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.





Explore Life within You-

” I have always believed  success, in life, is most easily measured by the number of days you are truly happy.”  Our mindset and optimistic attitude towards life decides everything we come across.

Standing at the edge of human existence, a realization dawns on us that how temporary and uncertain our lives can be. To make our lives more fulfilling we need to create the right mindset which encompasses positive thinking. Think positive and positive things will happen.

Unfortunately we block our energy fields with negative thoughts. You don’t need to know the future as it is in your own hands. There comes a time when you need to have absolute faith in oneself and be sure, destiny will unfold your true path and purpose in this lifetime.

It is therefore extremely important that we channelize our energies to create positivity around us to make our work and life more fulfilling and motivating.

The present environment if has put restrictions, it has also opened up our inner doors of self reflection ,where we need to reflect upon ourselves in ways that we can decide what can be the path of our lives, which manifests in our well- being that would impact our personal and professional relationships as we are spending maximum time these days with ourselves and our family.

When we are going through a difficult situation and feel like running away from it, all we need to think and do is to replace that thought of ‘running away’ with the thought of ‘finding a way’. Let us use this difficult situation as a platform to take an extra step of faith in our lives. Let us take off and face the situation and move towards creating a positive change.

Let’s talk about a handful of simple practices that can be helpful in being more decisive and give direction to positive thinking.

  1. Create Realistic Expectations for Yourself

The problem lies when we expect from others and somewhere hold others responsible for what we desire in life. When you set realistic expectations from yourself and fulfill them it gives you strength to be self reliant in life. Eg. Develop a skill for which you are responsible, create happiness for yourself. Don’t wait for someone to make you happy.

  1. Never compromise on Values

There should be at least one strong value that you possess that you have never compromised on. End of the day it gives you inner strength and satisfaction.

  1. Don’t accept fear as a part of life

Conquer any one fear of yours. The more you run away the stronger the fear gets. Face it and kill it.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Enjoy every moment of your existence. The way you speak to each person, what you eat, what you smell, every breath of yours enjoy it. Imagine if there was no tomorrow. Live each day as if it is your only day to give to the cosmos. You will realize a sense of enthusiasm gushing in pushing you to do so much in life.

  1. Value Relationships

This is what you have earnt in life so value your personal relationships and nurture your professional relationships. Honesty in work and loyalty in relationships take you a long way.

   “Optimism is a happiness magnet”

 See what kind of people & situations draw

      Towards you. This will be a clear indicator of how you view yourself.

“  “Be the change you wish to see in others”

Dealing Mindfully with Anger and Conflict in your Relationships

Dealing Mindfully with Anger and Conflict in your Relationships

How can you deal more effectively with anger and conflict in your life? Here I am referring specifically to the anger and conflict that you experience in your outer relationships with other people. Below are some pointers for becoming more mindful in this area. This in turn will then naturally start to suggest practical ways you can be more successful dealing with the challenges presented.

  • Observe the way in which you currently experience anger and conflict

Ask yourself the question: What is my current relationship with anger and conflict, both within myself and into relationships?
Bring to mind a time when you have been angry. What happens when you get angry? How does your body start to feel? Practice mindfully creating anger in your body and mind, and learn to relax into it, without being panicked by it or forced into a reaction. Get used to holding anger in your body comfortably, letting it flow.
Similarly, bring to mind a conflict you have in your outer relationships right now. Observe how you feel in the face of another person’s anger, disapproval or aggression. Practice mindful holding your own space and breathing with the experience of conflict, so that when it happens in real-time, you are not panicked or intimidated.

  • A working definition of anger

‘Anger is a powerful emotion centered around issues of justice and fairness’. In its negative expression it is incredibly destructive and dangerous. In its positive expression it can be a powerful cause for order, justice and good in the world. ‘Positive anger’ might be thought of as simply the benevolent expression of justice and fairness in the face of malevolence or aggression. There is a lot to be gained from working to transform your own negative anger into positive anger.

  • Working with conflict in your relationships                                                                                                 Once you have done a little contemplation around Point above, here is a short exercise you can apply to any relationship you may have where there is anger and conflict. Firstly, consider the situation from three perspectives –
    1st person – I/mine/ours – What is happening in this situation from your personal point of view? What are you feeling?
    2nd person – the other(s) – What is the other person/people experiencing? What do you start to see if you mindfully take their perspective for a period of time?
    3rd person – It’s, objective – What do you start to see if you take a more objective/detached point of view, outside of all the personal stuff?

Based on your insights from these three perspectives then decide ‘Am I going to’:

  • Change myself/adapt to the other person/people, (maybe not worth the hassle to confront?) or
  • Try and change the other person, or take a stand for what I feel is right (genuine issue if justice, and or ‘worth it’)?

Finally, having made your decision, strategize! Use your natural intelligence to come up with a way of approaching the relationship conflict, communicating skillfully in a way that you think is going to give the best result!

Experiment with small conflicts
Small and relatively insignificant conflicts are great places to start working with the above methods. Finding ways to gently work with conflict, anger and confrontation in minor situations helps you build the skill and confidence so that when something big kicks off, you are able to hold your own and enjoy learning how to articulate your own power in relationship conflicts.