Something that came up in my life coaching sessions last month was empathy. I was asked to think about the emotions I feel the most and empathy immediately came to mind. I wasn’t surprised but it did get me thinking a lot about empathy, what it means to be an empath and how to deal with being an empath.
Empathy is described as, “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.” And unless you’re a sociopath, then most people have the capability to feel empathy.
And you probably will feel empathy towards certain people or circumstances throughout their lives.
An empath however is someone that feels MORE empathy than the regular person. They can recognize emotions easier and are more affected by other people’s emotions. Some signs that you might be an empath are:
- You take on other people’s emotions as your own
- You can experience sudden or extreme emotions
- You can “feel the room” so to speak and the energy of a room matters to you
- You have a hard time not caring and have a “fix it” mentality
- You are a highly sensitive person (to emotions, sounds, sensations etc)
- You often need time to recharge
These are just a handful of signs that you might be an empath and I personally fall under a number of those categories. I’ve always been a sensitive person. I’ve always FELT things quite deeply and found deep meaning in stuff that others might not.
And I’ve DEFINITELY taken on other people’s emotions as my own. In fact, I had such a torrid time of this a few years back, that I found myself seeking help from The Samaritans because I couldn’t cope and didn’t know HOW to cope.
A quick back story about that situation: My boyfriend was having an awful time at work for quite a long period of time. His boss was awful, he was under a ton of pressure and wasn’t making enough money for it to even be worth it. Rightly so, he was exhausted and miserable.
And I freaking felt it. I felt it every single day when he would ring me on his lunch break. I’d spend my entire day worrying about how he was getting on at work and if he rung me to say things weren’t going well, then I couldn’t function for the rest of the day.
This sounds dramatic and will sound really odd to people who aren’t empaths but I just couldn’t separate myself from my boyfriend’s emotions.
It was awful.
Knowing how to deal with being an empath is so important. It’s THE MOST important thing you can do. So today I want to take what I’ve learned over the last few years (and from my coaching) and share some tips on how to deal with being an empath.
How to deal with being an empath in 7 helpful ways:
Remember that there’s nothing wrong with you
Before we even get into feeling the emotions of others, let’s just take a minute to remember that being an empath isn’t right or wrong. It’s just another thing that we are. Of course it can certainly turn into a hindrance if we let it (like I did) but on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re an empath.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
Boundaries are probably THE MOST important thing you will need when learning how to deal with being an empath. Because as empaths, we will let the emotions take over if we don’t have those boundaries. A boundary in this instance could be as simple as limiting your time spent with someone who drains your energy.
Identify your energy gainers and drainers
A really helpful activity that I learned during my coaching was energy gainers and energy drainers. Identifying these will also help you set those boundaries. It’s pretty simple, all you need to do is write two lists: the people/places/emotions/circumstances/activities that GIVE you energy and those that drain it.
Create an energy shield
This will take a little practice on your part but creating an invisible energy shield between you and the other people can be really helpful in managing their emotions.
It’ll take a little visualization practice but next time you’re having a conversation with someone that you can feel is impacting your empathetic state, try imagining a shield in front of you or an invisible wall in-between you. See their emotions knocking into the wall or shield and flying away – thus not ending up in you.
Have emergency procedures in place
Sometimes, it gets too much. I’m a good example of that. So of course it’s important to learn how to manage it but it’s equally as important to learn what to do if things get out of hand. Like I said, I ended up seeking solace in The Samaritan. But you might consider creating a self care kit, doing a helpful meditation or speaking to someone.
Release the emotions
This is a good tip to learn whether you’re an empath or not. Because we all have emotions that build up from time to time. It’s very easy to absorb negative emotions but what goes in, must come out. So learning how to release them is just as important.
You might try a visualization technique (I personally like the image of a cat swatting something off a table), meditation, writing these emotions down and burning them (but be careful!) or journaling it out. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Related read: 30 Journal Prompts for Mental Health
Self care to the max
And finally, I couldn’t not have a point about self care in here, could I? Self care will be SO IMPORTANT for empaths. Especially after a period of extreme emotion. Schedule in some you time. Dedicate a whole damn day to it if you have to. Do all the things you love. Get cozy. Cry. Do what you gotta do.
I hope these tips helped you learn how to deal with being an empath. If you’re an empath, I’d love to know if you have any additional tips to add to this list!
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