Listen: Being an empath is going to kill you unless you wake up to certain things. Being an empath is 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 meditation to control my emotions.
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 other people’s emotions.
- 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 Being An Empath Is Killing You
Being an empath means you experience other people’s emotions as though they were your own. It is similar to compassion [READ: Importance of Compassion in Life]
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 other people’s emotions, energy, and physical symptoms 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:
- Weather (this is me)
- Animals (also me)
- Physical empath
- Geomatic (these guys feel the earth… crazy right?)
- Intuitive (also me)
- Emotional (definitely me)
Signs of being an empath
- Sensing other people’s feelings
- Having insight into what’s going on in people’s inner worlds
- Feeling isolated because you exist on an emotional plain most people never reach.
- Sharing the pain of others.
- Feeling tired and emotionally drained when you’re around emotional people
- Overall, it is as though you can psychically feel what other people are feeling.
As empaths, we have the psychic ability to feel other people’s emotions.
We are the most caring, most loving people around. And we deserve happiness and success.
But instead, we suffer from chronic fatigue 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 other people’s emotions leads to chronic fatigue and emotional burnout.
Why empaths die in social situations.
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.
Studies show that there is a link between levels of empathy and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Mayo Clinic defines chronic fatigue syndrome 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 cons of being an empath. It gets worse too.
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.
If you’re one of them, you may have noticed that you do everything to make sure other people are happy, and it’s rarely requited.
You care more than other people. Then you wonder why other people don’t care as much as you 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 chronic fatigue syndrome because you’re tired of always soaking up other people’s emotions 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.
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 emotions 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. The joys of being an empath.
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.
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 chronic fatigue syndrome and other health problems of being an empath.
Once we learn how to survive the cons 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 .
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 of being an empath
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 pros and cons of being an empath. Let’s take a look at how to do that.
10 Survival Tips for Empaths
“Empathy is the most precious human quality”— The Dalai Lama
Being an empath 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.”
Being 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 being an empath is not easy. But remember, there are both pros and cons 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 pros and cons of being an empath.
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 other people’s emotions.
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.
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
All the pros and cons 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.
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 pros and cons 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 chronic fatigue syndrome 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!
Being 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!