5 Signs Your Social Phobia Is Actually Empathic Sensitivity to People’s Energy

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Social phobia or social anxiety is primarily associated with the irrational fear of being rejected and ridiculed by other people.

It is also estimated that for the most part, social anxiety disorders affect those who were subject to bullying and physical or emotional abuse during the childhood years. At least, this is what psychological science says. But what if I told you that there is more to social phobia than it may seem?

I’ve been socially anxious for as long as I can remember. However, many things about my social phobia just didn’t match the way science portrays it. After years of observation and self-analysis, I came to a conclusion that my social anxiety is nothing but a heightened sensitivity to the energies around me.

In fact, there is a scientific evidence to this idea. A study has found that participants who suffered from social anxiety had higher psychosocial awareness and more developed empathy than those who did not.

So what if your social phobia is just a neglected empathic ability which makes you so sensitive to people’s vibes that you get all those uncomfortable symptoms as a result? Read on to see if you identify with any of these experiences:

1. Your social phobia is selective

The most telltale sign is that your social anxiety is selective and affects you only when you are around certain people.

I noticed it in myself long ago. I may behave like a completely “normal,” outgoing person in the company of some people and turn into an awkward freak with some others. Moreover, it has nothing to do with how long I’ve known someone. It has happened that I felt completely comfortable with people I just met and talked to them as freely as if we had been friends for my whole life. Similarly, some individuals I’ve known for years make feel me so anxious that I can sense this tension almost physically when they are around.

If you experience similar things, chances are that you are not really socially anxious but are just sensitive to energies. When you sense low-frequency vibrations around you, your sensitive nature responds with all those overwhelming symptoms.

Literally anything can cause this – someone’s inauthentic or passive aggressive behavior, negative emotions or hidden bad feelings towards you. Try to observe your body’s reactions when being around different people so you can better understand the nature of your social phobia.

2. You didn’t experience bullying or abuse during your childhood

Psychological research shows that social anxiety affects those individuals who experienced some form of abuse or bullying in childhood. But what if you didn’t go through any traumatic experiences during your early years but still have social anxiety? If you were a happy child who was raised by loving parents in a healthy family environment, what could possibly cause social phobia? A heightened sensitivity to vibrations could be to blame.

Consider this: if you have been extremely sensitive to the vibes around you since you were a kid, it makes sense why you started to avoid certain things. After years of getting awkward feelings around some people or things, you had to learn to be cautious, at least instinctively. And long-term caution can easily grow into a phobia.

3. You don’t fear rejection – you just tend to avoid people because they make you feel uncomfortable

Psychoanalysts believe that social anxiety is actually an irrational fear of social rejection. It means that on the subconscious level, a sufferer is afraid of being laughed at, not fitting in with the group, failing to win respect and acceptance. It is thought that social phobia is closely linked with self-esteem issues as well, which make a socially anxious individual believe that he or she is not good enough to be accepted by others.

But what happens when it’s not about you, yet, you suffer from social phobia? It could be that you are afraid of people because they emit energies which overwhelm and drain you. As a result, you tend to keep a distance from them because your mind has linked human beings with anxious feelings. So it’s not about fearing rejection – it’s about protecting yourself from the source of uncomfortable experiences associated with anxiety.

4. You are incredibly good at reading people

Have you ever experienced a warning gut feeling about someone you just met? This person didn’t do anything wrong, yet, something about him/her just makes you anxious/suspicious for no reason?

If you indeed have an empathic ability, most probably, you get this feeling quite often. Either you ignore or listen to this gut instinct, you are eventually proven right about the people you meet. Someone who made a repulsive first impression on you for no obvious reason turns out to be fake, of low morals or be trying to take advantage of you. It is very important to learn to listen to this instinct because it is rarely mistaken.

This happens because empaths can sense some subtle nuances of the human behavior which reveal lies, inauthenticity and hidden motives behind one’s actions. So it makes sense why you may have unexplained negativity against someone – you just see their true nature before anyone else does.

5. You feel overwhelmed in crowded places

Being somewhere crowded means there is too much energy around you, which is not easy to handle as an empath. If you find yourself feeling drained every time you visit crowded places, such as city center in the peak hours or shopping mall on Sunday, you are very likely to be an energy sensitive empath.

Moreover, in some cases, this overwhelming feeling can be so strong that it can even grow into physical distress. Being around too many different vibes can sometimes make an empath feel dizzy, lightheaded and weak.

Remember: if you suffer from social phobia, it could be something more than just a mental disorder. It could be a neglected gift that awaits to be unleashed. The first step is to observe and analyze your reactions to different people and situations so that you can learn to use your energy sensitivity to your advantage.

Can you relate to any of the above-described things? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.


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About the Author:

Anna is the founder and lead editor of the website Learning-mind.com. She is passionate about learning new things and reflecting on thought-provoking ideas. She writes about science, psychology and other related topics. She is particularly interested in topics regarding introversion, consciousness and subconscious, perception, human mind's potential, as well as the nature of reality and the universe.


  1. Sakib September 12, 2017 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Another well written article on this fantastic website! This ability can also be used to sense positive energy from positive people. I think cats might also have similar senses?

  2. Cterrol webster September 17, 2017 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Thank you great for us empaths bless you xxx

  3. Scott Cofrancisco September 22, 2017 at 5:09 am - Reply

    Learning the difference between sympathy and empathy. This is a key. Some of us are here – for everyone else — we carry — we support — we love – unconditionally. Ty for this great article.

  4. Patricia October 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Wow! By the end of this list I was starting to feel those butterflies in my stomach.

  5. Nn March 5, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Ok this is strange I’m kind of in the middle of empathic and social anxiety

  6. Jim April 23, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the article. It can really suck ass being a social empath at times. In a one to one situation it can be great because it can help solve so many issues. In a crowd, like a shopping mall (black Friday is the worst) it can be overwhelming and anymore I just avoid those situations. In the end I’m fine with people, I just don’t like the energy they emit and that I pick up on.

    And for those that aren’t empathic, it does exist, there are more people out there who have empathic abilities than you know and finally it can be great to have the ability but it is definitely a double edged sword. Oh and one thing that wasn’t said when an empath really gets to care about someone they don’t even have to be in the same location to be able to sense the person they care about.

  7. MEG May 13, 2018 at 7:17 am - Reply

    This is me, almost exactly. I generally get a sense of a person’s feelings or intentions within seconds of meeting them, and my gut feeling always proves to be right. I feel drained to the point of physical pain/sickness in crowds. Because I don’t understand how to block these feelings out, it’s caused me considerable discomfort. I feel like I need to not share my thoughts/first impressions of people with my husband, for example, bc I’m afraid it makes me sound like a negative person, or drags the mood down. (he filters everything out but the literal and the tangible, and believes everyone is honest, just, and genuine, until there is irrefutable proof otherwise. It seems like a wonderful way to live, and I wish I could do it.) Since childhood, I’ve been uncomfortable with people whose words/actions do not match the feelings/intentions that I “feel” from them. It’s such an uncomfortable experience, I’ve grown very introverted over the years, preferring to spend time with my horses or in the greenhouse, where the energy around me is calm and quiet. I feel like this coping strategy has gradually changed my personality and my social interactions. I see my mother and my eldest daughter having the same struggles, and I wonder if this runs in families. Perhaps I can learn to block any sensitivity to energy and help my daughter do the same.

  8. Alexandria Xenakis August 16, 2018 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    All these things describe how I feel in every way. I’ve almost always been right about people I’ve felt awkward around upon first meeting. According on the person, some make me feel so overwhelmed, while others make me feel less overwhelmed.

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