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6 Struggles Empaths Understand (And That’s Why You Should Appreciate Them)

6 Struggles Empaths Understand (And That’s Why You Should Appreciate Them)

If you have empathy, you can understand and even feel what other people are going through when they are up against grief, hardship, disappointment, pain, and a host of other harrowing emotions. The word “empathy” comes from two Greek words: emaptheia, which means “passion,” and pathein, which means “to experience.”

Why are some people more empathetic than others? Research by Dr. Elaine Aron of Stony Brook University of New York shows that the brains of empaths have a stronger reaction when faced with certain emotions.

“We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity during the 12-second period when they viewed the photos [of happy and sad faces].” — Dr. Aron.

If you are empathetic, you show you understand, you listen and you are compassionate. You may even take action and reach out by being sympathetic and helpful.

But when you are an empath, you are in a whole other category. You are so sensitive that you may actually absorb people’s emotions and suffering, even to the point of actually feeling them yourself. This is so intense that empaths have a hard time trying to put up shields so that they can actually survive without becoming engulfed. Here are 6 struggles that we empaths have to cope with on a daily basis. If you are one of us, you will have no trouble relating to these. If you are not, you might appreciate us even more.

1. We feel overwhelmed

If we are close to a person who is suffering a bereavement, we may feel that person’s sorrow so intensely that we will want to cry with them. The only problem here is that this prevents us from taking helpful action or being useful in some practical way. We are paralyzed and we wish we could do more.

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2. We are shock absorbers

When it comes to witnessing harrowing scenes of migrants drowning while fleeing war, we cannot control the flood of emotions we feel. This is a highly desirable state in many ways because it makes us more compassionate human beings. The downside is that we become sponges for the world’s suffering and injustice. Every time we turn on the TV news, it is dragging us down and making us exhausted.

3. We have to learn to say “no”

We realize that there is a limit to getting drawn in when people who are negative and toxic try to suck us into their worlds. Empaths have to realize that true happiness, joy, and contentment come from within a person. It is not our job to make other people happy, but this is so hard when we have to set the limits and boundaries. A good tip is to play for time and not respond immediately to a cry for help — we all need to assess whether our energy and space are at risk.

4. We may be physical empaths

The problem here is even more acute because if we are physical empaths, we seem to absorb other people’s pains, illnesses, and stress. It often means we are hypochondriacs. We seem to have a very thin protective shield, which means that other people’s negative energy is getting through to us much more easily. Nobody is quite sure why this is so. The best way we can protect ourselves from this is to learn to practise mindfulness, breathing exercises, and to surround ourselves with friends who emanate positivity and healthy energy.

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5. We can spot the fakes

Our empathic antenna sometimes have to work overtime. You know those people who praise you to the skies or those filled with anger or hate but who are charming on the surface? Being an empath helps us to spot these ones. It also helps us to be on our guard when certain people want to exploit our sensitivity and compassion.

“Empaths often possess the ability to sense others on many different levels.” — Christel Broederlow

6. We are super sensitive

This goes for everything from being aware of what a person wants, thinks, and desires to being super sensitive in the physical sense. This usually means that we are easily startled and are disturbed by bright lights, rough fabrics, and our sense of smell is extremely sharp. Now you know why we rarely watch police shows and other violent stuff on TV.

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Are you an empath? Why not take the quiz here to actually find out? Remember these are labels and that life is for living and helping others when we can.

Featured photo credit: Sympathy/Javier Kohen via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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