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. Compassion fatigue is a very serious issue that we as empaths face and understanding it is important.
As empaths, we 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. I love this gift and would not change a thing but that doesn’t mean living with it is ‘easy.’
Feeling so deeply comes with 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. The more you help people the more at risk you may be for 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. When you’ve been so compassionate that you’re exhausted as a result the signs of compassion fatigue will begin coming forth.
Some of the more common symptoms of compassion fatigue include:
-Loss of pleasure
-Physical, mental, and emotional fatigue
-Bottling our emotions
-Overuse of substances
And the many extreme signs can also be associated with an intense chronic stress disorder.
Many of us feel like alien creatures, unable to truly understand or differentiate ourselves from the constant chaos that reverberates within us and compassion fatigue makes that even worse. 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.” This really resonated with me on a deep level.
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. Learning to set healthy boundaries, and find the hobbies and passions that make you feel good inside can work wonders in regards to combatting this kind of thing but don’t always resolve them completely.
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. To learn more about compassion fatigue please check out the video below. Don’t let compassion fatigue take over your life, you deserve to feel just as good as you make others feel.