If you are a highly sensitive person, it is likely you experience anxiety. But sometimes the anxiety you feel isn’t even yours! How is that possible? Anxiety can be “contagious.” Just as anxious dogs have anxious owners, and anxious children often have anxious parents, anxiety can be “catching” – especially if you are empathic.
Empathic persons are like sponges who can take on anxiety from situations and people they don’t even have direct contact with. It can happen just by feeling sorry for someone, talking to them on the phone, or watching events on the news that are impacting people in a negative way.
If can be difficult to recognize when anxiety isn’t yours, given that it feels the same as your own! But there are signs that can help you determine the difference.
When anxiety isn’t yours:
You feel a generalized sense of anxiety, but can’t identify the cause.
Your anxiety seems out of proportion to what you are currently experiencing in your life.
You go to sleep feeling peaceful but wake up shaking and anxious
You become suddenly anxious around certain people
Let’s take a closer look at these signs.
Generalized, Out-of-Proportion Anxiety
Some empathic people pick up on anxiety related to current events, especially when large numbers of people are having a fearful response. Highly sensitive people can feel general unrest and angst amongst the population, which can make them feel uneasy and unsettled without understanding why.
If people can have that much of a negative influence on you, just imagine the positive influence you can have on them if you choose an empowered response.
Some people awake during the night with their body shaking and their heart racing. I’ve had this experience as well. It can be ascension symptoms or it may be that they have absorbed the anxiety of others. When we are asleep, we are in a right brain dominant state that gives us greater access to the collective consciousness, and collective emotional states, including anxiety.
I have clients who become anxious during the night while sleeping at hotels, because they are unconsciously tapping into the anxiety of others asleep in the building. Or they may have anxiety at home, picking it up from family members asleep in other rooms, or in the same room.
Anxiety Around Certain People
If you feel anxious when you are around certain people, and then the anxiety dissipates when you are away from them, this is a sign that the anxiety you feel is theirs, not yours. You can especially feel the difference if you are away from them for a period of time, as this time apart allows their anxiety to dissipate from your system. When the anxiety reappears again with contact with this person – whether that is in-person contact, phone contact, or thought contact – it becomes clear that it’s not yours.
This effect can happen with people you don’t even know. For example, you get on an elevator with a stranger and suddenly feel anxious. When you get off the elevator, the anxiety may linger for a while, but eventually dissipates.
An Empowered Response
Anxiety that isn’t yours will eventually clear on its own. But you can move it along faster, and help others in the process. It’s important to understand that it doesn’t serve others to take on their anxiety. Doing so can become debilitating and interfere with you actualizing your life purpose. And if you are a empathic person, you likely have a very important lightworker life purpose.
Once you realize this anxiety is not yours, release it. Take a deep breath and let it go.