You walk into a gathering of people, and more than anything you want to smile and chat it up with those around you.
You want to join in the conversation, laugh, and enjoy yourself.
You want people to see you as friendly and outgoing, interested in what they have to say and easy to talk to.
But instead . . . you feel like a deer in headlights. You're overwhelmed and flooded with emotion. Your heart is racing. Your hands are trembling. Your face feels frozen. And the worst part is, you know everyone can see exactly how anxious you are, and they're wondering what the hell is wrong with you.
Does this scenario sound familiar? If this is your typical reaction in social situations, you may be dealing with social anxiety disorder. But what can make social anxiety even more difficult is dealing with it as an empath.
A study published on PubMed shows that people with social anxiety are highly sensitive to the emotions of other people. It appears that those who are social anxious are able to discern the mental states of people much more accurately.
The study administrators measured the levels of empathy within specific people, and learned that those same people demonstrated high levels of behavior related to social anxiety. It seems ability to feel the emotions and feelings of others can be extremely overwhelming to the point of inducing social anxiety for the average empathic person. If you are around people with toxic emotions, you'll pick up on that and feel their negative energy, which can make you very anxious.
Although not every empathic person has social anxiety, and not everyone with social anxiety is an empath, it's clear there's a strong link between the two. If you suffer from social anxiety, you may very well relate to the symptoms of highly sensitive people. (more…)