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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted this on the INFJ forum because I'm an INFJ and I know a lot of other INFJs also experience this. That being said, I know other "highly sensitive" people have this trait to, so any experience is welcome!

I feel other people's emotions. That's really the best way I can describe it. I usually refer to it as being an empath, although I realize that comes with some more spiritual connotations. I've been like this for my whole life, but it was only recently when I saw an article on it that I realized what was actually going on with me. I'll just know when someone else is in pain or upset, and it will hit me like a punch to the stomach sometimes. People have been creeped out by me before when I've pointed out that they were upset when they were trying to hide it.

In many ways this is valuable for me, as it helps me understand people better. I've always been the one my peers go to for advice, and knowing what they're feeling has been infinitely helpful. On the other hand, it causes a lot of excess stress. Even walking into a room with stressed people can put me on edge, so there are times I wish I could just turn it off for a while. I meditate quite often to help sift through and sort my emotions from others, and it helps significantly; what I'd like to know is if anyone has any tips or stories about being an empath
 

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Empaths have to take good care of self. Good boundaries with people and our time ensure that we are taking care of our self.

If we are feeling stressed we have to be our own advocate for ourselves so that we take care of ourselves.

As one gets older, one may feel a strong desire to direct their empath energy in ways that feel productive to them, based on their values, instead of listening to others / society / norms, etc...

The things we experience are not visible to the naked eye and as such, may be misunderstood by others.

Those are the gems I've learned myself over the last few years. :)
 

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I'll sometimes have to excuse myself from a conversation just so I can get a grasp on some kind of emotional wave that washes over me. I have to ask myself why I'm feeling it and with such intensity. One occasion very recently, I literally burst into tears as soon as I got a moment to myself. Followed by complete confusion on my part - why am I feeling this?
 

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If I can find a true and accurate contextualization of a feeling-situation then I have come to a point of understanding and acceptance. The energy settles and the stress evaporates at that point.

I don't know what it's like for other people but for me it's about words and language. Pairing up true words with whatever feeling-complex has come up from the depths to be seen.

It took me a long time to discover that's what the process was seeking.

What is true? What is truth here?

Is it actually true that what I'm feeling is what another person is feeling?

Is something in me able to mirror so effectively that I'm effectively unable to distinguish between the two?

Can I see with total clarity what is really going on here?

Are my feelings confined to my own skin and my own nervous system?

If I see that all feelings are and only ever were my feelings then the game changes. No longer am I able to disown or disavow or disregard any aspect of myself by displacing the feeling onto the 'other.'

Once you've seen how a magic trick is done you can no longer be deceived by it.

All the monsters of the world are my monsters. All the poison of the world is my poison. All the darkness is my darkness.

I have hated and despised and rejected and excluded myself. When I condemn another I condemn myself. When I mock another I mock myself.

My own spirit arises in a despicable form and what do I do?

All are mine. All belong to me.
 

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What's the mechanism? Mirror neurons? Psychic powers? In any case my representations are still only my representations. I have no way of comparing in its entirety one emotional body to another emotional body such that I could establish the truth of the claim, "I'm feeling other people's feelings."
 

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Being an empath isn't a proper diagnosis let alone a well-defined term, and yet it was one of the primary things I was talking to my former councillor about.
HSP doesn't entirely fit the bill for being an empath, but if it is combined with a natural intuition for others' emotions, it often will. Of course we all get sad when talking to someone who is crying and happy when someone is smiling; that's human and good natural empathy, but the intuitive part comes in when you make guesses about what others are feeling, sometimes even about what they unconsciously are feeling - you see through the facade, even when its owner hasn't discovered it yet. The way you know what others are feeling is by feeling that emotion yourself, or in other words "sensing with your feelings," which is to get knowledge in an emotional form rather than from what you can see, hear, intuit or deduce.
This form of knowing comes with a price unfortunately as it seems one has to be rather sensitive to get it, and so suddenly you will do things like feeling the atmosphere of a room, have to go outside to get some fresh air after having witnessed a man working just because you've imagined his whole life and all the stress and suffering he will get from it, or gotten vertigo from meeting a homeless man on the street.
Nothing is as it appears but is as you feel it, and this insight into the world drains you and makes you feel isolated as no one else seems to see what you see.

You'll often hear me say things like, "I think the artist felt very sad as he made this happy song..", "this tree has a calming aura to it" or "this abstract painting is so full of emotion. Look at the despair and frustration it's painted with", and most people have no idea what I'm talking about. Also, I will sometimes naturally try to comfort people even though they don't know they feel sad... but I "know"...

Many of these feeling-intuitions I get are of course wrong, but most of them are unfortunately right, and that just gives me a great empathy for every person I meet.
It is obviously problematic in many respects, but I try to think of it as a positive trait, and it certainly lets me enjoy art, nature and listening to others in a way I don't think all people can as easily.
 

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What's the mechanism? Mirror neurons? Psychic powers? In any case my representations are still only my representations. I have no way of comparing in its entirety one emotional body to another emotional body such that I could establish the truth of the claim, "I'm feeling other people's feelings."
I'm no expert, but as far as I know mirror neurons have yet to be shown to be part of empathy. They might just be what tells you what others are doing, while feeling for what they do comes somewhere else.
Of course you don't literally feel others' emotions, you just experience what your mind thinks they feel. To you this is felt like "absorbing" emotions, and when you've tried it it isn't hard to guess where the idea of "auras" originate from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I definitely see it as a positive trait, as it has allowed me to counsel people in much more intimate ways than I would have been able to do otherwise. You're right though; it has a significant price. Thanks for your insight!
 

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All I know is: empathy is a real thing, not everyone has the same amount of empathy, and people with empathy have to learn how to "manage" it for their own health.

People with lower levels of empathy tend not to understand people with higher levels of empathy.
 

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Emotional detachment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I find empathy is incredibly draining if one isn't capable of toning it down. I'm only empathic when I allow myself to be nowadays, almost exclusively with people I care about. When Ni accepts information, you can tend to it using Fe or Ti. Your choice. I'd only use the former when the atmosphere is pleasant, otherwise use Fe to get an idea of what some downer person is all about, and then stick to the Ti 'til it's safe. Rationalizing and analyzing someone else's pain is a lot better than sharing in on it if you don't care much about them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You can just choose to push back your empathy? I can't even imagine how I'd begin to do that, and I'm not sure if I would want to. I use that sort of sixth sense in my life so often I don't know how I'd live without it.
 

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Empathy towards other people's feelings is different for everyone. For me, there's always been more information in a person's body language than in their words. Slight motions that you catch out of the corner of your eye can signify nervousness, attentiveness, fear, anxiety, love, lust, the whole shebang. It's especially obvious when watching two people interact, as if you've got captions running across a screen just based on how their bodies are positions and react to each other. It can be disturbing at times, or uncomfortable if you pick up on things you rather not be aware of, but as long as you realize it's just another sense like sight, or smell there's nothing to be afraid of.
 

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You can just choose to push back your empathy? I can't even imagine how I'd begin to do that, and I'm not sure if I would want to. I use that sort of sixth sense in my life so often I don't know how I'd live without it.
You'll never live without it - but there is jedi training that infj's can do with themselves. As you age you learn where and when you want to use the force. :)
 

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You can just choose to push back your empathy? I can't even imagine how I'd begin to do that, and I'm not sure if I would want to. I use that sort of sixth sense in my life so often I don't know how I'd live without it.
Since I'm the type who can never really shut down my emotions, and my emotions are strong, I try to put up some multi-layer dampening and blocking field inside (like in Star Trek). And only fully let through the people I choose to let through. I still have many problems, for example when I'm in the company of both the above groups at the same time.

Without this I'd go crazy no time, deeply experiencing all the malignance, the hate, the evil, the confusion, the stupidity, the shallowness that many people have. It gets especially bad when they have it against me.
 

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Part of feeling other peoples feelings as an INFJ is also taking on those feelings and being influenced by them. INFJ have Fe as their auxiliary function meaning that they will have tendency to take on the emotions of their environment. This can lead to problems as the INFJ can get caught by emotions and end up upset or angry for the simple reason that people around them are. Learning to control Fe is important since if it is left to it's own devices it will control you or worse, it will shut down leaving you depressed.

Fe also has a positive side that the OP mentioned where it allows us to see/feel others emotions. Once Fe is combined with Ni the INFJ has the ability to not only see the current emotions of a person but also seek out the path to a better state of emotion for them. The INFJ can guess with a good degree of accuracy what should be done and what shouldn't to ensure things work out. While the INFJ can be wrong, they often help more than hinder causing those around them to come to the INFJ in times of need.

Our Fe is a double edged sword as it allows us to lift ourselves and others higher or lets others bring us down.
 

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Having empathy is a trait that I'm generally very proud of and I'm happy to have the gift of being able to read peoples emotions so easily. Because of it I have become a better person who is able to be more understanding of other peoples realities and motivations.

Paradoxaly, It is, however, also one of the traits of my personality I wish I knew how to tone down because it can drain me completely. I think the big problem for me is that I sometimes absorb other peoples emotions to the point where I can no longer differentiate between their feelings and my own feelings which leaves me feeling like I'm out of touch with reality. It also means that I often have a hard time knowing what I truly want and what the right thing is to do in a situation. I feel like I don't really know myself because I'm so focused on others.

I wish there was a way for me to be able to feel and recognise my own emotions in a better way so that I can make healthier decisions for myself, but I haven't been able to figure out any good strategies for that yet.
 
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