Is Overactive Empathy Ruining Your Life?

As a very empathic person (a VEP 🙂 ), I have spent a lot of energy over the last few years learning how to manage my overactive empathy and establishing better energetic boundaries with those around me.

I have noticed that many other people, especially clairsentient, sensitive, intuitive and lightworker types often have similar problems with their empathy and energetic boundaries.  I decided it might be a good idea to do a series of articles on my own experiences with overactive empathy. In this article I’m going to talk about the signs of overactive empathy and I relate many of my own experiences.

First of all, let’s define empathy, and then I’ll tell you how you can find out whether your empathy is ‘running’ you.

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to temporarily step out of your experience and step into another person’s experience, and perceive it as they do, whether it’s an emotional, mental, physical, intellectual or spiritual experience.

Empathy is a gift most people have, to varying degrees.

When you are a balanced empath, it is a wonderful thing, and truly a gift because empathy allows us to see things clearly from the perspective of other people so it makes for good relationships.

Empathy arouses compassion in us.  It allows us to connect with and care about others.  If we can feel and relate to what other people are going through, then we are more motivated to offer our help.  So, empaths tend to be giving, caring people.  Empathy is also kind of cool because it also allows us to move past the veil of separation and experience oneness; what it is like to be another person.  It’s a psychic gift, one that I use in readings often and one that you can use as well if you are empathic.

But if you’re someone who is an overactive empath, your empathy will be triggered by something and you may not even be aware that you’ve been triggered. That’s when it affects your quality of life.

The disadvantages of having overactive empathy:

This is a spectrum – it ranges from being a nuisance to actually being quite debilitating – such as  when you take on other people’s physical and emotional pain and you’re crippled temporarily by it while you process it and try to work out what the heck is going on.

If you can relate to any of the below, you have some work to do on getting your empathy under control.  If you can’t, then you probably don’t need this article!

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Overactive empathy in relationships

Have you ever had a relationship where you feel what someone is going through so much, when it’s something they’re struggling with, and you really want to help them?

That’s all good and well, but what if you want to help them so much, you start taking on their ‘stuff’ and their problems?  What if your boundaries become blurry and you take on responsibilities that aren’t yours?  What if you stop allowing them the responsibility and the opportunity to create change and want to create it for them, directly or indirectly?

Overactive empathy is linked to co-dependence and poor boundaries in general and healers have a hard time with this because they’re so often empathic.

Overactive empathy in the social setting

When your empathy is triggered in a social setting, you are so focused on the people around you.  You may be subtly reading them intuitively, you’re listening and noticing intently – it’s like you’re diving into their energy.  If everyone else in the room is in colour, you’re in shades of grey because you’re not centred in yourself; you’re lost in everyone else’s energy. If your empathy is turned on in a social situation, it means you enjoy the experience less because it can be rather draining, sometimes overwhelming and a bit of a strain.

This used to happen to me a lot.  I’ve been told that when I meet people for the first time, I can come off as a bit intense and it’s because all my energy is going out to people – I’m meeting them not just as a person but as an energetic being.  Is this appropriate?  In a reading, yes.  In a social setting, no.  And I’ve gotten a lot better at getting that under control.

Overactive emotional empathy

Have you ever been completely floored by someone else’s emotional pain?  This has happened to me several times.  When I was living in London, the brother of an acquaintance had committed suicide.  When this person came to my flat, I didn’t know how to shake off their pain after they had left, even though I didn’t know him very well and theoretically his pain should not have affected me so much.

When I was supporting a bereaved relative of mine several years ago, I had the most extreme experience of taking on someone else’s pain.

I found myself completely overtaken with grief.  At first I didn’t know what was happening.  I just assumed I felt bad for my relative.  But for about a couple of weeks, I was completely out of action.  I cried all day, I felt pain like I had never felt before in my life.  The funny thing was that when their pain began to lift, so did mine.

Several months later, an intuitive who sees auras told me I was carrying an empathic emotional burden on my shoulders and it wasn’t mine; she told me to let it go.

This kind of overactive emotional empathy is totally needless and inappropriate.  It didn’t help anyone for me to be overwhelmed with pain (quite the opposite), but I didn’t even know what was happening and why I was in such pain.  So I didn’t know it was my empathy out of control.

Place empathy

This is when you enter buildings and walk past certain places and take on the energetic frequencies within that place.  I did some interpreting once in Spain.  I had to go to the police station and interpret for some people who were being accused of some crime.  The energy in the police station felt like desperation, sadness, apathy and cruelty and many other nasty things.

Afterwards, energetically, I felt out of sorts for a few days.

Physical empathy

Do you feel the aches and pains of other people?  Physical empaths can get horrible headaches, and they may feel like hypochondriacs.  What is often happening is that they are like sponges, taking on the physical pain of others.

These are just of the most common types of empathy. There are many more types, including intellectual empathy, empathy with animals and plants.

Are you an empath who feels like your empathy gift is more of a curse than a blessing? If so, I invite you to download the free preview of my book The Empath’s Toolkit: A Guide to Recovery for the Overwhelmed Empath below!

Intuitive Experiment Worksheet

Download the Free Preview
of Anna’s Book The Empath’s Toolkit…

…Packed with Instructions and Tips on How to Come Back
Into Balance with Your Amazing Empath Gifts.

Meet Anna

Hi, I’m Anna Sayce! My purpose here on this website is to provide practical techniques and information to help empaths to understand, and fix the root of their energetic overwhelm & also to help sensitives to embrace and develop their intuitive gifts. I believe that developing our spiritual & intuitive side is very powerful and allows us to improve our own lives, and if we wish, even make the world a better place for others. Discover more >


  1. David

    Oh, maybe this is why I am so sensitive to places with lots of people and especially buildings! I totally get your police station experience, and I can get really sucked in by other people’s energies, to the point of identifying with their values and losing myself in the process. And I’ve always had a hard time putting up reasonable borders.

    Never did think about being able to switch it on or off at will. I feel a little bit reluctant to turning it off though, feels like it would make me cold and insensitive somehow, ignoring what’s around me. But it sure makes a lot of sense though and I look forward to the next article!

    Anyway, great read, thank you!

  2. Kate

    oh Anna, youre speaking to me sista!!!! haha. Cant wait for your next article. Im terribly crippled by empathy. God help me in a mall. When my kids have first days at anything I feel their nerves. Sometimes when out driving I feel like I can sense everyones anxiety on the roads. Its an area Ive never been able to overcome. Thanks for your insights.

  3. Michael

    Most excellent article, Anna. I believe that years ago without realizing it I developed my own defenses – was terribly sensitive until my late 20’s, then began to sometimes consciously turn it off, then it became automatic and I assumed the mode of not caring just to avoid the pain. At this point the normal switch position is “off” and I can remain detached unless I need the information for some reason. The Blueprinter thing…always on the periphery of nastiness and trying to keep one’s hands from getting too dirty.

    Anyhow, I think the moral of the story is that if one is sensitive and not aware, one can build such a thick shell as to not feel anything. Probably not a good way to be.

  4. David

    @MIchael: You’re making a good point! It is indeed very easy to coat yourself with that thick blanket of numbness as a way of dealing with pain.

    As for me, it’s combination of both I think – not putting up appropriate borders to keep my own energy in, as I already mentioned, and at the same time numbing myself to deal with the pain. Resulting in a whole lot of confusion mixed with apathy – certainly not recommended!

    I think awareness is key – seeing all these processes in play, understanding where they come from, and learning how to put some distance to them.

  5. Anna

    Hi Kate 🙂 Thanks for your comments – glad this resonated with you!! I sometimes get nervous when driving as well, not sure if that’s because of my empathy though.

  6. Anna

    Hi, David! Glad you liked this article. I will talk about avoiding being cold and insensitive in the next article (i.e. balancing turning off empathy with being compassionate).

  7. Anna

    Michael – that’s a really good point. I think that empathic people do come up with strategies to deal with their empathy, like numbing themselves, as you mention. My self-protective mechanism was being somewhat withdrawn and aloof.

  8. Rebecca

    OMG! Thank you for this article. So this is what’s been happening to me — too much empathy. I’ve also been too identified with my career as a writer that I’m feeling burned out and want to walk away from it. I think it’s time to trust my head over my heart. Talk about being out of balance and off center.

  9. donna

    i’m begging for help. i just figured out i may be a physical empath. After researching for a book on my female relatives with strange(powers-gifts?) whatever. Since childhood i have always been sick with strange serious illnesses with absolutely no family history. Cancer, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. Bad things tend to gravatate to me, when someone in a store an aisle over would cough, i would feel it. The obvious small things like that stopped when i started on anti-depressants. But the big bad things remain. I’m trying to live a normal happy life, but these huge things get in my way and ruin any hopes. i became a Catholic to have a reason not to commit suicide. Pain is always there. will this book help? i am in constant debt with medical bills and can’t buy this if it will not help. Thank you!

    • Anna

      Hi Donna, I’m not sure if the book will help to be honest. This sounds like more than overactive empathy. I mean, empaths don’t tend to take on other people’s diseases, just other people’s symptoms.

  10. Craig

    Hi Anna,

    I really liked the article as I feel that you have outlined a critical error in the judgment. The first time I became aware of this, I started looking for it in the real world, and lo and behold, it is everywhere.

    I have a question though. Is there a difference between “Overactive Empathy” as you have described it, and “Sympathy?” They seem to be one in the same.


    • Anna

      Hi Craig, I tend to agree with what David wrote above. Sympathy seems almost like a pity that can be distanced from feelings, whereas overactive empathy is uncontrolled and a total identification with someone else’s feelings.

  11. David


    There seems to be no clear line between sympathy and empathy. People seem to differ in their understanding and use of the words. Some say empathy is the feeling of others’ feelings, while sympathy is not the feeling but the understanding of others’ feelings.

    In that use of the words, a highly sympathetic person can understand what another person is feeling, but still be stone cold devoid of any feeling. The extreme case of this would be the sociopath killer who understands his/hers victims and therefor is highly skilled in manipulating them, but can feel nothing for them at all.

    For the overactive empath, there is also the key difference from having the skills to separate your own feelings from those of others, to that of not being able to do so and therefor taking on others’ feelings as your own.

    The difference you are thinking of might be of the latter – overactive empathy is the more uncontrolled taking on of others’ feelings, while sympathy is doing it with clear understanding that it isn’t your feelings, thereby freeing you from identifying with the feelings.

    Myself I want to think of sympathy in these latter terms – empathy is the ability and sympathy is the willingness and the act of using that ability to understand and connect to other people.

  12. Craig


    Thanks for the clarification. I understand now 🙂

  13. joanne sonn

    HI Anna i dont know what it is im going through ,but would love some advice. i have had the same thing happening to me (about 7 times).i get terrible intense feeling of pain upset..just before someone dies, i seem to be experiencing there feelings shortly before death. i dont knw its happening at the time but after i go through the emotions and calm down .maybe a few days later i find out who it is and wots happend. its almost like im a puppet for their emotions. its really upsetting my life and making me seem like a nut job lol. i dont know if my job has anything todo with it but i do beauty therapy ,and have a good physical empathy anyway. has this got a name? have you or anybody heard of this before? how do i deal with it? i mean the last time it happend i smash the bedroom up in a complete rage and it took 3 friends to restrain me ,(they have never ever seen me like it before) a few days later another childhood friend came to me and told me her dad died of cancer and was punching wall ect and when we talking i was displaying all his emotions at excactly the same time. like i said not the first time. please help jo x

  14. Philippa aka blossom

    I really got so much out of reading your article just then, and it has answered some pretty confusing experiential mysteries for me. I can relate totally to the experience of EXTREME pain, which was beyond what I could even concieve of being able to handle as a human being…and not knowing where it came from? I tend to shut myself off from the world as an introverted person, and feel more recharged and “safe” in my bedroom, which can cause other people to make all sorts of wrong assumptions about me. I have also experienced taking on the physical pain of a friend who I gave a massage to one evening before I went out with my boyfriend at the time…and my whole night was ruined by feeling her pain in the same place on my body that she felt her pain…it was a wierd transference and I would love to know ho wto get a grip on this empathy business, as it has been seriously messing my life up for a long time now…glad I stumbled across Steve Pavlina’s website and found you…thanks

    • Anna

      Hi Philippa – so glad this article was helpful to you! Anna

  15. charmity

    wow. ms. anna that helped me out a ton. i didnt know that it was actually called overactive empathy. ive been living with my grandparents who are overweight fanatic christians. and for about two or three weeks straight i had just been crying and so upset and so frustrated and annoyed for no reason. and i felt like i was going crazy. i knew for a while now that i was empathic but i didnt kno that i was literally taking on my grandparents problems and stresses. awesome article! im going to read the next two 😀

    • Anna

      Hi Charmity, glad it helped…living with people who have strong negative emotions is never easy for an empath! But you can turn it off. Good luck.


    What about when you not only feel 100% empathy but you also can see through. How to avoid the impact of knowing the bad energy or experiences, of others to affect you? I cannot stop to attack bad energies and transform them. How to prevent it?

    I think I have everything you described as a gifted person, but I also can see images, like very fast pictures or slower.

    I am afraid many people would not understand it, rejection… I hide myself except to those I trust and witness my gifts, they have to cope with it if they love me.

    It feels bigger than me, is like a huge Super Nova rotating inside, like the whole earth going through me. I even feel meteorites approaching earth, or floods, earthquakes. I also have information it is not mine, plenty of it, past, future, present, science, medicine, art, politics,etc… How to stop it to live a normal life with a proper empathy feeling? Is this normal what I have?

    I can speak, write, and read seven languages as well, ( another divine gift, or that is perhaps cause I am also studied music for many years, now is a hobby).
    Some people said I could be an extraordinary painter not an economist instead. I am 38 years old, also looking 27, 30? Weird.

    I keep it down, said under radar but after reading you… I decided to show myself because it feels strange sometimes.

    Recently I met my untie after many years without having contact with her, she brought me an article that made her remember my childhood, it was from a Indigo Russian boy very known. She forced me to read it. Thereafter, I almost cried for he tells all I was saying when I was a kid. My untie down to ground person told me I am an early type of Indigo????? Energy here is another story???

    I hope sharing this can help you to study deeper about Empathy feelings.

    All I have is intuitive or given, never study or read about these subjects in general, I am average and natural. All I can say is that I Know…and I found your web looking for explanations, answers.

    By the way, I moved into Spain like you did once, I am living by the mountains of Montserrat (Barcelona). It is so beautiful! Something here.

    Thank you for listening and your excellent work.
    Take care. ANNA

  17. Diana Neff

    You know, it’s kinda hard to identify things of this sort in oneself if one’s always been a certain way. We don’t really know that it isn’t the norm and that everyone doesn’t feel what we are feeling or at least in the same magnitude.

    As a child, I always wondered if other people thought food tasted the same as I did and if colors looked the same to them as to me. Probably yes. Does everyone have an empathic side? Probably yes. It’s up to each of us to decide if it is overwhelming or not.

    Parents need to use this gift to their utmost in raising their children.

    I can’t wait to read your next article on how to turn off Overactive Empathy. I guess we don’t need lessons on how to turn it back on!
    .-= Diana Neff´s last blog ..One Down! =-.

  18. Lana

    Ever since I can remember, I have always had trouble being in public places. When I was very little, my mother would take me places with her and I would always have feelings like guilt and sadness. I also felt sympathy towards certain people that I would pass by, and I never understood why. I still have the same problem to this day.
    Also, I have had trouble keeping certain jobs in the past because of this. I worked at a grocery store for a couple of weeks not too long ago. The first day I worked there, I was very excited to start working and I was excited to meet new people. However, not too long after I started working on that fist day, I started feeling very depressed, lonely, and feeling like I was about to burst into tears. Several times during the day I had to go on break because I knew that I was going to start crying, and I could not let costumers see that since I was at the front counter. This happened to me randomly every single day I worked, and I would go home and sob for hours. I had trouble getting rid of those feelings and I thought that there was something seriously wrong with me and planned on going to see a therapist. After about a week, I thought that maybe those feelings had something to do with being in that grocery store, but I had no idea why. I ended up quitting right away, and not too long after I stopped having those feelings.
    This happens to me very often and it makes me feel miserable. I am usually a very happy person, and I can never understand why I get those feelings. This could be the answer, and I am glad that I stumbled across this article.

  19. Jacqs

    I am actually looking for answers… I mean, I started with finding the second part of this series, but I thought it WOULD be best to start at the beginning… And it’s true, I have found myself, if I’m feeling down (because of the people I”m around, or my own problems) I’ll try and find a social setting that I can… basically feed off of the energy from.

    My problem though, the reason that I really felt I HAD to seek out some kind of answers… is that my empathy reaches out with people in other issues. It’s happened twice thus far that a guy has had a crush on me, so when I get around him I feel his… want, his love, and it’s like a mirror, we just bounce off each other and… I end up in a relationship that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, or in a position I never wanted myself in. I wonder, are there others that have this (it wasn’t mentioned in this article so… but maybe it just wasn’t mentioned here..)

    I can’t wait to read on and see if it helps to de-activate… I need it so badly.

  20. Anjali

    Thank you for your article. I feel I have always been an empath. Even as a child I felt I was different and felt overwhelmed around people and still do. The difference is now I understand a lot better as to what it is that I am sensing and feeling. I feel emotional and physical empathy.
    Lately I feel as if I am processing my husbands physical pains. It has happened various times… as he feels the pain in his body, soon, maybe in a day or two, it is transferred to my body in exactly the same location. It then disappears in his body and it is as if I am processing his traumas and a healing is taking place in him. The process in me lasts from anything from a few minutes to half a day or two and then its gone.
    Now this is an example of someone close who I communicate with. I am wondering if I feel other peoples pain too and don’t even know that because one may not communicate our symptoms.
    Could you throw some light on this.I would greatly appreciate your comments.
    Somehow I have always known that I am here to help and ease suffering. I can see myself in the healing therapy and I am studying homeopathy and mind body medicine.
    Thank you.

  21. Susan

    Thank you so much for writing about this. When I was a child, I could put myself in other people shoes, and was constantly playing mediator between the other girls in my class, when they had fights.

    I didn’t realize until very recently that I have the gift of clairsentience- with empathy being very strong. One thing that helped me to not take on others’ struggles, is realizing that we each have our own lessons to learn. We all have to learn how to make it through our own struggles. When I can see another person’s situation in this way- as their responsibility and their journey, I am able to step back emotionally, while still being supportive.

  22. Ana

    Couldn’t be more appropriate to read all this about Empathy, thank you so much. I would like to ask you if Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has anything to do with being an empath in some cases?

    • Anna

      Hi Ana,

      I do think that empathy, if you don’t learn how to turn it off, can certainly add to a pre-existing case of chronic fatigue. But I do not think it would cause it.

  23. Craig


    If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, try drinking more distilled water. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of dehydration.

    Try it out and let us know what happens.


  24. Neno

    This all sounds so familiair.
    Hmm, so it looks like I’m an HSP and empath as well?

    In short:
    I walk on the street and pass someone and actually sense the emotional and/or physical pain. I could start crying instantly.
    The HSP is causing some serious problems and I actually lost my job because of it! I seem to pickup everything around me (energy, emotions, sounds, vision/optical things, pain, etc). I even turn ill when I see fast changing images on the TV (nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc)

    Worst thing: I seem to be unable to stop any of this…
    @work I perform more or less pretty well, but when I get home I basically break down. I fall a sleep when watching TV. Waking up in the morning only makes things worse, because I’m even more tired than when I went to bed.

    Apart from that I constantly hear bells ringing, hissing noises and beeping noises. And yes I see flashes (some slow milky white (apparently angels nearbY) some are fast like a strobe).

    I’m confused and don’t know what to do best (and how) and I feel like it’s driving me completely crazy.

    Can you please help?

  25. Brooke

    I used to be really social and get pleasure out of going out and interacting with everyone’s energies….now I hate going anywhere with a lot of people, if I know it’s going to be a crowd, I avoid it. just the thought of going into a big crowded area drains my energy. i thought I was becoming agoraphobic, but lately strange things have been happening to me. I see energies/orbs at night in my room. actually I’ve always seen this, but never gave it much thought til now. I get anxiety out of nowhere, for no reason at all. when I finally decide to mention it, one of the people I’m around will confirm it. I also get deja vu and strange “coincidences” ALL THE TIME. this article really helped me, thank you.

  26. Brooke

    oh and I totally thought I was a hypochondriac, this makes much more sense, considering I live a pretty healthy lifestyle

  27. Brooke

    sorry I keep forgetting to mention things. this girl who claims to be able to see aura’s, read me one time, she was very accurate in what she said about me. but one thing I didn’t understand, she said my auro was a bunch of different colors, as if I picking up on a little bit of everyone elses, everyone else she read only had one or two colors in their aura. I’ve always felt different.

  28. Anita

    I wonder is it possible to pick up people’s emotions if you’re not around them physically. Like if you’ve developed a friendship online.
    Does anybody know?

  29. Lyn Burgess

    Oh, my word. I cant believe it! All this has happened to me and I ended up making myself very poorly. You ve just made me realise what I ve been doing wrong. I automatically take on other peoples problems. I have had some very painful experiences through this and not being able to sleep. Or,feeling totally ill at ease in the presence of some people. I tend to get so wrapped up in other people I forget about myself and ended up feeling very much worse for wear. I am slowly learning though and with your help I will improve immensely.

  30. kelethian

    Thats funny, because i had the same problem, but it was a matter of not having the ability open enough! It was kind of like looking at things through a cardboard tube vs. actually being able to see.

    Ive actually been trying to find a way to teach the art of psionic empathogenesis to others. Its possibly the greatest thing ive discovered.

    No, drugs are not involved, but people will think youre on them. I find that hilarious.

    Any questions or comments can be forwarded to or my FB.

  31. Katie

    a really fascinating read, I connected to almost all of this. the worst experience for me was a relationship with a violin teacher, she told me i wasn’t working hard enough and all of her emotions of disappointment came flooding into me and made me less willing to work because with each lesson the emotions got stronger as I didn’t progress fast enough. It got to a point where I refused to practice because all I felt were negative emotions with the music. It took some time to realize the negative emotions came from her and not me, and I am currently trying to learn how to block those emotions from her. So the articles on empathy you have are very fascinating because it explains a ton about me in how that works some. thanks. 🙂

  32. Kim Tamer

    ok ok ok. I am figuring stuff out of this article here.
    Thank you for such a useful blog!

    One comment: the empathy of over empathic people, I believe, is channelled through their own subjectivity…

    so the things we empathize too much about must be telling us something about our own individual self? or is empathy independent of my own self?

    talking about physical spaces where empathy fires up:
    also, I am an aspiring performer and dancer (not a pro, it doesn’t pay my bills, but passionate about it), and this overempathy business is really frustrating when I have to get down and do a battle (I practice dance styles that requires one to show their dance skills by battling someone else).

    I feel this over empathy most felt when I have to perform or battle lately is some sort of self-sabotage mecanism…

    I feel people’s broken dreams, loneliness, self hate, what they are hidding behind smoking marijuana, I know why their face looks grey and I feel their every fear, etc…and it just pins me down. I just lose all my dance: my friends tell me that I am: “not present”, that I am “internal”, “that they sense my dance but don’t see it”. But If I am home or with a friend or a dance peer on a one-to-one level, that I am not reading, I am fine.

    I feel like I have this mecanism going on most and affecting me the most when I challenge myself in a stressful situation, that could lead me to success in the arts. It is like I chiken leg, and all I can do is feel other’s pains.

    Just rambling here, my thoughts as they come.

    How can I build this shield?

    I am reading on Anna…I want to, and I am determined to being happy.

    what I am posting feels so personnal, and I hesitated before I post this one but what the heck…let’s go!

    thank you

  33. Krit

    I enjoyed the article I have been having a lot of problems lately though I am more interested in the animal empathy. I feel people to but not as strong.

    It has never been a problem until recently I saw a kitten mauled by a dog. My family just thought I was very upset but I can’t describe how I felt it was just pain. Pain all over. She wasn’t even my cat but I was on the ground screaming as if I had just seen my own child die.
    I am having a hard time shaking it.

  34. kw

    I hope I can get a response, First my roommate is calling me a witch because when he is physically feeling ill, I walk out and tell him before he can mention it, I also find myself feeling like Im having a heart attack when I am around my boss, who is going through some serious heart problems right now. Ive learned how to stay away from “toxic “people and stay close to those I know. But there is still a physical pain that No doctor can explain so they call it fibromyalgia. Ive talked to alot of different people but I feel they are leading me in the wrong direction. Nobody can feel this much pain all the time. Ive even changed jobs to stay away from negative people. When I wake up I feel great, I want to feel that the rest of the day. I also dont want to continue to wake by myself the rest of my life trying to avoid pain. Some guidance would be awesome.

  35. Tien

    I have recently been told by another healer that I am also an empath. For the longest time I just thought that I’m just a compassionate person and it’s my ‘duty’ to love the hurting. It especially got worst when I emerged myself into Christianity teaching, I’m not sure if the teaching itself encouraged this complete self sacrificial as a wonderful and good thing, or is the Bibile has been misinterpreted by the church fathers. Not to blame everything on Christianity, because I do believe that there are many good things about the teaching, but I feel that the church need to teach people more on how to exist in this world with love & compassion without feeling all the time, when you are drawing the line or do something nice for yourself. It got so bad to the point that I find men that have MAJOR emotional problems extremely attractive, why is that?

    I’m also very sensitive to other energy such as ghost and spiritual being, after I read your article AT LEAST I can turn that off now, and do not get freaked out every time I drive by a place or go into a home that is haunted.

    Do you have any books in mind that you think might be beneficial for me or other people that may grew up with Christianity or have explored like myself?

  36. Carolyn

    I find it difficult to deal with the empathic thing at times, especially when it takes me ny surprise. One of my strategies is to avoid watching the news because it is mostly bad and I hate being taken of guard by suddenly feeling someone else’s fear and terror. It can be a useful gift to have but most of the time I try to just shut it down and control my mind.

  37. cheile

    I pick up pains of arthris from my mother ever since I started reiki i try to put blue light around me and put it right out from you everywhere this helps also when having a shower imagine white light washing away anything you might have picked up.

  38. Lissa

    I could cry with a little relief in a way that I have found this link and ppl similar to me. I have been contemplating on seeing my gp for years and years now but I dare not because he may think I’m mad I’d what I’ve been thinking. Till I found this empath!!’ I have struggled for years and it’s just gotten worse I can’t handle bad news ppls sadness painful story’s I don’t even need to know them. I’ve been like this since a teenager but much worse now, I’m 39 . I have this urge of empathy for others that is controlling my life. I fear. I can’t watch the news I can’t read a paper or a magazine if the news in on I have panic attack feelings and panic to switch it off. If I hear sad news often of death and always in children I am heart broken I feel the pain I cry for months and months one minute I’m not thinking of the story then my mind starts thinking of it and I try do hard not to but my mind is in control I feel pain inside I go through the whole sad scene in my mind even though I don’t know the details . I am a mum and I would die for my children I panic about my
    Children when I hear others in trouble . I just want to hold them close and make the pain I feel go away. I want to put the wrongs in ppls life right I know I can’t buy I wish I could. It feels like the ppl on the sad news I am them or I know them sounds daft but it’s true. I can’t talk to anyone about this I’ve tried I feel
    Silly like I’m going mad I think
    Ppl will think I am. Despite this ppl everyone comes to me with their pain everyone , and I am a councillor and human sponge but even tho
    It leaves me shattered and hurt I can’t say no. I’ve even been on the brink
    Of break down but took
    Others problems. But i was born to care. It’s just the empathy the panic of bad news I can’t handle and I wish I knew how I
    Could stop this as I feel
    I can’t cope with the pain and sadness I feel for others. It’s happening now a major horrid death near by our home of five children I’m
    Trying to not see photos on tv or hear more than I already have its killing me I’ve cried for days had awful visions in my head and I hurt inside I’m
    Tiered of this now I want it to stop. I don’t know these ppl but I am struggling with their sad sad deaths. Shall I go gp or not?

    • Anna

      Hi Lissa,

      I’d recommend seeing a psychotherapist, not a GP, to talk these issues over. If you need a recommendation let me know.

  39. Cin

    I’m not sure if what I experience is what you describe. But in my own words, it’s like watching someone or just knowing that something is wrong/different,although the person next to me will see the same thing I did but won’t be aware of it like I am or won’t feel what I’m feeling. It’s a deeper sense of understanding and feeling for others. Also sometimes you feel so obligated to help that person, it’s almost uncontrollable. And does it only happen towards living things? or Inanimate objects also? For e.g if you unintentionally slammed a door, and you feel sorry for closing it so hard. I’m not sure what they call that lol

  40. dean mcnamara

    thanks for all of this anna it has really helped me i cannot explain how happy i am thanks a lot anna

  41. Megan

    Hi I would first like to say that for a few weeks now(after my mom who is diagnosed with depression moved in) Ive been feeling constant tiredness in my head. Im generally a happy optimistic person and I believe it is because of this that I dont slip into a depressed state myself…thats not who Iam. Anyhow Ive also been experience head pressure and once in a while a sharp pain in my head. Ive had an interest in psychic abilities and read up quite a bit on the subject for nearly year. Can this be my spiritual side opening up to my moms energy or does it seem more like I should see a doctor?

    • Anna

      Megan, it does not seem unusual that you would be experiencing tiredness after a change in your living situation. It could be overactive empathy or it might be something else entirely, depending on the type of relationship you have with your mother.

  42. victoria

    Thank you. Reading you article was exactly what i needed to hear at the right time. I was lead to your site by my higher self. Glad to find this information and will be a regualr visitor from now on. thank you

  43. Greta

    Thanks for this article Anna! I started getting very clear about my lack of energetic boundaries in graduate school when I did my internships as a dance therapist and counselor. I’ve actually thought a lot about bringing up this issue to dance/movement therapy professionals because we are actually taught to “take on” people’s energy in our bodies so we could understand it. This made me feel absolutely horrible as you can imagine, and I can’t imagine it was good for anyone else. We were working with very psychologically ill people often times with intense trauma. I experienced what they called “secondary trauma” from counseling a young Somalian refugee who had seen gruesome deaths. But I felt his energy as I walked into the room before he even spoke. I felt like I wanted to wrap him up and hold him the minute I saw him. The week afterwards I was almost frozen with grief and trauma. Since then I’ve moved away from clinical work and focused on psychic/energy work so I can set energetic boundaries. Hopefully I can return to helping people at some point… Thanks again, look forward to reading more.

  44. Rebekah

    I am so glad that I came across your site! I have wandered around for years wondering what was wrong with me! I am now 40yrs old and I tend to stay at home to myself,limiting the contact I have with the outside world. I have very few friends and the ones I do have have become accustom to my very secluded life. I even have trouble going places such as stores and homes due to the OVERWHELMING emotion I get when just going close to them. I have two children and we live with my father who is in his late 70’s. Needless to say…They DRAIN the life right out of me,haha! I had heard about empaths on a program I was watching and began to wonder if this could be what I am going through so I got on my laptop and put in “How to tell if your an empath” and thats how I found you. I was captured by your first paragraph! All my life I have become overwhelmed by either sadness,anger,frustration,guilt,fear,and countless other emotins I thought were out of the blue. I could be grocery shopping and in a great mood at that,when someone will walk next to me and I may start to feel as if I need to just cry(and sometimes do)for no apparent reason. I can walk into an old house for the first time and literally FEEL the LIFE of either the house or those who live or lived their!! I am just so excited to have come across your artical and will read about”TURNING IT OFF” haha! I will keep your site in my favorite list so I can check back an see what new things you have. Thank you so much for the information.

  45. Lisa

    I honestly wish I was not a sensitive or empath most days. I know that’s an awful attitude to have but it really can be so much to be like this especially in a society I believe is all about not feeling things or people who are sensitive or weak..I’ve had people who don’t believe in this type of thing (and most days I don’t) that it’s not good how sensitive I am with everything and I can’t survive in the real world with how I am..gee,thanks. Basically toughen up. I try but can’t be that way. Somedays I wonder why a higher source or power would allow for people to be so in tune, so sensitive when it can at times feel like it’s the worst burden in the world to be that way. I’m going to try to use more of these techniques because most of the time I avoid all social interaction, gatherings, and stay by myself as often as I can.

  46. Shauna Smith

    I relate to so much of this.. I do not usually have physical pain but emotionally I can really feel peoples pain. People tend to tell me their life story at the drop of a hat and when there is any sadness in their lives I tear up and feel the emotional pain. It has always been a problem but I never realized what it was till recently. Once I went to a funeral of a woman I knew briefly, wasn’t close to her and didnt know her well. when I walked into the church with all the grieving people I completely fell apart, I couldnt stop the emotions and it felt like I was being attacked by others grief.

    That was when I realized how affected I am by others but never had any idea what it was or why. Now I am beginning to understand thanks partly to your articles, thank you for sharing this with us all.. I hope to learn to turn it off soon as it can really be exhausting.

    Thank you

  47. RS

    Thank you for this article. I work as an intuitive counselor, but most often do spontaneous readings. However, I am suffering physically from my readings. Your article has been very helpful, and I know that you are genuine because your article vibrates compassion and caring; my mood already feels lighter. After a reading, esp. a spontaneous one, I often go into isolation, as if I cannot leave the house and take on any other energy – I will even avoid the person I live with! I do need help, so I will pray and meditate for guidance. I have been sincerely asking the universe for a mentor for so long, but nothing materializes – or I am rejecting the guidance, I do not know. I am going to look for the follow up article now. Thank you for this guidance, it is an incredible help!

  48. Justine

    Hi I have been through a lot in my life stuff some people shouldn’t and I am only 35. I have seen horrors and felt things that I don’t even know how I made it through. I constantly call on my ancestors and know that I am protected until my job on this planet is fulfilled. Lately I have seen my life colours shorten and change. I have always prayed for a lot of different reasons. I know things that I shouldn’t know when asked random questions by people I may not the exact wording but I know by instinct that I am not far off. I am a healer but never knew it. Lately I have been feeling drained and heavy. I was having a birthday dinner for my partner and ended up telling my guest personal things that I didn’t know, I don’t visually see people’s colours I just feel them and know that they are what they are. I also picked up on someone else who has a similar gift I guess. I was on the phone to my sister and saw that her longtime on and off again partner and father of her babies had changed. His colours felt dark and untrustworthy like he was going to manipulate my nieces if allowed over time and that they were going to be long term effected. I also picked up on her landlords personal situation and told my sister what I thought and it was bang on, even though I didn’t know it was it was just what needed to be said. I get bored easy in conversation because I already know what they are going to say. I finish sentences of others I don’t know it’s just getting more intense as I become clear in my mind about myself.

  49. lisa

    Hi I deal with this all to well everything and anything makes me cry. Even for people I’ve never met. I could read something and just burst out with tears and I try to stop it but then it overflows. And to be honest it make my life miserable.

  50. Han

    Thank you so much for this series of articles, it’s all really helpful.

    My case of overactive empathy is a little different from the others, I think.
    I’m not a very social person, I have few friends and rarely see them, so I barely interact with people other than my family.
    However, since I’m a lonely person, my inner world is quite rich and I have a really powerful imagination.
    Everytime I watch a movie, read literature or anything that has something to do with characters and a story I can’t help it but get drowned into this state of extreme empathy. I feel the pain that characters feel. When they are sad, I am sad, when they laugh, I laugh, whatever happens to them affects me as well.

    I end up pausing the movie or throwing the book away, but the feeling remains. I tell myself it’s all fiction, “These people do not exist” but my consciousness is too stubborn to understand.
    The depression I often get after finishing a book or watching a movie often deprives me of enjoying it. My family members always ask me what’s wrong when they see me in this state but it would be too embarassing to tell them that I just watched a movie and that makes me depressed for a week.

    Anyway, I read the second article as well and I specially found the first step really helpful, the one about centering yourself 🙂

  51. Julia

    I have just recently rediscovered my gifts and I feel that one of them is empathy. I can walk into a situation and get feelings or emotions that aren’t mine and know what to say or what not to say to others. I can get sick to my stomach or anxiety and have no idea why, when a second ago I was happy. I’m just trying to figure out what all my gifts are and try to work on them. Empathy I feel is one of my strongest ones. I look forward to reading more of your articles. Thank you for your time.
    Julia (Jewels)

  52. Nurj

    Thank you… THANK YOU for writing this article! I found the amswer to what i’m experiencing right now!

    A friend called me and told me she was really afraid and confused on what to do. She had cheated with her close friend’s boyfriend, but it didn’t last. However, my friend’s exboyfriend had an ex-girlfriend… this ex-girlfrienf wasnt fond of my friend and managed to learn this secret. Ex-gf threatened to tell the close friend of what she had done. Because my friend had confided in me before… she called me and told me what i wrote above. After our conversation, i felt really TROUBLED. There was this intense need to help and solve her problems. My mom noticed the change in my aura and told me to stay away from that friend. As my mom noticed i tend to be affected by other people’s troubles. I posted on a forum on what to do… until someone posted that i acted like an empath.

    Looks like i put and perceived my friend’s problems too much.

    So i’ll be readinf the next article… thank you!

  53. Brintha

    Hi dear,
    Blessed to read ur article… I had all these experiences which u had talked abt but truely not knowing wts wrong with me for being dragged with others emotional burdens. The worse thing was that I was never knowing that I’m hurting myself n not taking care of me at all… Ur blog gave me clarity n make me feel safe. Thanks for this great timely posting… May God bless u..

  54. Mark

    When I was younger I could only connect with animals. Now that I’m getting older I’m feeling everything. Picture, TV, Internet. You get the picture. I thought it might be a rare form of depression or anxiety. But I feel good. I feel better when I go on my 20 mile hikes in to the middle of nowhere. But when I can’t get away from it all I get overwhelmed. I have a problem of making other people successful at the hands of what I do around them. I’m always wondering why can’t I be successful as my friends and others I meet. I fail at a lot of things that wish I didn’t. Because of my gift/burden people think I’m bat-shit crazy. I denied I had this ability for so long. Now there’s no denying it. Lately my ability has been real strong. I’m starting believe that living physically on earth, is like living in hell. I feel that something big is brewing up and there is no way to stop. Everything is pissed off! I hate how the negative energy is stronger than the positive. I feel scared for what might happen in a month, year, or even decades.

  55. amanda

    Its a great article Anna,I’m having problems with energy buildup or something. Ill do these techniques and yoga and chakra yoga even your chakra cleaning and stones but energy still intensifies through me. It dosent let me sleep much I get restless legs so I do grounding and not much relief. I notice it goes to my hands and they literately swell when I’m “full” of energy my BF says my hands feel hot to the touch then they look red… I cant release it or even know what to do with it I visualize and visualize help please . I dont know whats happening to me.

  56. Paul

    @ Amanda, i am not saying your cause is the same as mine but it does sound similar to my having earth energy running through my bed.

    Think of it like a fountain that pours out of the earth, but is a life force energy that is responsive to the nature of your thought, beliefs, intentions, and consciousness. It can have an expansive quality to it. It can fill you up, but keep you too active for sleep. My “fountain” goes through my chest, but covers whole torso and neck. If i turn to sleep 180 degrees, it keeps my legs active with energy.

    I noted the restlessness was kicking in (ie pull me out of sleep) after 3am, but on morning with fainter energy it comes later. When i became aware of this, i did a little testing. When FIRST awakened by the earth energy, i remained in a receptive/ body feeling awareness mode, compared the experiences between; lying in my bed, different point in my bedroom and different points along my bed (sitting upright). A very obvious “puddle” or footprint of energy is what i discovered.

    For combinations of earth energy, energy sensitivities, and emotional emapathy, one would do well to remove the crystals from the bedroom and keep distance from them during sleep.

    With intention and states of thought, you can do healing for yourself and others. eg. if someone has an ache, an injury, etc, see, think, feel and know them to be in the completed well state….

  57. Claire


    Actually there is something called empathic illness. I have experienced this since I was young, and recently learned to cleanse myself of stagnant energy that led to many unexplainable autoimmune diseases without blood work, etc to back it up.. I don’t think it’s as immediate as what you are describing Donna, but it is quite real. Let’s face it, all we are is energy in an energy bound world.

  58. Regina K.

    I have been very interested in all of the articles I’ve been reading about being empathic. I had to quit my job because every time I would enter the building, I would feel sick and weak, or just a frantic mess. There would be moments where I would break down and cry. I would be minding my own and doing my job, and out of no where I would be crying. Didn’t know a good portion of the people, or would be standing away from them? The building itself is a bad place. Someone had passed in that building because of heart attack,, so now there are a lot persons with heart problems. The trauma in that place had put my health at risk. It has been close to a month now since I’ve been working. I’m pretty sure that I have gained some weight Still learning on how to turn it off.. Thank you for letting me share Anna…

  59. Anonymous

    I am totally empathetic towards certain people who are too close to me. I am eager to read the next article regarding how to turn this off. This is because every other time when a decision has to be made, I think from everyone’s perspective. And many a times I land up taking decision in others favor thinking that taking decision in my favor would hurt them or make them uncomfortable. But later I feel that I am not living my life. I can’t be myself. I modify my every step according to the person I love. And I lose my own self. My own choices. My own likes. This is really troubling me.

  60. Tiffany tuttle

    Thank you for still having your article available for all these years. The women in my family would talk about this and we can also communicate with each other. Not full conversation more like a beeper and their voice calling our name. If we don’t respond it gets worse and we can be hundreds of miles away. I used to get in fights as a child because there thoughts were so real that it was like reading lips. I knew they had negative thoughts about me and could sometimes make out the words and I would react. I have always had a spiritual bond with God and have had prophetic vision that strangers would say were right on. I think I learned to turn them off and I can’t watch the news without telling myself it’s not real of dreaming it’s my family. this condition has helped me and hurt me. I have been told I am a diamond. I often get too close to people too fast and last month I had to go to the doctor and they said I had a panic attack. I have had to be on antidepressants since I had my first child and have had to had anxiety attacks in many different situations. Including work. I have been producing this energy for years because others can feel it. Some fear away from me and I have been sexually abused by three different adults as a child. I could feel their lust and I have intimacy issues because of it. I am 43 and still have problems with my husband. My situation is that I will feel pain so deeply that I get angry and snap at the person. It wasn’t until I dabbled a little in finding out that I was feeling other peoples pain and anger and caught myself and apologised and asked them if they were in a lot of pain? That was it his pain was so bad I hurt, was cranky and lashed out. He had Cancer and an open wound on his face that was very painful. I lost that job and that was the best part. Everyone was miserable and angry I kind of lost my mind. I ended up straining my back and then finding out i have arthritis up and down my whole back with calcium spurs on all my vertebre. Sometimes I am in pain myself and get cranky until I realize it’s my pain.

  61. Sheryl

    I don’t know how I managed to find this article but I’m glad I did however I’m still immensely confused. I am not intuitive in anyway or consider myself an empath in anyway. I have no psychic abilities at all and no other abilities at all except I feel too much empathy and it greatly impacts my life and I’m trying to figure out why. Going into a building like you do and feel what somebody else is feeling is not something I can do. Unless I physically see a person who is upset or traumatized and then of course I can feel it because I’ve lived it
    Basically when I feel someone else’s pain it’s because I have felt that pain at some point in time my life and I can relate. if I’m speaking to somebody who gets emotional I think I feel the pain because I have felt the emotion that this person is going through ,I feel it to the point to where it would bring me to tears . Or reading or watching something in the news I can relate to the victims because I’ve experienced what they’ve experienced I have felt the pain they may have felt from experiences in my own life . If I watch programs on TV that have sad scenes basically any feeling I’ve ever felt I pick up on because I have felt it from my own experiences. So to me I wouldn’t consider that empathy really because I am basing the feelings of others on feelings I have already experienced in my life so how does that work can I still turn off the water works ? Can I stop putting myself in other shoes and feeling what they feel ? I’ve had a very traumatizing life so I’ve experienced many many emotions and truly believe that’s how and why I can relate to others is from my own hardships in my own sufferings so could that be the case and that overactive empathy ? Any insight you could give me would be greatly appreciated because half the time I feel like an emotional bumbling fool who can’t control her emotions

  62. Mel

    Hello Anna, whenever someone is next to me I can tell if they’re okay or upset deep inside and I can tell if one is lying to me or telling the truth. If they’re lying I’ll feel so uncomfortable, if they are telling the truth I’ll be really calm and happy. I’m 14 yrs and I’m so confused with what this is.

  63. Tim

    I have to disagree with the statement that empath’s can block external energy, Because they can’t, the truth is recognizing what isn’t your’s and the ability to have it walk with you not of you, always control and hold on to yourself, this is an extreme of the phrase; easier said than done, so much more to my statement than what was been said, a debate for sure.

  64. Anthony

    I believe my wife is suffering uncontrollably because of taking on emotional empathy of her children and grandchildren even though sometimes it’s self-perceived. I’ve talked to her about it and she agrees but can’t turn it off. She is utterly depressed and crippled by this. Please help.

  65. Chanelle

    Thank you so much for this post! As a nursing student, I find that that I am overactively emotionally empathetic. I cant seem to hold in my tears at times with patients and I know this will affect me while working. Thanks again.

  66. Jackie

    Hello Anna,
    Wow, I find myself speechless while reading your article. I was told once that I am extremely empathetic and that I absorbe the negative energy from others. That I need to learn how to protect myself. I find myself in a difficult situation at this very moment. One very similar to one you described. Suffering the loss of your friend ‘s brother to suicide without even knowing him well. As for me, a friend ( not very close) lost her husband to sudden death on January 06, 2017. They were a beautiful couple , family with two teenagers. A young couple. I was stunned when I read about it on facebook and ever since that day I’ve fallen into depression. I am mourning her loss. I feel her pain, her loss. I find myself crying daily. It has affected me in a severe way. I find myself listening to songs as if was her, reminiscing on her husband and crying. I don’t know how to deal with this. I sleep all day. I wake up anywhere after 4:00pm. My children are grown, college and my husband works outside the home . The only reason I wake up is because of my dog. I don’t know how to disconnect myself, my feelings. Please tell me how you do it? How can I detach myself from suffering other’s , grieving to the point that it affects my family. I can totally relate to your stories. I was shocked to see I’m not the only one. I thought I was going nuts. I was told it’s a gift that I posses, but honestly…. I don’t want this . Thanks for your article and your time . If you get this, and can please email me, this way I get your message as I don’t know to find your reply. Sincerely. Jackie

  67. Joan

    I feel that I have found people I can relate too so well. What I need to know is that when I get this feeling of I am needed to help this person…When I find them, I can describe what they look like, what pain they have and see what the problem is. I then (in my mind) work on them. Either making them better or finding them if they are missing. Is this an Empath as well? Once completed meetings with them and working on them (in my mind) I give myself a cleansing by a little prayer of mine.

    When this does happen, I must say it is very emotionally and physically draining. BUT so very rewarding knowing (with confirmation) It has helped. Sometimes when you tell people they think you`re a lil crazy, then I know when to keep quiet.

    I am so glad I have found you All.

  68. Jean

    I’m turning 35 next week. All my life I have felt out of place exhausted and off the ground all the time. This article is fantastic. This is happening to me right now. Pretty much all my life I medicated with alcohol or weed to numb my painful past and my confusion. As if that was ever going to work. Sobriety is the only way to deal with this one. Since a child I have read and felt people’s faces and felt their emotions and pain which I now know is a result of my social anxiety. Shyness like you wouldn’t believe . Today I was in a shop and got what I can only describe as a terrible period pain in my lower back. It was pretty chronic. I pointed to the area and asked the man working there if he was suffering to which he replied he had slipped discs in that area. I carried that pain home but it lifted after about 30 minutes. I no longer can deny this gift and sobriety is KEY. I was in a heavy depression a few weeks ago with suicidal thoughts. I finally see the light. This is the start of a new path. A life where I can turn it on and off will mean I can serve others to the best of my ability and finally understand what is happening. To everyone out there suffering I send you love. Be strong. Stay sober or your just fooling yourself. Answer that call and embrace your gift. Thanks so much for sharing this article.

  69. Pranav

    I may be sensitive to emotions too…
    I’m not sure
    It would explain a lot
    I get really sad when i read about certain situations that people or even character’s go through
    And i do pass most of your criteria
    I stay in my room most days
    I am terribly tired out when i have to spend time with groups of people
    Even people I know well
    I don’t mind spending time with my closest friend
    But sometimes it’s easier
    I’m just really really tired of this
    My parents fight almost every day…
    It’s really not a good atmosphere
    Ahh sorry about that
    I really don’t know why i am writing all this here
    I just needed to somehow reduce whatever the hell i am feeling

  70. Kandi

    Thank you Anna for doing such a great job at explaining this. I’ve always been able to “pick up” the feelings (and sometimes past feelings – if that makes sense) of others. In the past few years, I’ve had some personal trials that I have had to overcome. I found myself physically unable to move past it, because not only would I carry my own emotions, but i would feel what others are feeling as well. I don’t know if this is even related to what you discussed but I would like to learn more about Empaths and developing/controlling this skill. Is there a way to “fine-tune” it?

  71. khushboo

    Yes, I have felt like I was dead walking after I cured my father. I don’t even know what I did, just that I did something that made him healthy again. But I bore all the pain and misery. I don’t know how to turn it all “off’. So I’ll read your other article you mentioned. Once I saw a dog who’s both hind legs were broken and he was crawling through the road. It struck me so hard I had to curl into myself and I cry heart-wrenching sobs in the car, in front of my family and they were shocked, to say the least of why I was crying like I have my legs broken. Even now When I write it I feel like crying all over again. I feel overwhelming love for animals for nature. I fall in love easily and get my heart broken. I use coping mechanisms, building walls around my emotional being and push everyone out. I have been abused but I understand my abuser. It doesn’t even make sense, nothing did, till I started searching for who I am. Thank you for a little glimpse into who I am otherwise I would still be lost as ever.

  72. Zury

    Another problem of too much empathy arises when reading a book or watching a movie…very often I can’t go on because of what is about to happen to the character I’ve empathized with, which might be all of them 😉

  73. RtHane

    When I was a young boy I didn’t have much empathy nor sympathy towards people, this went on through school the Marine corp. I did however have empathy for my dog who was mistreated by family. I was 10, found myself sleeping in a coupe I built for him to get him out of the snow. I did find myself giving animals empathy and not so much people. Until I started the dating game, now the empathy was finding someone to rescue, this lead to total dysfunction, co-dependent and always turned to controlling behavior, jealousy and abrupt separations. During the between times, the single years I would rescue cats and dogs, knowing personally what it’s like to freeze, go hungry for days, to be in the weather wet or blistering dry. I couldn’t give them up, I could not separate myself from what I believed these animals were feeling or what they may be going through. Of course this was no way to live and no one would want to be around it. Drinking heavily I turned the switch semi off and parted way with 24 cats, the animal shelter truck at my door. 15 years and I have guilt still. And I have trouble to this day, except I’m clean and sober now. There is so much here on paper it’s all tied together, I NEED to find the switch to help turn this empathy off. I’ve been through extensive counseling for other issues related to this but never thought of empathy as the real issue. It makes sense though. Anyway I’ve said a mouthful. Maybe others can relate. I’m an extreme empath to the animals.

  74. coral

    I would definitely say I’m an empath and wondered if anyone has felt the following? When I was a child, I remember stroking a dog which had a wound on it’s back. Going near its wound gave me this strange whole body sensation, almost like a very mild electric shock, which made me want to pull away. Not sure how else to describe it really. I have since had it as an adult on occasion in similar circumstances. Can anyone relate to this at all?

  75. Coral

    RtHane, I can very much relate to your empathy with animals. I also believe I can feel their suffering and its horribly painful at times. I’ve also had drug & alcohol issues-my way of dealing (or rather not dealing) with my emotions. But I am also clean and sober now. I choose to be sober as I want to be real and in touch with my emotions. Well, I think I do. My beloved cat died in April and I can honestly say I’ve never felt such pain. I have had other big losses (mum & dad) but this is the first time I have truly felt them I think. I have felt like I don’t want to be here today but hold on to the hope or belief that there is a purpose to this suffering. This too shall pass as some geezer said in the bible.. 🙂

  76. Hailee

    The relationships start out great as friendships but then I become too emotionally involved, I start to wonder why there is a shift in someone’s feelings for me but then I realize it’s because I feel too involved and they need me too much for me to leave (although now I know that space is necessary)

    My family’s problems affect me to the point where I can’t leave my house because I’m too overwhelmed with the pain they feel. I know That they’re not happy so I feel as if I cant enjoy other people’s company.

    I know my limitations in social settings. I’ve never been to a party because I’m scared of something terrible happening or just me being different than the people there.

    I hardly ever leave my house unless I have a family member with me. Its almost like I need to carry their energy with me to make me feel safe.

  77. Bernard Egreteau

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this! It really changes a lot of things knowing I’m like that. And getting worse every year I’m afraid, so incapacitating on a social level it has become.

    I guess I have to learn how to manage my sensitive boundaries to be more controlable and waterproof! 🙂 (a major understatement). Breathing I’ve known about for a long time but doesn’t quite work well enough. Singing (humming) does a better job. 🙂 But still, I can’t find peace among those of my kind, and it has somehow always been like this since age 10. I had to learn how to interpret other people’s emotion very quickly since I was put at that age in a place where my name, because of my dad’s work, was a target. A four-year immersion into human badlands that led me to a state of semi-depression through my entire teenage years for reasons you can imagine.

    Having recently found I’m a rather “open minded person”, I had some kind of gifts at that time, one of them was music. Either this or the fact that I must be tough, I really got my way up on the ladder of self-confidence in order to achieve a few intersting things in various areas (music, storytelling, 3D animation, independent self-made moviemaking mainly) along the years that came after, but I came back to a point where interacting with people has become more difficult than the past years (I’m 52). Being hyper empathic in a society where empathy is shown as a “problem” is difficult.

    In France today, there is a crime called “solidarity crime” (not actually a crime, they call it “délit de solidarité”, it can lead you to jail for helping poor people fleeing their countries at war). I also heard that there is a measurement of the “empathic response” in the world population that has been issued covering the last 50 years. The empathic response has lowered in the average homo sapiens” from more than 40 percent… I sensed it before I knew it on a gut level, growing and growing. Today, I can sense it every day every time I go out. People are becoming more and more narcissistic, and narcissism is more than often raised by mainstream media as a “must be”. For now, isolation is my only protection, and to try to rebuild a social network as carefully as I can.

    My question would be: are there others like me who are stuck in this kind of corner? Anyways, whatever the answer is, thank you for enlighting me! 🙂 Like an old Chinese guy said, “he who knows others is wise, he who knows himself is enlightened”.

    Cheers! B.


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