What’s it like being an Emotional Empath?

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

Anxiety spiral. Make it stop.

I feel like a bit of a fraud. There are people around me with real problems making a better fist of this life than me. Yes, ok so I got dealt a bad hand, but life could be a helluva lot worse and I feel like I’m full of first world problems and petty rubbish.

Right now I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. Struggling to cling onto the safety raft, my fingers keep slipping and I keep floating away before someone grabs me and pulls me back. Drowning, I feel like I’m drowning. I’ve felt like this for a couple of weeks, I did think that it was hormonal, but I don’t think it is, not entirely. I did think it was because I’d had a big drink one night, and maybe that didn’t help, because it does negatively affect my mood. I just think I’m overwhelmed and instead of methodically working my way through everything, my brain has just thrown me into the anxiety deep end with a dodgy floatation device.

Here I am, struggling to focus, struggling to breathe, my mind racing and racing and racing. There are real people with real problems and I can’t breathe and I feel so selfish. Anxiety makes you selfish though. It makes you want to scream out and stamp your feet, it overwhelms you and takes over everything you think and do. I’m in another anxiety spiral and I’m tumbling and tumbling through it all. Trapped in the rip tide and I can’t escape it.

The self care kicks in. Pills for sleep. Pills for pain. Caffeine to wake me up. Go for a walk. Walk, keep walking, breathe the fresh air, walk, breathe, walk, repeat until calmer. Do something nice, hug the small boy, laugh together, watch the stars in the sky. Remember how small you are in the universe and how big and important you are to some people. Walk, breathe, walk, love. Be loved. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until calm.

Repeat until calm. Repeat until calm.


Anxiety spiral


If you’ve read my blog for any period of time you’ll know that I “suffer from” depression and I have anxiety disorder. Usually this is kept in check by living as stress-free as can be and living a fairly healthy and positive lifestyle. Sometimes, just sometimes I slip; shizzle happens, life takes a detour and I end up camping in anxiety town for a little while.

Anxiety GirlWell hello there anxiety town! It’s been a while, but I’m back. It’s pretty cold and grim here too. I don’t really know what’s caused it. A few personal knocks and positive lifestyle slips I reckon. Either way it’s not cool and I need to pull myself together before I end up signing a lease for a flat in crazy town. I’ve lived there before, again I repeat, it’s not cool.

I went out for dinner with friends the other night, we’d necked a decent amount of red wine between us. (Anxiety red flag number one, drinkies. Keep ’em coming, cheers!) I got home and flopped on the sofa, my foot was itchy so I started scratching it. I have psoriasis on my feet but they’d been pretty good lately, (watch out for anxiety flag number two) within minutes I’d basically scratched all the skin off the sole of my foot and it was a bloody mess, but it felt good so I carried on scratching until my hand was covered in blood and I had to bandage my foot to stop it bleeding everywhere.

I went to bed and slept like the dead. It was probably the red wine. With anxiety I either sleep all the time or not at all, and I twitch like a 1980s body-popper. It’s so annoying, but at least I slept. I woke up, did some work and went off to playgroup.

Notice anything missing there? Breakfast maybe? Yup, I’m back on the anxiety diet. It’s super-cool and helps me drop pounds! Though I won’t be writing a best selling diet book anytime soon. My Anxiety Diet™ consists of not eating at all, or if pushed I’ll have a bowl of Rice Krispies. I’ll exist on diet coke, but don’t worry, because my anxiety really ramps itself up so I’ll be adding fingernails to my diet. All the major anxiety food groups covered there – cereals fortified with vitamins and iron, a caffeine based drink and fingernails. Diet sorted.

It’s annoying to be back here again, but I guess the anxiety that started last year wasn’t a passing phase after all. I guess it’s here to stay and I just have to learn how to manage it on my terms. The annoying thing is I quite like some aspects of my anxiety symptoms. I love the diet which works wonders and saves a fortune. Rationally I know it’s terrible for me, but I enjoy the self control and the hunger pains. Even if it’s just for a couple of weeks. I know it’s not healthy. I know a lot of my anxiety behaviour isn’t healthy.

So my cheer up and stop stressing plan is as follows…

  • Throw yourself into family life, extra cuddles and park visits for the boy.
  • Throw yourself into work. Get cracking and clear that backlog.
  • Throw yourself into a swimming pool. Carry on with healthy exercise.
  • Be with people who love and appreciate me.
  • Love and appreciate me.
  • And lastly…find and deal with or eliminate the causes of my anxiety.

Easier said than done.