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Being an empath is both a blessing and a curse.
I know because I am one.
An empath is someone who picks up on the vibes and energies of people around them.
Knowing someone’s physical, mental, and emotional state is great because it allows us to easily connect with others. Our gift guides us in knowing how to relate to someone through all the various and sundry moods one may experience throughout the day.
Not only do empaths pick up on the moods and energies of people around them, but we feel them in our bodies too. When someone is jubilant, for example, we absorb these energies and delight in feelings of excitement, joy, and general well-being. The downside of this, of course, is when someone is not feeling so great. We absorb these energies too.
A narcissist, on the other hand, may not be so finely attuned to the energies of people around them. And, if they are, they don’t care. They are wholly absorbed in their own thoughts, emotions, and feelings, and constantly looking out for numero uno, operating from a place that serves them best.
And you know what? There is great freedom in this.
While there are many benefits to being an empath, there is freedom in not taking on other people’s baggage, which empaths do all the time. Because empaths are caring people who want to make the world a better place, they often find themselves carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. And they do this at a cost to their well-being. This is not healthy or sustainable.
If you’re an empath and you find yourself burned out in your relationships because you are offering more than you have to give, consider adopting these three traits from a narcissist:
1. Be selfish
Narcissists put themselves first. Many empaths, on the other hand, find themselves putting others’ needs before their own, saying yes (when we should be saying no), and engaging in people pleasing behavior. But when did it become our responsibility to make people happy?
Surely, we can and should help people when we can, but we can’t fill from an empty cup and it shouldn’t come at our expense. Empaths who have yet to identify their boundaries and learn how to enforce them clearly can learn from narcissists by putting themselves first. It will save them a lot of heartache and grief and time that is needed to recuperate from interactions with energy vampires and people who suck the life out of our caring souls.
2. Be strategic
Narcissists can be manipulative. They are experts in knowing what other people can do for them and how people can help advance their status, image, and wealth. They see people as a means to an end, and while we don’t want to be this way (people are ends in themselves), empaths can learn to be strategic about the people they have in their lives.
Rather than scheming how someone can give them clout, help them gain followers, or get back at their ex, empaths might want to ask themselves: does my friend lend me an ear when I have something to say? A shoulder to cry on when I need one most? A hug when I feel alone? It is essential for empaths to be around people who lift their spirits and contribute to their well-being.
Narcissists disconnect from people the moment they’re not serving them. An empath, on the other hand, will stick around much longer than is necessary. Empaths will also make excuses for people when they behave poorly and take on full responsibility when situations turn sour.
Because an empath has no trouble in understanding why people do what they do, it’s easy for us to explain (and excuse away) people’s behavior. But if empaths can learn to disconnect from people the minute they begin harming them, as narcissists do, it will benefit them immensely. Taking a step toward self-protection will not only help empaths enforce clear boundaries, but it will contribute to their self-esteem. Empaths must understand their worth and not allow themselves to be used and abused.
Being an empath is a wonderful thing. The world needs more kind, gentle, loving, and caring souls. But if we want to have long-lasting, worthwhile, and fulfilling relationships, we need to work through our reflective impulse to help others and focus on nourishing ourselves.
We begin to do this by understanding our needs and tending to them, and by being strategic about who we have in our lives and disconnecting from people who do not serve us.