Empathy is when we reach our hearts out to others and put ourselves in their shoes. However, being an empath goes even farther. Like many of my patients and myself, empaths are people who’re high on the empathic spectrum and actually feel what is happening in others in their own bodies. As a result, empaths can have incredible compassion for people–but they often get exhausted from feeling “too much” unless they develop strategies to safeguard their sensitivities and develop healthy boundaries.
In my book, “The Empath’s Survival Guide” I discuss the following intriguing scientific explanations of empathy and empaths. These will help us more deeply understand the power of empathy so we can utilize and honor it in our lives.
1. The Mirror Neuron System
Researchers have discovered a specialized group of brain cells that are responsible for compassion. These cells enable everyone to mirror emotions, to share another person’s pain, fear, or joy. Because empaths are thought to have hyper-responsive mirror neurons, we deeply resonate with other people’s feelings.
2. Electromagnetic Fields
The second finding is based on the fact that both the brain and the heart generate electromagnetic fields. According to the HeartMath Institute, these fields transmit information about people’s thoughts and emotions.
3. Emotional Contagion
The third finding which enhances our understanding of empaths is the phenomena of emotional contagion. Research has shown that many people pick up the emotions of those around them.
4. Increased Dopamine Sensitivity
The fourth finding involves dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases the activity of neurons and is associated with the pleasure response. Research has shown that introverted empaths tend to have a higher sensitivity to dopamine than extroverts. Basically, they need less dopamine to feel happy. That could explain why they are more content with alone time, reading, and meditation and need less external stimulation from parties and other large social gatherings.
To read more of Judith Orloff, M.D.'s article, visit, https://drjudithorloff.com/the...empathy-and-empaths/