We live in the world with many people. Some are heartfelt and uplifting to be around. Others are more difficult. It’s important to find a comfortable way of relating to people so that you can develop a harmonious interdependence rather than being codependent.
The secret to reducing overwhelm is to notice it quickly. Many empathic patients have come to me saying, “I’ve felt overwhelmed for years.” They live in the persistent, uncomfortable state of sensory overload or else have become exhausted, burned out, or sick.
I invite you to take stock of your experiences in 2020, in order to gain clarity and compassion on your journey as an empath. Reflect on and journal about your progress and challenges. What were the emotional high points?
One of the great challenges for empaths and all sensitive people is how to help others without burning out. As a psychiatrist, I’ve observed that my patients get most exhausted when they try too hard to fix or help their spouses, children, or friends.
A big challenge for all sensitive people is how to be compassionate without absorbing the stress of others and the world. We don’t have the same filters as most people. We are emotional sponges who feel everything and instinctively take it in.
Empaths and sensitive people have an open heart. They don’t have the same emotional guard up that many others do. They feel people’s pain–both loved ones and strangers–and instinctively they want to take it away from them.
Empaths and highly sensitive people are particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelmed and worried in stressful times, especially when they obsessively watch the news about daily updates, trauma, economic stress and violence, and then are not able to turn bad news off.
Many sensitive people have not learned how to self-soothe if they are upset or when life gets intense. Like many children, perhaps you didn’t have the kind of parents that held you and let you know that everything was going to be okay.