Monday, February 23, 2009


Various sources describe an "Empath" as someone who has the ability to discern and actually feel the emotions of others. I have long thought that this describes me.
I've heard it said that this over-developed sense of empathy is a double-edged sword and I can certainly attest to that. If someone I know is happy and joyful, I seem to absorb those feelings as well. If someone near me is experiencing grief or sadness, it manifests as a dark cloud of depression over me. While it can be very helpful in life to be able to intuit the truth of a situation and to accurately guess people's true motivations, it's also exhausting to experience other people's pain as well as your own.
In the past, as strange as it may seem, I have many times walked around for months suffering over situations that have little or nothing to do with me. It is particularly difficult detaching emotionally from my immediate family members, as I am in close proximity to them daily. That makes it a lot harder. Their sorrows, joys, grief and anger feel like they are mine too.
It's as if someone else's flame is consuming my candle.
For the longest time, I didn't realize that there was something of a choice involved, but I see now that I can take steps to protect myself. I am just now, at this advanced stage of life, learning to sort out which problems and emotions are truly mine, and which belong to others. I can still care about them, and I can still try to help them, but I don't have to suffer for them. Letting go of other people's pain and problems is something I have to practice daily to keep my sanity.


  1. Dear Deedee, when I was younger I usually suffer a lot about other people´s problems. Maturity made me take apart what is mine. It is very difficult especially when you love the person. As afar as I am concerned, when I am sad I don´t show off, I prepare classes, I creat activities, I paint, make an embroidery, sometimes I stroll very quickly for me to get tired and come back home with another "energy" around me. I really don´t like show off my sad feelings.
    Best wishes,

  2. I think we are better able to detach with age, to discern our own resposibilities and path, and advise others of their own and leave them to it. I wish for you a perfect balance.

  3. Suffering for someone else really does not help them at all so it is great step to clarify and set boundaries. That is not to say that you cannot or should not feel empathy/understanding for someone going through a difficult time. Sympathy (suffering for/with them) is so pointless and is also not a useful emotion/state for helping to see problems clearly and perhaps then be able to see the solution. The other side of the coin is to be aware that many people like to trap others in sympathy because by doing that they are no longer going it alone and can wallow happily, making the other person miserable too. Not a positive state of energy or emotions!

    So good for you Deedee in being able to start to clear out the negatives! Warm wishes, Vxx

  4. It takes a while for us to learn certain things, doesn't it? Sounds as though you're on the right track though.

  5. I've known this all to well for my entire life, and I think i inherited this quality from you - despite you thinking I'm jaded. For the sake of anonymity, you can call me "Tiny"

  6. I like the philosophical idea of letting go. I try to see things without taking them into myself. If I'm wired I have no balance.
    I'm so glad that you are not absorbing everything anymore. It doesn't make you less caring,it clarifies the vision. It definitely helps to get older!

  7. sometimes you just have to let go, realize what you can do and can't do. and you have to save yourself first....jc

  8. Rosana - yes, to keep oneself busy is a huge help in this.

    Linda and Pauline - The courage and wisdom to detach is one of the benefits of age, for sure!

    Veronica - Yes, some people seem to take advantage when they are aware that you are suffering their pain.

    Tiny - The only people that could have "inherited " things from me are my children Hmmmm - that means....Haha. Thanks for reading my blog.

    Hi Lyn - Yes, really helpful to know what and who to let go of. Not easy, but necessary.

    Jack - You are so right- we all have to save ourselves first!

  9. I am an empath. I sometimes get melancholy for no reason until a mentor explains that once again I have taken the pain of the world into my soul. I have learned to protect myself over the years but sometimes forget.. even when I go to a mall, not often, but when I do, I can feel the desolation of the people there. I hate it.

  10. miss*R - Something else we have in common!