Burned out

Joey Garcia

I’ve learned that I’m an empath. But feeling other people’s feelings can be stressful. How do I turn this burden into a blessing?

The classic definition of an empath is someone who experiences empathy for others. So every person is an empath unless he or she is a narcissist, sociopath or psychopath. It’s no surprise then that the empath label is trending alongside the popularity of labeling the president or his cabinet and staff as narcissists. Opposites attract.

If you’re feeling other people’s feelings, but struggle with that experience, you may actually be codependent. Calling oneself codependent probably doesn’t feel as special as declaring oneself an empath. It might help to know that a well-financed marketing campaign created to promote and sell a book about empaths is what’s fueling the articles, online quizzes and courses about empaths.

In previous generations, the people who now consider themselves empaths were called “highly sensitive” or “intuitive” or “psychic.” Yes, there are online articles that splice these variations, but if you pay attention to your own experience, the overlap becomes obvious. Following this thread may make it easier for you to stay at home within yourself while in the company of others. Here’s what I mean: If stress is the end result of your empathy, you’re not just feeling another person’s emotion; you’re adopting their emotion. That’s codependency. A true empath would remain fully in herself while engaging the capacity to read someone else’s feelings or emotional space. To embody that shift, free yourself from any expressions of compulsive caretaking. Establish strong personal boundaries. Heal your own fears of intimacy and of abandonment. A combination of psychotherapy, a 12-step group, energy work training, and a women’s group can help.

I graduated from law school so my future is bright, right? Nope. I’m still not sure what I want to do with my life. I’m sad a lot because I miss living in a college town where I could walk down the street and hang with friends. I need friends, but how do I form a new friend group without student organizations to help? And honestly, I’m exhausted and don’t even want to apply for a job. Pulling so many all-nighters made me hella tired. I don’t even want to get out of bed. Advice?

You’re grieving the loss of friends and the end of a happy chapter of your life. Plus, you’re burned out. These factors put you at risk for depression, as does the anxiety from your unchecked fears. It’s absolutely OK to be uncertain how best to proceed in life. But you’re afraid of making a mistake and seem scared to admit that law is not your passion. Instead of worrying about how others might judge you, focus on creating the life you most want to live. If that doesn’t get you out of bed, get a full health checkup to see what’s amiss. And please ditch all-nighters. Sleep deprivation is unkind and fosters roller coaster emotions and poor choices. Making new friends through Meetup groups, local events and work will be easier when you feel better about yourself and your future.

Meditation of the week
“Our spiritual obligation is to age well so others who meet us may have the courage, the spiritual depth, to do the same,” writes Joan Chittister. How deep is your love?

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