Why (some) empaths experience social anxiety?

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Alison
@alison
2 years ago
71 posts

This has puzzled me for years. On the surface, I'm areasonably intelligent and confident person but put me in a group of people and I turn to jelly.

Lots of empathy talk seems to revolve around taking on other people's emotions. I don't think this is my major problem ... I seem to take on other people's ATTITUDES andJUDGEMENTS ie the ways in which they see the world. I've always felt judged for being sensitive, introverted, etc, so I've internalised those judgements as truth and they've served to inhibit who I really am -causing anxiety in the process.

Given that social anxiety is an irrational fear of being judged (or to put it another way, a fear of experiencing other people's judgements) is this how social anxiety is caused?

Does this make sense to anyone????

Does anyone else feel they absorb attitudes rather then feelings?


updated by @alison: 10/22/17 04:37:17PM
Conny
@conny
2 years ago
28 posts

Hy Alison

It makes perfect sense to me.

I experience the absolut same thing.

I feel the more I am around people, the more I kinda get away from my own Attitudes.

It's like I take their way of seeing live, of judgements and I don't know how and why but most of the time it takes me quite some time to figure out that what I am thinking of life right now isn't actually my way of seeing live.

After beeing in a group of negativ and shallow people , I go home and suddenly have thoughts and feelings about things in my live that really put me down... a few days later I suddenly realize that this is not me.

Do you recognize it streight away? Or does it take you some time as well?

How do you react to this then? Is it easy for you to change you way of thinking back to your own way?

Cause I find it really hard some time...

Alison
@alison
2 years ago
71 posts

Hi Conny

I think it's about being aware of what triggers your empathy but that's easier said than done. One area I have had some success is helping people. If someone needs help, I tend to find myself volunteering to help out - whether it's good for me or not. I've learnt to recognize that urge and bite my tongue. I'll go home and have a think about itand only then decide from a clear space if I want to give my time and energy.

Otherwise, I do feel I've absorbed a lot of negative judgements about my sensitivity being inappropriate, odd, etc. Am practising mindfulness to be more aware of these beliefs. It helps but as you say it's not easy unfortunately :-)

The Importance of Being Jonny
@the-importance-of-being-jonny
2 years ago
794 posts

I had a most embarrassing social anxiety attack on Saturday at a Passover seder. I was sitting among a whole bunch of younger college students I didn't know and the rabbi asked each of us to read from the haggadah and as soon as it was my turn, I was so nervous. I read shakily and I know people wondered what was up with me. The time came again for me to read and although I was a little bit more confident, I still was nervous and read shakily. I hate that I am a slave to anxiety and energy. I felt like a wreck, not to mention, I had a shooting pain in my right armpit that extended way down to my middle fingertip. I didn't know what was happening or why I felt that way, but I was glad to get outta there. I felt so embarrassed.

Alison
@alison
2 years ago
71 posts

It's an awful feeling isn't it?

I tend to think it's because I was judged and embarrassed when I was younger about how 'weird and unacceptable' I was for being shy and deep and not good at small talk. I absorbed the belief that I wasn't good enough because of those traits.

Does this make any sense to you ... or not? :-)

born vego/ born empath
@born-vego-born-empath
2 years ago
8 posts
It makes total sense. I've been pondering this topic for quite a while but more so this last week as I've recognized that all of my 4siblings are also empaths. My husband too. I think I passed that stage years ago as a early-late teen. I had to be very self reflexive, study a bit of philosophy, actively practice mediation techniques when conversing with others... And always remind myself that I am a good soul, that that I know and therefore if I perceive judgment or judgmental attitudes they are not my own , I needn't hold on to them and it shows that whoeverni'm talking to or in the presence of simply doesn't know me well. And if I get judgie on them it's cause there's a lot I don't know about them. Nobody deserves to be judged without trial. They To allow myself to stop and listen very openly to people. Whole body listening.
Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

I have had too many experiences like this but I wouldn't be able to read in that situation. I just burst into tears like a 3yo and can't do anything but try to escape. It is so horribly embarassing.

Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

A lot of people in my family treated me like I wasn't right and needed to be fixed. I couldn't be shy and I was a hypochronriac (sp?) because I could feel other peoples injuries and illness. My mom did not realize that with at least half of those people I didn't even know they were hurt or sick so I wasn't even doing it subconciously or out of sympathy. My grandma still brings up how I cried through my whole first time being on stage with an audience. It was rubbed in and I was pushed to be a social butterfly which is just not me. Well maybe it could have been me if I hadn't had so much stress and pressure to be that way. My childhood most likely could have been what caused my social anxiety. I was not given any confidence or support.

Alison
@alison
2 years ago
71 posts

Hi Gin

Sorry to hear you experienced so much pressure to fit in as a child. It's tough growing up with the feeling there's something wrong with you. I hope you manage to deal with it better now? I find that because I understand more I can be more forgiving towards myself ... still working on the anxiety though.

Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

No the pressure is still there from everyone to get out and socialize in big groups or people getting upset because we don't visit often. At this point I just don't go out much. People can take the time to understand me or not. My husband knows me and I know me. I have quite a rich inner life and finally have support. He is very supportive in all the craziness I find here and where it leads me :) I am growing and getting stronger these days, just not in the socializing area. I prefer to socialize online because then I don't read so much from people as I do in their presence. It is overwhelming to feel everyone's emotions in a group then be able to read their faces and put it with their words. I take in way too much information with my senses.

Dice
@dice
2 years ago
284 posts

I tended to seek out people that were seen as different. I personally opted to blend.. go unseen. The less people noticed me the better. People have always tried to guide me and tell me what I need to do. People would at the same time like they could not figure me out.

As I had children I noticed people trying to tell me how my children need to be toughened up according to the standard normal. I have always had a place where kids can be who they are. The world is hard enough without those closest to you judging you and blaming themselves because you just aren't right.

You tend to shy away from large groups as I do. I frankly have different interests than most and see the world differently than many around me. I have to feel good about something and at the same time challenge my own boundaries to make positive change around me. Many think I can be bull headed and stuck up. If people knew me they would know that is far from truth.

You have been a good friend to me for quite some time and to be honest.. all of your past made you strong. It might not be fair.. but I am glad you are who you are. You work to be who you want instead of bending to the will of others. You are truly a blessing in my life!! Had you grown up feeling normal.. we may not have ever met. Thanks for being you Gin!!

Gin S
@gin-s
2 years ago
225 posts

I love you too <3

Kithor
@kithor
2 years ago
17 posts

I know that I occasionally have the problem of mutating a read into an interpretation that what I'm reading is directed toward me, especially with attitudes and judgments. But, a lot of times it is just feeling those attitudes and judgments against whoever that I find uncomfortable and simply don't want to be around it. It is these and other chaotic people that I have a particularly sensitive radar for that distracts me from enjoying time in public places because of internal triggers that I have in place for it. Some of it is because of my past as it sounds like it is in your case, but I know shutting off that radar in public isn't the answer, at least personally. It is my identity. I just need to learn to live with it better and reduce the anxiety one day at a time.

Perception is everything. I keep a drawn Necker cube on the wall of my office to remind myself that the way we perceive the world isn't necessarily as the world truly is. We perceive it, and how we perceive it can shape and diminish the chaos in our lives. The reality is that it isn't a cube facing one direction or the other. It is just a bunch of lines on a piece of paper...

Nea
@nea
2 years ago
201 posts

The way I experience it, when we are ungrounded and unshielded in a group of people, we're like a leaf in the wind, it feels like having no control, like there are no ground beneath our feet. I have realized I get bombarded by other people's anxieties, emotions etc. It literally feels like there are no room for 'me' and that I am about to disappear. Just like you, I am a reasonably confident person when I am grounded - but when I am overwhelmed and/or feel like I have no control or don't know what am expected of me, when I don't know the rules, that's when I 'freeze', like I am trying to make myself invisible.

There's a way that we feel what others are feeling that might not even be about us - it's about them - but we feel it so intensely it's hard to remember they don't really mean anything. If we get a room full of that, it's hard not to be anxious. :P

Breathing and bubble-shielding works well for me. But it does take practice - sometimes I just am not aware, it's a bad habit I am trying to work through.

Kaitlyn Brokaw
@kaitlyn-brokaw
2 years ago
216 posts

I too, am in the same boat. Always have been, and I think I always will be. :(

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