Hello fellow empaths! Please allow me to share some things that I have learned 💖✨🌱
Sometimes we get flooded with negativity. One of the functions of an empath is to be a safe, healing space for others to work through the things that are too big to contemplate on their own. People seek us out and bare their souls, and that can be a beautiful, life affirming experience… But it can also be a relentless rain of sorrows. So here are the things that I’ve learned about managing empathy:
1) Feed your spirit with positive empathy. I think we often end up forgetting how to do this as we grow up. Soak up the positive energy when your loved ones are happy; sharing doesn’t take joy away from them, it grows it. Watch YouTube videos of people who are deeply in touch with their emotions doing things they love. Read fluffy, tooth rotting fanfiction, or some hurt/comfort if you’re in a space where you need the ramp up.
Empaths, we need soft, comforting moments of joyful empathy like we need food. You cannot feed your spirit only tragedy and then expect your life to be a comedy.
2) boundaries. (I’m sure you’ve heard this one before.) Everyone has needs, and that includes you. Other people’s needs don’t make yours disappear. We fall into the habit of disregarding our own needs because there will ALWAYS be some greater need nearby, until you reach rock bottom. You do not have to bottom out. You will do more net good if you don’t. Sometimes you will have to say no, even when you really, really want to be there.
The energy that we feed into our empathy is not endless. When we get into the habit of automatically overriding our own needs, our brains will try to optimize that process (that’s its job, after all,) and eventually it will just stop sending that info up to the conscious level. The big problem here is that it means that all your energy management is now done subconsciously, which is incredibly inefficient and leads to burnout-induced-cruelty.
Please take time regularly to listen only to yourself. Deliberately show your brain that energy management needs conscious input.
3) Emotional boundaries - ok, yeah, just another kind of boundaries, but this is really important. How much of your energy are you devoting to worrying in unproductive ways? Boundaries are not just knowing when you can’t physically be there for someone. They are also knowing when to step back from someone’s emotions.
Sometimes people need us to grieve with them. In those moments we can just sink fully into the experience. We can sit and cry together. People need to process their emotions by feeling them fully, and when their emotions are bigger than their current capacity, it helps to have an empath to help carry the load as they let it out. When you fill this role, pay attention to how you leave the interaction.
I highly recommend some kind of cord-cutting practice. This does not cut all of your connection to the other person, but only the energetic umbilical cord. Even if you don’t believe in subtle energy, visualizing cord cutting will help you to mentally step away from the situation; think of it like programming your brain to recognize the transitions better. The more you practice this the more efficient it will be.
Sometimes people will need you to be able to cut the energy cord in the middle of an interaction. There are situations where people need you to harmonize with their distress so that you fully understand it, and then step back from it and handle reality for them. (This is an especially useful skill if you’re in the medical field.) What this means for us is that we need to understand ourselves both in and out of empath mode. We need to learn how to move between them in order to provide the best help to others.
Pay attention especially to the way that you pour energy into your empathy unproductively. Are you draining yourself feeling bad about someone else’s circumstances? When you find yourself in this loop, please stop and ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to improve the situation. If you’ve done all you can for the time being, give yourself a new task: feed yourself joy so that when you CAN help, you are able to. Refill your energy and your empathy meter. (This goes back to #1.)
❤️The most important thing that I have learned in managing my empathy is that it must be done deliberately. I hope someone out there finds this helpful on their journey the way it has been for me. ❤️