathy syndrome
on the person who is going through it
While it is important and healthy Feel Your Emotions An overly empath can sit in feelings for a very long time and may be unable to let go of feelings, which can be stressful and upsetting. “Any emotional state that gets fixed will inevitably not be a great thing, whether it’s sadness, anger, or even happiness,” says Dr. Norris. However, especially with negative emotions, the effects of sitting in it for extended periods of time can be harmful to both body and mind.
For example, a person who is angry for a long time (including someone who empathizes with someone else’s anger) will also continue to undergo the body’s stress response to such feelings; This includes a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to physical symptoms such as a racing heart and shortness of breath. says d. Norris.
Being able to let go of feelings of anger (or sadness, or happiness) easily is an essential part of healthy emotional regulation, Dr. Norris adds, and excessive empathy makes this even more difficult.
on others around them
A person with hyper-empathy syndrome may inadvertently push the boundaries of others by their tendency to fully assume others’ emotional states. It’s like they’re always “falling into someone else’s experience,” says Dr. Birkheimer, even if they really aren’t. invited To do so, explicitly or at all.
This can have the effect of preventing the other person from truly embodying and experiencing it king Emotions, which lead them to feel as though their autonomy has been infringed upon, which can be painful or upsetting, says Dr. Birkheimer. As a result, they may try to express or reinforce their own boundaries, which may lead the highly empathetic person to feel unwanted or rejected. The conflict that arises, she adds, may then end up alienating them from others.
How to manage excessive empathy
If you identify signs or traces of excessive empathy within yourself, it is important to learn how to separate your own emotions and feelings from your own and those of others. To do this, Dr. Birkheimer recommends working with a mental health professional. “It’s not something you want to leave untreated because you could end up either feeling emotionally upset all the time, or isolating yourself because experiencing everyone else’s energy is too intense for you,” she says.
In particular, you might look for a therapist who practices dialectical behavior therapy, which is specifically geared towards those who struggle with intense emotions. Part of this work involves learning how to respect other people’s boundaries, how to create your own boundaries based on your values; It is important to understand that just because you are Can Feeling another person’s feelings on a deep level doesn’t always mean it’s beneficial for you to do so, either for you or them (or both).