Giving too much? Life as an empath.

Even though I am often praised for my compassionate nature—It’s taken a lifetime to believe  my empathy is a gift. Time and again I have been taken surprise by someone’s dishonest actions or their ability to use my compassion for their selfish agendas. Many times I am left wondering where I went wrong, why the person to pulled away, or took advantage of my loving nature.

Being an empath definitely exposes you to more opportunities to get hurt. Since I was small, I’ve been an empath. I can always find the good in people. I can also see and feel the pain of others tears and traumatic pasts. Whether someone was abandoned, ignored or abused, I can feel the pain of their suffering. When they describe their extreme loneliness or their sadness of being left by a partner—I feel that too. It’s almost as if I am able to step into their shoes and be teleported to a similar time in my life. During these personal accounts of heartbreak and similar memories of pain, I am able to tap into these painful feelings and help others move through their desperation and sadness. Being an empath means being a healer. 

I’m a healer. People trust me to share their deepest fears, joys and hopes. They also divulge their heartaches and problems. I might offer my shoulder to cry on, or maybe some comforting, empowering words. However, regardless of my altruistic intentions, many others have taken advantage of my kindness. Even though my kindness is sincere, many of those seeking comfort often suck me dry—dismissing concerns or care for my problems or struggles. 

The challenging part of recognizing someone shitty, self-centered behavior is recognizing their obliviousness to their selfishness. Some people aren’t even aware of their arrogance, stubbornness and dismissiveness. Although, it’s easy to blame the other party for all of the wrongdoings, but I must also be aware of the part I played in the story too. 

Most empaths have a hard time setting boundaries. We put others wellbeing and feelings over our own. I cannot tell you how many times I was there for a friend during some crisis only to be dismissed when I needed support. Healthy friendship and relationship efforts should be reciprocated. If they aren’t, new strategies and decisions need to be made whether or not this person is worthy enough to be in your life. What do they offer you? Are they there for you? Or do you find yourself giving too much while receiving too little?

Another clear sign of diminished reciprocation is the discard of friendship when things are going well for the other person. This is when you truly discover the intentions of the other person. If they suddenly drop off the planet—more than likely they didn’t value your friendship. It was about them, and once they received the comfort they needed from you—the relationship comes to a close. Relationships must be a give and take dynamic. It might be hard to face the harsh reality that the friendship or relationship you thought was unique and special was just a timeframe to help another’s pain.  Especially, if you enjoyed the company of the other person. 

Another perspective to take into consideration is your part in why you crave emotional attachment to other’s struggles. Is there a part of you that craves to be the hero? The person who shows up? The person who is the other’s rock? If yes, have you thought about why you need these things? Once I started reflecting on these qualities about myself—my perspective started to change towards the energy and light I give to other people. 

There is nothing half-ass about me. Well, maybe being on time…but other than that—I tend to push things to the extreme. I push my body, I push my mind and I push myself—too hard. If you are an empath—I can most guarantee you are hard on yourself or struggle with low self-worth. I definitely expect myself to always take the higher ground in every situation. That also means I’m not allowed to get angry and if I do, and if the other person gets defensive—I back down. It’s not that winning in a situation is the goal. Often times, I ignore my feelings in order to placate theirs. 

Even though some Buddhists might encourage an ability to let things go—I have a tendency to run from my pain. I don’t let it go. I avoid it. I don’t approach people about my pain because there is a part of me that thinks I should be above it. I minimize everything, and if I don’t minimize– I dismiss my feelings altogether—especially if emotional manipulation is involved. Because of my trauma, my feelings never seemed important enough for anyone else’s concern. Therefore, I dont think my needs are important. 

Whether abuse or abandonment is involved, many empaths try to help others in order to fulfill themselves. Often times, they pick partners that are unavailable or struggle with addiction. Why do we attract these people? There are probably two possible reasons. One, you are trying to heal old trauma by trying to fix others with similar issues from your childhood. Two, you grew up with an addict or a person who needed lots of care or attention and therefore, that is a common lifestyle in which you are comfortable living—even if it’s painful and exhausting.

Whatever the reason, your obsession with caring for other people can be painful and futile. We can try all we want to fix our partners, but the only focus you should be concerned with is between you and your relationship patterns. However, if you find yourself putting more energy into the relationship, you need to ask yourself why you feel it is important to give your light to someone else who cannot do the same for you.

Often empaths live in a world of vibrancy and heartache. Empaths relieve and distract from their pain by helping others. However, who is going to care for them when they need comfort? In order to live a fulfilling life full of meaningful and valuable relationships—they need to focus on their own self-care first. This will prove to be very difficult for the empath. More than likely, they’ve never put themselves first. 

If you are an empath and want to experience more joy and balance in your life, you must ask yourself if you feel uplifted or drained from a relationship. The most balanced empaths I know excel in self-care. They are aware of their codependent patterns and can recognize when relationships are not balanced. They have an easier time letting go of things that no longer serve their personal growth.

So the next time you find yourself on the phone with a crying friend at 2 a.m.—ask yourself if they would do them same for you. If they wouldn’t, time to welcome the Sandman and recharge your energy. After all, if you feel sucked dry, how can you be useful to those who truly need and appreciate you? 

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