When a friend or a loved one is sick, have you ever noticed yourself feeling some of their symptoms? If so, you may be absorbing other people’s symptoms, which is known as an empathetic illness. Suffering from an empathetic illness causes you to manifest symptoms that are not your own.
Dr. Judith Orloff MD, the author of The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, noticed that patients were coming to her with an agoraphobic label. They suffered from panic disorders, chronic depression, fatigue, pain and other mysterious illnesses that responded only partially to medications. It was then that she realized they were physical empaths.
Orloff noted that her patients came to her saying, “I dread being in crowds. Other people’s anger, stress and pain drain me, and I need a lot of alone time to refuel my energy.”
She found that their bodies were absorbing the symptoms of others. “Physical empaths do not have the defenses that others have to screen things out,” she explains. “As a psychiatrist, knowing this significantly changed how I treated these patients. My job became teaching them to center and protect themselves, set healthy boundaries, and let go of energy they picked up from others.”
If this sounds like something you’ve been experiencing, answer the following questions honestly to determine whether or not you are a physical empath:
- Have you been labeled as overly sensitive or been called a hypochondriac?
- Have you ever sat next to someone who seemed nice, but suddenly your eyelids got heavy and you felt yourself drifting off to sleep?
- Do you tend to avoid crowds because they make you feel uneasy, tired or sick?
- Do you often feel someone else’s anxiety or physical pain in your body?
- Do you become exhausted by people who are angry or hostile?
- Do you find yourself running from one doctor to the next for medical tests. but the results always indicate that there is nothing wrong?
- Are you chronically tired?
- Do you experience unexplained symptoms?
- Do you often feel overwhelmed by the outside world and would rather stay at home?
Count how many times you answered “yes” to the questions. According to Dr. Orloff, if you answered yes 1-3 times, you are at least part empath. Answering yes 4-5 times indicates that you are a physical empath to a moderate degree, and 6-7 yes’s indicate that you have a high degree of empathy. If you answered yes 8 or more times, you are a full-blown empath.
So, is being a physical empath a bad thing? No. Discovering that you are a physical empath can bring you some peace and reassurance that you are not crazy, you are not a hypochondriac, and you are not imagining things. In Dr. Orloff’s book, she writes that physical empathy does not have to be overwhelming. It can make you more compassionate and give you a deeper insight into those around you. As she explains it, “… you are a sensitive person with a gift that you must develop and successfully manage.”
Check out these 20 ways to know if you are an emotional empath.
h/t: awakening people