If you’re an empath, you are all too familiar with overwhelm and burnout. But did you know that you are also particularly susceptible to something called “empath compassion fatigue”?
It turns out that for empaths, who literally feel the emotions and energy of others, compassion is not a limitless resource. Empath compassion fatigue is the point when you reach your limit. Suddenly, you realize that your emotional stores are depleted and your compassion has been replaced by apathy, or even anger.
Compassion fatigue, which is also known as “secondary traumatization”, is caused by the emotional residue from working with people or animals who have suffered from trauma. This can occur after exposure to one trauma case, or it can be cumulative.
You see, all the pain and suffering you encounter can build up over time. Layer after layer settles on your gentle empath heart and soul. Eventually, it weighs you down, and quells your motivation.
Who suffers from empath compassion fatigue?
While all empaths are susceptible to compassion fatigue, there are some who are more at risk than others. Compassion fatigue is considered to be an occupational hazard for anyone working in a caregiving role.
Careers that commonly lead to empath compassion fatigue include:
- support worker
- animal shelter worker
As you can see, careers that place empaths in close contact with those who have suffered trauma inevitably lead to empath compassion fatigue.
But what about all the unofficial caregivers out there?
Oftentimes, empaths attract or are attracted to those in need. You are drawn in by the stories of shame and suffering. You literally feel the pain of trauma victims, and you want to make it all better. You are the one your friends and family turn to when they are in pain. They share their darkest thoughts and experiences with you: abuse, addictions, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, illness.
You begin cutting off pieces of yourself to offer as medicine. You give them a listening ear and an open heart. You even set aside precious real estate in your head, allowing their pain and suffering to take up permanent residence in your mind.
After a while, you have nothing left to give. This is when the signs of empath compassion fatigue emerge.
7 Signs of empath compassion fatigue
- Your sense of empathy and compassion is replaced by numbness.
- You are emotionally and mentally exhausted.
- You are hypersensitive to emotional material in shows, movies, and books.
- You struggle with intimacy, and your personal relationships suffer.
- You intentionally isolate yourself.
- Your mind is filled with intrusive images of trauma.
- You dread going to work, and no longer enjoy your career.
How to heal from empath compassion fatigue
Needless to say, compassion fatigue wears you down, and leaves you feeling beyond depleted. It’s as if all the horror stories you’ve heard act like an sos pad on your life-force. So, how do you heal from all the secondary trauma, and regain your motivation and happiness?
Here are 3 steps to prevent and overcome empath compassion fatigue:
Simply knowing that compassion fatigue is a real thing, and that you are not crazy, or weak, can kickstart the healing process. Understanding your empathic nature will also help. For example, when you are aware of how deeply you are effected by the moods and emotions of those around you, you can take steps to protect yourself.
This is exactly what Sarah, an empath and INFJ who is a member of our private INFJ Forum has learned to do:
“I often leave groups feeling depressed with emotions that I have sensed in others. They have no connection to me, but I have this strange feeling that if I live in their emotions, I can help them. But it does not help them; the best thing I can do is to see it and be aware, so that I can act without letting my own feelings get in the way. Sometimes, before I enter a room of people I say to myself, “Not mine, not mine!” and brush my shoulders to remind myself of my purpose in that situation.”
(INFJ personality types are particularly susceptible to compassion fatigue because they are highly empathic and tend to be drawn to caregiving or counsellor careers. Go here for more information on INFJs.)
The good news is that simply by reading this article, you have already increased your awareness about yourself and your needs. I also recommend taking this Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue Self-Test for Helpers, which allows you to assess your “compassion status”. This includes your risk of burnout, and compassion fatigue.
Many empaths in helping professions struggle with self-care. You are so busy caring for others that you neglect your own needs. Often, you even feel guilty for thinking of putting yourself first. You wonder, how can I take a bath, or go for a walk in solitude when there are people suffering all around me?
The more important question you should be asking is, how can I not?
No one can pour from an empty cup. Regularly exercising self-compassion by taking care of your mind, body, and soul will help you to prevent compassion fatigue.
What does this look like on a practical level?
Self-care can be as simple as a one-syllable world. It can mean saying ‘no’ to unnecessary obligations, and ‘yes’ to activities that make your heart smile.
Lisa, an empath and INFJ, is all too familiar with the pain of compassion fatigue, and the self-care steps necessary for healing:
“Compassion fatigue is what ultimately led to my decision to retire from the psychotherapy profession following a 25-year career that involved a significant amount of counseling other survivors of severe trauma and abuse, as well as what prompted me to take the extreme step of completely stopping watching television and eliminating all electronic and print news and ‘infotainment’ media from my life approximately one year after that.”
If you still need more convincing about self-care, consider this: Even Mother Teresa knew the importance of taking time to restore oneself from compassionate work. In her plan to her superiors, she required her nuns to take a mandatory year off every 4-5 years so that they could heal from their caregiving work.
Surely, you can justify taking 20-30 minutes a day to replenish your own compassion stores.
Helpers need help, too. There is no need to carry the burden on your own. Allow a professional counsellor, psychologist, or healer to guide you through the process of healing. Be sure to choose someone who is familiar with treating compassion fatigue.
The most important thing is to never lose hope. Though it may take time, the clouds will part and your compassion will return. Jeff, another INFJ empath from our INFJ community, explains:
“For the last 2 years after a 23-year relationship with a narcissist, I was a mess. I was processing all kinds of thoughts and feelings. I didn’t even realize I had lost my compassion … Then about 2 months ago, I drove by a young homeless family standing in a grocery store parking lot. Something inside me told me to turn around and help them. Later, as I was driving home, I suddenly realized my compassion had returned, and I didn’t even know I had lost it! Tears of joy filled my eyes. It was like welcoming home a long lost friend.”
Battered and beaten down though she may be, compassion is a true friend who wants and needs to be in your life. Invite her back in through awareness, self-care, and guided healing. Allow your broken pieces to be restored, so that you can continue sharing your light and love with the world.
Do you struggle with empath compassion fatigue?
I would love to hear about your experiences, and how you healed. Please share your insights and stories in the comments below. ♥
An incredibly insightful article Michaela! You explained so many vital aspects of empathy and how it works, not to mention excellent solutions on how to deal with empathy compassion fatigue. Like you said, self care is crucial. We cannot give and pour from an empty cup, and we too need to take care of ourselves. This is an beautiful article with phenomenal conclusions and thoughts. 🙂
Thank you Marko! 🙂
Hi, I have wondered why I am so badly affected by other people’s negativity, I cannot tolerate people who only think of themselves, and some people I take an intense dislike to without really knowing why , I cannot stand watching commercials for abused animals. I hurt as if I have been physically hurt when witness something awful. I feel drained working with families , I am a disability support worker. So this article has definitely helped to explain a great deal of what I have always experienced. Thank-you!
Thank you so much for this article. As a high school English teacher and an empath, teenage angst wears me out. On the first day of class, I can zoom in on the students who are suffering. After 31 years, I am considering retiring. Summers off come too far apart. Please add teachers to your list of occupations with empaths.
I`ve just printed out this article and am wondering if it really can be applied to me. Especially numbers 2,3,4 and 5. E.g. I start weeping for happiness, seeing persons be helped out of their problems. Driving with my e-tricyle bike in the nature I feel so overwhelmed by the surrounding beauty, that I feel myself as if in paradise….Each flower, a singing bird makes me very ‘excited’ So it seems I associate myself stronly with a happy or sorrowful person, thinking ‘it`s me!’ Maybe it sounds strange to you Michaela. Even memories from the past can make me cry again, the lost of 2 children, my two mothers- own mother and foster mother-but I cannot help it. In summary: when he or she is happy, or is suffering, I feel it too. Sorry for the long story
Hi Gerard, well I don’t know if you’re struggling with compassion fatigue, but you sound like a beautifully sensitive and self-aware empath. Thanks for sharing your story!
Thank you Michaela.. Yeah.. Just Thank you
You’re welcome, Joe!
At 63 I’ve realized there is some prolonged situations I must deal with for my own peace of mind. Drama, complainers and argumentative people. Since I’m hyper sensitive and I usually know what is or is about to happen. Wisdom and age has taught me some things are better left unsaid. Before realizing I was empathic I’d leave jobs because of angry coworkers. Now I’ll purchase ear plugs…so at least the hearing issue will be resolved, then it’s the employers job to deal with my hearing conundrum. I could go on and on but for brevity let.me say
We empaths are only one person and we can’t do it all. We need to learn that people may be unaware that their actions affect us. When they do, and if it continues, we need to take appropriate steps for our self preservation. Empaths realize you are a gift that may save a life, it just may have to be yours, love you…
Thank you for the positive thinking.. And earplug ide’ , negative people eats you up from inside and out!
Your article is true 97%. I haven’t healed but l manage through. I have shut myself off from the world when was 15 now in a week ill be 49. The last 4 years are the biggest change I’ve done. I stopped working for a city government job of 20 years and all other work was doing for other people. I traveled a little then started working after 358 days after stopped. Now I’m back working likeI was 7 days a week. With a $40,000. pay cut. And working for others. I haven’t watched tv in those 4 years unless some whereI was had it on. I don’t read the papers or the internet news. I have no friends but know a lot of people. My phone rings only when someone needs me to fix, build or make something for them. I have been married 3 times each one was doomed from the start because of me. They needed help. I did what needed to be done then they moved on. Now I cannot se myself with anyone. I just se me every day sitting at home alone listening to the radio. I’m stubborn so it’s hard to listen to others advise even if I’m looking for it. I will not spend money on material that will help me cause don’t like to read and I have a very hard time understanding. I’m happiest when I work or when I travel by myself. Thank you for the articals I receive from you, to be honest I read only the ones that catch my attention. Have a wonderful day or evening. Always, lonely heart
Thank you for sharing your story Shawn. I’m sure others will be able to see themselves in what you shared. xo
Thank you for this article. I needed it so badly. I recognized every symptom of fatigue you related and am going to put Practice your suggestions on healing. I am an INFJ and often feel terrible guilt when I try to do something g for myself. It feels selfish and inconsistent with my self concepts. I realize now that I often give my empathy away In order to maintain those self perceptions. But I am so tired. Sometimes I don’t even like to walk down the street as I can feel the sadness in others as they walk by. People are so profoundly beautiful to me and it breaks my heart when I recognize pain and yet, I have no true friend with which I can talk about these feelings. It is good to know I’m not alone. Thank you, again.
I just learned about Compassion Fatigue within the past couple of weeks at school. Turns out it is one of those things that can just sort of latch on until One becomes aware and takes the proper self healing steps to remedy the situation. I am finding that a daily reiki or meditation practice is helping and when I use the new self-hypnosis I am learning, I am able to remove some of the subconscious flotsam that stirs up some havoc.
It’s funny, “…how can I take a bath, or go for a walk in solitude when there are people suffering all around me?” This thought has kept me pinned in place, once I broke the spell of fear, I found that the benefit of water and or walking in nature was enough to create a peaceful barrier between myself and the general populace at large and provided me with a pleasant buffer zone when I do have to interact where emotion is required.
Great article Michaela, thanks for sharing and I Hope you have a Great Day!
Thanks for sharing that, Brian! Self-hypnosis sounds interesting, I’ll have to look into it. 🙂
I can definitely relate to this. I am a nurse spending a lot of my working week listening to troubled adolescents. Our service is now going through a restructure which is creating a lot of job cuts and it is this which is tipping me over in to compassion fatigue. Feeling undervalued takes its toll! Thank you, this has reminded me to prioritise some soul cleansing time.
As an INFJ and I think an empath I do literally sense and absorb the emotions of others and have begun to shut myself away as a protective mechanism. Not good for me or my family.
A well timed reminder. Thank you again x
You’re welcome, Beth. Great to hear from another INFJ empath. 🙂
Thank you so much for this article! I feel the fatigue that you are talking about, and I don’t know what to do. For example, I want to know what is happening in my city or in the world, but just reading or watching about all the tragedy in the news makes me feel so bad, because I have this empathy. So there are times where I just avoid everything, Facebook, the news because I need self-care, just like you said.
Maybe that is the only way to go about it – avoid the news and Facebook.
As an INFJ pastor’s wife for 15 years or so, I was the counselor, fixer, filler-inner, music leader, children’s ministry leader, VBS director… it was inevitable that burn out and compassion fatigue would consume me and my husband. We were not good deligators, and like to do for, and help others. It was a struggle to get volunteers to help who didn’t require more help to train than to just do the jobs ourselves. We lost our joy of ministry and were physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. Is it any wonder so many churches are closing down. We decided to retire from ministry and move to another state to try to recuperate and heal. I’m so glad we did. We have learned so much about self care. It has taken 5 years to even want to enter another church. Our overall health has improved and we have enjoyed focusing on our family for awhile. We take time for walks, kayaking, and even just music. Wish I had read your articles back when we were ministering to others. We might still be doing it. Thank you for helping me to see what I feel and have been through is normal for my personality. I am not an emotionally crazy person. :0)
Thanks for sharing your story Julie! I used to be very active in a Pentecostal church, so I can imagine how exhausting your work must have been. I’m happy that you learned to restore yourself through self-care, even if it took a while. xo
Yes! I recognise this all to well. When I was a little girl, My sister was bullied in her school, and me and my family had to comfort her and be her therapists 24/7
I remember my mom sometimes stayed up all night comforting her and in the morning she went to work as always! When it was real bad I started to hallucinate the sound of her crying so I couldn’t sleep wery well. Put on a few years of this nonstop crying and you start to break down completely. Also my best friends mom had died tragically in a car crash, and sometimes I felt as I had to carry her around in life, yet my own fault but I wasent aware! On top of that I worked as a personal assistant to a handicapped girl that was no good for me. A was also in a 7 year old relationship that were coming to its end. Crash boom bang I hit the wall and the recovery was a long one. What I’ve learned from this! Always listen to your heart! Never carry someone else’s grief! Never work as a personal assistent again, and never be a counselor to your own family. Warm hugs from me
Thanks so much Michaela for this article. During the first 5 years of marriage, every time I told my husband I was not able to watch a movie, because I was not ready to absorb the pain in it, he looked at me like there was something wrong with me. I even thought I was making things up when I was feeling the pain of people in movies (or around me!). I could not understand what was going on, It was so exhausting. Now, 15 years later, my husband knows what kind of news I can watch. He tries, every evening, to summarize the morst important news and leave the rest out. Now, he understands how hard it is for me! Thanks for this article, I thought it was just me!
About a week ago I came across empath. I have been an extream introvert my entire life from y earliest memory. All my memories are are attached with physical feelingsi have always physically felt all my feelings. Around 5 years is when I started having feelings of panic attacks and most all other things I do or dont do started around 5 I never told one person about what I have gone through emotionally or physically inside until about a year ago I told my brother about what I had come to say were panic attacks that didn’t show outside but hell inside. I would keep everything in and work threw anylize or observing all things always intrested in all reasons ways or ways from all angles. I tried mentioning some symptoms to get help from dr but I’m unable to give why or all things attached to it so nothing has helped and I’m unable to get my self to open up. Nothing has helped. I started writing what I felt and memories from beginning to now to try and see if I could take that for help because it’s gotten so out of control the last 5 years. I almost never leave house. I have outburst almost constantly from constant panic feeling. And constantly exhausted Drained and more. I thought I’ve just held it all so long I’m breaking. because all my life I would be me then either one big emotion I couldn’t handle would break or the build up to a break where I would change as I felt it build snap and anger then isolated and sleep then to binge use of things to numb it until I could start again. Which I hated but it’s all I could do. Any way when I tried to find workbooks to get things out I looked for introverts and came across empath and it’s like everything I read is someone talking the words right out of me that I didn’t know how to say. It explained everything I never told anyone or why I am or do so many things others saw as crazy and other things. I’ve never been spiritual to me I’ve been trapped in this prison of emotions and physical feelings and crazy ways that I’ve only taken life hrs or days at a time wondering if this is all it will ever be. Especially the last 5years when I cant numb like I did and lost my self and stopped all things o love and am wise to no control and overwhelmed. Now trying to surch find and do anything I can to be me again for myself and family. This article is amazing and helps me understand another piece I didnt understand and gives me hope I’m on the right path to figuring out who I am and how to enjoy life. I appreciate yours and others sharing your stories so I am able to see I’m not alone and not something unfixable.
Oh, my gosh! I think I have finally figured out what’s wrong with me! Out of those 7 signs of empath compassion fatigue, I can definitely say that I have 4 of them. I just thought I was feeling overwhelmed from the many stresses with which I have been dealing over the past few weeks. But this overpowering feeling has been strongest since Monday or Tuesday. But that makes sense because I interacted quite a bit with a homeless man on Sunday and then interacted with that same homeless man on Tuesday.
And you know, just having a name to give this “problem” really helps! I can’t fix something when I don’t know what’s wrong. Thank you for this article! Thank you for giving me a name for this problem. And thank you for helping me know how to cope and how to heal.
Lovely to have found my way here. As a lifelong novelist, INFJ, and empath (HSP thrown in, too), I found I had reached my limits — seven of seven of the Compassion Fatigue list — and withdrew from the world. I continued to work and to write but withdrew from teaching and counseling, media of all sorts, newspapers, magazines, and any social engagements outside of a couple of trusted friends. I have lost friends over the years for refusing to take public transportation, go to concerts or large social events, join clubs or groups. More often, however, are the odd looks when the radio is too loud or a TV show is painfully violent. I have found I need to remind myself to be aware of when I’m giving too much as I become resentful when that effort and the depth of my feeling is not acknowledged or appreciated. It can be a dark cycle. Meditation, yoga, breathing, and writing are my salvation. Also, finding those who are not only great writers — thank you, Michaela and the other writers here — but empaths and INJF’s that share the same experience of the world is validating, helpful, and healing. Namaste, and thank you for the work and effort you’ve put into this website.
Excellent, excellent article Michaela! Thanks for reminding us that we must show ourselves compassion if we want to share compassion with the world… and one way to do that is to stop beating ourselves up for feeling overwhelmed or burnt out in the first place! I’ll definitely share this article with helpers and carers in my circle.
Wow and this whole time I thought I was beginning to hate people. I’ve become so resentful towards them. I’ve become apathetic and even angry with people. I’m happy I stumbled upon this. Thank you!
I’m currently working my way through several of your posts, as I’m feeling really fried and overwhelmed right now. This one has been particularly insightful for me, and I think you could definitely add “caregiver” to the list of professions/callings that leave people at risk for compassion fatigue (particularly introverts, and INFJ’s, of which I am one!). As a mother of four, I have really, really struggled in this area, and was previously unable to identify why this past year I have felt so resentful and angry toward my children, particularly when I found such purpose and joy in this role in earlier years. All the signs of empath compassion fatigue are there. Our oldest is 10, and he has OCD and a particularly hard time making friends and fitting in at school — watching him, helping him, and being his listening ear has exhausted me to the point where all I have is anger for his problem right now, instead of the empathy he really needs. Learning to distance myself and get the rest I need will be really important moving forward.
Thanks for your efforts in compiling all of this information in one place!
I had never heard of Compassion Fatigue (CF) in my life until now. Wow.
I am so deep in CF that I am having a seriously difficult-time. I absorb every emotion a person ever has–ever! Its a gift and blessing from God, but its also a tremendous challenge for me.
People come to me to off-load their feelings about things, but what ends-up happening is they dump their ‘elemental-baggage’ on me. I absorb their emotions and now they are free and happy again. Their elemental-frequencies have dumped their harmful energies in the land-fill/dump that is me–then I have to deal with their emotions all the more. This happens every day of my life without exception.
It is all the more difficult for me because people know I don’t believe in charging a fee for healing others; so, this just makes them all the more dump their emotions on me.
I need help to heal from this CF problem. Please help me! I pray to God for His help, and I am hoping after God, that you’ll help me too–if you’re willing!
I used to have a friend who willing to share literally everything and I started to listen with care. However, he turns out to be a person that focus much on negativity and on top of that, he keeps digging on what was passed years ago. After a certain period of time, I know it is enough to keep on taking his negativity onto myself, so I actually cut off my connection with him and I feel much better without him around pouring negative things to me.
In April I resigned my job after 20 years. I am a nurse I worked in a nursing home- I always knew I wanted to work with the elderly, but with that comes death and dying- families and friends of patients pain- employee frustration and it came to the point of what you wrote in your article. I’m just starting to read on people that are empathetic and can feel others feelings and it is what I’m feeling but I’m also doubting myself. I don’t know what to do with it.
Thanks michaela. Ive js recently realized my situation and found this article. After 22 yrs as a pastor and counselor. I feel like there is hope again. Thank you
I am 57 and have been working in various care and support roles for the last 17 years. I’ve also had 5 years of trauma and bereavement within my dysfunctional family.
I have been off sick after an operation and have decided to take redundancy and not to return. This is a really scary decision for me to have taken with no back up plan. However there seems to have been some synchronicity to this the OP and then redundancy offer . I have been looking for answers to how to change my life and find my purpose. Boy have these answers been coming thick and fast in weird and wonderful ways. I have only just found out I’m an Empath and this explains my whole life: my depression my over giving, low self esteem and history of relationships with narcissists. I am now going through a restorative phase being a recluse, avoiding negative energy, taking walks in nature and meditating finally following my own care plan!!! Each piece of the puzzle that I find confirms I’ve made the right decision and that the Universe is guiding me. It appears us Empaths are being called up at this time to do our healing work. I am now planning a well earned healing holiday somewhere exotic !! Thank you for this wonderfull article it has calmed my latest bout of anxiety. Onwards and upwards to the light!!
So wonderful to hear your story Beverley! You made the right decision. And I agree that empaths are being called to heal and give in a way that nourishes our soul. 🙂 xo
I work in the medical field and I have severe compassion fatigue . However , since I am the breadwinner in my family, I am stuck. This has to be the worst place for an introvert, since Healthcare has become a hospitality occupation. (Reimbursement depends on patient satisfaction). I try not to leave my house when I am not working. My personal relationships are suffering terribly. I just don’t know what to do!
This morning I woke up and saw images of animals in shelter with before and after adoption pics. The depression in their eyes followed by overwhelming joy. I was an animal control officer in 2016 and was short on friends so the animals we picked up became my best friends while they were there. I got to let them out and play with them and took pictures with them and even talked to them about their big day to go home could be coming soon. That big day turned into the ultimate betrayal of trust where I had to fight back the tears as I injected Fatal Plus into my best friends time and time again…I did this for only about 5months and then lost my job after being accused of and criminally investigated for the death of an animal that I had not caused and was found innocent. Was even called a murderer once or twice even by the people who brought their animals into be euthanized…it’s been over a year and the nightmares have come back and are haunting me with the faces of those friends whose happy ending I stole from them. I think I made it worse when I adopted old Horace from the shelter to save him when he had less than 24 hours left till he had to be put to sleep. I feel like I should have saved the others too but I couldn’t.
I am right here at this moment. “ my give a dam is broken”.
Thought by quitting my job and going to another office it would help. Not the answer. I really think it’s time to take time off and search fir healing
One profession missing from this list is funeral director. We are on call 24/7 and expected to care 24/7. We really really want to care all day every day but over time it takes a toll on us. We see things that no one should see. We are subjected to death, grief and extreme trauma daily. You are so correct by saying that the helpers need help too.
Definitely going through empath compassion fatigue. I relate to Jeff’s story, suffering 22 years with a narcissist & almost losing my compassion.
Hi, wow I can relate I’m currently going thru it, I love my family a lot but I get fatigued jobless and don’t know what to do?
I don’t really know where to start. I’ve always been a very emotional person, extremely in tune with my feelings. People have always gravitated towards me. People I hardly know open up to me. I’ve recently met someone who awakened me spiritually. I’ve discovered that certain things that I have been feeling my entire life were not what I thought they were. I am able to feel my own energy and move it around my body. I’ve done this since a teenager. I’ve never really understood what I was doing. I’m 46 years old. I’ve never been ill. Colds, coughs nothing! I’m the youngest of 5 Brothers and yet they all constantly get ill. Sciatica, gout and constant general aches and pains. I’ve never even been to the dentist, well not since a young child anyway. I feel other’s energies whether positive or negative but I can deal with it. I can easily release negative energy. I wondered whether you could offer me any advice please?
Ive just started learning more about myself this past year and still am.. i am easily guilted into doing things for myself most of the time its ive taken a look or comment or feeling to heart. When i meet someone or hear someone i get this feeling either of over joy or anxiousness or agitation or sadness etc. I have insomnia as my mind continuously races with thoughts of the past present and future most of what ifs and extremely vivid details that dont even happen in my life. I have crazy vivid dreams that i can remember forever or theres things that happen after ive dreamed them almost like deja vu but not i have repetitive dreams once a year every year. I work in health care and find myself getting told life stories daily (and i mean daily)in a ten min breath. A psychic once told me that i was a wolf spirit and that im the alfa of the den and i can take any one as my pup.. i have older coworkers that call me mama vear because im nurturing and protective and try to fix anything for anyone. Never have been told im an empath but researching it feels like this is me (and yes im an infj as well). Im told over and over, yet again today, the plane scenario with the airmasks, and how i cannot help my son or others if i dont help, put my oxygen mask on first and yet again i still picture a plane crashing and i not only apply my sons mask but i apply a few others as well before i jump back into my seat to apply mine. Thank you for this inciteful message you wrote it makes me think i may not be just a moody woman that thinks shes crazy cause she feels what others are feeling and is exhausted daily.
I am grateful to have found your story. I have worked in litigation support for a mortgage company for the last 15 years. I have struggled with anxiety for much of that time. It feels like all of the negativity of those who are angry and accusatory involved in these lawsuits has stuck to me and the weight has finally become unbearable. I recently quit my career after working in this industry for 20 years. I thought I would feel instant relief once I separated myself from that job. But I have discovered that I am still really struggling. And I have learned that it is going to take me a lot longer to recover than I was expecting. I would love any recommendations you might have. Thank you.
I would like to ask how do empaths get along with other empaths.
Do they communicate well with each other or is it harder? Especially those who know they are and those who dont have the knowledge of it.
Im sure they both “feel” each other and maybe speak through energy, but are there any facts about friends both empaths etc?
I think I’m suffering this now. Lately I can’t answer messages from my friends and I can’t summon energy to care. I think I’m just overwhelmed plus I’m post abuse which I’m healing from..I need a break. I’m in therapy and I have supportive family. I’m lucky in that way
I recently quit my job because of this and thought it would help but it hasn’t. I’m hoping with time it will. I haven’t healed and I’m at the point where I don’t feel like I can but I’m not giving up. I’m open to any help, suggestions, or support.
It’s been really hard.
I have been reading some articles tonight on empaths. Talk about deja vu, I had no idea this is me. Then I read this article which completely explains why I shut down on my friend after over ten years of listening to drama enfold. It felt easier to be project anger than take on any more “conversations.” You still care and want to help. But You just can’t. I feel relieved knowing this is a real thing!
I need to learn more
One strategy I use to combat fatigue is to remind myself that I have done all I am able to do in a given situation, that neither my efforts nor intentions guarantee the desired outcome. Sometimes there isn’t a happy ending. I try to reward myself with a long walk in the woods or a visit to my favorite art center or a full day focused on my artwork or my animals. Just that brief time away has proved to be remarkably restorative.
Hi there, I wanted to ask something and am open to considering possibilities. Having just read your article what I wanted to share was this. A lot of information that I’ve read regarding empath or compassion fatigue has related to human service workers and the symptoms they develop through their work roles. I’m am beginning to understand now why my “empath chip” may have disappeared. I am concerned about its disappearance as I’m training to become a professional counsellor. Over the course of 7 years, I have experienced cancer 3 times, my Dad died, my son became progressively mentally unwell, my daughter was involved with a seriously violent person, I was in a relationship with a person who repeatedly stressed me who I eventually left and I moved to a city to begin my studies. I fell down like a proverbial bag of something I had no idea of. I was so incredibly ill prepared for what this past year has been. Studying to become a “mirror” for others and all the while experiencing inner pain of the like I have never experienced before. I had no idea, some days, of who I was and where had my former self gone too. Did that self ever actually exist. I have felt incredibly alone and at times often thought death would be better. I have worked with a psychologist and through my professional development group at uni, I am slowly putting myself back together. A year ago, I felt like a mosaic of broken shards with threads keeping the bits intact. Never had I, until reading this article, thought I was experiencing compassion/empathy fatigue or even trauma. But, I was, I am. I feel fortunate to have had my weekly group at Uni as amongst these people I have felt “normal”. The experiences and events that I’ve described are not unique to me. No doubt, there are many others experiencing this and more. And the thought of that brings tears to my eyes. I guess, slowly, my empathy chip is returning. I too, gave up television 8 years ago, don’t read newspapers, can’t watch violent or disturbing films and believe, my social media usage is merely to avoid feelings of loneliness. Some connection, better than none. I do have people that care around me, its just I’d like to see them more often than is possible. I know I’ve gone on a bit here and I did actually start out to ask a question, but, I am looking to find souls that understand what this is like and to benefit from how they are integrating and managing themselves.
Wow. This just hit home. I never knew this is why I struggle. Thank you.
Please add teachers to this list. We deal with 30 children at a time soothing their feelings every day for 7 hours a day. More than their parents during the school year. Not only that…we take on their patents trauma, as well. That is essentially 90 people’s energy that we are dealing with on the daily. Thank you.
Thank you for this! I was doing self-healing unconsciously to protect myself from all exhausting emotions and then I found this! Can an INTP be an empath at the same time? Thank you!
I am an empath that turned numb 3 years ago; I was good with this. It was as if I turned off my humanity switch to survive…. But, it has been long enough & I miss my deep empathetic self. I’m ready to take the steel walls down and feel again but not sure how to flip the switch back on…. I’m ready and believe I can now handle my gifts without destroying myself. Please help me understand how to let emotion back in. 3 years without crying when you are an empath takes a toll too.
I cried ready this article. I have been a psychiatric nurse for 22 years and I have been struggling daily with feeling depressed, anxious, and angry. I have a hard time doing self care. How can I care for myself when I struggle trying to care for others? I am spent. I just want to curl up in a ball and have some peace.
I was looking for some answers today googling and reading. I went to the 9/11 memorial and museum this past week. As soon as I went below ground into the exhibits i was hit with a huge wave of sadness. it was almost as if I I had been hit by a wave at the beach. I struggled throughtout all of the exhibits below ground each room that was enclosed I could hardly stand in. I was tearing uncontrollably. I wasn’t sobbing, just constant tears that I couldnt stop. I have alwasy been very intuative to other people and know i absorb their feelings sometimes. This time was so different! I forced myself to finish the exhibit and when I exited, I took a deep breath at the waterfalls and reflecting pools, and was almost immediately exhaused. I struggled the rest of the day through NY and am still exhaused from it. I almost feel like I am crazy somehow.
I just made the hardest decision to leave teaching after working 20 years with students with emotional disabilities (some with autism) who had all experienced trauma. The compassion fatigue has hit the hardest during Covid for me. I felt like I was losing myself totally and that something is wrong with me. I am trying to heal from what I am embracing now as compassion fatigue and trying to either transition to another career (ugh) or just work a retail job and try not to starve for a year and then go back into the classroom. This is the hardest thing I have ever dealt with in my life.