Search

Support Forum

SANE Support Forum

How much empathy is too much empathy?

For sharing your experiences and feelings about mental illness
sensitivesunshine
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:10 pm

How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby sensitivesunshine » Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:00 pm

Hi, I'm new the site and this is my first post, and I'm not entirely sure I know how to say what i'm trying to, so bare with me :?

I am wondering if its possible to be to empathetic? I find myself getting upset by things that are not happening to me, I always feel like I need to make things better for other people try and take on there problems as my own and lose sleep over things I cannot change for them. It goes as far as seeing something on the news or even a fictional tv programme and get upset to the point of tears thinking of what that must be like for the person or imagining what I would do if I was in that situation.

The trigger that has caused me to reach out today is due to, in my local city a young man has been murdered over the weekend. Now I do know this man, I dated a member of his family for 3 years about 15 years ago so did spend quite a bit of time with him whilst we where in our early teens, but other than the occasional hello if passing in the street I haven't spoken to him for about 15 years.

This has caused me extreme upset since I have found out, I have broken down in tears multiple times a day, I have dreamt of him and cant the thought of him dying out of my head. I cant think of the pain his family must be feeling, not to mention his girlfriend, I get a physical pain in my chest whenever I think of them, and I just break down. This inevitably leads to the feelings of, what would I do if I lost a member of my family in such a way, or my partner, planning a life with someone then them being taken so suddenly, just feels unbearable to me.

I know this sounds like grief, but I feel like I don't know this person enough to be having such strong emotions towards it.

I feel like I feel too much. Is that even a thing? I don't know.. any thoughts?

xx

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1716
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby andthistoomustpass » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:40 pm

Hi and welcome.

It is a thing, not necessarily a bad thing but if it is persistently causing you problems and distress then maybe you want to make changes.

I need to make things better for other people try and take on there problems as my own
Sounds like setting emotional boundaries may be a part of any change. Clearly marking what is your responsibility and what isn't. Allowing others to be responsible for their own lives.

The above is just a thought I had. Perhaps someone else will reply with other views / ideas.

This is a quiet site because all of the posters are dealing with our own issues too but it is a lovely site with lots of lovely, caring, people so feel free to post more but please don't take it personally if a response is slow in coming.

Take care of yourself.

sensitivesunshine
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:10 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby sensitivesunshine » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:56 pm

Thanks for your reply, the problem solving and taking on other peoples problems has been an on going issue, which I have spoken with a counsellor about, they tell me its due to the loss of my father as a child and not wanting to see people upset. I do have a lot of memories of not wanting to cry because it might make my mum more upset.

I wish I was able to set boundaries and not be so affected by other peoples problems, but this is something I have daily struggles with, its not my responsibility vs am I a bad person!

Thanks again for replying, I really appreciate it, it helps to tell these things to someone who doesn't know me or I'm not afraid will judge me. :oops:

andthistoomustpass
Posts: 1716
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:02 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby andthistoomustpass » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:49 am

Hi

No judgement on this site.

Feel free to tell us more. I will read even if I don't always feel like replying.

Do you think you were able to grieve fully as a child or that you felt you needed to repress it to support your mum? Were you able to grieve for your loss too? To feel that your needs and emotions were just as important?

amaya
Posts: 730
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:23 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby amaya » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:05 pm

Are you still in counselling? Did you ever have any kind of diagnosis?

I am asking because lots of wonderful personality traits, like sensitivity and empathy can become problematic if not allowed to develop properly in childhood. Sometimes it takes a specific sort of therapy to get back to enjoying these parts of yourself as positive traits because when they are out of proportion and are disturbing your life in a significant way then it is a difficult thing to bring back into balance on your own.

sensitivesunshine
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:10 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby sensitivesunshine » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:52 pm

Thank you for your reply Amaya. I'm not currently in counselling, I had 10 sessions through a local charity who I reached out to. I have never seen a GP about it. I didn't get a diagnosis as such, but she did reference a generalised anxiety disorder.

She talked about not wanting to upset people and always feeling like I should 'be a good girl', and not emotionally maturing past the childhood trauma. Everything she spoke about felt like she was describing me to a tee. I find it difficult to express myself in any way, whether that be, anger frustration or upset without bursting into tears, this has become problematic in work situations especially. I cant have any sort of difficult conversation without getting upset. I did feel like I was progressing well with the help but this was about 2years ago and I have slipped back into old habits
x

mihaela
Posts: 1071
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:42 am
Location: Lancashire and Moldova

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby mihaela » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:01 pm

Very high empathy is common for females with high-functioning autism. I'm just like you. I can't bear to see others suffering, wherever they are in the world, and that includes animals. Because of this I shield myself as far as possible from the 'news' and anything at all that involves violence, aggression or suffering. I feel it 'too' deeply. It's possible you may be on the autism spectrum. Most women still slip through the net and get misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed. Generalised anxiety is probably the most common condition that co-exists with autism/Asperger's syndrome - and is a convenient diagnosis. (Most professionals are not trained in spotting the subtle signs of HFA - especially in females).

Not wanting to upset people is also a very common trait. It was so strong in me that I was defrauded of all I had by a sociopathic conman who took advantage of my autism. (See my other posts). So is "not emotionally maturing past the childhood trauma" - this applies to me very much also. I suffered childhood trauma, but not emotionally maturing could equally have been due to the autism. There's no way anyone can be sure. Difficulty expressing yourself (verbally) again is a classic autistic trait. So is bursting into tears - it's happened countless times in my life. Work situations (and school) tend to be extra stressful and so we're more likely to become emotionally overwhelmed.

I hope I've helped you think about the possibility of being on the autism spectrum. All the signs you mention certainly point in that direction. I can help you much more if necessary. Let me know what you think, anyway. x

sensitivesunshine
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:10 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby sensitivesunshine » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:43 pm

Hi Mihaela

Thank you so much for your reply. So much of what you have said has resonated with me, I can’t actually believe that this is actually what it could be. I’m not sure where to go now, as I find it difficult to talk about things which is how I found myself here in the first place. If there is anything else you can suggest I would be so greatful xx

deb1960
Posts: 1840
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2016 8:14 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby deb1960 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:01 pm

Hi

I empathise on a huge scale. News programmes are a no go for me. I have to stop people mid conversation if it's going to involve suffering. I can't stand the thought of people being lonely. When it comes to people and any creatures I find it almost unbearable at times.

I'm in my 50s now and I've realised that sometimes our suffering is greater than the person we're suffering for.Because I worried sick over my childrens problems I made myself ill. Looking back they were coping better than I realised. I still over empathise though.

Sometimes those who care most suffer most

Take care
Deb x

vitasw
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:09 pm

Re: How much empathy is too much empathy?

Postby vitasw » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:07 pm

Hi sensitivesunshine

Just wanted to say that I relate to your post a lot! I find it really difficult to deal with this, because on the one hand I think having empathy is a really good trait and is part of what makes us "good" people - but on the other it's exhausting and upsetting thinking about everyone else's needs and pain all the time. I have found that it gets worse when I am already in a bad mood or am not taking care of myself as well as I could.

So best of luck and take care!


Return to “Mutual Support Group”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 95 guests