There are so many misconceptions about what an empath is.
An empath is often seen as a sensitive person who feels what everyone else feels. Which is only half, if not a quarter of the story.
Truth is, an empath is also someone that is empowered by their sensitivity. They are empathetic to themselves first and foremost because you are just as human as everyone else.
Because how you can truly say you feel what everyone is feeling if you can’t differentiate it from what you’re feeling?
But being empowered doesn’t mean you are without struggles – here are 8 unique struggles empaths deal with every day.
1) Confusing other people’s emotions with their own
As someone that once felt burdened by my sensitivity, what helped me find balance was establishing a baseline.
Meaning do what you have to do in order to be the happiest when you are alone with your thoughts and feelings. As dramatic as this sounds, your life depends on it!
This way, if I enter an environment and suddenly feel my mood shift, I know it’s not me. And I don’t have to blame myself or internalize the way others are acting.
I’ve learned that when people aren’t in tune with themselves, it can disrupt my peace.
Then I learned that if I don’t do something about it, I can easily become a byproduct of that environment.
2) Being a byproduct of their environment
Maybe you identify as a shapeshifter, or someone that feels like they belong everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Without healthy boundaries, you can find yourself being a byproduct of your environment. Meaning you find yourself taking on the qualities of the people you spend the most time with.
Sometimes to your detriment.
It’s a blessing and curse depending on how you look at it. And how well you value positive experiences more than how you value companionship.
If you are capable of being alone, that distinction should come easier for you.
But if you are still discovering yourself, I invite you to reflect on these questions:
How can you better embrace your ability to connect with others in a way that serves you?
What are some qualities in others that help you feel safe to express yourself?
Let your answers guide you to the right people, but also what you should say “no” to more often.
3) The strenuous practice that is the art of boundaries
Empath or not, setting boundaries is difficult.
Most of us aren’t taught how when we are younger, so you need to first accept that it will be a practice. Meaning it’s going to be uncomfortable at first.
Boundaries aren’t just a security system for your well-being or saying no when you’re at your limit.
It’s about awareness, alignment, and actions that are aware and in alignment with you!
Protect your peace, but also structure your life to be peaceful as a whole, and don’t worry if it looks different.
So it makes sense why an empath would need boundaries, but also why they’re maybe the most capable even if it’s difficult at first.
Because they’re able to hold space for complex and deep emotions that speak to the human nature more than others.
4) Seeing things that others don’t see
If you’re an empath, have you ever found the perfect words to explain what you’re feeling on the inside (which probably took mad skills to do)?
And people respond with, “I never thought of it like that but it makes sense!”
Or are you always a step ahead of everyone? Have a reputation as a human lie detector?
That’s because you are deeply in tune with human emotions – something a lot of people are conditioned to numb themselves to.
So it makes sense that it’s up to you to name the discomfort you feel when someone treats you a certain way and bring light to it.
And even show others how to do the same for them.
Because just because a feeling is uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it’s wrong – it just means no one has cracked the code yet.
Your boundaries should reflect this, but it should also discern what your responsibilities are.
You can show the horse where the water is. But you cannot force it to drink it and your life shouldn’t revolve around talking to horses either.
5) The black sheep effect
As you believe in your empathy, you will slowly find yourself becoming more empowered. Because nothing says I love myself like having your own back.
But this gift of knowing can be a burden in another way. And it’s that not everyone will be able to see what you see.
For example, a lot of human beings feed into the hive mindset and don’t always think about how a collective belief is rooted in bigotry.
And they will be loyal to those that are loyal to them, instead of being loyal to their own set of rules and values.
The fate of the black sheep can feel lonely, but as someone who has been every shade of the scapegoat, keep the faith.
The truth will always prevail and it’s that compassion is a language that every soul speaks.
So while your empathy may not be understood now, it will be. And in the meanwhile, practice protecting your sanity for when that day comes.
6) Thinking of every possibility
Usually about the many outcomes of your decisions. Especially how they might impact others.
Just because you can separate yourself from how other energies impact you, doesn’t mean you stop feeling how yours might impact them.
So you might get stuck in analysis paralysis for how to treat others because you’re doing extra calculations for what might serve their highest good.
Which first, I need you to know that not everyone does that and you should give yourself more credit.
And second, I understand that you don’t want to turn this side of you completely off. And I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to.
But you do need to reframe how you perceive the idea of a “highest good.”
It is not necessarily in the highest good of others for you to figure everything out for them. People should be given the chance to learn their own lessons.
They deserve to have their own eureka moments. So know that it’s also compassionate to step back and keep your distance from some people.
7) Managing people’s expectations of them
Understanding someone’s emotions better than they do will naturally radiate a nurturing aura from you.
And people might gravitate towards you if they aren’t grounded in themselves. Which is flattering and honestly, this isn’t always a bad thing.
But sometimes, people hold empaths to an unfair standard.
So for those who don’t identify as an empath, know that the empaths in your life are just as human as you. And treat them with care!
But also, everyone is an empath – so you are capable of giving yourself the nurturing you receive from others.
A healthy dynamic requires all parties to make the effort. So if you set boundaries with someone, the job is not done then and there.
Take note of how they respond and surround yourself with people that don’t think you’re subhuman for using your empathy for good.
It’s literally human decency and that’s honestly kind of a red flag.
8) Perpetual state of being lost and found
It’s only natural, no?
When you rely on your emotions to guide you and discover your own answers, that means you are feeling everything the human experience has to offer!
Which includes understanding your lows so you can truly understand the highs. You can only be found if you get lost!
This duality can sometimes be misunderstood because, to those that don’t practice this way of life, you might look really intense.
And because empaths are often black sheep of their community, there will be a period in their life where they find their way back to themselves.
This journey isn’t for the faint of heart, but it ends with them accepting that they are different and loving every moment of it.
And that’s when their second journey begins!
Where they seek others who have their own terms to live by or those who are maybe waiting for someone to show them that it’s possible.
So an empath is really just someone who trusts themselves.
Especially in the power of their emotions, and what they become when you truly process them.
This is written and coming from someone who at one point was the empath who shut off their feelings so I could feel human.
Until someone needed me to feel things on their behalf.
And while I was liked by everyone around me, my inner world felt like a war zone.
Where I’d resent myself when others did, but also resented myself for not having boundaries with them.
I never want to feel that way again, and it’s safe to say I won’t.
And guess what? That means you don’t need to either.