Are you one of those people who often finds themselves comforting, listening to and advising friends and family? You know, the one who everyone seems to call when they need a shoulder to cry on? How do those interactions leave you feeling? For some, you may leave the interaction simply feeling grateful to have helped and grateful to not be in the same situation. For others, particularly, empaths, you may leave those interactions feeling completely drained.
Recently, I had lunch with my friend and mentor, Sunny Schlenger. Sunny, who is an author and flow coach, and I discussed how we are both empaths and the effect it has on us and on our mental and physical health. Most people are socially and emotionally aware enough to pick up on social cues and emotions of others, but we empaths tend to absorb the emotions of those around us. We are often called over-sensitive or hyper-sensitive or even cry babies. There is a benefit to being an empath. We are can truly empathize with you. When we say we are sorry for what you are going through, we really are. We love deeply – our families, friends, pets, nature. We make great listeners, and we don’t have trouble “walking a mile in your shoes”. We are moved to action and often find ourselves engaged in caregiving roles. The downside, however, is that we do deeply feel the emotions of those around us. We can spend an hour on the phone with you, listening and comforting you, and then cry ourselves to sleep because of your pain. We can guide you through even the most complicated minefields you find yourself in, only to feel as though we too have been through battle. The negativity can have devastating effects on empaths. We can become depressed ourselves or find ourselves battling health issues like high blood pressure.
Are you an empath? How has it impacted your life? Your health? I caution you to be sure that you are still taking care of yourself. Be there for your loved ones, but first and foremost, be there for yourself. Having health issues like an autoimmune disorder or a newly diagnosed thyroid disorder can be taxing. You need to be sure that you are protecting yourself from emotional burdens that you can’t or don’t need to be handling right now. Steer clear of “energy vampires” as Steve Aitchison writes in his blog (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), “5 Steps to Protecting Yourself as an Empath“. These are folks that you may happily have in your life, but need to avoid for now, as you get yourself back on track. Make sure that being in good health isn’t just physical health, but mental health as well. It’s all connected and will be an important part of your journey.
Being an empath is an incredible gift. Claim it, use it and love this part of who you are! Find a way, though, to care for yourself as you as well as you care for others.
By Blythe Clifford aka Thyroid Mom
The Highly Sensitive Person (great resource for parents of empaths also)