How to Love an Empath.

Via Rebecca Lammersen
on Jan 22, 2014
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Heart in Hand.

I’ve battled my bleeding heart for my entire life.

“Mommy what’s wrong?” My back was turned. “How does she know I’m upset?” I thought, even though I knew the answer.  She sensed my sadness, she always does.

I don’t lie to my children. When I’m sad, happy, angry or frustrated I show it. I tell them the truth because I want them to always feel secure to express themselves without fear of being told their emotions are invalid, irrational or insignificant.

So I replied, “Mommy’s feelings are hurt today honey. My heart is sad.”

“I know how that is Mommy, my feelings are hurt all of the time.”

She paused, wiping her warm little hands up and down my back, “Mommy, it’s so hard being a nice person.”  

I never thought of it this way, but it’s true. Being nice, loving and willing to open my heart to the people around me, makes me susceptible to pain.

At the tender age of five, my daughter has already learned this lesson. She and I are cut from the same cloth. We are highly sensitive, emotionally expressive, moody, compassionate, nurturing beings.

We feel more than we think.

This is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to understand people and see things others don’t. However, when we remove the shield we become vulnerable and in this vulnerability we can be hurt.

I’ve battled my bleeding heart for my entire life. I don’t want to anymore. I love that I can touch my emotions, delve into them, experience them and move forward. I can sense other people’s emotions too, as if they were my own. Slowly, I am learning how to keep myself protected while I remain exposed and empathetic, without being untrusting and guarded.

I’ve tried to fit the mold for long enough, to not let other people affect me. I try to analyze the way I feel with logic and pragmatism; I fail every time. I’ve been told over and over again that my feelings aren’t real and they don’t exist. I’ve felt misunderstood and invisible for far too long. I know they exist. They are real.

Every day, I interact with others and I feel them without words, so does my daughter, she did it tonight and she was right, I was sad. Mothering my daughter has allowed me to love her in the way I’ve always needed and wanted to be loved.

How do I love her (an empath)?

(This applies to children, friends, parents and romantic partnerships).

It’s simple; I honor how she feels and I reassure her that her feelings are important. As an empath, she needs extra time to process her emotions, whether she asks for alone time or she wants to talk it out. I nurture her in the way she is asking to be loved, whether it is through tears, screams or silence.

She needs extra affection, it helps her feel safe. Most of all, I celebrate her sensitivity because it is a gift. She is on this Earth to love with all her might.

If you love an empath, feel blessed because you hit the karmic jackpot. Who better to love and support than someone who lives to love you back, completely.

This poem is dedicated to my daughter and to those of us who feel it all.

To Love An Empath

By Rebecca Lammersen

 

 I’m all feelings, that’s it.

Lit with emotions that just won’t quit.  

I wish,

I wish I could turn them off with a switch,  

But that’s not an option,

Till I’m buried in a ditch.

 

There’s always a trade to be made,

Every decision keeps me saved.

Sometimes it causes strife,

Cause I refuse to cut the emotions outta my life.

 

My dream would be,

To express all and be received,

Yet no one wants to love the girl who seems dis-eased.

You’re not deceived,

So stop believing the lies you feed.

You must understand,

I’ve been freed.

 

Sometimes I question how to get by,

But I’ll never give up,

I’ll continue to try.

Every time I dive into my head,

I can’t seem to make it heard or said.

See, the feelings keep dripping from my heart,

Cause it’s the only way I know to live my art.

 

Forced to hide inside my mind.

It’s torture in here,

The joy, the sadness just won’t disappear.

 

You ask me to shut it down,

Cause then I can’t make a sound,

So I don’t disturb you and your ground.

But I can’t, I won’t.

 

Either love me fully or let me go.

I don’t have time to be a ghost.

I took off the sheet when I realized,

It’s the only way to stay alive.

 

Next time I cry,

Next time I scream

Hold me close,

Please don’t leave.

Just keep me open,

So I can bleed.

This is how to love the life I lead.

Relephant reads:

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Want Me Now. {Poem}

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: elephant journal archives


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About Rebecca Lammersen

Rebecca Lammersen is the founder of Yogalution, an intimate, boutique style yoga studio in Scottsdale, AZ. I love being alive. I love being a mother. I love teaching yoga. I love to write. I love to know. I love to not know. I love to learn. I love to listen. I love to read. I love to swim. I love to travel. I love to dance. I love to help. I love to serve. That pretty much sums me up. For daily inspirations, check out Rebecca's website. Visit her yoga studio website and peruse her articles at The Huffington Post. You can also find her on Facebook. Subscribe to Rebecca's feed and never miss a post!

Comments

85 Responses to “How to Love an Empath.”

  1. Lynn says:

    I am empathetic and have been diagnosed with BPD. I have been working with a therapist who teaches Dialectic Behavior Therapy for over 11 years. I am no longer diagnosed BPD, but am still empathetic. It does not change the fact that I am empathetic, just how I deal with my emotions and those of others.

  2. John says:

    I'm an "empath" and I don't CHOOSE to care about others, it happens against my will.

  3. Joe E says:

    "Respectfully, I believe you're wrong. It's one thing to care, but it's a completely different thing to feel another person's emotions as deeply as an empath does."

    Jordan: Science disagrees with you. As long as you are willing to put yourself in someone else's shoes, you can indeed feel another person's emotions as deeply as they do. There is no special quality, other than choosing to do so. Read the 2013 article called "Empathy for the social suffering of friends and strangers recruits distinct patterns of brain activation." It states how, in an experiment, people showed more empathy toward friends and less toward strangers, but when they were told to imagine a stranger was someone they cared about, they became as empathic toward the stranger as the friend. They measured empathy using fMRIs. Studies with fMRIs are new, but I bet we will start seeing more of the same when it comes to empathy. Moreover, as an empath, wouldn't you REJOICE in the fact that ANYONE could be as empathic as you? The world needs more people being sensitive and intuitive and compassionate and empathic. Empathy, according to science, is teachable. What an amazing gift you can bring to others—showing them the way that you have been on your whole life.

  4. Katie says:

    Do you find that movies affect how you are feeling?

  5. LilithP says:

    Hi my name is Patricia.
    As an empath I relate to this in a very deep level. Its lonley because most people don't seem to understand.
    Thank you so much. This will stay in my heart for the rest of my life. Bless you and your daughter.
    Hugs from Portugal*

  6. cookie says:

    Thank you for this article. I’ve always felt stupid and idiotic and weak that I couldn’t control my emotions. It has never dawned on me that others are also this way and there’s nothing wrong with us.

    I’ve learned to shut off, and shut it down. Only feeling anything when id drink heavily. I’ve had to re-learn how to feel my emotions in my first year of sobriety I am trying to be accepting and loving towards myself.

    Hearing that others also have felt this makes me feel not so alone.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

  7. Oh, and we have SOO much control over depression and how it consumes us. We have it and we deal with it the best way that we can. Sometimes you can't even get out of bed. It is a chemical imbalance. No one would ever choose to be unhappy. Don't be so quick to judge. This is not a lifestyle choice. Try learning about it before you cast judgments.

  8. Kristine says:

    I love this article, really sums us up, I think my 13 year old son may be one. I can at least help him, being one myself.

  9. srose19 says:

    Thank you so much for this! This is exactly how I feel as an Empath. Reading your post really made me feel so less alone! I really thank you for sharing the way Emapths truly feel, especially in today's society when emotions and feelings are a no-no and if we have them we are told to figure out why we feel them and fix it. I plan to mother the same exact way, where my children will always feel comfortable to share how they feel and anything going on in their lives and not be afraid to be the way they are. Thank you so much!

  10. Wonderful article. I'm empathic as well and I struggle day to day. I never truly considered what it must be like for others living with an empath! We must seem up and down all the time for no apparent reason. How blessed you are that your little one is so sensitive…though I'm sure it's challenging at times.

  11. Jarret L. says:

    Joe, there are some things that science cannot qualify nor quantify and this is certainly one of them. Science has not yet gotten to the level of being able to fully map out, nor for that matter to understand, all the neuro pathways of the brain and what their purposes are. Just recently there was a Yale study that argued against age old doctrine of which the brain cells die and are not replaceable. The study points out that certain chemical reactions stimulate the growth of certain types of brain cells with the use of certain cannabinoids. I only mention this so as to provide a point that science is, more often than not, wrapped in theories. Many of which can be disproved. I'm a Psy/Soc major and have lectured in classes at the junior college level on topics such as the one this thread is related to. As for rejoicing for others to be more empathic, to each their own (formed by their own socialization and experiences). I would rejoice and at the same time, I'd be wary of another feeling as much pain from others as I often do. It's a lot like the scene from the movie 'Bruce Almighty' when he decides to hook up everything to the internet and get the messages that way. He suddenly starts hearing all the anguish, anger, resentment, depression, and many other emotions less than smiling from all over the world. As an empath, it is a lot like that. My experience with dealing with others emotions on a high volume is that, when I'm around people that I know, I can somewhat mute it so that I don't feel them so acutely. It's like I know their energy signatures and my radar can attune to those at will for the most part. In large crowds though, amidst many people that I don't know, it all just comes rushing in and it's quite a laborious process mentally, to dissimenate between danger and help wanted. This is not like walking a balance beam, it's more like walking a tight rope and the stakes are a lot higher.

  12. @Mfourgeaud says:

    ! Thank you for these words, always feel good to see that others went through the same kind of experiences. ^^
    I now bless life for this gift, even though I hated it for so long. So many smile came back to life because of it.
    In a society where people tends to be too busy to take care of their feelings, I see our kind as their emotional safety valve.
    One thing I don't agree though, even if it was a long struggle, I can now mix those feelings and logic. And it should be part of the education of all empath! 🙂

  13. Lucy Phillips says:

    Dear empaths

    It made me cry too, the depth of it and it reminded me of my life, so true that people try to take advantage of a good Heart, but no matter what they do to us we need to keep on shinning and loving and don’t let them take our happiness away. Clear ourselves of negative energy by imagining a white light shower over our heads and bring the white light through every body part, until the feet, then imagine the energy coming out of your feet and Into the earth that’s the negative energy leaving then do the same with the outside of the body this is cleansing and should be done regularly and when ever you have been interacting with people. Then put up a shield this allows love in and helps block the negative energy. To shield imagine you are surrounded by a sphere of white light then say archangel Michael please protect and shield me now. This is powerful for empaths and sensitive people.

    Hope this helps you.

    Namaste

    Lucy

  14. Cynthia says:

    I am, and I think I would choose it, if I could. It hurts, yes, but it also makes all the good things so much more. Every feeling is so much sharper and it feels so fantastic to be able to help others by knowing them before they even talk to you.

  15. Cynthia says:

    I have a mantra I use every day on my way to work, to ground myself. I tell myself: "You are in control of your mind and body, you control your emotions and thoughts. You decide what you want to feel." I just say it out loud and repeat it for a while and it helps me face all the external influences that come with seeing and feeling other people and their emotions. I do pick up on their vibes heavily, but I just repeat my mantra in my head and I gain control over whether I am affected or not. (Unless it's really, really heavy emotion.)

  16. Dawn says:

    Jey, a book that may give you some insights is The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. Look it up! Its great.

  17. Guest says:

    Thank you for your insight and validation. My sensitivity feels like a curse most of the time. People think they can say anything, yet it's my fault it hurts…I'm too sensitive. Sometimes I can see and feel what others do and I feel like I shouldn't because it's personal, but I see it. I'd rather be sensitive than insensitive, but it hurts and costs a lot. It makes it impossible to do the kind of work I'd like to do, helping others, because I can't deal with others not caring and me caring too much. Thank you for expressing this beautifully.

  18. Angil Pari says:

    Nice Information share…. its really lovely blog.

  19. amber says:

    Being an empath means far more than being empathetic. We pick up on people's energies feelings and emotions as if they were our own, that's not something that can be learned or taught.it's like being psychic, except instead of picking up on peoples thoughts, we pick up on people's energies, vibrations, and fEelings

  20. rafal says:

    as highish on the empathic scale:

    let me state….. I learn the response ability to be the vessel for the bursting waves within me.

    pax..

  21. MissGulla says:

    I so connected with this! It's so comforting to know more empaths and highly sensitive people are sharing more of who they are 🙂 I wrote this and wanted to share – http://www.boycottthebs.com/how-to-love-an-empath… – 15 ways to help someone love an Empath!

  22. Thank you for this, Rebecca. <3
    This fits me perfectly. Over the last year, the idea of being an empath has been floating around whenever I've seen articles popping up. I haven't given it that much thought, to be honest; 2014 was a really emotional year, not in a good way, and I felt like there just was something wrong with me. I was just depressed, nothing I can do about that other than take vitamins and exercise and deal with it. Embracing the idea of being an empath will lead me to a new kind of freedom, I think.
    It's started because I'm traveling in Morocco (alone) and my heart has been aching for the animals. The dogs, the cats, and I've wondered if the camels are actually happy (I heard someone say they saw one of the owners kick one like a soccer ball). I thought that it was a "Western thing," to feel so much for the animals, to want to take them home and save them. A stray dog was following me home after I gave it some love for a little while, and it broke my heart. I told others who I expected, as Westerners, to understand my aching heart; but they responded indifferently.
    That was when I knew that I am different.
    On another, but related note, I feel that protecting myself was a big cause of stress in my relationship in 2014. I was afraid to soften into my female qualities, trying to "survive" in a "man's world", enhanced by my sensitivity… and I fought against my watery qualities. But now, I know that I can learn how to shield myself, but also soften into my relationship and truly show up as an unconditional lover – without fear!
    So, anyway. Thank you! I am feeling less alone and like there is a good reason that I am the way that I am. 🙂

  23. Karen says:

    This was so beautiful…thank you

  24. Lainey says:

    BPD? Who knows? And I am sure you are only trying to be helpful here and not project…correct? I struggle as the author does and write poems to pull my feelings out in the open so I can make more sense of my inner turmoil. I am not always in turmoil bur when I am it can be stormy and it can feel chaotic. I grew up with an emotionally enmeshed mother with narcissist traits…not saying she is one…just matched some listings and I could identify my husband the nice quite guy that he usually is treated me in the classic pattern of Lundy Bancroft's model of domestic abuse. 26 years ago when enough was enough and I sought couples therapy with my husband I was told I was BPD and it added to my husband's validating smear campaign. I tried to accept it but yet…now, still married to the same man and continued off and on counselling, couples and individual, I am going through trauma counselling and it is helping me ease my inner confusion of cladding and sometimes unstoppable feeings. I recently asked my therapist about the BPD label I was given 26 years ago…told her I could see where it could fit especially during the worst of my husband's abuse and smear campaign. She smiled and said no, you suffer from PTSD. And the stormy writing of my feelings. Just trying to express, to deal. I am just a sensitive gal it seems whose empathy had been used to invade my boundaries. I have learned mindful compassion towards others and myself to protect those squishy boundaries. I don't give as much slack to people to invade as they did before. Not all take advantage but many do. It turns out as I have been treated for PTSD now I am not feeling so confused and volatile. I feel now those scary stormy poems I wrote to ease my soul acted much like my stomach does when I ingest something that makes me sick. My soul like my stomach had to vomit out the toxic shot so I could survive my sensitive gathering of feelings. I love being sensitive, being there in a way for others I care about that they need. So all in all I aplaud this author for her bravery in opening up her soul so others can understand they are not alone.

  25. bets says:

    Borderline was EXACTLY what I was thinking.

  26. Sheroonia says:

    Hey Rebecca,

    I read your beautiful articulation & m mesmerised the way you expressed the feelings i never figured out. Thank you for writing something so beautiful & extraordinary.

    ” love me completely or let me go”

    I literally had no idea that i was an empath & this concept definitely lead me to freedom one day i know.

    Prayers & blessings ♡

  27. a-torcrchered soul says:

    A friend shared your poem with me earlier tonight. After I read it. I brushed the tears away and thanked her for sharing it with me. You found a way to say the things that I have been trying to for months. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  28. aniri says:

    Perfect timing, reading this article now, after almost a week of emotions fighting inside my soul, not knowing where they come from and what they want from me. I am one – empath and Seinsible soul, i feel things, not only i don't know if they are mine or not but i also do not know what they are trying to say to me. And I'm always fighting to discover what they mean.
    This is a great lesson – ;let go, accept the emotions as they are, accept it is normal for them to be there, accept that it is normal for me to be down or on a montagne rousse every once in a while

  29. Melissa says:

    Thank you for this article and poem. I am currently struggling through so much…people think I’m crazy when I just feel more. I just quit drinking, which I was only doing to drown the emotions out and to be more fun. Then it became an every day thing…now that I’m done I’m starting to feel again, and in a way I feel sorry for them and their numbness; those that don’t know how to feel. I’ll never drown out the emotions again.

  30. Maryanne Muir says:

    That is key…

  31. Danielle says:

    Hi! I first heard the term "empath" in Star Trek the Next Generation about one of the characters when I was in high school. Her skills seemed to mimic and explain my emotions and sensitivities, so I started asking if it was a real thing. In the late 80's, early 90's. It isn't a real thing, but I thought it sounded cool and decided to call myself one anyway. Unfortunately, as another commentator mentions our sensitivity and emotions is more a symptom of other issues and ignoring those can lead to bigger life problems like codependent relationships, constant bouts of depression, avoidance of others to avoid their feelings and pressure, and in some cases attempts to self medicate with drugs or alcohol to numb the feelings. Some of us struggle with wanting to commit suicide as well. It is especially hard when we have these wonderful precious gifts and don't learn healthy boundaries or ways to care for ourselves and then mistakenly teach our daughters and sons that they should just ride out the negative or believe that they are an "empath" instead of directing them to the appropriate therapy and tools to prepare them for what can be an overwhelming life. There are so many positives to our personalities beyond the emotional sensitivity, usually creativity and intelligence to name just two… We needn't suffer unnecessarily and neither should our children.

  32. preeti gajbhiye says:

    thank you so much i know how much emotions you feel from others without even a word.

  33. April says:

    While I know you are not truly diagnosing in your comment, I do think this is unfair. There is no where near enough information in this article to even suggest a diagnosis of BPD. BPD is a serious mental illness that most people are never able to conquer. Furthermore, I feel it is unfair to even suggest that we should pathologize people for feeling things deeply and being able to sense the feelings of others. This is a disservice to all of us who experience what Rebecca experiences and can be personally hurtful.

  34. tina says:

    …of other's suffering…and I like to add to that : in the first place learn to take care of yourself and your own inner suffering…be less focused on (what u expect from) others…makes it a bit easier to deal with it all..practice

  35. I’m seeing a pattern here of Empath stories and INFJ articles (of which I am both and an Aries as well) that have a common thread. I notice these lines because as soon as I read them my souls yells, “Bullshiit! Not true!” ‘That line’ claims that we don’t communicate well, or express ourselves well or we can’t find proper words and/or ways to express ourselves to others. IT’S BULLSHIT. Every single time I see whatever ‘that line’ ends up being in the next article I want to smack and hug you all, because you are literally doing what you state you can’t. And, you are self blaming for a society that is too lacking in human understanding. A society built on fear, false presentations, vanity, money, walking the walk and talking the talk whether one knows what the hell it means or not and so on…

    I have my empath (Cancer, double impact! ) daughter as well, and an Asperger’s Aries son, and both my parents are sociopathic narcissists. I attract these narcs like water attracts gnats. I have no siblings or support system, not even a car. My few friends are almost exclusively online now and I could go on but that is another story. Anyway, my point is this world can destroy everything I have built, beat me to a pulp again and again, but the one thing that it can’t have, that only I/we can control, that is purely only our own, is OUR VOICE.

    Your power is not only in seeing and feeling before others but that you can express that and you can do it from a place only a few of us have access to in this uber false based world of masks and hidden agendas. You get deeper so you express deeper. If the people around you do not understand, and I know this far too well as it is always creating havoc in my life, if they don’t comprehend and you make an effort to rephrase or lower your level a bit to simplify and they still don’t get it then just stop. But don’t blame yourself. We don’t go around blaming ourselves because someone can’t read well or are crappy at math do we? That’s a comprehension issue, just like in our own lives. We are the thing to be learned and they are suppose to be doing the work to reach us. If they can’t or won’t then we can only continue to lead by example and to never ever let them think our voice is up for debate. We have children to be strong for and teach. It’s a domino effect that we control with our willingness to stay honest, integrity filled, loud minded, philosophical, teachers and parents and on. This world is doomed if we start or continue to claim that we are the ones flawed. We are not. Human yes, but there is nothing wrong with our communication skills. <3

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