As a child I constantly heard that I was too sensitive and people were frustrated with me because I was emotional. Sometimes I used to wonder why I was the only one crying and why other people weren’t crying!
Didn’t they feel the pain of the situation that was bringing me to tears?
Now I know, they did not feel what I felt. It wasn’t until I was an adult and took myself for years of counselling that I discovered I had a natural ability to carry other people’s burdens. I learned phrases like “empath” and “burden-bearer”. They may momentarily feel empathy for whatever the situation was, but they don’t actually take the feeling home with them, they don’t identify with it and struggle to find their own center again.
Are you a burden-bearer?
If you feel like you are carrying burdens, you are.
- News stories may affect you in such a way that you just can’t shake the feelings from them. If you’ve been exposed to negative stories, they seem to linger and affect your mood. It’s not as easy for you to shake those moods. You likely avoid the news and don’t watch TV much. As a child I was sometimes told to watch the news because it was important to be up to date on current events. My poor mom had NO IDEA what this did to me until one day she noticed that I was standing watching a story about someone having died in an accident and tears were streaming down my face. I was maybe 6 or 7 years old. Thankfully, that was the last time I had to watch the news. I do not watch the news to this day.
- You suddenly are feeling really strong emotions about a person, a topic or something and it almost seems as if these are not even your opinions or feelings. It might even feel like something has taken over inside you. You might be asking yourself, “Why did I say that? Why am I feeling that? I don’t know I felt that…” It feels like it’s just not yours and sometimes you wonder “Am I THAT permeable???” (Yes, you are but it’s actually pretty easy to shift this…ask me how.)
- People are always telling you you’re too sensitive or to toughen up. I certainly heard that one a lot growing up. (…also…”crybaby” was my nickname for a few years)
- You’re a pretty good listener and people seem to tell you their troubles all the time. In fact, you frequently find yourself having phone conversations where you never actually speak after “hello”. The other person talks until they stop and feel better. Unless you have the energetic skills built to withstand this, you usually leave the conversation quite deflated and tired.
- You may attract people who really suck your energy and you are not sure what to do about it. Some people refer to this as “energy vampires” but I was always afraid of vampires as a child so I don’t use that term. I’ve learned many ways to feel great even when I can’t remove that person from my life. I can teach you how to do this too!
- It feels like people are subconsciously picking up on how goodnatured you are and sometimes when you walk into a room you feel as though you’ve stepped into a thick soup. Almost as though your primal fight/flight/freeze/faint response has kicked in. If people are stressed, you seem to feel stressed and don’t know quite how it happened. If people are angry or frustrated, and you weren’t before you walked into the room, you feel off balance and have this urge to hide in the bathroom or something. It may take time before you even become aware that all those feelings are NOT YOURS. They’ve stuck to you like a burr in the forest.
It’s actually not that hard to find your center and stay there. The hard part is remembering those negative feelings are JUST NOT YOU. It’s not your fault and it’s a beautiful sign that your boundaries are being tested. You can master this, by the way! There are nurturing ways to care for your gifts (yes, being an empath is a gift and not a curse) and it just takes practice.