The Anxious Empath: Anxiety and Other People's Feelings

February 10, 2016 Whitney Hawkins

Are you an anxious empath? Learn why so many empaths are anxious and what to do about empathy, anxiety and internalizing other people's feelings. Read this.

Empaths are often anxious. Empathy is described as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. All humans have the ability to empathize in moments of tragedy, even if they have not experienced a similar situation. However, empathy is an innate trait that is more acutely developed in certain members of the population (Intense Anxiety And The Highly Sensitive Person). Empaths are individuals who are unconsciously affected by other people’s moods, desires, thoughts, and energies. They can, literally, feel the emotions of others in their bodies and attempt to carry these emotions on their shoulders without ever being asked. It's for this reason that there are often anxious empaths.

The Trouble with Being an Anxious Empath

It sounds good in theory; empaths are caring, understanding, and great listeners. But they are often focused outward on others’ feelings, rather than on themselves. As an empath, you may struggle to comprehend suffering in the world and dream about fixing all of the world’s problems.

Quite a large task, right?

Being this in tune with others seems like a gift, but empaths are saddled with the burden of their own emotions as well as that of those around them. They feel a pull towards fixing, meddling, and emotional understanding; a call that often cannot be ignored.

The Empath's Anxiety

Empaths are scientifically proven to be more susceptible to anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatry indicates that:

Individuals with social phobia (SP) show sensitivity and attentiveness to other people’s states of mind.

Meaning that individuals who suffer from social anxiety may also be extremely empathetic and susceptible to the feelings of others. This study concludes that:

. . . socially anxious individuals may demonstrate a unique social-cognitive abilities profile with elevated cognitive empathy tendencies and high accuracy in affective mental state attributions.

This hypersensitivity to emotions also causes empaths to become ill and suffer from stress, experience burnout in the workplace, and suffer from physical pain more often than others (Are You Too Sensitive? Try These Tips).

Life as an Empath

Empaths are often described as sensitive. They cry during movies, commercials, weddings, and funerals; I know these feelings all too well. I have attended parties where someone isn’t having a good time or the hostess was feeling overwhelmed, these minute situations have inhibited me from enjoying myself until all crises have been remedied and everyone is enjoying themselves. Empaths are extremely in tune with everyone's emotions, but, sometimes, empathy becomes a burden too big for the anxious to carry. It is so important to learn how to adequately manage your feelings of empathy in order to prevent compassion fatigue and other symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Managing Your Anxiety and Empathy

1. Know Your Emotional Limits

Empaths are intuitive healers and people are often drawn to them for this reason. This makes setting functional boundaries so important. Learn the limits of your abilities; you cannot carry the world on your shoulders and that is okay.

2. Recognize New Feelings

Take note of the way different people make you feel -- this is meaningful. Are you nervous? Do you feel deep sadness? Learning how the feelings of others manifest in your body will allow you to better manage the multitude of emotions you may experience around other individuals (The Importance of Emotional Regulation in PTSD Recovery).

3. Find an Outlet

Empaths normally push their feelings aside in an attempt to help others. Emotions always find a way out in the body. Make it a point to develop a routine or habit that you enjoy and one that helps you express yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup (Why Self-Care is Important for Your Physical and Mental Health).

4. Use Grounding Techniques

Whenever emotions become too strong, look around the room to ground yourself. Find an object, not a person, to study and focus on. Being aware of its features can ground you in the moment and bring your outside of the intense feelings happening in your body (Top 21 Anxiety Grounding Techniques).

Make Empathy A Gift By Managing Anxiety

Being an extremely empathetic individual, especially an anxious empath, can often feel like a burden. You may feel as if your nerves are literally on fire when you walk into new situations or when you watch the news. Your anxiety may even trick you into thinking you have to fix the entire world (Anxiety Affects Our Perspective). This can cause symptoms like fatigue and digestive disorders, or the many other symptoms empaths face.

APA Reference
Hawkins, W. (2016, February 10). The Anxious Empath: Anxiety and Other People's Feelings, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Whitney Hawkins

July, 18 2023 at 3:39 pm

Thank you I feel the same I am 33 with a 12 almost 13 year old and 7 year old. I thought I just had to grow up too fast and have no patience but this anxiety and feeling like there’s always something wrong or going to be wrong! It really affects my every day life and I don’t kno how to navigate these emotions that aren’t mine ! I try telling myself their not but I need help! I need to kno I’m not crazy !

Vanessa Tarcak
February, 27 2022 at 6:14 pm

The anxiety can get so unbearable sometimes as an empath because in social settings you also start questioning whether it’s your gut telling you something is off or you are just being anxious!!
I used to get so anxious in the past, around people that weren’t honest people
Living with so much anxiety sometimes can make you feel misunderstood quite often. I believe that only other empaths will truly understand these struggles.
Often times you want just a safe warm place to turn to

September, 15 2021 at 6:01 pm

I am so thankful to have found this page. So much information shared has finally given me a name for the problems I have experienced as far back as I can remember. “Empath”. I always knew there was a word for what I am. This article & several responses describes me perfectly. I am 63 years old & it has taken me this long to figure out this mystery that has plagued me most of my life. My husband had an affair and we divorced over 3 years ago. I was so shocked & hurt I developed ptsd. I found a wonderful Psychologist who helped me tremendously. The ptsd finally went away but unfortunately it is back again. Not as bad as before but still, it’s got to go. I look at people who are so happy & wonder why I have never been able to be like those people. I wondered if there was some kind of wonder drug that would help me. I just want to be happy. I want this monkey off my back. These days I spend most of my time alone & planning my funeral. I have even decided to have a Green Funeral. I have already chosen my casket, made arrangements with a friend to sing 2 beautiful songs & play the piano, even chosen an awesome spray for my casket…and so on….. I don’t mean to bore anyone but I too am burnt out & exhausted. My mind is tired. I cannot sleep well, it takes hours and medication to even get to sleep. I wonder why I’m still here. All I can do is pray. And I do. I understand how all of you feel & I am sad for you too. This is a burden to me. I know I am a good person but I want to be a happy person too. I was just talking to my sister who I suspect has the same problem I do, and I told her at this point in my life I have to just give it to God because I know I can’t fix myself. I want to wish all of you a wonderful life & thanks to everyone again for your posts. You have helped me understand a lot about myself. I have a feeling that my Psychologist & I will have a lot to cover on my next visit. May God bless & keep us all safe, happy & healthy.

October, 19 2021 at 10:07 pm

I don’t know you but I wish you well. You can fix yourself but it’s through time and healing. Your divorce is still a fresh wound and I hope u take the time to know that you are strong and worth it. With love and peace

September, 5 2022 at 2:34 pm

Blessings to us are trials and tribulations. I am greatful you know and give your glory to the Lord and prayer...God bless you and your heart...The Lord is our strength and you have made it through a season...may you continue to worship with strength 💪....Thank you for sharing 🙏🏽 also I rebuke that funeral you planned for anytime soon...May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you with a long fruitful life here on earth and may you be blessed with everlasting life in the heavenly kingdom. IN JESUS NAME amen.

March, 3 2021 at 3:15 pm

It has been really helpful today to read through all of your comments. I feel terribly burdened and overwhelmed today. I wish I could stop the incessant chatter and worrying in my head. All day, everyday. People say I am “just being negative” but honestly, I think I am being realistic about a lot of things. I know that the worst case scenario is not always the resulting scenario. However, I cannot help but think of a million possible outcomes at once. It actually serves me in a lot of ways. I have had to learn to look out for myself, due to being an empath and the vulnerabilities that comes with. I think it has made me a little rough around the edges? I miss when I was oblivious and naive and had a lot of energy and potential. With every heartbreak or obstacle, it just gets squashed down. I have put others first a lot, so I think as a defense I have withdrawn a bit. I don’t have the energy for myself, let alone others! I recently got married. None of my past partners have understood my anxiety or ways of thinking I am prone to. It seems like it has pushed everyone away. Although I do believe it all happens to teach us things about ourself and this world. My husband now is wonderful and truly tries to understand. He doesn’t quite get the level my brain is on when it comes to the anxiety I deal with. So it sometimes causes some issues. But overall, I feel very supported and lucky. We are going to start going to couples therapy. We both have some issues and want to better understand each other. Communication is a huge hurdle when dealing with anxiety. Sometimes I don’t even know if my brain is telling me the truth or I am just crazy! Outside of that, I don’t have many friends anymore and family doesn’t get together much. Today I am feeling that loneliness and sadness. It gets to be too much sometimes. I feel like I will always be burnt out and weighed down. But I know that some days are worse than others. The feelings pass. Really trying to focus on observing them instead of feeling them. It is very difficult. I smoke weed daily, in the evening. It is the ONLY time I feel even remotely relaxed. I am on meds too, but they only do so much. My husband just brought home some crystal singing bowls and they help to relax me a lot as well! I would recommend trying sound therapy like that. Especially if it is hard to keep focus on a distraction/coping mech, or hard to get out and exercise. Best of luck to you all! Remember to shine bright and get through one day at a time. Adopt a pet! My dog is my life saver :) Much love!

August, 25 2021 at 2:04 am

Have you thought maybe its the weed smoking that might be getting in your way? Just a thought...I smoked for the longest time and have ways felt oversensitive, after quitting and getting through the worst of the withdrawals I feel amazing and much more tolerant of feelings and can let stuff go easier...just a thought have a good day

Tina M
February, 1 2021 at 10:52 am

I’m so grateful to have found this article today. I’ve been struggling since I was a teenager and I’m now 45. I suffer sever migraines, depression, anxiety. And I believe I’ve finally found some answers. I’ve been through one on one therapy as well as Cognitive Behavior Therapy and learned a lot but still struggle. This last year has been very dark and dreary due to a relationship I’m in with a very complicated emotional manipulative person. Thanks to everyone for their feedback to this article it has helped me!

December, 28 2020 at 1:13 pm

This article really helped me to understand what it is that I've been going through all my life. I'm 22 years old, I suffer from two severe anxiety disorders and have suffered from them all my life. I've never been able to go to large gatherings or be out in public with large groups of people all around because I feel so overwhelmed and all these emotions just come over me like a tsunami and most of the time it puts me into a panic attack. I never understood why it is that I feel all these emotions when I'm around other people, it would get to the point where I could not even go to school for months on end due to being in fear of feeling all the emotions that I do, in fact I never even finished high school because of this. I've gone through severe suicidal depression at 15 years old due to this and not being able to withstand all the emotions and feelings that I constantly go through on a daily basis. This article however has helped me to understand why it is that I feel the things that I do which I'm thankful for. One question though, do any other empaths feel the emotions of animals by just looking into their eyes? I have a dog and I can feel his emotions whether it's sad, alert or happy is this also a normal thing for empaths to experience?

November, 21 2020 at 2:31 am

I'm an empath. I've suffered for many years as a result. I will always be an empath. People are naturally drawn to me and tell me all their problems. Strangers and so on. What I tell other empaths is you can choose and you won't be punished for saying no. I know it's hard to say no. The facts are we are not responsible for helping every person that comes to us.
Boundaries are completely necessary. Saying completely necessary. Self care is completely necessary. Yes, we are unique in having this ability. We want to be appreciated and seen too. Spend more time with yourself and say no. Ask questions of yourself before going to assist another. Most times you will find there are other people to help as well. It's not all up to you.

Judy Philibert
August, 30 2020 at 1:42 pm

I'm 58 and have just realized that I am not "crazy" - I'm an empath. I've not been diagnosed, but I don't need a medical diagnosis. I am somewhat relieved that there is an actual "term" for this....(condition?), and that there are many others out there who have the same ability, but until now I've looked at this ability more as an affliction - not knowing what it was, I've went through most of my teens and all of my adult life feeling emotionally and mentally tortured. I'm now nearing retirement, and I'm exhausted, burnt out. At this time, I don't know that I have strength, or even the motivation to develop coping techniques or learn how to set's too late. I lost my mother last year, to cancer. I looked after her (compassionate care) in the last 5 months of her life, nearly killed me, had to go on additional anti-depressants to get through it, am finally just down to one, which I've been on for the last 20 years and will likely be on for life. At this point, not much matters to me, I'm just putting in time, day to day, trying to be as normal as I can. It's been hard on my partner, but not much I can do about that - he doesn't really grasp the idea of "depression and anxiety", so to try and get him understand the idea of being an empath..... But as I said above, I am relieved to know that I didn't inherit some type of mental condition that I may have passed onto my daughter - she deals with anxiety as well, but seems to be coping with it, we talk regularly about getting through obstacles in life and how to deal/cope with them. I've worked in the legal profession for the past 30 years, I'm totally burnt out, but feel I need to be working, and being a legal assistant is all I know. The added stress of working in a busy law office for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, is slowly draining any energy I have left, not sure what shape I'll be when I reach 60 which is when I plan to retire. Maybe once I retire, I'll finally be able to focus on myself, learn how to meditate, do some yoga, try to find a therapist that can help me, all of which I'm sure will help me in coping with this "ability". I just have to last for 1 year and 7 months, that's all that's keeping me going right now. "Hi" to all others that have posted comments on this site, and good luck to all of us!

November, 2 2020 at 2:14 pm

Judy girl.... 1. As long as you’re here it’s never too late. I know dealing with pain as an empath is the most difficult thing to do on this earth and naturally we feel the pains of others. If only you truly believed that everything people said about heaven and God being real was true. If you truly believed this.... you will open your mind too the impossible... empaths are naturally connected to the spirit world so as for your mother I know you feel her and I know you catch the signs she sends. And if you don’t you should know now “there are no such things as coincidences... everything happens for a reasons. “ she is with you everyday so make her proud! And as for your husband, he is human as you are, he genuinely doesn’t understand or he can’t bare to get so deep into the feelings we feel. Yes, it’s a burden to be an empath but it’s also a very magical gift. Yin and yang in everything in this world. If you can find balance and peace .... and be okay with walking by faith then, the rest of your time here can be greater than your wildest imagination. Let your light shine bright not only is it needed in your household but it’s need in the world. Everything will be alright if you can hold on, Have a great journey lady ! ❤️

August, 18 2020 at 10:28 pm

Thank you for this awesome article! And all the extra article links. Wonderful resource you created.

October, 10 2019 at 10:30 pm

I really hate to admit I might b an empath because I feel like admitting it makes me hypocritical and fake like I want something to b special about me but being this is anonymous it's easier for me to say what I think on here I've definatley never told anyone this in depth how I really feel. I used to think I was just depressed but I know the reasons I'm sad and I cant seem to remove myself from them, I feel like I can help those around me some of which r the ppl who might make me feelas down as I do even more so it feels like and I cant shake the feeling like i was born to take as many hits as it takes to make someone's life better. I get overwhelmed from time to time because it feels like my whole fate is to make someone anyone feel or accomplish something better even if it make me feel worse and worse to the point I have some pretty messed up bad thoughts about myself and what I want to do. I just dont know if anyone who feels this way can ever feel a real sense of accomplishment or if I'm truly meant to just keep doing this till I can't do it one more day. When I'm alone with my thoughts long enough I feel I can keep doing it because its what I'm meant to do really I feel it's my true purpose for being here but when I get overwhelmed I can't say I dont think about ending it often I'm not looking for sympathy just wondering if theres anyone who has found some way to feel as tho it's all for something and how or at least just something that grounds u when everything feels lost I'm in my late 20s and I cant imagine doing this forever when I've tried to let anyone know just a little how i feel im told im over sensitive and it's my fault for being upset and I would give anything not to feel this way I just dont know how to feel different does anyone have a way to cope that isnt medication I wont do that I have these emotions for a reason and I don't want to numb them I want to solve them.

November, 7 2019 at 10:49 am

I found that talk therapy, you know sitting with a therapist that can help you to manage your thoughts through talking, aka Cognitive Behavior Therapy, is almost necessary for people like us. There are a number of actions one can take that a good therapist can lead you to, to help identify and manage your thoughts, and thus your feelings. Many of our thoughts and feelings our overreactive minds generate need to be understood and managed, which means you (we) need to educate ourselves on how to manage them. I'm not going into the details, but a good CBT (cognitive behavior therapist) is key, trust me Ive been there. Another great resource is read the book Life Unlocked by Dr. Pillay. Those two activities have helped me a lot. You are not alone, I feel you. Take care!

June, 18 2023 at 6:17 pm

I agree! Talking therapy has been the best thing for me. And boundary setting. I love helping people but only when I make sure that I am looking after myself first. I have also found that I tend to spend more time by myself now doing self care and being present, enjoying the sunshine and listening to music that relaxes me instead of forcing myself to be social when I don't have the energy to. I feel like I have been able to give myself permission now to cancel social engagements if I'm just not up to it because I need to look after myself. Realising I was a highly sensitive person through therapy was so helpful because it made me realise I need to get better at saying no. And doing less in total has allowed me to feel good about the people I do talk to.
Also being very intentional about the people I spend time with. I have had to actively stop seeing friends that have a really negative impact on me. I have even changed careers partly for this reason and getting very burnt out. And now I am in an industry with people that feel like 'my people' rather than feeling like an outsider.
But yeah, I can't recommend talk therapy highly enough. All the best with your journey x

June, 11 2019 at 11:36 am

Oh my! Here we are more than 3 years later and this entry is hard-hitting for those of us who find it. I have bookmarked it! Thank you! I am currently going through a rough episode of tragedies among people who are close to me. As any close friend would do, I jumped into listening and caring mode with little effort. But it is the AFTERMATH that is killing me. I feel like I've been a ROCKET who successfully launched and shot up into the sky with great glory and effectiveness. And then -- POOF! The rocket has busted apart. It's broken up into pieces. And those pieces have plunged to the earth again and litter-of-my-life is strewn EVERYWHERE. It is SO STRANGE. And I take great comfort in assigning this attitude and aftermath as "pathological." Yes: I am an Empath. And there should be a 12-step-group for us, too. But the fascination is how I simply do NOT identify with those individuals who almost take on a martyr-like mojo as they "perform" the common and beloved traits of a good friend who is willing to share in your distress! Seriously? Profoundly? I am typically a quiet warrior who is only intense with the key individual who is suffering a cataclysmic loss, tragedy, disappointment; e.g., death, death of a marriage, loss of a job, et. al. So... I want to thank all of the commenters here...because whereas the article's terrific --- your comments are even better for me. As with any sort of confusion or suffering, it means IMMENSELY to me...knowing that I am not alone in grappling with this STRANGE condition of being an "Anxious Empath." I must learn to say NO. I must recall these feelings of hopelessness and sadness in the aftermath. I must cherish my good efforts to create and live a life that is sheltered, firm, strong. And come to terms that I simply cannot give away pieces of myself. I cannot be a "rocket" for someone. I must stay "grounded" here on earth. The dilemma: WHO will believe me; i.e., that I am an "Anxious Empath?" Thank you again, Everyone. (heart)

June, 17 2019 at 5:57 pm

When I read your comment, I felt like I wrote it... down to how you put EMPHASIS on words and using “...”. Weird! :)
Anyway, I feel a lot like this, but it’s getting worse and worse. In some way, it distracts me from feeling sad about my own issues, even though I know others’ issues will become mine anyway. Cycles, man!
I came here to make myself feel better, in knowing others are also going through this. I’m not saying I love that someone is suffering because of this, but I feel less... crazy? This was the first comment I read, but I’m going down the line. Hearts, to you!

Gary kleiner
September, 30 2019 at 4:04 pm

Hi Becky,
I read your response above, I too am an empath, Christian maybe some psychic stuff.
I have had bad anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder. I am an artist. I developed my own tools to regulate my emotions, dealing with others energy etc.
I’m not sure if you are spiritual or religious but believe me prayer has changed a lot in my life. I believe empathy may have a sensitivity to spiritual stuff.
If I can offer any assistance to help, I coach friends because I can read friends and usually direct them where to go.
I’m having an off day, too much thinking, but my tools really help, ie dancing, air drumming etc.
Anyway drop me a message if I can help
Ps I’m on many web sites, google Gh kleiner art to see how I use art to heal.
Gh kleiner

April, 14 2020 at 3:02 pm

What are your tools you use to cope? I am having the hardest time right now shutting all of the negativity out. It is so load and draining it is affecting my life right now terribly. I am at a loss and would greatly appreciate any advise.
Thank you and I hope all is well with you.

May, 19 2019 at 4:28 am

I have been reading comments after reading article and have to agree with some that this is a sickness in a way or even a disability it feels like a curse. When I was younger instead of playing sometimes I would watch the Sally Struthers shows for hungry children and cry and cry for hours wondering and worried about every single life on the planet (all at once it sometimes felt like) who is hungry or unloved or worse. I can tell what people are feeling on the other end of the spectrum the ones causing others pain even sometimes its like they know for a split second that I know and they do not like it. Being this way has made me forget about myself all throughout my life. I see that being this way makes me a narcissist magnet. I grew up being the daughter of a narcisstic mother that took advantage of this, eventually destroying my life by labeling me crazy after I left an abusive husband she even stole my 3 children and sided with my ex husband. Helped him get everything. I gave up on trying to understand how she could do such a thing to me as it was killing me. Now and in the recent past I cry for me. I gave myself that much. I have read articles on "star children" lately which seems to be relative to this as well as Sheumann's Resonance.....maybe. Thank you for your time writing this article and a place to vent. It is relieving.

Gary h kleiner
September, 15 2019 at 2:30 pm

I am an anxious empath, although I do get overwhelmed at times. I have developed a bunch of tools I use to channel energy be it positive or negative. I became a Christian, I am sensitive to spirit. My biggest breakthroughs with all this emotional stuff is to take it to god. I pray daily, intensely of whatever is on my mind. I became very sensitive to nature and animals too. Drop me an e mail, maybe I can help with concerns. Empathy is a kick ass gift, but you have to be careful of others emotions and basically negative people. God bless Gh kleiner

Weed for Warriors Exchange
February, 1 2019 at 5:41 pm

I am posting under the account of my Weed for Warriors Exchange (WWE) initiative, but I am a Desert Storm vet diagnosed with OCD, PTSD and secondary disorders for which I am now seeking an early retirement because the environment has become unbearable and toxic to me. I am in my 50's and managed this long, but don't feel I can continue, so I am hoping my VA rating and all other considerations will allow me to find a new environment for my health needs.
I am not ashamed to say that I began using CBD oil hoping that it would help relieve some of my symptoms and side effects (and I believe it helps) only to find it is just as illegal as Cannabis itself in my state- even though I purchased it OTC in that state. It is these things in life these days that are causing me extreme anxiety- that make me want to use Cannabis! Anyway, I need to vent here because I've just discovered this concept of Empath's.
I am not into "new age" kind of things, but I am into physics and, particularly, quantum theory. It is not a stretch for me to grasp that our consciousness lives in the same sea that connects us all- or that some of us might be more in tune with that than others. I sometimes think people question my sanity simply because I understand this to be true because it has been proven- but also because i can FEEL IT. And these past few years, it has been trying to kill me. Let me explain please, but this isn't going to be a short read...
As a child, they said I was self-destructive, hyperactive, manipulative, and was "an accident waiting to happen." When I entered high school, I started using Cannabis because I found it made me feel better and was the only way I felt I could cope. I was condemned for it and labeled a pothead, so I joined the military to escape the constant ridicule.
During Desert Storm in 1991 I was under intense pressure- but the kind I thrived under and I was performing at the top of my game and I think I can even say at an extraordinary level for my rank given the responsibility I was given. I even discovered a new capability that was later developed into a multi-billion dollar technology. So when my command started going out of their way to ruin my career, I sent my life into a slow downward spiral I have not recovered from yet. My entire perspective of the world changed- and so did I. I lost interest in everything after the war.
When I returned to home base before everyone else, that night I recall feeling extremely lonely, disappointed and lost. I went from being a fun-loving person to a loner other than a few close friends and family. I became very serious minded and all business with a huge chip on my shoulder I couldn't shake. I've been there ever since.
It took many years, but I started getting treatment over 10 years later for what I thought was PTSD and it was several more years before a diagnosis was made. My doctor and a therapist he referred me to believed that I had "some form of OCD" that caused me to lock on like a laser to issues related to my work that I felt had to be fixed because they didn't work- or could be done better. It drove everyone nuts- and still does. I can't stop fixing little things that most people are able to ignore (which I can't understand because it's things we repeatedly do all the time for no logical reason). Those things drive me absolutely crazy. For awhile I was able to bit my tongue like everyone else, but I couldn't help to keep asking everyone- WHY?
Sometimes, on rare occasions, there will be a breakthrough, and the powers will relent and change (which makes me very happy) but I feel the ANGER and HATE coming off of those who resisted it for my simply wanting to be more efficient. Gets me into trouble in every job and as a result I have held MULTIPLE CAREER-level positions in widely differing fields, because I have either been fired or had to look for something elsewhere because of it.
What led me here is a conversation that I had with my therapist who believes that I tend to view everything logically and have to be able to understand what I do and what is expected of me and ask questions when I don't; and challenge the answers I'm given when they don't pass the test in application. My therapist suggested that I "see" these weaknesses in others when they cannot support their view. I will continue to challenge them to the breaking point. They relent or I force them to show their true character. I expose their hidden agenda's- that I am also somehow able to perceive immediately- long before we ever reach the reveal.
For as hard as I have been working to control myself- I can't stop. I've seriously considered having an hemangioma removed from my tongue- just to keep me from being able to talk for awhile... The thoughts enter my mind so quickly they escape before my brain has time to process the thought before it's being verbalized. People used to politely say that I am "passionate."
I am not an evil person and do not seek to hurt others. At least not good people... But I do insist on living in a reasonable world where when there are things that don't work in some way and are wasting money, time and energy (they have no purpose in life)- they need attention. If someone comes along with a better way and can point out where the problems are and show a workable solution to them, that everyone should have an "Ah-Ha" moment, laugh about it a bit, make some adjustments or changes and move on- happier and more efficient for doing so. But not any longer. Chaos rules the day!
Now we live in a world where we do things simply because we are told. Nobody questions anything. We can sit and watch our businesses, money, time, everything- go right down the toilet and STILL nobody really seems to care any more because they KNOW THE FIGHT it takes to change anything these days. I call these situations out.
I've learned that in many (most?) of these encounters in my life, the reason turns out to be nothing more than ego, insecurity, or some other hidden agenda that compels *some* people (just as I am compelled to expose them) to resist allowing needed changes in our workplaces not out of ignorance- but by some twisted design that prevents good order, efficiency and productivity- the opposite of Chaos.
Unfortunately, all to often, these people are in positions of power and authority and other have to go through them to make these changes.
Most of the time in these situations, it will be brought to a manager or executives attention and, being the person of character and integrity that they are, they will see the problem and allow necessary changes to be made. But others will refuse, either covertly or overtly- they will block change. When this occurs, I find myself about to experience one of two outcomes:
1. They are simply being cautious and unsure that change is necessary. They need to see proof of it and they also want a workable solution. If these can be provided, the problem is solved. If they remain unconvinced for some reason, they communicate it and the reason has now been identified for why it was being done that way to begin with.
2. If they become defensive, arrogant, dismissive, condescending, or similar- now we're talking about someone who has a hidden agenda. Maybe they just don't want to be shown up? Maybe they are the ones who created a bad process? Maybe they just don't like you? Maybe they are in someone's pocket? It could be anything really. There doesn't need to be a reason at all. They just have been put into your universe to cause you misery in your life because they seem to enjoy it or seeing you have to bend to their will.
Now, I believe I am beginning to understand why I feel this way thanks to this and other articles I have found as a result of that conversation with my therapist. Then, while surfing in a forum for information on Cannabis for relief of symptoms and side effects of the PTSD and OCD (with secondary Anxiety and Panic disorders) i've finally been diagnosed with, but cause me a great deal of dizziness and other issues, Someone reached out to me and I heard the use of the word "Empath" for the first time. It's like this person had known me my entire life and read me like a book. Amazing. Now I know, but I am lost and overwhelmed. I feel like I am going to need the rest of the winter just to rest for enough energy to begin this new chapter of my life... It is very draining.
Thank you for allowing me to vent and explain the life I've been living and trying very hard to come to terms with.

Joy Larson
August, 2 2019 at 10:34 am

Hi, I got to this article because I was looking for strategies to help me with being able to listen to a highly anxious friend...and usually I want to help, fix and logically explain why he is over-reacting and can focus on solutions rather than freaking out. My strategy of "helping" this way is not helping! lol....My comment for you is 3 fold. First....I hear how painful this journey has been for you and honour your desire and dedication to find a good way of living for yourself...I know of 2 things that I am currently working with on my own and which are really helpful. First is Marshall Rosenberg's Compassionate Communication (or Non-Violent Communication) can find books at used book store...this helps us understand ourselves in relation to others and how to communicate effectively. the 10-step program...for can study this yourself or go to a group...very helpful for perspective ....Blessings on your journey

October, 13 2022 at 4:40 am

Reading your post this morning gave me a moment of connection I have not had in so long. You are the first person I have ever come across that seems to function on the same wavelength. I am extremely empathic and I have had anxiety issues before I even knew they were a thing. Later this kind of dominoed into depression and feeling a disconnect from most people around me. I have always been a seeker of understanding and knowledge though and I struggle with letting things just "be" and my inquisitive nature and drive to understand the why of things has been a great asset until recently. Prior to the last few years (COVID) I did not feel ashamed or overwhelmed with my behavior and I have always been strong in my convictions. I believe a key factor this can be offensive or seem aggressive to certain people is because, as you said-it puts people in the position to explain their motives, which various agendas do not find the hot seat so comfortable and it insults their ego. I have never pursued any avenue with this being my initial a motive. I always saw it to be a super power to solving problems. I have to watch a process or situation play out from a mental view and thats how i detect discrepancies or flaws in a given system.
I do it from a mechanical standpoint and social situations. to truly understand anything, i have to know how it works.... I say all this because I have never felt it was a fault or destructive behavior until the last few years. I went through a traumatic situation that really broke me mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I couldn't function for literally a year, lost my job, had to go into isolation of sorts because i was dealing with victim shaming from my closest relationships. Then when i surfaced just enough to maintain a semblance of living, i experienced a stream of negative events that just seemed to be enough to keep me down for another year. it is the darkest period of my life so far and i am in the place that the fall as i call it has ceased but I am only now able to look for resolution for my initial situation and i cannot keep my mind from following these loops that i get on. trying to find an understanding has left me truly bitter and jaded my view on people in general. it has caused frustration at life and then society as a whole because my mind starts in one place but I don't feel satisfied because i see a bigger picture that i continue following. Now i feel overwhelmed because it gets so big, its daunting to see such a large overhaul needed in general but being too weak or tired to conquer it all or even a little. I didn't mean to carry on so long , but after reading your description of life currently, i just had to say that it gave me a boost, to just not feel so alone in this state. some days it truly seems like i wont be able to move forward.

October, 12 2023 at 7:44 am

I’m 50’ish and have diagnosed ptsd from 2 sources, sexual assault from a family member during childhood but this is complicated by acts of war. My own parent was conceived during a sexual assault following ww2. Growing up under her roof was extremely complicated for me, her German family had disgust, and me as an empath always suffered. The racial disgust and judgment led an older cousin to assault me.
I was eventually diagnosed with autism, but then later it was discovered I also have brain atrophy. So they suggested my autistic traits were possibly due to brain damage caused by shaken baby syndrome. In spite of all this, I’m highly creative, gifted in fact. I was recently tested in a hospital, they wanted to see if I was ‘intelligent’ lol. Turns out my iq is even okay, a little above average.
I understand war vets the most, I believe the exposure to war violence is unlike any experience another human can have. I believe war vets are left out to dry because not even therapy really helps, others can not relate, so they are left with emotional scars and trauma.
What I learned recently is that empathy are not people with esp, they are individuals who have endured deep pain and suffering. If you’re strong enough to navigate this, and rebuild your spirit after each challenge, this becomes attractive to others. You become like a warrior who turns away from false concepts such as the god concept, perhaps swapping this for a tangible one such as nature. Many years ago a good friend likened me with an indigenous chief in our region. I’m just a mixed European white girl, but his statement was not wrong. I adopted nature over god before I hit my teens.
I didn’t read every word of your post, I am a slow reader, but I understand your use of cannabis.
I have found use of any chemicals at all can worsen things like anxiety or night sweats. I now focus on specific vitamins deficiencies and mineralized water. I periodically use thc oil to get through a little insomnia, but stop as soon as I can.
Be good to yourself, I understand.

December, 19 2018 at 1:46 pm

I was looking up on google why being empathetic hurts too much?...and came across this article. It best describes what happens in my mind. I don’t know how to make it better, but it really impacts my life. I cannot watch the news because of it. But I see/hear of news through other methods (Facebook, word of mouth...)
And it affects me for days, months and even years in some extreme cases. And now that I have a son, who is’s even worse because I can relate to some horrible stories. I actually suffered from post partum depression because of it. I was so scared of loosing my son it became an obsession. I would like to stop feeling this way..,idk if it’s normal. I’ve been scared of going to a doctor for fear of being diagnosed as
But I also don’t want to be cold to people’s feelings. I love people and all should be loved and respected. But I do want relief from the pain and anxiety it causes.

November, 28 2018 at 11:24 am

Hello I need help. Since I turned 33 December 19th this shift in energy is ruining my life and has my sanity on edge. I have no answers as to what is going on after almost a year of extensive research and reaching out to any and everyone from Shamans to parapshycologists....I am physically affecting people/things around me just by being in the same room. People can FEEL my energy and when I get close the freeze up and get confused almost seem afraid and want to run from me... I can go into more detail if someone can please explain what is going on... I have fekt suicidal over this because no one wants to be around me
They run point stare mock and ridicule me in front of me... all because I make them feel cold and uncomfortabl. I have lost jobs and have been excluding myself.... please anyone help me get an understanding of what this is......I beg. (No this is not in my head) I wish it was....

December, 8 2018 at 7:46 pm

Hi Nicole, I hope that you are feeling better. I read what you wrote and I am sorry to hear that you have been through so many terrible things. I hope that you do not feel suicidal anymore. That is a horrible thing to feel and it is a lie. I do not know the answers to your situation, but I know that you are worth very much because you are alive, and every life is worth very much. Struggles are apart of life, and some struggle more than others, but they often gain more too in the long run. Please hang in there. If you want to share more you can.

August, 19 2018 at 4:49 pm

How can we stop this illness? Yes, it’s an illness. I get everything listed above and then some. I’m out on disability now because I get sick so bad I’m throwing up every morning, sugar levels rise, bp shoots up for no reason, fevers, cold sweats, hypertension, etc. I’ve seen my doctor. Labs were done, one day I’m 100% healthy, the next I’m diabetic with low levels of potassium and I forgot the other one. I’ve been to 4 specialists, even an oncologist and they can’t tell me squat. I’m done. I want out. How do I fix this? If you guys don’t know can you point me in the right direction?

July, 30 2018 at 9:56 am

I believe both me and my daughter are empaths. Seeing her intense reactions to others feelings even if it's just a facial expression or it's hidden she can sense it all, but seeing all that makes me realize how sensitive I am. I'm riddled with anxiety constantly and depression. I don't know how to handle the emotions it's so overwhelming, I've always been called overly sensitive. Overly emotional.

July, 27 2018 at 10:39 am

This is an amazing article. I see many people saying they are either a therapist or psychologist. I've always had a calling to be psychologist, maybe because it's in my nature to understand and help people. I find that when a friend or family member speaks to me I'm often overwhelmed with emotion and an uncontrollable feeling to find a solution to their problem. I often lose myself trying to help others. The worse thing in life is for an empath is to cross paths with a narcissist. I became this unrecognizable person trying to help a narcissist in a hard place. As I get older, I'm learning I must help myself before I can help others. I struggle with relationships because It's hard for me to control my emotions. I get written off as being too sensitive at times. I cry during movies, I feel when others are sad, tense, stress, angry or even happy. People are always drawn to me and easily open up to me about the most personal topics. A lot of the time I find myself trying to get away from society. I almost need personal time to think and unwind the way i need to sleep and eat. Without it I won't survive. I've always known I was different but never knew how or why. This article explains it all too well. I have a better understanding of who I am now and my gift. Thanks for writing the article and thanks to everyone who shared, very much appreciated.

July, 24 2018 at 9:39 pm

So happy to have stumbled across this article. I’m a psychotherapist in private practice & a giant empath, hence the private practice. I found working in the public system very crippling. I can’t cope with unkind persons. Today I’ve been contemplating going outside, but those in here who know, know where I’m coming from. Besides wearing headphones when walking my dogs, does anyone have some advice for me about avoiding people without being rude? I’m great at dishing out the suggestions, yet stuck with doing my own?. Happy mid week hump you all. So happy to have found you??

June, 17 2019 at 6:36 pm

Man... I feel you! I didn’t realize I was an empath, until about 4 years ago. I asked myself recently, then out loud, “how can I use my empathy for work”. I wish I would have taken a different path in school... before I realized I was an empath; now, I’m SUPER focused on it and feel hopeless... I would go back to school, but the thought of having to be somewhere, around people terrifies me. I don’t want to meet new people because I KNOW that if any of them have issues, I will, too... if any of them die, I will be smothered with the same pain that I IMAGINE their loved ones are feeling... at the same time, neglecting my family because I’m so wrapped up in a problem that isn’t my own. Even though I recognize it and try to avoid certain things, I ultimately feel out of control. Who wants to live life this way? I don’t want to die, but I don’t want this feeling either. I feel like I have to avoid people, altogether... no store, walk dogs at night, walk as fast as I can in and out of anywhere, no eye contact, no meeting neighbors (that makes me cringe because, then, I feel obligated to them - I don’t want to always be giving my sugar away either)... it goes on. I recently tried a job and I was paranoid all the time... ALL THE TIME. A little contradictory to avoiding people, but on the flip-side, I would pass by people and if they looked sad or distressed, I would smile to make them feel better and think about them all day long... and every time I went to work... “I wonder if they’re better” (even though I didn’t even know if they had a problem) OR “it would be so sad if that happened” (“that” meaning the worst possible scenarios)...
I guess that, after rambling, I also want to know how to avoid people... without seeming like a jerk, who doesn’t have time for anyone. To not feel like I have to find something (sometimes, unconsciously) wrong with everyone and (even weirder), feeling like there are other people in the room, who are just like me, trying to figure out if something is wrong with me.
It would be good to find a way to manage this... as for now, I just want to stay inside, always. Hope you found your way. :)

Joy Larson
August, 2 2019 at 10:49 am

hi...I have some suggestions for you to try out......1. gratitude practice......think of things you can be grateful for and speak them out loud 2. blessing practice....try blessing yourself and others, even if just in your thoughts. 3. an interesting book,,Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns..especially the part on page 8 which describes different types of thinking that are distorted and what to do about it. Everybody could benefit from awareness of these because we all do it to some extent. Its a question of recognizing it in ourselves. ...Blessings on your journey!

Tiffany Ballard
July, 17 2018 at 6:02 am

Just reading this article has my anxiety going! Ive been told i have depression since i was 12 , im 32 now but never had the anxiety part until the last 6years. Ive seen drs, tried different medicines with no luck. The meds always either made me so sick to my stomach i was in fetal position for atleast an hour or 2 a day or they put my nevous system in overdrive it was like i chugged a case of redbull... so ive learned to deal with exhaustion, muscle pain, and poor digestion as part of daily life. For the last 2 years ive started taking probiotics and St Johns wart along with other vitamins in hopes to never have to take another prescription drug again in my life. In the last 12 years, up until the last 2, ive all but begged Drs for relief from these symptoms. They all just do a blood test thats always and tell me "well your skin and nails look healthy" and "take these and come back in a month". One of my Dr told me a few times that i was "just too young with too responsibilities and no support from family or friends" (i was 24 and single with 3 small children and a 3rd shift, 80hr a week factory job lol) i didnt want to accept that answer so he was going to send me to be checked for fibromyalgia but i ended up quiting and losing my insurance because i felt continuing those hours i going never going to be free of the pain. That was in 2012. At the time i thought "well they must be right" but these last 6 years having more free time ive learned to listen to my body better and recognize when and where things get off track at. Ive always been very softhearted and empathetic or sympathetic... I didnt know the difference in the 2 until i started to notice how since staying home ive had less muscle pain but over the top anxiety and digestion issues. Quitting my job only made it impossible for me be able to visit with family members and be available to offer assistance when they were in need. I didnt worry as much that i couldnt stay afloat myself but that i had no means to help my family like i always would when needed. Then i started a facebook page like i said never would and just witnessing all the ugliness and hate and then actually being attacked for having compassion caused me a deep sadness like i have never felt before (it radiated thru my whole body straight from my chest). I became obsessed with figuring out how and why people are so nasty to eachother and was determined i was gonna find a way to "fix" it. Now im back to just worrying about how im gonna fix all my aunts and cousins and friends stress and pain while i cant even fix my own because im constantly around negativity and stress. Ive said for a year now that i need new people... happy, calm, easy-going people to chill me out so i can get back to my helpful self i used to be. Now all i do is constantly wonder who it is thats probably thinking i dont care about them or their feelings and, like me, wont reach out for help. I always have to please someone or i feel useless, i dont know if that fits an empath or not. But just reading atleast lets me know im not alone cause others just chuckle and think im silly when say i can feel the pain and sadness thats all around so deep it hurts my , literally. And at other times i will have pain in my left leg and joints that is the exact same as my husbands. He had an allergic reaction to meds and i broke out in hives as ?! If i go into a crowded place, even if it was planned, and get a headache and nauseous and aalwaysend up with that one person who is having a bad day. I used to never think twice about it and loved to be of assistance if needed to anyone. Now thats its getting so bad tho i have found myself avoiding people and planning to become a gypsy just to get away from society and let nature heal me. I dont know what else i can do i literally get mad at myself for being so absent here lately to people but im also to the point where i may combust if i hear anymore complaining and negativity. I hate to be like that tho. I want to spread cheer and happiness and hope and love and make everybody all better and i cant do it like this lol

June, 29 2018 at 7:29 am

I'm so glad to have found this blog. I grew up in what I consider a rather well-balanced environment for my temperament. My parents were both quite stable yet complemented each other's personalities. Mom is very practical, quietly intuitive and compassionate in a down to earth way and Dad was struggling with being an emotional person like I am. I can only imagine what life would have been like since 'going out into the world'. I had NO IDEA just HOW 'sensitive' I was until meeting people who 'saw me through the lens of' the language I was trying to find to understand myself. I was not a complete wallflower but did have a peripheral role, so to speak. Wasn't until I fell in love with a shy guy and got put under the microscope of "people trying to help us" that I began to grasp just how intricate people's energies, attentions and interactions can get. I've spent much of my life studying psychology, psychobiology, spirituality, new age...whatever I could get my hands on to help explain to me 'what was wrong with me' as I'd always seen it. Turns out, whether it's scientifically explained as something with a heightened nervous system or in new age terms as something that sounds more disconnectedly 'magical' to some people, it IS something I genuinely experience but not something I can surgically remove from the rest of my 'normally human tangle of mental and emotional being'.
I would like to say to Lynda, that it's just in the past decade or so that I have had experiences like the ones she describes about narcissists and socios, only I am in a different situation as such people seem also to be "testing me on psychic abilities" and so use others to act on their behalf, making life convoluted, more than confusing and leaving me isolated and feeling heavily abused. I can also relate to the comment about friends.
To Zac, my first insights into my gift/curse came in high school when a guy I had a class with seemed to be able to change my mood for the day depending on his mood when we chatted walking down the hall to class. I could wake up on the totally wrong side of the bed and if he was in a good mood, I'd be bouncing through the rest of the day, if I woke up feeling great and he was in a sour mood I seemed to carry it with me the rest of the day. I didn't have a crush on him or anything like that, but he had a bit of a strong personality. Nothing wrong with that, I've decided over years of various experience that 'people's energy' seems to follow their unconscious tendencies about how they...I'm trying to find the right words here...well, let's try it this way...I grew up with people who generally held themselves as keeping their feelings and problems private, which is not the same as bottling up. My dad didn't and I often felt jangled by his freedom with his emotions. Gosh...I'm glad I read this cause I never really thought about my early life this way before...I guess what I'm saying, Zac, is try mentally deciding, not to deceive or hide who you are, but try thinking of yourself as contained around you are a cupboard and people either have to choose to open the cupboard to 'get a look inside' or that you choose to do so to share with someone you decide to share with...see if that shift changes how people react to you. I stress that I don't mean to imply shutting down or shutting people out. It's kind of the difference between having a conversation with a strongly opinionated person who shares their opinion without expectation of being agreed with or someone who does expect to change the person they're talking the person being talked to it's the difference between sitting and admiring a fountain and having someone point a fire hose at you then turning it on. I've wrestled with this for a long time. The hindus refer to open and closed chakras. I see chakras not as literals, but as symbolic of what I just explained, the choices of where we put our attention and whether or what we open our compassion for. When I 'went out into the world' I FELT someone who I think wanted to 'help' me energetically try to keep my 'chakras' PRIED OPEN all the time cause they thought 'open' was good and 'closed' was bad. it's not true. 'closed' is how we protect ourselves or we get overwhelmed. Sorry to ramble on so long...needed the outlet...thanks!

Lynda Ann
June, 4 2018 at 8:08 am

The hardest part about being an empath is knowing when people are trying to deceive you. Especially when it is someone that you are close to. People will continue to lie until they are blue in the face because they don't understand that you JUST KNOW, and are not having a lucky guess about what's going on. The funny thing is, I have found that compulsive liars either don't want to be around me or just want to be around to challenge me for their own amusement , likely narcissists or socios . The other thing I notice is that when I interact with new people, they are either immediately drawn to me and want to tell me their life story or they are actually repulsed by me and act rudely in some way. So quite often I find that outwardly I become a little more detached and aloof when Im dealing with others and the have been told that I seem cold and unfeeling when that could not be further from the truth. It's a paradox. It has not been an easy life by any means and I often wish I had the ability to turn it off and on at will... I wish I had more friends like me.

Kim Hill
June, 11 2018 at 2:26 pm

I second everything you said Lynda, now you know someone like you :-)... As I get older I understand myself more and more but it still doesn't make it easy. It is not an easy task to make friends as an empath. I learn more and more that making boundaries and not overloading myself is key to my happiness in relationships. Art, nature, exercise and meditation is my constant saviour. Good luck on your journey

Tiffany Ballard
July, 17 2018 at 6:17 am

I need to practice all that too Kim! I used ro meditate and didnt stick with it. But i love to draw and color and paint and tye dye. And nature and exercising are always a must!!
And YES Linda.... I have also been very bored with the regular ole chit chat here lately?! What is that? I literally cannot hold on to a conversation if its not something deeper than the everyday talk lol

Linda B.
July, 9 2018 at 4:29 pm

I completely relate. It frustrates me. I am having a hard time getting back to work. I don't seem to fit in anywhere. I notice that coworkers often close their eyes when speaking with me. It is like they're trying to hide their soul. Hard to find anyone to talk to about, well....anything. When you "feel" so much emotional energy, the mundane chit-chat that most people seem happy to share, bores me to death. But, I always make others feel great about themselves and I feel their emotions change for the better. I also feel that some people will treat me horribly because they know I am an easy target, not to my face but behind my back. I don't understand why. Other than they know I won't get into it with them. I have a hard time expressing myself due to "emotional energy overload". I am having a hard time right now. I was going into ER today for unbearable anxiety and depression but I found this page and I am so thankful to know I'm not alone....Thank You!

August, 6 2018 at 8:07 pm

I think it’s interesting that you use the phrase “cause they know i’m an easy target”. Because we literally show so much calm and reserve when dealing with “agitators”, when we have had enough we know we could say things that would be so harsh, that we have to be passive. The sight to see beyond the mask people wear is overwhelming at times.

Tiffany Ballard
July, 17 2018 at 6:12 am

Everything you said is exactly 100% correct for me too! Just like you people openly and freely share their life story with me or just make eye contact but never even say "hi" or "how are ya" lol ive also been told i look sad all the time or in a bad mood when im walking or sitting alone with myself. But no never... I dont have a mean bone in my body... Full of sadness.. Yes.. What i take on from others even if they dont come to me to talk. I soooo wish i had more people like us near me too!! Lately ive been struggling to get the fit too so i feel like i bring people down iuptead of up and thats just no good.

Tiffany Ballard
July, 17 2018 at 6:22 am

I dont think we can ever say it so that someone would actually believe us when we say we already know their mood and intent when they approach us and that yea... we most certainly know when you are being a lair lol

May, 8 2018 at 9:19 pm

Question, if my partner is an anxious empath. What steps should I take to make her feel better or comfortable . ?

Judy Asmar
March, 23 2018 at 5:42 pm

Is there any link between being a anxious and pass and menstrual cycle? I’ve been trying to get a hold of my emotions and how much I take on the emotions of others around me/global problems and how they affect my perspective as I am one of the kinds of people who feel like I need to change and to help the entire world to the point where I get sick about it. When I’m close to getting my period, I have ruminating thoughts fantasizing about death-never about self harm-and I find myself fantasizing about death because I’m so exhausted and feel helpless in terms of helping the world/making an impact in social justice. I also get extremely frustrated/angry with anyone I see just living happily especially people who have a lot of money because I feel like they should be working to help the world or at least create jobs with the living wage for others, never mind helping the homeless sleeping on their doorstep‘s. This gets me so frustrated, exhausted, and emotional that I end up being reclusive and just writing in my journal alone once I’m off work. I studied social justice in college and have always wanted to have my career focused around helping people whether it be a nun, missionary, restorative justice working with inmates, working for human rights/social justice etc. And I always just thought this was my good will or religious upbringing but at this point because I’m getting physically sick and emotionally sick so often, I’m thinking that there’s actually an imbalance in my brain or something genetically wrong because of all the emotions I’m taking on. For example, today while reading a book to the baby I take care of, I realized halfway through the book that it was about a little girl who had her grandfather passed away and I immediately shut the book and just started crying and was not able to stop for a long time… These fits of crying due to an insane amount of empathy have happened since I was a little girl. I remember my family joking about me crying when I first saw a truck carrying all these logs by our house because they “murdered” so many trees.
My mom is extremely codependent and extremely empathetic so I’m thinking that this could also be genetically passed down to me. Any help or advice is extremely appreciated.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Heart on Sleeve
August, 6 2018 at 5:36 am

I feel the same exact way. It is so confusing to me that people can enjoy life in such a materialistic way while others are left to be homeless.
I have always felt like an outsider to life. I advocate for positive affirmations and love.
I will never forget this one time I saw this lady crying uncontrollably in her car while at a stoplight. I could feel her sadness so intensely, and I innately knew that I was stronger than her at that moment. I opened my heart and allowed her pain to come through me. I began sobbing and had to pull over.
Men are much harder to read than women. I have very few women friends because of this. The women I do keep as friends, I’ve had for 20+ years. I can see their heart. I can see the good in others, sometimes so much it blinds me to what is not good. But my empathy revolves around restoring growth and harmony. A flora I’ve been told.
So I am unable to watch the news or anything violent, scary or wicked. I have strict rules in my home regarding the use of words. You are only to speak of things that are good. No name calling, no jokes about violence. I believe when we speak we create, be careful with what you want to create- you will get it.
I have created so much with my words it had left me emotionally paralyzed to make choices at times.
And, yes, overwhelmed at all the worlds problems, wanting to help so badly, but I know that I know far to little to help.
My solace is in positive affirmations, prayer, kindness wherever I can.
My opportunities lie in my adherence to a schedule of any kind. Finding a partner that does not lie.
I understand about the trees....I have to physically stop myself from gardening other peoples yards. Walking through a friend’s home that has sickly or poorly potted plants is very difficult. I almost always end up giving unsolicited advice based on gut feelings.
People open up to me so often that I consider it to be normal.
Recently I suffered a concussion. It was so strange because my empathetic abilities were completely silenced. And my speech was affected. I could no longer see and feel what others were thinking. Words came out so much slower. People said that I sounded drunk, lol. This lasted for about 2 weeks.
During this time, I felt no guilt or anxiety for others....I felt lighter....more importantly, while I could not visualize what I considered normal, I began to visualize drama in the form of a tornado, and I could see it coming. This cognitively unfolded about a week after the concussion, but I saw the drama tornados about 3 days after.
I had profound realizations of who the energy dragons are in my life....and I was able to set boundaries and shut down the conversations. Life changing.
All my life I have been accused of creating drama. I now understand that I see and feel more than other people. I can no longer see the tornados of drama, but I know they are out there.....
So, I guess, everyone has their own journey through life. It is not always fair, but you get to choose if you let it hold you back or learn from the experience.
Believing you can do something is 50% of the task, the other 50% is just showing up to do it.
My challenge is, what do I want to do?

March, 15 2018 at 8:59 am

Sometimes it feels like empaths (including myself) are eager to compliment themselves in the form of stating a burden....It sounds mean, but this could relay some insight, that I have also struggled with. Sometimes you're not burdened with the knowledge of others' feelings, we are not mind-readers, as much as we are projecting internal anger or past hurt. You may be picking up an energy of theirs but it does not mean you know what the energy is coming from or that it's about you. Sometimes, its just a projection all-together! Like when I am at work, I thought my female bosses didn't like me and that I was sensing discomfort, upon introspection, I realized that I am terrified of female authority figures and that the discomfort was all my own!!! (Of course there will be discomfort from the other if you are uncomfortable around them too!)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 29 2018 at 6:52 pm

It sounds like you are taking their behavior personally, and that their behavior is toxic. This is very common among empaths to get caught in this type of situation. It usually happens with highly narcissistic/untreated addicts. That is because those people are often so wrapped up in themselves and empaths can get hooked into this energy; it is so different and polar opposite of our own. For me, Empaths cannot comprehend or understand how people can be so self-absorbed or emotionally-unaware. Please don't beat yourself up for this. It is not your fault. There is also nothing you can do about it other than shielding, communicating your boundaries, or leaving the space. It is not normal for other people to be so self-absorbed/cutting/harsh with the people around them. It is toxic. In my situation, and I have gone through incredible learning on this for over 20 years, I communicate my boundaries and I do not stay in situations with unhealthy (untreated) individuals. That is what I had to do and now that I am not afraid anymore, I trust my intuition, and I am strong and courageous enough to know a toxic environment is not a good or healthy environment for me, I attract healthy people who are on a similar wavelength. I had to put in a lot of work first though and start saying no. Not in a nasty way, but in a kind, firm way. I needed to not only be compassionate with others but to be compassionate for myself. That was a huge turning point for me. Once I started to accept my empathy for the amazing gift it is - and it is a rare and special gift to me - I realized that I deserve to treat myself with the same love and respect and honor I'd given to so many people before me.

March, 2 2018 at 1:57 am

This is a really interesting article. I have a question. I believe I'm an anxious empath. I can pretty much turn it on and off as well. It doesn't really bother me for the most part. However, I can feel people's emotions just from a text message for example. Could just be regular words, no exclamation marks or punctuation to give off any emotions or no emojis. I can feel from just reading their words. Is that a usual thing for everyone else? Also, if someone tells me about someone else I could pick up that strangers emotion as well although I never met them. Is that also a usual thing? I'm just trying to understand everything more and I've surprised people by knowing things are wrong or even if their excited and even have the butterfly feeling. Anyone know anything more in depth about this? Anyone else can feel through a text and not have to be next to the person?

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