What’s it like being an Emotional Empath?

Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by HodgePodgeDays

There are people in this world who will take advantage of your kindness and care. As an emotional empath there are certain kinds of people who pick up on that and take advantage of my sensitive, caring and giving nature.

I identify as an Emotional Empath, if you’ve not heard that term before, Karla Mclaren defines it here –

An ‘emotional empath’ is “someone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuance, subtexts, undercurrents, intentions, thoughts, social pace, interactions, relationship behaviours, body language, and gestural language to a greater degree than is deemed normal.”

Being an emotional empath means I am attuned to other people’s feelings and sensitivities on a level above and beyond the average. All my life people have said things like I’m a good listener, or I give great advice. People find it easy to open up to me and tell me their deepest darkest secrets. It can feel like a real honour to be the one person someone feels able to confide in. 

The downside is that sometimes people can overburden me with their problems. Sometimes people can be a real drain on my emotional energy and it’s exhausting. It’s easy to burn out emotionally when someone leans on me too hard. I just have to take a step back, I can’t be the emotional crutch for the world.

Emotional empaths are highly attuned to the emotions of the people around them. Often instinctively knowing that there is more to a story than meets the eye.  We are emotionally drained by crowds, noise, smells and being talked at or bombarded with text messages, and we need time alone to recover ourselves. 

I am very open with my feelings, I talk about them to everyone, I cry in public. I am highly sensitive, probably too sensitive and I pick up on so much around me. It can be exhausting.

I have learned to manage it to a degree. When I recognised that I was an emotional empath a few years ago, I read around it, spoke to a few people and I began to understand myself a bit better. I understood why I act and react the way I do and why I attract emotional vampires (people who instinctively see the empath in me, and take advantage of that) and how I can take steps to stop that happening.

I see my heightened empathy as a gift and a curse. I can’t imagine being any different. It’s a nice thing to be able to be there for people when they need someone to care and listen. But it can be overwhelming to be constantly aware of everyone else’s emotions swirling around me.

I used to think I was too sensitive for my own good, but in so many ways it’s good to be sensitive. Learning to listen to the intuitive voice inside me makes me a better person. It can be exhausting, but being an emotional empath is a powerful gift, and one I wouldn’t change.

emotional empath

4 thoughts on “What’s it like being an Emotional Empath?

  1. Great article! I love seeing this being talked about; connection, validation and visibility for highly sensitive/hyperempathic people and emotional empaths is so important.

    One of my biggest problems has been when I can tell a specific person has bad intent but others can’t and accuse me of imagining things, and then it turns out I was right but I never get an apology.

    I think undersensitive people – as I think of them, I can’t see my level of sensitivity as dysfuntional no matter how hard I try – struggle to really take in that this kind of perception is possible, even when the evidence points to it being so.

    I guess we all have states of being that we find hard to picture, but there are a lot of highly sensitive people out there, it’s not exactly an obscure phenomenon, and cynicism about it does sometimes have negative consequences for us, so it does make me a bit annoyed sometimes.

  2. This randomly showed up on my Twitter and I wanted to say THIS IS ME! I never realised it had a specific label before though! All my life I have had what a call “the problem friends” who confide in me, and often only me when times are bad, I do everything I can to support them, and then when they’ve moved on from the problem, I often find they move on from me too, and it makes me so sad. I guess they associate me with their negative feelings or I know too much or something. I’ve written about being an emotional crutch before, but I’ve never heard this term. I definitely have a heightened sense of emotion too. I’m trying to be firmer with people as I can’t keep on taking on everyone else’s problems. But then I hate the idea of someone being upset or troubled and not being there for them. Great post. x

    1. Thank you 🙂 I think it becomes easier to manage when you recognise that you’re an empath and you can take steps to look after yourself better. Self care is always important, but more so for an empath. x

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