Empathic overload | INFJ Forum

Empathic overload

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by Nucky, Apr 18, 2010.

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  1. Nucky

    Nucky Regular Poster

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    I've heard many INFJ's say that they take on the emotional pain of others whether they want to or not, and cannot turn off their sense of empathy completely. Can you relate to this? What are some of your coping strategies for when you are overwhelmed empathically?


     
  2. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    For many years my professional career brought a high level of empathic engagement and I did notice I was getting overloaded...so I took up a hobby that was fun, required lot of hand work, and no computers. It did the trick in helping me to disengage....a diversion if you will. This, of course left much more time for intuitive overload, but that is a whole other matter. :)
     
  3. IndigoSensor

    IndigoSensor Product Obtained
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    I have diffuculty with this. This is actually the reason to why I won't watch movies very often. What I have used to try to help is to tune things out. Repeat a sound or something to that effect in my head so I won't be able to focus on the object that would cause a strong empathetic response.
     
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  4. Gaze

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    Recently started playing sudoku puzzles to take my mind off things when i have a break at work.
     
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  5. Blase

    Blase Regular Poster

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    When I'm really not in the mood to handle this empathic overload, or if there's someone I really don't want to deal with, I've pulled some pretty drastic, even embarassing measures to avoid it. Sometimes I've waited in a different room until they're gone, even if I'm not doing anything there, or even if I need to come out to go to the bathroom. One time someone even knocked on my door, and I just pretended I didn't hear because of my headphones so I didn't have to come out. These are extreme cases where I was really just couldn't handle the empathic overload, but honestly it gets that intense sometimes.
     
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    #5 Blase, Apr 18, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  6. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    When my children cry, I cannot tune it out. When we are doing sleep training, or they are teething, or sick, its literally a nerve wracking experience for me.

    My wife, on the other hand, seems to be able to make a logical choice that their alarm is of no use, and just 'switches off' her immediate concern. When the kids were first born, she could not do this.

    I still can't do it. I tend to ride the high and low of each moan and cry.

    It is the same way with others, but more subdued. When my co-workers come in to work angry, or sad, I can tell, and it makes me feel for them, even if I don't really like them much. There's nothing I can do to say "I don't like that guy, he deserves it." I feel bad for his sadness anyway. I don't necessarily feel sad with him, but I feel his distress. When he has a good day, I feel happy for him, even if he is an arrogant prick. There is nothing I can do about it. Its a curse, really, because some people don't deserve my alignment. I have to actively put energy into an effort to erect a wall. By the end of such a day, I'm tired. This is the crazy contradiction of the INFJ. We're introverts, but it takes us energy to be numb to other's feelings. This is why we withdraw as an energy-neutral way to avoid overload. And there is nothing that will create overload faster than empathizing with someone whom you generally dislike. Sure, it can be a useful tool for spiritual growth, when you are SEVEN YEARS OLD. But by the time you are 36, you've picked up the general lesson 50 times already. Most of the time you are empathizing with people who are just self-centered jerks, and it is draining with no reward.

    When I'm in a meeting and I've figured out what the other people in the room want, I can't feel that I've accomplished my agenda until I also satisfy the agendas of the other people in the room. I'm still amazed that other people can feel psychologically satisfied when only their own goal is met. This often leads to overload, as no one else in the room is usually working for the mutual good.

    In summary, I have found that occupationally, taking on the burden of the mutual good, solo, is one of the greatest dangers for an INFJ in an NT world like engineering. I've had to let go, but when I do, I find that my apathy is complete and unchangeable.
     
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    #6 Ecton, Apr 19, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
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  7. Siamese cat

    Siamese cat Madame Cat strikes again

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    I agree, you wrote to the letter what I wanted to say. And that bold part, I couldn't agree more.

    I still have a hard time letting go before I get to the overload point, so I'm hoping that some of you have some good techniques to share about this.
     
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  8. Blase

    Blase Regular Poster

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    Just like how people experience physical pleasure and pain, I think INFJs' empathy is like an emotional pleasure and pain. If you put your hand on a hot stove, your reflex will be to pull your hand away. Similarly, the negative energy we receive from people can cause a strong reaction, inclining us to pull away and avoid that form of pain.
     
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  9. Siamese cat

    Siamese cat Madame Cat strikes again

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    I think it's a great comparison to the putting your hand on the stove since heat receptors in the skin are deeper placed than other receptors which is the main reason why human's reaction to the heat burns is sometimes not fast enough and generally is slower than some others.

    And it's the same with INFJs and empathy. We just don't react soon enough sometimes. I'm not saying that we should altogether pull away when we start to feel empathy, but to pull away soon enough that we don't get burned in all that empathy. I tend to get sucked down in that negative energy, especially if it's someone close to me and still haven't learned to back away when I see that it's going to get ugly for my sake. This gets even harder when you are surrounded by emotional vampires and extroverts who tend to dump on you so much, from those good emotions to extremely negative ones. It's not their problem, it's mine, I just don't get lost out of it soon enough.
     
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  10. Agnus

    Agnus Community Member

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    I can say that I was very empathetic when I was child or early teenager, now I am empathetic just with close people of mine (if talking about pain). but now my empathy gets stronger with other people strong empathy connection, somehow :m083:
     
  11. soulseeker

    soulseeker Permanent Fixture

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    I think I wanna take empathy to the next level aahahaha... I mean I really think there's more to it!!

    I think we just have to control it even if it's hard. I've read somewhere that we could imagine this ball around us... like a shield around us and... I don't know if it really works.

    Being an empath is like taking the emotions of people right? Like you absorb their emotions like a sponge??... so with this.. I think that if we can absorb people's emotions... well I think I would now call it absorbing the "energy" of other people.

    So .... what I do is.. I go to places where I know I can absorb or take much energy and feel recharged and ready to go anywhere.. and face people who drain my energy.. and I end up really happy.. like you know I smile to everyone I meet...I thought I'd never feel this way again but I do... well I THINK I do feel love :) :) not romantically though but.. it's just like I'm happy whatever happens... :) :) :hug:

    So.... I think find something you really want .. like a hobby or something and from that... take your time and build up the energy inside you so if you go out.. I'm not saying that you'll not kind of like absorb other people's energy but you know.. like when you're able to build up this energy inside you, it becomes like a protection. Like you do feel the energy/emotions of other people but I don't know what happened to me again but I feel this building up of energy in me again.. which I felt last Christmas... I still feel other people but I'm able to think clearly.. to decide if it's mine or not... and I know this feeling will go away again like it did before but I have to make the most of it.

    So... I don't know if this helps because it's weird but I'm trying to explore something and discover some things and I DO want to learn how to really build this energy in me and maintain it... because it just comes to me at times.. it's like I'm really really really happy like REALLY :) :)

    dahhahahahahaha :hug: God bless you!!!!

    so for me, I think being empath is a blessing if we only know how to maintain and build this energy in us.
     
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  12. Blase

    Blase Regular Poster

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    I think there's a lot of truth to what you're saying. There's been times, for example after sharing a good meal and conversation with friends, that I just get so filled with energy. I feel extremely confident and energetic, like I'm on top of the world and I can do anything. These are the moments I live for.

    This is probably very difficult, but what I hope to do is live in an environment, some kind of support system of friends and loved ones, that always recharges me and fills me with this energy. Creating a home like this is the stuff dreams are made of, but I think if you can fill yourself up with positive energy at the beginning and end of each day, there's nearly nothing that can keep you down.
     
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  13. Ecton

    Ecton Community Member

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    Great posts, soulseeker, and Agnus. I'd really like to know more about how you do these things.
     
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    #13 Ecton, Apr 19, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
  14. soulseeker

    soulseeker Permanent Fixture

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    Yeah!!!! that's exactly it. THAT energy... teheheheheh I don't think it's impossible.

    How do I do it? I'm actually trying to control the energy that I take in. I'm trying to learn to decide which energy I take in and how to maintain it. hahahaha

    As of now, I get the energy I like from places which I really like. There's this coffee shop that I can feel that energy that feels soooo soooo soooo good so I hang out there and drink coffee and sit there and relax and observe people or just clear my mind of any thoughts and enjoy my coffee bwahahhaa.

    I also found this dance which really makes me feel alive plus my classmates there and the teacher have very high energies. So I get to share it bwahahhahaha and then i'm filled with energy again.

    But I know I can't do this everyday. I can't go to the coffee shop everyday and when summer's finish, I won't be able to dance everyday so, I just HAVE to find another source. I think I'll try meditating and other stuff.

    Blase, what you said like the support system thingy. I think that's SOOOOOOO true like I really wish I had that family like energetic, confident family members. I know I would be able to pick that up and use it as like a shield from other negative energies I wouldn't like to feel.

    I would reeeeeeeeeeaaaaalllllllly like to learn how to do it without kind of like depending on other people. Maybe the environment or places would be good but then I just have to discover something which fills me up with that energy here at home. Without going any place and finding certain people to be with. :) :)
     
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    #14 soulseeker, Apr 20, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  15. Gaze

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    I'm easily overwhelmed by other people's emotions, feelings, and thoughts - which translates into high emotional sensitivity. Since realizing this, I try to be a little more careful with how I let it affect me as it can be extremely tiring and emotionally draining.

    And I also hold myself partially responsible for the overload as well. I tend to watch or listen to too much media noise - media, music, internet, social situations, which overload the system - sensory overload, too much visual and audio input coming at you all at once can overwhelm the senses. I still enjoy consuming media but I need to lessen by intake.

    As a result, I realize I need to take more breaks for myself away from the socio-emotional noise in the surrounding environments. I'm practicing visualization techniques - mind relaxation. Learning how to think of myself outside of everyone's feelings, views, thoughts, or ideas. This allows me to feel centered (for lack of a better word) or achieve some sense of internal peace. It doesn't always work, but sometimes, it does enough to reduce some of the anxiety. And of course, the less media I consume and the more quiet, mental relaxation techniques I use, the more clear the mind, and the better I'm able to establish boundaries and maneuver the emotions in others.
     
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    #15 Gaze, Apr 20, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2010
  16. Chessie

    Chessie Community Member

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    I've nearly gone mad from it. I tend to isolate myself from people on a fairly regular basis to recharge. People in pain...I can't stop myself from feeling what they feel. Even online it's difficult although it's not as bad which is why I spend as much time here as I do.

    The flip side is that sex is fantastic, when a person I'm with is happy and in good mental condition.
     
  17. TaylorS

    TaylorS Community Member

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    I am extremely sensitive and easily overwhelmed to the perceived or infered emotions of others. I can walk into a room and just "feel" the emotional "energy" in the room.

    Of course people think I'm lying because the official dogma is "People with Asperger's Syndrome don't have Empathy", confusing non-verbal communication with actual empathy. Idiots. :rolleyes: :mad2:
     
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  18. OP
    Nucky

    Nucky Regular Poster

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    I often feel that I am too "needy", and I often feel guilty about overloading my empathic friends with this.
     
  19. Gaze

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    Same here
     
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