Can Empathy be Overwhelming

By Christel Broederlow

“My empathy is so overwhelming.” This has to be one of the most frequently expressed sentences I hear from empaths. It is generally followed by, “How can I control my empathy?”

Yes, it most certainly feels overwhelming! If one is not aware of how to control it and/or has little understanding of what empathy is all about, he or she will struggle to maintain emotional balance in life. The less known, the more overwhelming the life of an empath “feels” because he/she cannot determine the origin of many of the emotions, illnesses or symptoms that he/she experiences.

It can affect relationships with a partner, family, friend or potential friends. The empath can get overloaded with other people’s emotions and even become seriously drained of his or her own personal energy. Learning to become aware of his or her “own” feelings as just that, belonging to and originating from one’s self only will help tremendously. Otherwise, an empath can unknowingly take on board another’s feelings/emotions.

This is most noticeable in situations where an empath can take on the “anger” or “stress” of others. Suddenly, without reason, he or she may become angry, have outbursts, or find him or herself retaliating. Essentially, the empath is sending the anger or stress back to its owner, although he or she will assume the anger or stress is his/her own. If an empath finds him or herself in this situation, he or she can expect to have taken on someone else’s feeling.

This situation often leaves one feeling bewildered, if not confused as to how it started. It is no fun taking on board another’s feelings. A large part of learning about empathy is becoming aware what originates from one’s self. When the empath learns about him or herself, he or she will learn that much more about others.

Although the following varies from empath to empath, a few examples of what empaths may experience are Chronic Fatigue, lack of energy, feeling exhausted in the company of certain people, experiencing extreme anxiety in crowds, in shopping malls and in public places, and/or feeling drained when arriving at the workplace. Again, these experiences are dependent upon how well the empath knows him or herself and how well the empath understands empathy.

Many a time an empath will feel (through empathy) and/or hear (through telepathy) the thoughts of another that are directed at the empath. These are words or feelings from another that aren’t said out aloud. Rather, they have a “behind one’s back” kind of feeling and can be very difficult to deal with. The empath’s thoughts will be along the lines of, “Why don’t you just say it out aloud, and get it over and done with?” Unfortunately, those thoughts and feelings ARE the other person’s, not the empath’s. Until (if ever) they express them openly, it is the empath’s job to literally ignore them. As difficult as it may be, there is a privacy matter that comes into place here regardless if we like it or not or understand it or not.

Copyright © 1998 Christel Broederlow

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