Mental Health: How Being an Empath Can Ruin Relationships

Empaths, Features, The Heart Chakra, The Third Eye Chakra

Features

Empaths and relationships. It’s that underbelly hot topic that many people in the “New Age” community tend to ignore. But I think it’s important to understand the Shadow aspects of all things, because the more self-awareness we become, the more growth and expansion can occur in our lives.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen (both in my own life and with empathic clients I’ve worked with) is the issue of co-dependent relationships. Most empaths see this happen in their lives at least once, if not over and over. It can be hard for an empathic person to learn healthy boundaries because they naturally (and subconsciously) spend so much time exploring other people’s auras, that it can be difficult to know where they end and the other person begins.

I found this article to be highly informative, honest, and exactly the tendencies many of us empaths need to understand about ourselves in order to develop healthy relationships and break the damaging patterns of co-dependency.  I hope it helps shed light on some of the more destructive aspects of empathy.

By Marilisa Sachteleben

Fourteen years ago, I discovered I’m an empath. I always knew, even as a child, that I felt others; pain, but it was good to discover that intense sensitivity had a name. Empath Guide defines it well: Criticism, suffering, hurt, humiliation, shame are hard enough for me to bear. Watching others feel them is agonizing. Knowing I’m an empath explains a lot about my interpersonal struggles. It can ruin or heal relationships.

* I can read hearts. Sympathy is feeling for another person while staying inside one’s self. Empathy is feeling with someone. It’s like I live inside their heads and hearts. I understand others’ motives and reasons better than they sometimes do. I make excuses for them they’ve never thought of.

* I’m in constant pain. Empaths often act depressed. We are. Continually feeling others’ pain is exhausting. Sometimes, it’s plain miserable. It’s like having the weight of the world, with all its sin, hurt and sorrow on our shoulders.

* I’m paranoid. As an empath mom and wife, I feel a flood of compassion, sympathy and closeness with my family. That’s good, except that I worry about them 24-7-365. I could easily become a “smother mother.” I read about a mom who couldn’t let her kids out of her sight for fear something might happen and she wouldn’t be there to stop it. I know how that feels. Other parents, sometimes spouses and kids, most of society doesn’t get that. They just think we’re over-controlling, helicopter paranoiacs. We are. We have to be. Empathy dictates that we be constantly vigilant.

* I try to control others. Because empaths feel everyone’s pain, we start to believe we’re responsible for it and can stop it. The guilt is all-consuming. To assuage it, we try to correct, fix and change others’ behavior. We hope to stop them hurting themselves and us by default.

* I drive people away. I had my empath epiphany at a roller-skating party. A stranger fell and broke her arm. I began to sob and shake. I was incoherent. I felt her arm pain, shock and fright. My friends felt sorry for her, but were horrified by my reaction. One said, “Mar, you really take the gospel injunction to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ seriously!” They acted wary of me after that. And these were friends.

* I’m crazy-vulnerable. If friends can’t take extreme empathy, imagine how raw an empath is with unsafe people. We easily fall prey to victimizers and predators. I have been scolded, shamed, punished, abused, mocked and taken advantage of because of my empathy. Empaths are an addict’s codependent-mate fantasy!

* Empathy is a gift and a curse. Being able to get inside someone else’s heart is a double-edged sword. I’ve seen things that will never cease to traumatize me. Compassion frankly hurts. And all the while I’m being hurt, I kept on empathizing. I intuitively understand where behavior comes from. I can never really be angry with anyone because I can’t distance from them. Anger at someone else is just anger at myself.

* I have panic attacks. This part is the hardest to admit, but the most necessary for me and other empaths to hear. In my agony, I have melted down and hurt myself and those I love. Weird isn’t it, that I would hurt those who I worry most about protecting. I used to feel unbearable guilt for this. Now I realize it’s the logical result of so much inner torment. When loved ones do things to hurt themselves, they’re hurting me doubly. When I rage at them, it’s myself I’m livid with.

My story is still being written, but I think it’s going to have a happy ending. I’m fortunate to have a loving family who supports me. I’m learning to recognize obsessive empathy and redirect it. I’m using this existential crisis to understand myself, my relationships and my purpose. I’m seeking positive outlets so I’m not engulfed by angst. I’m finding healthy diversions and channels for my empathy.

(originally published on Yahoo!).

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7 thoughts on “Mental Health: How Being an Empath Can Ruin Relationships

  1. Hi Amanda, I just signed up for your course starting Jan 14 (if I remember correctly). Do I friend you on FB, or will you send me instructions in an email?

  2. These feelings I have learned from therapy are also from being severely abuse as children. Your senses become hyper vigilant as a way to be able to “predict” what your perpetrate might do next and how to avoid further abuse. You get to where you are not allowed to feel your own feelings, but you have to constantly feel what your abuser is feeling and then try to “sooth” them. This also causes the abused child to grow up and become Co-depended. This happens all the time, and can feel as though you are taking on other peoples feeling and emotions when in fact you are as a survival mechanism that you learned from being abused. Many of these people I can almost garrentee have experience some type of abuse and as a result have “learned” these coping mechanism. The problem is when they become adults it works against healthy relationships instead of for them.

    1. Exactly. I did a video on how abuse can cause extreme sensitivity to others emotions/energy. It is apart of it. Not for everyone, but for a vast majority of people (I have several close friends who are extremely empathic and have never been abused). It is important to heal, first and foremost, but also learn how to control and use that highly developed sense of energy for the benefit of yourself and others. Regardless of how you developed it, it is a heightened ability to read energy and it can be used for good. 🙂

  3. It felt like I was reading my own story. I did not have a psychologically-healthy childhood and true that it might have caused me being an empath. Knowing people’s intentions and motives when they interact with you and allowing even those whom you know would cause you great pain is the hardest things to do. I’m so glad to come across this and celebrate the bravery of the author. 🙂 love…

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