If you’re like me… Always feeling everything, noticing everything, caring about everything and everyone and loving hard then you are what is called an empath. You absorb people’s emotions and most of the time make accurate deductions from their behaviour. You know when they’re annoyed, sad, happy, something is bothering or someone’s about to break up with you and you’re hyperaware of shifts in your surroundings. It’s your intuition. Sad movies can be overwhelming, the TV and radio can be maddening, you cannot watch the news because the tragedies hurt you too much, you always want to fix the broken, you can never say no, you love hard and never stop, when people you love leave, they take a piece of you with them and you care much more about the things of the world than what’s good for you. You always try to understand everyone and they don’t understand why you try to understand them or the world and so they don’t understand you. You are affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others. Your life is unconsciously influenced by others’ desires, wishes, thoughts and moods. Being an empath is much more than being highly sensitive and it’s not just limited to emotions. Empaths often know the motivations and intentions of other people. You either are an empath or you aren’t. It is not a trait that can be learned. You are always open, so to speak, to process other people’s feelings and energy which means that you really feel and in many cases take on the emotions of others.
So many times this has had such a negative label attached to it. Feeling and caring and loving much is not something that this world likes to do. If you do you’re considered “weak”, “high-maintenance”, “clingy” and “over sensitive” and as someone who just cannot let go. But when did we decide this is weakness or a bad character trait to have and why?
Consider non-empaths. Yeah, it’s not that they’re heartless or don’t care. They just have trouble with acknowledging and being open to feeling and are not moved by certain events in life as much as the empath is nor do they have such great sensitivity to emotional situations or intuition. They consider living in the moment of their own lives as the main goal. Feeling too much and thinking too much bothers people because it’s hard and sometimes painful and it makes you vulnerable and being vulnerable is uncomforting and gives a sense of insecurity. Superficiality is way easier. Talking about holidays, movies, politics, economics or anything else instead of talking about what we think and feel is socially acceptible. But how is anything then truly worthy if not for feeling and thinking and loving hard? I cannot fathom a life without it and if I try to picture it I’d feel empty and with no sense of purpose. Yeah, sometimes it’s the greatest burden and curse in its overwhelmingness but that is ruled out by the times it also is the greatest blessing and beauty.
When it comes to the empath, there are hard things you have to learn to let go of over the years. I’ve had to learn to not take offense in anything nor care about what people say. I’ve learned to let go of painful situations and move on, even though a part of you will always remember the pain. I’ve had to learn to toughen up around difficult situations like when there’s a lot of horror to be seen. Being a med student and choosing this profession has unfortunately subjected me to it. We have seen many people suffer and witnessed traumatic things. I have learned to emotionally detach myself to that which I cannot control. I have also had to learn to use my voice and speak if I feel something is wrong and I am still learning and especially in setting boundaries because I find it hard to say no to anything or disagree or to not adopt what someone else thinks or wants. Most of all, I have learned to live in the moment. There are skills you’re going to have to learn if you are to live and thrive in this world. But all these things – nothing you can ever do will unteach you how to love too much and feel too much and do too much. I have tried hard to stop feeling in response to overwhelming pain and I have been greatly unsuccessful in my endeavours. I can control my feelings and even hide them incredibly well, yes, but that doesn’t make their intensity any less.
But what is so positive about being an empath then? My philosophy of life is that we were created to think, feel, love and create and do all things with passionate intent. Doing so brings rewards that cannot be seen or touched, it can only be felt and radiate into joy. Love is the greatest feeling to live in and that doesn’t mean you have to have romantic love. Love can come from so many things and be given to so many people or animals or states of being and it leaves you with a sense of something so satisfactory you can hardly explain. People may reject you, but love anyway. You may get hurt and lose those you love, but love anyway. Help the hurting even if it hurts you to see their hurt. What is this life if not to relieve the suffering of one another? Maybe someone hurt you and you end up singing “I am Titanium” and “Elastic Heart” in the shower but come on… Who are you kidding? You hurt. You hurt because it matters and it matters because you loved. Despite all the pain, would you have taken it back? I know I wouldn’t have. No pain is great but no love is a life lived in death.
The empath feels deeply so if you do, embrace it. When you laugh, laugh unrelentingly. When you feel peace and solitude, lose your mind in it for a while. When you cry, feel every ounce of that pain, let it be and let it go. When you love, give of your entire self. When you care, listen and feel another’s story, learn and give more of yourself. When you do what’s good for your soul and do things that make you happy, imagine it seeping through your pores and every fibre of your being. None of us were created to live ordinarily. We were created to live, breathe and feel extraordinarily.
Another benefit is your intuition. Maybe you can see it as the caveat to all the feeling. You usually know what people’s intentions are and which situations are good or bad. You somewhat know what’s coming before it does and know when something is going to have a terrible outcome and should be avoided. Trust this. Your gut feeling is actually way more accurate than you’d think. You can usually judge someone’s character quite well and know when to trust or not.
All in all, to those who think too much and feel too much, my main message is this; don’t see it as a weakness and don’t ever become bitter because of any pain you’ve felt. Keep loving anyway and give all you can give. Learn to set boundaries and know when to step back and walk away. Learn to not let your feelings control you and don’t forget what and who you are matters too, instead of just adopting the identity and needs of others. Your bleeding heart is the most beautiful thing about you.