Living the Life of an Empath
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Empaths are those that not only notice, but also deeply understand and feel the emotions of other people. Empaths feel joy when others feel joy. They feel pain when others feel pain. Empaths are highly observant to their surrounding environment and the people in them. This might seem like a blessing to some while a curse to others. I like to think that, yes, there are some sticky things that come with being an empath, but just like the rest of life, we trek through it and can look back at how we’ve overcome the obstacles with pride. I am going to touch upon the things that aren’t so great first, and then we will come back around to the lighter side of things. Stay with me.
Let’s start with the bad. Being an empath means you have the susceptibility to become or feel overwhelmed quite easily. This could be for a number of reasons, but I have grouped them into two categories – overwhelming stimuli and overwhelming emotions. It is very common for an empath to start feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or all of the above when in the throes of a crowd or even just a noisy or messy setting. Due to the increased capacity that an empath has in observing and absorbing their environment, the increased stimuli causes processing overload leading to feeling overwhelmed. The other reason an empath can feel overwhelmed is due to emotions, which probably sounds exactly as it reads. The empath feels so greatly and so deeply that, at a certain point, it just becomes too much. The element that might not be so obvious here is that the empath might also start to feel overwhelmed when others are feeling extreme sorrow, pain, elation or other emotions. Now, I want to clarify something. Yes, feeling overwhelmed isn’t so great, especially if it’s a frequent occurrence. But, it is what we do with those feelings and how we react to them that can really change our lives. I’ll touch more upon this later.
Now, for the ugly. You might have heard it before. An empath is the perfect supply source for a narcissist. The empath has compassion for the somewhat troubled, but still capable of love (or so the empath thought) narcissist and the narcissist is glad to have the relationship revolve around themself. The empath gives, the narcissist takes. The narcissist preys on the tender-heartedness of the empath and maintains the facade that they are caring and kind souls as well. Only once the narcissist has the empath within their chains of manipulation, will the empath start to realize what has happened. The narcissist will do anything to remain in control. The empath goes back and forth from trying to understand why the narcissist is the way they are and trying to help/heal them to feeling used and victimized and powerless. This parasitic relationship keeps going until the narcissist has used up all of the supply and moves onto a new host or until the empath prematurely breaks the chains holding them hostage.
Okay, are we ready for a lighter note? After reading the last two paragraphs, you might be asking yourself, “So, is there anything good about being an empath?” Resoundingly, yes! Empaths (and remember, you can be a partial empath!) are kind, caring, compassionate, understanding people. These are the people that keep the world going. You inspire younger generations to place an importance on these things. You model empathy at home, in the workplace, on the street, at the grocery store. Because of your kindness, you are the reason for someone else’s good day. That is no small feat. Empaths also have good intuition. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “If I have such good intuition, shouldn’t I have known about the narc?” Maybe you should have and maybe not. Remember, they are masters of their craft – lying, manipulating, putting on a facade, pretending to be someone else – they have worked on this their entire lives. You do have good intuition. You can tell when your friend or family member is dealing with something dark when they haven’t told a soul about it. You can tell when a situation at work is about to get hairy and step in to help alleviate some awkwardness. But, calling out a seemingly charming and kind person who is actually a master manipulator and has honed their craft for years? Maybe not. And that’s okay. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not seeing what they really were. When you know better, you do better. Now, you know better and you will do better. You know the warning signs and red flags now. You’ll do better now. Believe that. Another benefit of being an empath is the ability to feel love and joy and happiness very deeply. What’s better than loving and being loved? Feeling it so deeply that it emanates from you every single second of every single day. Feeling these positive emotions so deeply means that the empath also feels not so positive emotions very deeply as well. Remember when I said I’d touch upon how we react to those feelings later? Well, this is what I mean. It is a blessing to be able to feel love and joy and elation so very deeply, even if it means you feel pain and sorrow to the same degree. I’ll tell you why. Because you know the depth of these emotions, you can see them coming from a mile away. When people around you are starting to feel pain or sorrow, you – being the hyper-observant and helpful and kind being that you are – know how to bring them back to the precipice of contentedness. You can do this with others and, undoubtedly, you are learning (if not already succeeding) to do this for yourself as well. And that’s really powerful stuff.
The trick here is to embrace the good and the “bad” all together, because you know that the “bad” isn’t really all that bad. It’s all about how you react and the choices you make. And the ugly? You’re over them anyway. 😉
You can rise from the darkness and emerge radiant.