It wasn’t until about a year ago that I heard the term “Empath”. According to health professionals and scientists, this term is meant to describe a person who internalizes the experiences and emotions of others. They are people who have high intuition but lack the filters to block negativity, and thus are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. I recently realized; this is what I am!
Not long ago, people thought Empaths were psychics or witches because they were able to internalize a person’s emotions and give spiritual advice based on what they felt. They rationed it was supernatural forces allowing them to see the truth. Truth is, they were using their super intuition and communications skills to quickly size people up and guess what would happen next. They were often correct.
Empath children were the shy kids in school who only kept one or two close friends. The kid who cried at sad movies even though they had little or zero experience of the circumstances. The kid who cried when they heard another kid crying. The kid who didn't want to say hello to that one guy who ended up being a creep anyway. Empath children are the most intuitive.
Adult empaths are the introverts who are more than happy having hours-long conversations with a good friend, but hate crowds and loud noises They hate being the center of attention and have trouble getting physically close to others. This is the person who others call at their darkest times. They are great listeners and can call bs when they see it. They can be emotionally supportive and quick to help in any situation, making them great friends to have in your corner.
Being an empath means you are able to detect foul play with little evidence. It means you can feel the intentions of others. You are able to give and receive energy, fluidly. Empaths tend to feel the pain of others and have an uncontrollable need to help, to fix, to create.
Empaths who have experienced abuse of any form, such as myself, have an even harder time separating their own emotions from those of others. This is because we have been taught that our own feelings do not matter, rather it’s the feelings of others that we must look after. This leaves us drained, and often feeling violated and slighted. Not only do we feel the pain but we also feel a responsibility to heal others at our own expense. We require lots of alone time to reenergize. We require emotional reciprocity to avoid feelings of inadequacy. We want everyone else to be happy, even if that means we are not. We are constantly searching for that energy that makes us whole, not realizing that energy was stolen from us, and only we have the power to get it back.
What does this look like in everyday life? I’ll give you 5 scenarios.
1. A friend you have not spoken to in a while calls to talk through some issues they are experiencing. You are not feeling well yourself. You don’t feel like talking to anyone because you are already emotionally drained. Instead of asking the friend if you can speak at a later time, you quickly jump on the call to listen and offer emotional support, and advice. You never tell them what your troubles are because you feel this may not be a good time to burden them. So, you internalize their emotions and think about how you can help, forgetting about yourself. Burying your own needs and challenges into your subconscious, your soul, and your heart. Now you need to take a nap. Rinse and repeat.
2. You decide you will spend the day alone to recharge. Something empaths need plenty of. Your SO calls and says, very eagerly, they want to spend time with you. Instead of saying you think it’s sweet they like spending so much time with you but you need alone time, you pick up and go. Later you feel exhausted and frustrated. Rinse and repeat.
3. You tell your child “no” for insert reason here. The child says they hate you, throws a tantrum and runs upstairs to cry. You immediately feel their pain, and start to empathize with their feelings. Instead of letting it ride and stand your ground, you either run up to explain yourself which ends in a full-blown argument or give you in because you can’t bear for your baby to be in that kind of pain. Rinse and Repeat.
4. Your spouse is clearly in a bad mood. Instead of talking about it, she/he has decided to emotionally distance themselves. Marriage counselors call it “stonewalling”. Instead of putting your foot down and let them know their behavior is unacceptable in a healthy relationship, you blame yourself for their unhappiness and work on ways to change yourself. This leaves you feeling drained and resentful which leads to guilt. Rinse and repeat.
5. You go to work and a meeting is held to discuss all the things wrong with your department. This meeting is not to resolve these issues, but merely to discuss how horribly wrong everything is going. Everyone is nervous and anxious, and now you are too. Instead of taking some time to understand the situation and what role, if any, you can play in this, you immediately jump at finding resolutions and take on extra projects even though you are already overloaded with work. Everyone else will be happy and that is enough for you until you get home and realize there are not enough hours in the day. Let the anxiety slip in. Rinse and repeat.
These behaviors are extremely unhealthy. They invite emotional abuse into your life by way of "energy vampires". They invite the possibility of raising narcissistic or codependent children. It invites anxiety and depression as an everyday normal. These behaviors rob you of your worth and eventually your life.
If you are an empath, please understand that it is NOT your responsibility to heal anyone. It is NOT your responsibility to be available when anyone says so. It is NOT your responsibility to “understand” your abusers. You do NOT need to put others before yourself. Your energy belongs to you and their energy belongs to them. Your energy is bright and big, and that is why it is important to care for it.
Empaths are able to find peace when the world is in turmoil. We are able to use our intuition to attract other beautiful beings towards us. We have the foresight to see where our decisions are leading us. Our empathy allows us to experience holistic health.
Don’t let the negativity get you down. Rid yourself of toxic relationships, spend time alone, do the activities you love to do even if they seem odd to others, and know you are worthy of peace and joy. Find your inner peace. Begin by understanding your superpower.
Below are some links with great tips for empaths.
Choose to love yourself every day.