I didn’t understand that my abilities were not the norm.
And I really couldn’t understand why I kept getting grief about my desire to relieve the suffering of others.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an empath has been accepting the fact that I have to constantly explain things to other people, such as thoughts and feelings, which seem to be obvious as day to me.
I have spent the greater portion of my life frustrated because I couldn’t understand why people didn’t automatically know what I was thinking and feeling, as I did when it came to them. Yet, even now, years into understanding what I am, I can fall into the familiar pattern of expecting people to see my emotions as clearly as I see theirs, so I must constantly remind myself that I need to explain.
The challenging aspect of being so empathic is that it’s quite easy to feel others as they suffer or struggle, so I have often fell into the trap of being a fixer and a carrier for everyone else’s emotional sh*t.
This has led to several false diagnoses of being labeled codependent by various therapists and counselors in my lifetime. I even spent a significant amount of time inwardly exploring my motives behind healing and helping others to see if I was, in fact, a dreaded codependent.
What kept coming back was this: How the heck can I be codependent when the last thing I want is to be needed? Feeling like people need me actually freaks me the f*ck out! I’m also not driven by an overwhelming need to be liked and wanted. In fact, if I had it my way, I would choose to be left to my own devices, with the exception of limited amounts of time spent with carefully chosen people.
Naturally, I was quite confused by my codependent diagnosis.
I’m not codependent, I’m just an empath who can’t stand to feel the suffering of others.
There are many different types of empaths in the world, people who sense and feel various energies at play. For me, my empathic powers show up in the form of viscerally feeling and intellectually knowing what other people are thinking and feeling. At times, I appear to be a mind reader and it still catches me off guard just how accurate I am. It also makes me very good at anticipating the needs of others based off subtle energetic cues to their feelings and thoughts. I naturally take initiative because that makes sense to me because I know what they need.
So you see, it’s been much less about being wanted, liked, or needed as would be the case for a true codependent. It all makes so much sense to me now that I just had to share this with my fellow empaths.
Here are my five affirmations that help me keep the boundaries between others’ sh*t and my sh*t:
1) I don’t have to fix everything for everyone. I know I can feel this person’s misery, but there is a lesson in it for them. If I jump in, I’m depriving them of valuable learning.
2) What they are feeling is none of my business. I know I can feel it, but it’s none of my business. Allow them the privacy I would want. Don’t be an emotional peeping Tom! (Repeat until you believe it!)
3) I have to remember that just because I can read everything they’re thinking and feeling, it doesn’t mean they can read me. I must accept others for who they are. We are all just human.
4) I release what is not mine to feel. I release what is not mine to feel. (This one works as a bit of a chant.)
5) This too shall pass. This too shall pass. I can breathe and I can release. This too shall pass. And besides, it’s not even mine. Give it back with love and a hug.
The most important lesson for us is that we need to let others have their own experiences. When we place ourselves in the role of emotional buffer we are depriving others of very crucial lessons for their own evolution. This is what helps me mind my own business when it comes to feeling the emotional discomfort of other people.
There is a lesson in everything.
I’m just glad we don’t have to walk our paths alone. I would love to hear from other empaths in the comments about your own empathic nature or tendencies.
Author: Lindsey Carricarte
Image: Bill Strain/ Flickr
Editor: Deb Jarrett