My mother is a nurse (RN). I’ve witnessed her work tirelessly for years to help not only her patients, but her family, friends, community. Just about anyone who asked for her expertise. She never said “no” to anyone, even when it meant sacrificing her own personal time. I viewed her unselfish deeds as noble, and adapted the same beliefs. Watching her give so generously instilled in me that we always put others first. Years of living my life this way, however, developed into an exhausting existence of people pleasing behaviors, toxic relationships with energy vampires, and a complete lack of awareness of who Mary truly was as a person. I was too busy being who everyone else wanted me to be.
When the term empath was first introduced to me, a huge light bulb went off with the realization of what was behind my, and my mom’s, “unselfish” behaviors. The word empath comes from empathy, which is the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of your own perspective. Say your friend just lost their dog of 15 years. Empathy is what allows you to understand the level of pain she’s going through, even if you’ve never lost a beloved pet. But as an empath, you take things a step further. You actually sense and feel emotions as if they’re part of your own experience. In other words, someone else’s pain and happiness become your pain and happiness. And if you aren’t aware that this is happening, your energy could be easily drained into experiencing someone else’s emotions.
Think you could be an empath? Use these tips and tricks to help protect your energy:
Have a Little “Me” Time
This is really hard for the empath. The overwhelming need to put others first invokes feelings of guilt and selfishness. But while you’re busy taking care of everyone else, don’t forget to save some of that love for yourself. You deserve it, too.
Recognize What Emotions Belong To You And What Belong To Someone Else
When I was a massage therapist, my clients would often walk out of an appointment feeling great while I would literally take home the physical symptoms they had just been relieved of. That only had to happen a handful of times before I recognized what was happening; the overwhelming need to help my clients put my own health in the back seat. If you suddenly have an emotion or physical symptom that comes out of nowhere, its likely that you’re sensing someone close to you. Take an inventory of what you experienced that day to see if it makes sense that these emotions actually belong to you, or if they could be coming from someone else.
Don’t Accept Responsibility For Someone Else’s Emotions
Now that we can differentiate what emotions truly belong to us vs. someone else, we can stop taking responsibility for the feelings of others. Taking on someone else’s emotions in the name of helping them can enable that person to repeat a self destructive pattern that would not otherwise continue if they had to feel the uncomfortable, but necessary, emotions that life lessons often bring.
Avoid Energy Vampires
Energy vampires are others who sense your generosity and take more than their fair share of your energy. If you suspect that someone close to you is abusing your kindness then its time to create some healthy boundaries. Energy vampires don’t appreciate limitations, but this is essential to your emotional, and sometimes physical, health. They may try and make you feel guilty, or even remove themselves from your life. That is their way of continuing the energy drain.
Center/Ground Yourself To Reset
Grounding allows you to give back to yourself. It helps reset your emotions in order to raise awareness to see the bigger picture. It can also help you protect your energy so that you aren’t as susceptible to needless exhaustion.
The good news is, you don’t have to stop giving. Healthy boundaries and constant awareness are the Empaths best friends. These will allow you to continue to love deeply without the fear of losing yourself or draining your energy into an emotional black hole.