Being An Empath Is Killing You – How To Survive

being an empath

I have to say, being an empath is utterly exhausting. It causes chronic fatigue syndrome, it makes you tired all the time, and there are serious health problems of being an empath.

But if that sounds brutal don’t sweat. There are ways to handle your life as an empath. I personally mastered my own empathy by using this meditation for empaths. 

And I’ve taught many others in my online meditation lessons too. 

Trust me. I know how you feel. I’ve been an empath my entire life, ever since I was a little kid. You know what it’s like:

  • Soaking up the feelings of others
  • Feeling other people’s pain. 
  • Suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Feeling constantly tired and exhausted 
  • Having health problems because you’re tired all the time.  

Yes, it is a hard life. But it can also be an incredibly rewarding life. With a little wisdom, you can thrive. First of all, though, you have to learn how to survive as an empath.

Why Empaths Suffer

As an empath, you experience the feelings of others as though they were your own. It is similar to compassion.

There are two main categories of empathy:

 Cognitive empathy—understanding what someone else feels—and affective empathy—sharing what someone else feels. However, usually, when we talk about empathetic people, we are talking about affective empaths.

Essentially, it comes down to feeling what other people feel. 

“Having empathy means our heart goes out to another person in joy or pain,” says Dr Judith Orloff, author of The Empaths Survival Guide and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA. “But it goes much further. We actually feel the emotions, energy, and physical symptoms of other pelple in our own bodies, without the usual defences that most people have.”

It’s not just other people, though. There are different types of empaths:

We can be empaths to:

  • Plants
  • Weather (this is me)
  • Animals (also me)
  • Physical empath
  • Geomatic (these guys feel the earth… crazy right?)
  • Intuitive (also me)
  • Emotional (definitely me)

 empath quote (2)

Signs of being an empath

  1. Sensing other people’s feelings
  2. Having insight into what’s going on in people’s inner worlds
  3. Feeling isolated because you exist on an emotional plain most people never reach.
  4.  Sharing the pain of others. 
  5. Feeling tired and emotionally drained when you’re around emotional people
  6. Overall, it is as though you can psychically feel what others feel.   

As empaths, we have the psychic ability to feel other people’s feelings. 

We are the most caring, most loving people around. And we deserve happiness and success.

But instead, we suffer from exhaustion and get various health problems precisely because we feel so much emotion from other people.

Indeed, many empaths are too busy dealing with other people’s problems to deal with their own. Psycho-spiritual teacher Mateo Sol says, “What many of us empaths don’t realize is that often our desire to heal others is a disguised cry for help for our own healing”.

In other words: we need to focus on our own problems. I’ll show you how in a moment.

But first, listen.

A lot of people have asked me how to stop being an empath. Don’t.

Never ask how to stop being an empath. Your heightened empathy is a gift. You just need to learn to control it. When you know how to cope with the pros and cons of being an empath, you will thrive.

Cons of being an empath

You probably already know the biggest con: Being an empath is killing you because you feel too much pain from other people.

Aristotle said: “To perceive is to suffer.”

When you’re a highly sensitive empath, you are more conscious of other people’s emotions, and that can lead to suffering.

Taking up the feelings of others leads to emotional burnout.

Why empaths die in social situations. 

We empaths struggle when there are too many emotions. Sometimes this is from one person who has extreme emotions. Other times it’s just because there are many people around. 

“There is physical evidence within the brain that proves that highly sensitive individuals respond especially strongly to social situations that trigger emotions,” says Dr Aron, a Research Professor in Psychology at Stony Brook University.

We get burnt out because we are constantly soaking-up other people’s emotions. 

Chronic fatigue 

Studies show that there is a link between levels of empathy and chronic fatigue syndrome, which The Mayo Clinic defines as “a term applied to a collection of nonspecific symptoms, such as body aches, fatigue, nervousness, sleep disturbances and digestive problems.” 

At worst, this issue can lead to Addison’s disease.  

Signs of Addison’s disease include:

  • Hair loss
  • Aches and pains
  • Losing weight rapidly. 
  • High levels of fatigue

The leading cause of chronic fatigue syndrome in empaths is stress caused by excessive emotion. And not only can that emotion lead to fatigue, but it can also cause anxiety and depression. 

As NYC therapist and Shamanic Reiki Master Thalia Longchamp says, “The pressures of dealing with taking on feelings that aren’t necessarily theirs can be burdensome and isolating for empaths, leading to anxiety, depression, and overall confusion.”


Clearly, there are lots of problems empaths face. It gets worse too. 

Mental Health 

Mental health is the big deal for empaths.

“When empathy goes into overdrive, people put themselves at risk for mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and physical complications such as heart disease and high blood pressure,” says David Sack M.D.

Many people (especially clairsentient, sensitive, intuitive and lightworker types) can suffer from problems of overly active empathy. And oh boy am I one of them. I always have been. I do everything to make sure other people are happy, and it’s rarely requited.

We care more than other people. Then we wonder why other people don’t care as much as we do.

This sense of caring-for people but not having people care about you can lead to a sense of isolation. It can also be very tiring and can cause empaths exhaustion because you’re tired of always soaking up other people’s moods while struggling to deal with your own.  

Thoughts and feelings keep us up at night. This causes sleep deprivation and possibly insomnia. The side effects of insomnia include anxiety, depression, stress, and a weakened immune system.

Oh boy. 

Empathy and Anxiety

In 2018, Anxiety, Stress, & Coping: An International Journal published research into teenagers admitted to a private psychiatric hospital.

The teenagers were asked to report their levels of anxiety, depression, and empathy. The results showed a direct correlation between affective empathy (being able to feel what another person feels) and anxiety.

The same study found a correlation between low cognitive empathy (being able to understand another person’s feelings) and social anxiety. So, it seems that being able to understand other people’s feelings is beneficial, but actually feeling other people’s emotions isn’t.

This is backed by a 2011 study by Yasmin Tibi-Elhanany and Simone G Shamay-Tsoory at the Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. Researchers found a link between individuals with high levels of empathy and anxiety.

Empathy and depression

Research also shows a link between empathy and depression.

In 2017, Yuan Cao et. al. at the School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, found that because empaths are more sensitive to the pain of others, they are more likely to experience depression.

Oh wow. 

Light sleeping & restlessness

Not only is it hard for empaths to get to sleep, but we are also likely to experience light sleeping. We will wake up often. And when we wake, we may be troubled by the emotions of the people we’ve been around. I will say that my meditation practice helps me big time here. 

Restlessness is another con of being an empath. We are hypersensitive to the emotions of others. This can cause information overload, but not in the usual sense. It isn’t information overload from TV or the internet. Actually, it’s a spiritual kind of information overload. It’s psychological. Ultimately, it’s being overloaded with too many emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

These thoughts and feelings consume the mind. And it isn’t easy to get out of the trap. It’s like a Chinese finger-trap. The more you fight, the more stuck you get.   

Empaths also experience more physical pain

 McGill Centre for Research on Pain at McGill University in Montreal discovered that empaths actually experience more physical pain than the average person.

Wow… True though… 

The researchers used a heat stimulus to test the experience of physical pain They found that those people with the highest empathy scores also experienced the most pain. Funny to think that empathy can change our experience of physical pain as well as emotional pain.   

Let’s stop all this Debbie-Downer stuff for one moment. There are both pros and cons of being an empath. So, let’s smile as we look at some of the pros of being an empath.

Pros of being an empath

Newsflash: Your heightened empathy and sensitivity is the result of superior intellect.

Because of your heightened feelings, you’re going to end up soaring high, going from one success to another, if you survive, that is. If you manage to avoid the exhaustion and other health problems of empathy.

Once we learn how to survive the problems of being an empath, we can start to use empathy to our advantage.  

The importance and value of empathy were scientifically proven in a study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership [1].

Researchers investigated 6,731 leaders from 38 countries and concluded that empathy is positively related to job performance. This is especially true for managers. Managers with heightened levels of empathy are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses. That’s just one of the advantages empaths enjoy.

Judith Orlaff, M.D says, “We empaths have many marvellous traits. We have huge hearts and the instinct to help others in need or who are less fortunate. We’re dreamers and idealists. We’re passionate, deep, and creative, in touch with our emotions, compassionate, and can see the big picture.”   

So really, it’s about balancing the good and bad of life as an empath. Let’s take a look at how to do that.  

empath quote (1)

10 Survival Tips for Empaths  

“Empathy is the most precious human quality”— The Dalai Lama 

The empath’s life is a challenge. But like my man Bruce Lee said: “Pray not for an easy life, but for the strength to endure a challenging one.”

As an empath, you already know what it feels like to have too much emotion. That’s the biggest con of being an empath. You know how difficult it can be to focus on your own needs and not to get overly involved in the emotions and needs of others. You know what it feels like to see a person cry and to feel the pain in them as if it were your own.

Many of us struggle.

Statistics from Google show that thousands of people every month search for “Empath survival tips” or “How to cope with being an empath.”

And I do get it. Because life for empaths is not easy. But remember, there are both good and bad points of being an empath. When you manage the cons and take advantage of the pros, you will thrive.

Here are ten ways to handle both the advantages and disadvantages of your empathy. 

1: Ditch the drainers  

Let’s deal with one of the biggest cons of being an empath: energy drainers.

Being an empath means you probably want to help everyone, right? The idea of distancing ourselves from negative people (whom I call “drainers”) makes us feel a little bit sick in the gut, doesn’t it? It feels selfish. It feels wrong.

Well, guess what?

Your emotional needs matter every bit as much as everyone else’s!

You value other people’s emotions. You hate it when other people are hurting. But you should hate it even more when you yourself are hurt.

Drainers are the main reason empaths suffer. They are one of the main reasons for the link between empaths and fatigue. We need to change that. Here’s how:

Tell one negative person in your life that you are distancing yourself from them. Do this right now. After all, momma always said to “strike while the iron is hot”. I’m not joking when I tell you to do this right now. Grow a set. Pick up your phone. Message one emotional drainer. Tell them why you are distancing yourself.

2: Get energy from positive people

Both the number one pro and con of being an empath is that you absorb the way other people are feeling

Spend time with negative people and you will absorb their negative energy. Spend time with positive people and you will absorb their positive energy. Drainers drain you. Energisers energise you. It really is that simple. 

Appreciate all the positive people in your life. Express gratitude for them. Spend more time with them.

If you still want to spend time with drainers, find situations in which they give out positive energy. Your drainer will exhibit positive energy in certain ways. Make use of that.

3: Create an energy shield

Your painful past wore down your mind’s defences. That’s why you became an empath. Good news: you can rebuild your emotional defences. You can do this with your imagination.   

Around negative people? Imagine an energy shield surrounding you, preventing their negative energy from entering your mind. Read my guide to Removing Negative Energy.

4: Be mindful of your thoughts

Mindfulness is a beautiful gift for empaths. With the right mindfulness techniques, we can learn to manage both positive and negative energy.

Mindfulness makes you more aware of your thoughts and feelings. And once you are aware you will have control. So, practice being mindful. You might like to book an online mindfulness and meditation lesson with me so I can help you with this. 

5: Forgive

To cleanse the negative energy that has accumulated in your soul, practise forgiveness.

As empaths, we are more likely to suffer than most people. We experience heightened emotions that cause scars. And scars take time to heal.

The key to healing emotional scars is forgiveness.

Who can you forgive today? What negative energy can you release from your spirit right now?

6: Let go of old emotions

Most of the advantages and disadvantages of being an empath revolve around emotions.

As empaths, we aren’t just more aware of other people’s emotions; we are more aware of our own feelings too. And we sometimes cling to those emotions like coral on a rock.

Emotional baggage causes the empath adrenal fatigue syndrome because emotion wears you down. Practise being mindful of your emotions and letting them go.

By being consciously aware of our emotions, and then imagining those emotions flowing out of our souls, we can cleanse our spirits of build-up emotions.

Practice letting go of old emotions. And embrace the new. 

7: Meditation

Most empaths crave inner peace.  Being an empath means we’ve been through emotional pain. You likely know full well what it is to suffer. And the idea of inner peace seems like a distant dream.

Dreams are possible futures waiting to happen.

We can create inner peace with meditation. There are lots of benefits of meditation for empaths. It allows you to relax and to step away from all those emotions. It restores your energy. And it is also a quiet, peaceful time when you are by yourself and not being emotionally drained by other people.  

8: Face the fear and say “No” anyway

We empaths are the nicest people around (and the most valuable). We live to help other people.

Reality check: we need to know when to say “No”.

As empaths, we know what it’s like to be taken for a ride. I bet someone has taken advantage of your empathy at some point, right? And they probably didn’t even say sorry.

We need to change that. Make it a habit to say no to unreasonable requests.

9: Bathe your spirit in nature

A truly wonderful way solution for both the advantages and disadvantages of being an empath is to spend time in nature, so you are away from other people are soaking up the positive energy of natural environments.  

As an empath, when you are out in nature, you probably feel a tremendous sense of relief. You feel relaxed and tranquil. You can feel the positive energy flowing from the world into your spirit.

Empaths need to spend more time in nature. It is the best way to release pent-up emotions and to restore positive energy.


10: Change your perspective

Most things in life come down to perspective, including empathy.

Change your perspective on emotion, and you will change your life as an empath. See the good in pain. See the many life lessons that people gain through suffering. Then, you will be less urgent to stop pain when you see it.

Pain is often the pathway to enlightenment. Do not be too sad for people when they are down. It might end up being the most important lesson they ever learn. 

11. Avoid the health pitfalls 

You must learn to avoid all those empath health issues. The biggest issue for empaths is emotions exhaustion and this should be addressed appropriately.  

Being an empath will kill you unless you monitor stress levels and emotional levels and get enough downtime and rest.

We must have a point at which we say “enough”, a point at which we stop what we are doing and prioritise our health. When we start to feel overwhelmed, we must find solitude and unwind.  


Yes, there are lots of pros and cons of being an empath. But you can cope. It doesn’t have to kill you! 

The life of an empath is a gift. We feel more than other people feel. Life is about feelings, emotions, and experiences. We experience more, feel more, and understand more. That’s why, even though life is often a struggle for empaths, it is also a blessing. Yes, it’s hard. But it is also the most profound, most rewarding life. 

Don’t just survive as an empath; thrive!

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  1. I’m 51 years old and just now learning about all this. I always knew something was terribly wrong. I seem to be every parasite’s favorite dessert. Just knowing that this is perhaps a legit thing and not just my imagination is already making a huge difference to me internally.

  2. I’m too old for this. Sorry to offend anyone , but even when I came to the reality of being an “Empath” I considered it complete BS. (I know .. it’s not). Once I fought with myself enough I accepted things. But how the hell am I supposed to make other people believe this kind of thing if I myself am so unconvinced? I may as well tell people I can see their futures. I’m more than that though I think I’m a bit of Peter pan mixed in. I uphold commitments and I can’t stand not to make money for myself, but I don’t accept a particular age association either. Like if someone says I’m old, I stay detached from any emotional response to such a statement. I honestly don’t feel that way. Aging seems to be some kind of curse to slowly appear different but feel to be basically the same person inside… It’s been some time since I remembered how I wanted to fix everyone’s problems, but that was me once. I was kind of proud of the fact that if I worked at it, I could help almost anybody. It was easy for me. Unfortunately, I met my match with my wife. I didn’t even figure out what was happening, but I was always confused at how no matter how hard I worked and persevered I could never fix her problems. I would constantly feel her negativity and want to fix it to better both of our lives and never seem to succeed. I almost killed myself several times, but found some part of me still was unwilling to let me finish the job. As it said above nature is very .. comforting to me. So much so that it’s kind of a small heaven. A place I could let go of my life everything is so at peace -I struggle to not be absorbed out into it. I struggle with a single goal to aim for in my life to better myself. I am lost invisible and miserable about it. I am a fool who embraces a fool’s life. But living this long at least brought to light a few more answers. I’ve been to therapy before (long ago) (for depression). Thinking back on it… I think maybe it would have helped if I gathered more types like me to converse with. I have close to zero friends, 1 daughter (we adore each other) and a very different from me wife. I can’t work like “normal” people. I’m a onsite IT technician, which keeps me moving and not around the same people. I never could figure out why such a position worked for me so well, but I like to fix, to heal and to love and be loved. It’s literally the only thing I know for sure about me. Suffice it to say life’s not going so great for me. Very few people make me sick inside and most of the time when it happens it happens because of my experience with them built-up over time. In regards to knowing how horrible of people they are and how they treat others that mean something to me. And extra negative points if you’re extremely fake, it makes me want to to piss in your face. My “shield” became anger. I always wondered about that.. I was always kind/nice (aka a target) and patient. Sometime in young adulthood I got sick of feeling like a victim and developed an angry side. Some anger is healthy, mine will one day kill me.. high blood pressure is an issue in my family. My anger has become my shield, the part of me that protects the nice, weak guy that catches nobody’s eye. I do things sometimes that I can’t even recognize how I thought to do such a mean thing… I guess I should pass this knowledge onto my daughter. Maybe she can have a better life than I if she became aware of what a kind soul she really is.. take care everyone.

  3. I think I’m an empath, and one of the things I struggle with terribly is GUILT. I feel like I am responsible for the feelings of others around me. And if they’re not feeling good, I feel guilty that I can’t change it. It’s crippling me as a person. 🙁

  4. Thanks, for taking the time to articulate some of empath issues and befits! However, what do we do to explane these things to others? How do we survive great emotional turmoil and quite frankly other empaths? Meditation, shields and positive people are great but when that one person enters the room and you get sick what then? Is there a point when we are too empahic? What can we do to stop the cycle when people can over ride our protections? Any help or links to answers would be extremely helpful Thanks for the information!

  5. Because we feel. We also judge harshly. Being grateful for small things provides balance as does nature, and adventure.
    Which needs to be reclaimed from our toxic tech culture.

  6. I am a little confuesed. I know I am an empath as most of the charactaristic of being an empath describe me to a T however I thrive in social settings. I love being around people. I have learned to differentiate between genuine emotion and the ones who play someone by pretending to feel something. I can not seem to be able to do that with significant others. I am constantly drawn to narcissitic people and I don’t realize it till its months in and i am all of a sudden questioning everything. And realizing that I am taking care of them, their needs, their wants, their emotions and I am being taken advantage of. How do I stop this?

    1. Hi Rebecca. I’m having the same problem. And I’m also an extroverted empath. First of all, narcissists are drawn to us, more than the other way around. (We give them everything they want). And when it comes to romantic relationships, we feel our own sexual attraction and theirs. So it’s extremely intense, and also hard to differentiate our own feelings. Right now my plan is to either try to move very slowly with the physical stuff, or keep a shield up/detach from it, even though I’m sensing the strong connection. Just ignore it. At least until I can figure out who this person really is, and if they are going to harm me. Cuz the connection might not be real, just the other person latching on like a parasite. It’s also okay to take a break from dating and work on grounding yourself. Get a support network of family and friends who will help you pick the right guy (or girl) 🙂

  7. My mind is blown, I now understand that I am an empath! I now understand why I don’t usually fit
    in with the masses. I could have saved myself a lot of pain, sleepless nights and physical ailments had I known. Having grown up this way I thought it normal, until I saw a big difference
    in myself and others around me. I feel the pain, sorrow, happiness and emotions of others as though it were happening to me. This has caused a lot of problems in my marriage and with friends and co-workers. Wow oh wow, I am on meds to try and control the pain, anxiety and panic attacks that have resulted from taking on the pain and suffering of the world. Thank you for this article, I now have a name and diagnosis for my deep feelings and hopefully be able to begin healing myself as well as encourage others.

  8. I am an empath that got a good understanding and control early in life. At the age of 20 i experienced a massive head injury spending years in hospital. 20 yrs later I am finally starting to once again regain my control being able to shield my mind and open it up. My best advice is to find something that is a passion a true passion for me and many empathes is a love of animal and or nature. Find others that share that love use it to channel your mind into positive thoughts. By learning to channel the positive you can slow or even halt in situations the onslaught of emotions, both positive and negative. Allowing you to find a balance, balance is the true objective and is essential for an empath. I have to connect with my ability to stay happy and healthy I can not be always alone I need connection. When I was unable to control the emotions it was overwhelming riding other people’s high and especially the lows. Find an outlet for the trapped emotions. Top methods: Meditation, artistic expression (writing, painting etc), therapy. I wish you all luck and success in finding your balance.

  9. For me my biggest struggle as an Empath is Work. I have cut out all of the toxic energy draining friends and family in my life but I can NOT cut out my co-workers and the clients I work with because I have to work for a living. I have been working for 24 years in a variety of jobs but they all have the same problem: emotionally draining people to work with. How do you protect yourself when you have to put up with other’s BS for 40 hours a week just to pay bills, etc? It is far easier to cut out friends and family but impossible to cut out co-workers and clients. I am suffering…even thought about suicide on my way to work the other week because I was in tears/having a panic attack just thinking about having to go back into work again for another shift (oh, and I have changed jobs many times for this very reason and no matter the job, the result is always the same: overwhelming misery.) I am getting help….

  10. Great article, read it a while ago and finally decided to come back and post a comment. It has helped me a lot to understand what happen to my own mental barriers and why it is so important to keep building them back up. Reflecting back on my own upbringing has not been particularly enjoyable but it has helped to be a better parent. I only wish I read this twenty years ago when I was deciding on a career.

  11. This is the best article I’ve read about being an empath. I, unfortunately, had to figure out much of this on my own over the years. I am thrilled to realize there is help out there for the struggling empath. Excellent!

  12. I am afraid I will die because of empathy. I try to help myself but I have to do better. Thank you, it all applied to me except that I never feel used by someone. I pick up too much from them for me to go beyond what I should. As for my pain I feel the pain of others and their thoughts of their pain which feel like I can speak but want to cry/scream.

  13. Thank u this has helped me understand a better way to look my empathy and the good I believe I can do with it.

  14. I was surprised when I read about how you were being attacked by gas lighting techniques. I am too. I noticed this about ten years ago and it’s been extremely annoying ever since. Talking to anyone about this is really risky because you already have people trying to assassinate your character every chance they get. I can tell when someone is trying to “shoot a shot at me” basically saying a comment in a certain way where I know that I am the target. (Gas lighting) Throughout the years it seems people are all too happy to act this way and it makes me sick. I have a difficult time being fake so when I’m dealing with these situations with people I tend to just chalk it up to anxiety. I think people assume that its all about the way you see things but for me just knowing that there is an alterior motive or something other than being genuine behind the things they are saying is enough for me to immediately see them in a negative light. It’s just very tiring to deal with. I just laugh or take it all in but I’m really tired of trying to make excuses for why people are crappy. I’m going to have to make some changes for sure.

  15. Thank you for the last bit about pain and the pathway to enlightenment. I’ve always embrassed being an empath since I was kid but recently( 33 years old) it’s seeming to make me absolutely mental. That paragraph really really put a lot of perspective on the pain I’ve endured that put me in this place in the first place and feeling others emotions. This was a helpful read this afternoon, I hope you realize the impact.

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