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What is Toxic Empathy and How to Emotionally Protect Yourself?

What is Toxic Empathy?

Toxic empathy is when a person over-identifies with someone emotions, feelings and takes them on as their own personal. Although, if the other individual’s anxiety and stress keep you from your current tasks and responsibilities, it is called toxic empathy.

Toxic empathy is when you do not just replicate and reflect another person’s emotions or feelings, you also experience and consume them. Consuming someone else’s problems can cause you to become equally overwhelmed or even more so. When you replicate another person’s emotions as your own, you make them your emotions too even though you are only empathizing or putting yourself in that person’s shoes.

People who are overly-empathetic or hyper-empathetic may gradually lose their own wants, needs as the feeling when overshadowed by another person’s emotions. These people experience others’ emotions to an extent where they lose themselves and feel the pain or negativity and in some cases positivity of another person. This diverts them from their own path and their life and onto someone else’s.

Regular over empathizing can lead to a reduced capacity of making one’s own decisions as per their best interest. They may also experience draining feelings physically and mentally since they draw away from their own feelings. People who give greater importance to others’ lives and needs above their own experience general anxiety and even mild depression at times. They don’t think of themselves often and are fully consumed by others’ sentiments they report feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness. They mostly look at situations from another person’s perspective rather than their own.

Some signs you may be experiencing toxic empathy are:

  1. Pitying others’ situations often and use it as a justification if they are mean and unpleasant towards you.
  2. Giving in to others’ demands easily and find it hard to say no or refuse.
  3. Unintentionally physically replicate another person’s stress i.e, feeling like you have a knot in your stomach, clammy hands, etc.
  4. Emotionally mirroring another individual’s pain and feeling persistent emotions of sadness and suffering for a prolonged period of time.
  5. Feeling exhausted physically and psychologically after interacting with people.
  6. Being unable to complete or fulfil your own responsibilities because you feel overwhelmed by your feelings.

Managing toxic empathy

Emotional Hijacking

Emotional hijacking is when another person’s thoughts and feelings have control over your emotions and feelings. People who have a high empathic quotient and are prone to toxic empathy may experience emotional hijacking during a process like venting. They can absorb the other’s frustrations and replicate them. To prevent this, you must observe what emotions you feel when someone is expressing their feeling to you and remain calm, relax. Composing yourself later on and relaxing gradually will allow you to release the other individual’s emotions and empathise in a healthy way.

Healthy relationships

In mutually healthy relations both parties’ emotional needs are given proportionate importance. It uses the give and take method where both parties act as listeners and speakers as well. Every healthy relationship has a well defined boundary where everyone’s needs are met and an equal amount of support is given to both individuals. Communication is key and is necessary in order to fully express and let go or relive yourself from some of the negative emotions you are feeling. Communication in a healthy relationship would make you feel heard, lighten your mood and deepen your connection with the other individual.

In a healthy relationship, boundaries are extremely important since they help you distinguish between your own needs and the other person’s needs which allows you to shield yourself from toxic empathy.

Psychologists near me

If you feel that you are always overwhelmed with your emotions, listening to others’ problems causes you to stress, seek the help of distinguished Psychologists at IILM would be happy to guide and counsel you. Our faculties can help you understand the causes and help you balance empathizing with others, managing your own emotions and forming healthy relationships.

Please feel free to write to us at megha.pushkarna@iilm.edu The distinguished Psychologists at IILM would be happy to guide and counsel you.

 

 

 

ANANYA PANDEY FROM BA YR II Batch 2019