Empath may just be a trendy buzzword to many people, but for those of us living our lives as a true empath, we know that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. And while many people may not believe me when I say this, even psychologists are warning against the dangers of ‘compassion fatigue,’ or a very typical side effect in the life of an empath.
We empaths feel everything so deeply. We understand and feel for others in a way that is almost difficult to explain. When we enter a room, we instantly feel the anger, sadness, loneliness, happiness, energetic and neurotic vibes that we absorb from each person in it.
And because of this mirror effect- people often get confused or sketched out by our seemingly strange demeanor.
Don’t get me wrong, having compassion and empathy for others, even in the extreme case of the empath is a wonderful thing in a lot of ways. I love with all my heart, I have compassion and understanding for all sentient beings, and the intensities and sensitivities that flow within my soul make me a passionate person in many regards.
But, feeling so deeply doesn’t come without an extremely high cost.
While I had never heard the official term until recently, I have come to understand what compassion fatigue is, and how it has affected me in the past, and even now. Compassion fatigue is experienced by empaths, highly-sensitive people, caregivers, and most people who are passionate about helping others. However, empaths may be more likely to experience its effects on a very malignant level.
The symptoms often mirror the people from which we virtually absorb energy from. Feelings of helplessness, suffering, or even experiencing trauma by proxy through others all fall under compassion fatigue.
In turn, we may come off as anti-social when we begin to withdraw from people in a major attempt to preserve our well-being. And that isn’t the case. Oftentimes, we don’t realize how much sadness and tragedy we have absorbed until we are overwhelmed and in turn, we isolate to fix ourselves.
-Loss of pleasure
-Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue
-Bottling our emotions
-Over use of substances
And the many extreme signs associated with an intense chronic stress disorder.
According to the therapists working together to help highly-sensitive individuals on HSpersons.com, suicide rates are high among individuals with highly-sensitive traits. While they elaborate a bit more deeply they hypothesize that this is due to their extreme sensitivity to the myriad of extreme emotions and life struggles that take place around them. Continuing a bit more deeply, they explain that empaths often withdraw from the company of others in order to protect themselves. In turn, they are often thought of as weird, and many are even bullied by society for their seemingly strange demeanor.
Many of us feel like alien creatures, unable to truly understand or differentiate ourselves from the constant chaos that reverberates within us. In an article (that I urge you to check out) clinical psychologist Bo Forbes quotes one of her followers by saying, “It’s like I’m an alien from another planet—no one understands me, and sometimes I don’t even get myself.”
And I have never read anything more relatable regarding what I feel like on a daily basis. She also elaborates on how many empaths constantly make it their life purpose to try to help the people that they encounter who are filled with trauma, sadness, and other painful feelings. We make wonderful intuitive healers, and somehow magnetize people to us- especially those who are broken.
But she urges all empaths to take measures for self-care, including advice for us to set clear boundaries and to learn when we should say no to helping or fixing others. You can read her advice here.
If you are dealing with compassion fatigue, there is most definitely hope! It may be time for you to stop trying to help others for a bit and allow yourself a healing hiatus. But don’t isolate. Seek the support of your friends, family, and people who can help. Visit HSperson.com to research your condition, and even to speak with skilled therapists who specialize in compassion fatigue experienced due to high-sensitivity. Learn to set healthy boundaries, and find the hobbies and passions that make you feel good inside. And be sure to spend plenty of time doing them!
You aren’t expected to be a super-human, so above-all, realize that while it is a beautiful thing to help and heal others- there are MANY situations in which we cannot help, and end up hurting ourselves deeply by continuing to try.
Image via Pixabay