Being an empath. It’s not what you think and it sucks.

traits

Empath: An Empath is a highly sensitive person who can deeply perceive emotions, thoughts and energies in others and feel what they feel.

It’s like I’m you. Completely or partly.

I read this recently and wanted to talk about it a bit as it’s the best description I’ve come across yet of what an empath is:

http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html

Not something you want anyone to know. You think it’s great?

It’s not. It’s horrible and I have worked very hard to turn it on and off when I want.

This article covers it extensively and accurately. It’s the best one I’ve seen, but to be honest, I usually avoid the subject. Not because I’m ashamed or afraid of it.

Because as a rule, people then want more from me as if they think I can cure them or understand them better. I’m not a freak and I’m not on this Earth to be a side-show nor am I responsible for your condition.

I generally understand people better than they understand themselves. I agree with this article on most of what it says, especially “You either are an empath or your aren’t.” Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but I thank God every day that I never said a word about it growing up.

This is the main reason that I am often tired at the end of the day. It’s why I really have to work at getting myself up and out the door at night or on the weekends. It’s not that I’m unhappy or anti-social.

I’m fucking tired from everyone’s crap. It hits me like a ton of bricks if I let my guard down. It’s the reason I don’t like crowds. The mental thoughts and energies are too noisy and I get overwhelmed. I’m much better one-on-one or in small groups where I can come and go.

It came to a head in 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake. I was living in Oakland at the time. It took me over a day to get home because of all the damage. 1 mile from my house, part of the freeway had collapsed. I did not know this at first. The Bay Bridge was wrecked, which was 2 miles from my house. The damage was severe and freeways were shut down.

I hadn’t listened to much of it as they were making a bad situation even worse. I went to bed and was fast asleep when I suddenly bolted upright out of bed.

I heard screaming. Lots of screaming. I woke my husband up. My dog was fast asleep. I asked him if he heard anything. He listened and shook his head.

The screaming filled my head and my house. I got up and looked all around. Everything was fine. There wasn’t anybody there. I put my hands over my ears but that made it worse. People were crying, begging for help. I heard men and women and it wouldn’t stop. Tremendous grief, despair, and terror ripped through me. Was I going crazy? No, no way. I’ll never be crazy because I won’t agree to it.

My husband looked at me and said “You need to turn it off.”

“Turn what off? What are you saying?”

“Them. You need to shut it down.”

I blinked. He made no sense.

“You didn’t listen to the news, did you?”

I shook my head.

“The Nimitz (a nearby freeway, less than a mile away from me) collapsed and…”

“And WHAT?”

“There are people trapped there.”

Oh dear God! I started crying and couldn’t stop. I felt all of it. All of them. I could hear them. I wanted to go help but I couldn’t.

He understood when I didn’t.

So I learned. I learned to “not know” things when they do me no good. I learned to “know” and then to “not know” and I can’t tell another empath how to do it except to just do it.

Yes, we do tend to talk openly and freely and are often hurt when we are shunned or ridiculed.  Most of us never mention it. We would rather give a compliment than receive one. We can be reclusive because, for me, it’s a bit too much at the end of the day or week. I often think I own an emotion which in fact belongs to someone else as I am prone to accept theirs and then project it as mine. That messes with me all the time.

I spend more time trying to figure out what I think because I already know what YOU think. When someone gets angry around me, or towards me, it is physically painful to me. My chest and torso ache from the force of their emotion.

I am also quite sensitive to violence on TV and in movies. I don’t watch TV and am careful about the movies I go to because they stay with me for days or weeks at a time.

The article lists 30 common traits:

  1. Knowing. Yep, I just know shit.
  2. Public places can be overwhelming. Yep.
  3. Feeling other emotions and talking as if they’re your own. Tis true!
  4. Watching cruelty is unbearable. Yes it is. Still haven’t recovered from a movie 30 years ago.
  5. Knows when someone isn’t being honest. All the time.
  6. Picking up physical symptoms. I have in the past but am usually able to sidestep it now.
  7. Digestive disorders and lower back problems. Not really but my back is usually sore.
  8. Always looking out for the underdog. Always.
  9. People want to offload their problems on me. They used to. I don’t let them anymore.
  10. Constant fatigue. Yep.
  11. Addictive personality. Not so much, but I could have gone there easily.
  12. Drawn to healing.  Yes, just a bit.
  13. Creative. Ya think?
  14. Love of nature and animals. Love them much more than people.
  15. Need of solitude. Yes. This is the main reason I shun relationships. Too noisy for me.
  16. Gets bored or distracted easily. All the time.
  17. Finds it impossible to do things they don’t enjoy. Yes.
  18. Strives for truth. All the time.
  19. Always looking for answers and knowledge. Yes and it drives me nuts that others don’t.
  20. Likes adventures, freedom and travel. I would love to travel when I’m not tired.
  21. Abhors clutter. I have a very short fuse when it comes to this.
  22. Loves to daydream. Yes, but only at night when I’m not working.
  23. Finds routine imprisoning. Not really. I prefer it, to a certain extent.
  24. Prone to carry weight. I have in the past but now I watch it like a hawk.
  25. Excellent listener. Absolutely!
  26. Intolerance to narcissism. Oh for sure. I cut those assholes down to size.
  27. Able to feel the days of the week. Kind of, sort of.
  28. Will not buy antiques. I’m very picky about them. Depends on how they feel in my hands.
  29. Senses the energy of food. Yes, which was why I was a vegetarian for so many years.
  30. Can seem moody, shy, aloof, disconnected. I’ve learned to cover this up.

For years I would wonder why it was easy to understand someone but I rarely felt understood. I’ve come to accept it, don’t ever expect it and that seems to work better for me. It’s what I have to do to be sane. It’s rare that someone comes along that I feel understood AND accepted for who I am. I’ve made sure to keep them around. Many of them are my oldest and dearest friends.

I called my best friend the other day and it had been months since we had talked. It was like we had just talked the day before. She picked-up the phone, laughing that my timing was perfect. She had something she wanted to talk to me about and off we went. No time had passed since the last time we had spoken. At least not between the two of us.

So this a very comprehensive article. You should read it, if you’re interested, for more in-depth information as this is just the nutshell.

If you’re not an empath, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, just move along. I understand.

We’re used to it and we already know what you think.

P.S. A few of you are empaths, but don’t know it. I can tell by your posts or being around you. You think there’s something wrong with you.

There isn’t.

 

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22 comments

  1. Thanks for being blunt about this. I love it. I feel so tired all the time around people. And the unloading of problems..don’t get me started.. Ugh! I’ve started shielding which I didn’t believe in at first but as my work environment becomes more and more toxic I’ve found I have no choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this article. I felt each and every word you wrote. Through my growing years I have never been able to share with anyone either.

    Well I did try once, to tell my parents who looked at me with so much concern that I felt like a mental patient. For a whole week afterwards they kept asking “Are you feeling okay now?”
    It was unbearable, so I turned to friends. Another wrong decision, because they laughed it off blaming my ‘too much study’ for my apparent ‘madness’. That was it for me and I kept it to myself. Never sharing it and therefore never learning how to control.

    Consequently I have always been a loner most of my life, convincing myself that there is something definitely wrong with me. I used to laugh when people rant about “dare to be different”… if they only knew what it truly means to be different.

    Being an agony aunt looks impressive but does not feel so. My friends and acquaintances spend hours over the phone telling all about their troubles. I heal unknowingly and realize later when I feel completely drained after a heart-to-heart.
    And I still cannot explain to those who think me snobbish as to why I’m avoiding their parties, or why I prefer online shopping to a spree at the mall.

    But now, thanks to the internet and generous people like you, I have learnt much more about being an empath. And I’m working on getting a control over what I feel. I can now distinguish between my own feelings and others, but that’s just about it. Still can’t always block them out.

    Your article really helped me get a new perspective on dealing with being an empath. Can’t thank you enough.

    And sorry for boring you with the details of my experiences… generally do not come across someone who would understand.

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    1. Thank you so much for this! Boring me? Ah, no way! Don’t worry about that. I know just what you’re saying. I don’t know how old you are, but I have found that getting older and getting a better grip on this, has really helped. I also have lots of friends around me who either understand or are the same way, so that helps.

      I’m just so grateful that this helped you and anyone else. I’m a bit of a fearless writer and don’t care what others think, but the feedback on this has made me a very happy person.

      Feel free to stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing.

      Like

  3. I am at my wits end!!!!!

    With each passing year, it gets harder and harder…. and more unbearable!!!
    At times I wish I were just a blissfully ignorant sheep… then I think, oh hell no! But then… “Make it stop!”

    I spend more and more time with the animals and LESS time with the vile bipedals…. “vile” because I know their every EGO-based thought. But holy crap… don’t let them know their own truth, lest you be ripped asunder via the lashing out of their own self guilt! (Sadly, they don’t even see it is their own internal guilt!)

    I am desperately looking for a change in career. One that will allow me solitude from the madness of the masses. Honestly… the only thing that does keep me here is my rescued dog… my best friend, my confidant, my psychologist, my therapist, my soul mate all wrapped into a cool package of FUR! And I know, I purposely adopted him – just to keep me here, going.

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    1. The 30:

      1. KNOWING
      From day one! And I was constantly chided/ignored/patted on the head (I abhor that one!!) for it as a child. Scoffed at as an adult for it.
      2. PUBLIC PLACES
      NO ONE likes to go ‘shopping’ with me…. ‘Get it and get the hell out fast!’
      3. OTHER’S EMOTIONS
      Took a long time to fully work through that one. Also the reason some friends know that I will just up and completely disappear – vanish suddenly.
      4. WATCHING CRUELTY
      Am reduced to jelly inside.
      5. OTHERS NOT HONEST
      Damned built in lie detector!
      6. PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
      Another that took a while to ‘work through’…. especially hard at first because I work in surgery. Though, have learned to have some fun with this one by freaking out my surgeons and telling them their diagnosis was wrong and that “actually doc, this is what you’ll find when we get in…” (They really hate when someone without a Doctoral degree ‘knows’ more!)
      7. DIGESTIVE/LOWER BACK
      An underlying potential in the past…. has worsened in recent years as the stress of it all bears down even more – despite an understanding of why.
      8. UNDERDOGS
      To a fault! Also why I am constantly Broke & Penniless.
      9. OTHERS OFFLOADING
      “WTF! Do I have a sign on me that says SUCKER!”
      10. FATIGUE
      I don’t agree with the word…. it was more “need to recharge via sleep” but I learned I needed my dog or one I sincerely trusted to ‘stand guard’ while I did so, otherwise I can not go deep enough in for that recovery time. (And suffer tremendously when unable to do so.)
      11. ADDICTIVE
      Have walked that Thin Line a million times…. can clearly see that other side, yet always still able to pull my self out before the damage is done.
      12. HEALING
      Drawn to? ARRRGH! Have come to understand it is innately what I am…. but that doesn’t mean that I not drained like hell from it or that I want to do it 24/7.
      13. CREATIVE
      The entirety of my existence!
      14. NATURE – ANIMALS
      If only these were 24/7!
      15. SOLITUDE
      More PLEASE!
      16. BORED
      “Yeah yeah Been there done that…. NEXT!!”
      17. THINGS NOT ENJOYED
      “Just shoot me now!”
      18. TRUTH
      “I WILL NOT stop until”. pure obsession
      19. KNOWLEDGE
      I am convinced I am genetically part dry sponge! Constantly craving to be fully saturated! To others – “But how can you NOT want to know?!”
      20. TRAVEL
      The only reason I’ve endured a ‘Travel/Contracting Job” for so many years.
      21. CLUTTER
      Is abhor too strong a word? Though, I tried to hide this one from others.
      22. DAYDREAM
      Innately! Why I love Einstein…. he understood why the truly intelligent are creative daydreamers. 🙂
      23. ROUTINE
      I have a few things I must keep to (“oh geesh, it’s Sunday, get out of Kat’s way… it’s cleaning day… do NOT interrupt her!”) but spend most time thinking “What the hell, let’s do something spontaneous already!”
      24. WEIGHT
      Sneaky little bastard! Used to body build/lift weights… but with menopause, it’s a fighting battle
      25. LISTENER
      The primary attribute that 99% of people I know or meet say about me. The reason my H.S. Guidance counselor asked me to be the group ‘peer’ for all her group sessions…
      26. NARCISSISM
      EGO is my biggest pet peeve!
      27. FEEL DAYS
      …..and the hours and the months and the seasons and….
      28. ANTIQUES
      Love to look! But can only touch just so many! SOOO much of their past ‘rubs off’…
      29. FOOD ENERGY
      LOL… am innately Vegan! (Who ended up being adopted into a hard core meat eating family. Used to think that was MY ‘karma’…. then I came to realize, I was THEIR karma!!)
      30. MOODY ALOOF…
      A penny for every time I’ve heard that. 😦

      Like

  4. Empathic male here and having a tough day! Sometimes it’s all just too much. It’s nice to hear others like me. Sometimes I feel so deeply from others that it’s unbearable. I am really trying the shielding as now I know what this is all about. Always thought it was anxiety but as it has got stronger I know it is feeling others. thanks for this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely understand about having a bad day. That’s advice I can give you is to try to shut it out and put your attention on something else.

      I’m very glad you like the post. I have to say I have gotten a really good response with it. It’s about time somebody said it, right?

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    1. I am very much an empath and suffer with daily anxiety that builds up into panic attacks. Depression sneaks in everyone in awhile too.

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      1. For some reason my comment back to you didn’t post. So sorry. The only thing that has helped me is to shut it all down and take a walk if I can. Music helps also.

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  5. Dang, I was pissed off finding out I have almost all of the empathic “qualities” listed and some more that are listed on a few YouTube videos. (Some of those YouTubers seem to over-glorify the empath though, in my not so humble opinion. Kinda freaks me out a bit. Sorry, gurl gotta be honest with herself.)

    I actually thought I was getting more and more crazy as I got older. (Maybe I really am crazy.). To have a doctor recommend Elaine Aaron’s book, “The Highly Sensitive Person”, then another person mention “empath”, felt a little “woo-woo” to me for many years. So, I ignored them all until things got to critical mass.

    I’m an older person and have been this way (sensitive/empathic/whatever you wanna call it) since a child. I was always being told to get over things or I wasn’t going to make it in this world. Starting from about 16 years old, I was often at the doctor’s office, psyh’s office, on and off meds throughout my life with no resolve, but rather always to the dismay of my doctors because they couldn’t always hook me up with what was in their “Big Books”. Couldn’t get a “clear” diagnosis of me. After a while, I felt like a freak, a psychosomatic, etc. yet all the while realizing that I wasn’t really these things. I usually own up to what I know myself to be. (I’m huge on Shadow work for myself. Must be those three planets in Scorpio in my natal chart, LOL.) And what I know now…this Bronx Empath is one Beotch. Can one be a Beotch Empath? (Didn’t want to cuss on your blog!).

    And shielding…oh, don’t get me started. I’m so fricken tired of shielding that I’m either putting in for a full suit of armor or checking off the planet. Human life is feeling so overrated anyway. (Sorry if I offend anyone, but I’m not outta my Beotch Mode yet.)

    My last hope is a woman in the Netherlands named Caroline. She’s called, “The Happy Sensitive”. If she can’t help me, I’ll see you all in the Heavenly Realms ’cause my butt (and spirit) is EXHAUSTED.

    Thanks for letting me rant. Awesome blog and thanks for keeping it real.

    Signed,
    One Pissed Off Empath

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! You’re more than welcome to rant anytime. I think this post got the most views and comments and shares in a very long time. That surprised me at first. I really hit on something with this and I had no idea until it happened. I rarely link articles (because most of them are stupid) but this one also resonated with me very strongly.

      I hope you figure out your “balance” or whatever the hell we would call how we live with it. I have been able to tune it way down and I’ve kept it there as best as I can.

      And as far as looking for help from a doctor for this? Yeah…..not gonna happen……”Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues” 🙂

      Like

      1. Thanks for letting me rant, Susan.

        I was hoping some sleep would help, but, nah…guess I gotta let the Bitch Mode just work its majic. Maybe that’s part of the “balance”. (Yeah, that word doesn’t really resonate either…but…for now…).

        LOL, “Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”. I hear ya. Guess I had my, “Illusionary Pie-in-The-Sky” Hat on with regards to doctors. (I chose the hat since I don’t like “Rose-Colored Glasses”, but only because the glasses make me want to break open a bottle [or two] of champagne and just chill [a.k.a., disconnect].). Dang, you’d think I’d learn by now.

        Anyway, have a great day. In the meantime, I’m enjoying your blog.

        Peace!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, so true. Disconnecting for a little while helps, but I can’t seem to stay there either. It does get boring. Plus, all my work starts to pile up.

        Yes!!! So true for me too. Taking walks while listening to music does help me. I actually have different playlists to match my emotions. Today I’ll be playing my, “Pissed Off Faves” list, but I also have playlists for when I need to feel detached, motivated, just plain silly, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I grabbed up with meeting people online usually and them immediately dumping horrible secrets to me. Stuff I just don’t want to know. I would love to find friends who aren’t emotional vampires. I totally related to your article.

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  7. Thank you. I think the worst part about being an empath–is that you can feel how others feel, yet when you, yourself are hurting, no one else can feel that and listen to you. Just stinks at times and I have to figure myself out and how to get out my own issues.

    Like

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