Many days I say that I don’t like people. People don’t care, people are self centered, people are rude, yet I find myself being overly empathic. What is empathy? It is basically the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is when you see someone crying and you yourself begin to cry. You are not crying for yourself, you are crying for that person. As much as I like to say people drive me crazy, I can’t help but feel empathy when they are in pain, hurt, sad, depressed and even happy.

Empathy has driven my career choices. I have done social work with people who are mentally ill, people who have disabilities, and people who have dual diagnosis of addiction and mental illness. I worked as a disability analyst for Social Security Disability. This job was difficult, because when you work on a case where a woman has breast cancer, but you have to deny her because she “should” be better within the 12 month time frame, it’s heartbreaking. Writing that denial letter was probably one of the hardest things I had to do in this job. This job drained me, just as the job where I worked with people with mental illness and people with disabilities drove me to depression and suicidal thoughts.

I feel as if these jobs drained me because I am overly empathetic or an empath as people call it and I want to help everyone. I want to see them do well. I don’t want to see them suffer. Even though I myself suffered during these positions, due to my hyper stimulation of these feelings.

“Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.”  Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life

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When I am in a calm, quiet, situation this is my ideal place. I also feel overtly negative when antagonistic situations are happening. I have become suicidal due to a job I recently had, because of the negative “vibes” in the work place. I loved working with my consumers, I hated the way management thought of our consumers and treated their employees. They didn’t want to help our consumers with disabilities, consumers with very low income, they only saw the bottom line. As a non profit agency this was very difficult for me. I had to go out on disability. I believe that my overly sensitive self couldn’t handle how others were being treated. I couldn’t watch it anymore. It caused anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations.

I have always been the person who people come to when they are having difficult times. I have always been an active listener. I feel the mood. I can tell immediately when someone is down, sad or hurt. I always say my heart hurts for them and I really mean it. I enjoy being the person who people trust enough to share their hurt and pain, happiness and secrets. It can however become very stressful and overwhelming to me, because I don’t want my friends to hurt and I feel their hurt. I cry for them at night.

I try to not care so much, I always say, “I just don’t care anymore.” but I am the one who cries when a squirrel is dead on the road. I brake for anything when driving, my son laughs at me, but it is true. I don’t want to see humans or animals hurt in anyway. And no, I do not eat meat. I am the one who feels and see’s from the other perspective. It is not always good. People tell me not to be so sensitive, as if I can stop being sensitive. It isn’t possible. It’s the same when people tell me to stop being so anxious, just do what makes you anxious and you’ll get over it. It just doesn’t work that way. This is how I am wired.

I have intuition that seems to be spot on 99% of the time. It is a little scary. I have been right with nearly every one of my kids boyfriends or girlfriends. My kids can’t lie to me. I can feel the tension when my husband has had a bad day. I know when I need to call someone or text someone because they may be feeling down.

I don’t watch the news. I recently deleted and unfollowed all the news channels on Facebook. It makes me overly sad. It hurts me to know that there is nothing I can do to help our communities become safer, happier communities.  If I don’t watch it, I don’t feel it, right? No not true. I still feel the hurt and pain of those in our communities who are hungry, who have lost a loved one to the violence in our streets. But not watching the news does decrease the anxiety that comes with those feelings.

I see with others eyes. If this is difficult to understand for some of you, then you aren’t an empath. You don’t feel from the other perspective. I sometimes think if people did feel from others perspective, then there may not be so much violence and hate in our world.

Being overly empathetic means I need space to rejuvenate myself. I need quiet to calm my mind. I need to be alone to revitalize myself. It’s hard for people to understand. My mind becomes tired. It is always feeling, always thinking and it needs a break. I become fatigued.

Being overly empathetic can also be great personal attribute. I feel intensely. I genuinely care. I love to laugh and feel good. Calm is wonderful.

Please remember if I seem distant, it’s because I need to rejuvenate. I need to clear my mind and find balance in my life.

 

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One thought on “Empathy

  1. I just read this (of course, I read these out of order – typical musician!) I believe that all of us have some of this ability, and those that are cursed / blessed with it more, go into situations a bit more susceptible to emotional injury.

    Having worked at the same place that Gay did and was speaking of, I understand just what she’s talking about. I believe that the majority of the employee’s feel the same way, but the situation “is what it is.” But I must admit, that even though this place seemed hopeless at times, there were good people trying to overcome the obstacles.

    Final analysis of overly empathetic people: The emotional highs hopefully can over shadow the incredibly unpredictable lows.

    Like

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