I read an article posted on a friend’s wall this weekend.
The article shared 22 traits that are conducive to being an empath. The reason it grabbed me is that I have noticed myself, and at least one (if not more) of my children seem to actually feel other people’s feelings, and reading that article opened up the floodgates to me reading a collection of articles on the subject.
My husband would like to call it woo. I guess it is spiritual and, to him, airy-fairy. Even he can’t completely discount this gift or curse, as he’s been at the receiving end of me being a highly sensitive human nearly every day since we’ve been together.
Some studies have shown that people who identify with the traits of being an empath and/or are highly sensitive, have a larger and more active amygdala. That same group of studies say that bigger amygdala tend to have a positive correlation with larger social networks. These studies have their critics as well.
I’d hazard a guess that my Grumpy has a rather less active amygdala than mine, yet he’s one of the kindest (and most logical) human beings on the planet. He can’t remember or often even hear song lyrics though. Me and my big amygdala remember lyrics to songs I have not heard for 10 years.
So, why am I sharing this today?
There’s a number of reasons:
- I found it really interesting
- I need to force myself to post blogs more regularly and this subject just seemed interesting enough to expand upon
- I have always enjoyed diagnosing myself and others, which drives some people mental. Being able to identify with things that others may also be able to identify with makes me feel a little less broken. This being an empath article was shared by someone I respect, and I felt a little less alone and had a bit of an “ah-ha!” moment reading through it
- Its Monday, I like to keep it light on a Monday
So, I guess the thing to keep in mind as I go about my day and you go about yours is this:
We’re all different. We all have “superpowers” that we ought not be ashamed of.
Grumpy has a long list of super-powers, including his ability to be logical and remain calm. Meanwhile, his irrepressible wife is prone to outbursts of laughter, or tears, depending on the situation.
It is my considerably useful super-power to be able to actually feel other people’s joy and pain. The feeling other people’s pain bit can be a heavy burden indeed, and I think many, if not most people can identify with that feeling on some level. Animals do it too. My pets always knew when I needed a cuddle and were there by my side if I was sick or sad. So, perhaps there is some simple scientifically explainable series of events that happen when we pick up on other people’s feelings. Perhaps we are noticing subtle changes in stance, behaviour or maybe it is chemical?
I guess the difference between me, and the vast majority of people is that I am not actually able to shut it off or ignore the feelings of people around me and carry on with my day. I feel bound and determined to spread joy and comfort wherever I go, or I feel like a bit of a failure as a human being.
I’ll go ahead and hypothesise that my compulsion to be vivacious and uplifting wherever I go is due to the fact I know what it feels like to be surrounded by or bombarded with negative feelings. I don’t like it. I do like infectious kindness and joy, so that is what I aim to share. If I am unable to do so, I stay in bed and hide from the world, as my miserable is pretty contagious just like my happy.
There is no real scientific basis for any of this remember, just my own Monday meanderings.
I’ve scattered some links to articles in this blog already, but here’s a list of some interesting scientific, pseudo-scientific and total woo-tastic articles on the subject of being an empath as well as articles on the hippocampus for any budding neuroscientists out there this Monday morning.
Click to access 2006_AnnRevPsy_v57.pdf
https://theknowing1.wordpress.com/traits-of-an-empath/ (This one is WOOOOOOOtastic, not science at all)
http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/new-study-links-social-anxiety-to-being-empath/ (Grumpy would call this woo too)
One thought on “Me and my Big Amygdala Read an Article This Weekend…”
Great blog Dee – definitely relate to most of those, although some are definite opposites. In the StrengthsFinder method Empathy is one of the 34 and is in my top 5! Here are some great quotes