Have you ever felt like you can’t be yourself around a group of people, especially when you’re meeting someone new?
Here’s my example.
Whenever I’m around a group of people that I don’t usually associate with, I tend to clam up or shut down. I find it really hard to engage and to be myself in these circumstances. Plus, I would always second guess myself and feel insecure when I’m in the moment with others. I sometimes would exhibit sweaty palms, racing heartbeats, nervous laughs, etc.
I walk away from these situations feeling like I must be the most boring person that they’ve ever met. I also think “Geez Theresa, what happened there?” Followed by the feeling of, if only they can see the “real me”, maybe they wouldn’t misjudge me as much.
Then I do this thing where I would ruminate and look at the situation from all angles to dissect it and see if I had missed anything. On top of that, I would ask my husband to validate. He never understood why I cared so much about certain situations, whereas most people wouldn’t think twice. This entire process was very exhausting.
If this is what you’re feeling too, there’s a logical reason behind what’s happening and it’s called the Empath Filter.
What is an Empath Filter?
To explain that, we first must acknowledge that Empaths are literally absorbing everything. When we’re in a stimulating environment we tend to tense up because we are naturally trying to take in and process all things that are coming in at us through all of our senses. Our nervous system is on OD and in turn, we tend to freeze up, or “shut down” making us unable to engage within the social setting. Once we leave the situation and our nervous system has a chance to normalize, we have the ability to replay the situation and dissect it.
The internal feelings of being socially awkward also don’t help because not only are we trying to process the sensory overload on the exterior, we are self-conscious about our inner world too. That leaves no room for us to compute or catch up to all the vibes that are coming in. Therefore how can we be naturally who we are when so much is happening and our system is in OD?
Nope. Explain that to me scientifically.
Ok. Full disclosure, I first learnt about the Empath Filter through Bo Forbes who is a psychologist, embodiment guide, and innovator in mind-body medicine.
Forbe’s blog article actually explains it best. She says “One of the more insidious consequences of Empath Syndrome is having a very thin, membranous emotional skin which reacts intensely to real or perceived invasion. This skin is allergic to a variety of foods, social settings, and other people—and on the inside, it mimics the auto-immune pattern of self-hatred. This exposes our nerve endings to all the shame, rage, and deep, existential grief inside us and in everyone around us.”
OK, I get it now. That sounds great and all, but how do we cope?
Step 1: The Baseline
This first step is the coolest and most important step because it sets the basis for us to recognize if what we feel is ours or not.
Before we enter into a social environment do a self-check. Are we anxious? Nervous? Sad? Stressed?
Chances are that we’re not. We might even feel excited! Take note of this. Then when someone new talks to us and we clam up, but nothing was wrong before, consider that we’re absorbing their anxiety or whatever they’re feeling. If we felt a little anxiety before walking into the situation and all of a sudden it went full-blown, someone else in there may have amplified it for us.
See how important it is to have a baseline?
We really need to be in tune with our current emotions to accurately access the energy situation that we’re in.
Step 2: Restore and Balance
Restore and balance our nervous system by truthfully acknowledging whether or not the intensity of our feelings matches our mindset and intentions.
When you notice that there’s something there that doesn’t match up, chances are it’s not ours.
Here’s the best part. By simply noticing that it’s not ours, we’ve dissipated it.
How you may ask? Because you won’t have any more attachments or focus to it.
Step 3: Read the room
There are many people that carry fake personality traits but really inside they’re nothing like what their exterior displays. Have you ever scanned a room and really humanize people? The most confident-looking girl may constantly be in the bathroom checking her hair and make-up. The most successful business person in the room may have anxiety over deadlines or financial burdens. The most outgoing person in the room may suffer from the need to have everyone like them.
If you tune in, you’re able to feel all these vibes.
Good Vibes and Self Love
Know that others can be nervous talking to someone new too. Just because someone may have approached you, doesn’t mean they’re more socially inclined. It means they’re confident enough to take a risk, as, in all social gatherings, a conversation with a new person means it’s an invitation to socialize. Which also means rejection or acceptance could be looming. That person that approached you could be feeling anxiety due to a number of reasons.
We empaths tend to be hard on ourselves because we feel everything. With our feels being so intense and real, we think that it’s a “me” thing when sometimes it’s not. Personally, when I’m able to find my true feelings, they’re never as intense as I had perceived them to be.
With the understanding we’re sensing all vibes, good or bad from people or other sources, we can start noticing when it’s not really us at all. This will release our attachments to those feelings allowing us to be restored again. If not, at the least, it will allow us to find a better understanding of ourselves by recognizing our authentic feelings.
Here’s a link that explains the Empath Filter from Bo Forbes. It’s a very insightful article and has helped me tremendously. https://boforbes.com/blog/feel-pain-empaths-guide-staying-balanced/
This website gives a good logical explanation of filtering vs shielding and how energy works. https://www.aconsciousrethink.com/4140/empath-shielding/
Sending you so much good vibes. ♥️