If you’re an empath, you feel the energy and emotions of people and animals. You’re sensitive to your environment, including noise, clutter, brightness, and the overall feeling of your surroundings. Being an empath also means that you have unique struggles, including a tendency to feel lonely. It’s not hard to understand why loneliness would be an empath’s safe zone.
When you feel the emotions of those around you, it’s tough to know where their anxiety and pain ends and yours begins. When it comes to closer relationships, you may feel a constant sense of emotional overload.
Dr. Judith Orloff, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and bestselling author, explains that empaths are “super-responders; our sensory experience of relationship is the equivalent of feeling objects with fifty fingers instead of five.”
Just as massage therapists can feel fatigue in their hands and wrists, an empath’s “emotional fingers” can tire and seize up. Feeling and processing the emotions of those around you is so exhausting that you begin subconsciously pushing people away as a means of self-protection.
You put up walls to protect yourself
You may only allow people to get so close before you put up walls. It’s like you have an intricate system of gates surrounding your heart. Only those you love and trust most are allowed into your inner court. But even they can’t get through the armour you wear day in and day out to protect your energy and emotions.
It’s ironic because there’s a myth that empaths are the most giving and openhearted people. And that may be the case for some empaths, but there is another side to the story.
A damaged empath
For empaths who grew up in emotional chaos, isolation is a hardwired coping mechanism. Imagine a hypersensitive child who can feel every mood and predict every teardrop, living in a home where there is constant arguing or even violence.
Imagine if the people she must rely on to protect her are unknowingly drowning her in a sea of anxiety and depression. The girl doesn’t have the tools, nor is it her responsibility, to heal the situation. She feels helpless and heartbroken. From this young age she learns that the only safe space is within herself.
How to deal with chronic loneliness as an empath
The irony about empaths is that you spend so much time dealing with other people’s emotions that you don’t know how to process your own emotions.
You might be highly emotionally intelligent and aware of your feelings. But knowing what to do about said feelings, as well as the ones locked away in the basement of your subconscious, is the biggest challenge.
Much of what you feel today is linked to unprocessed emotions from your past. They are the feelings the little girl stuffed down as she focused on surviving.
Today, those unprocessed emotions leak out—and sometimes explode out like fireworks—when you’re emotionally triggered. When someone starts to get too close and that self-protection button gets pushed…when they criticize your decisions and your sense of self-worth unravels in an instant…when another person’s depression reminds you of the sadness that engulfed your childhood home…
When any of these emotional triggers are activated, it’s like accelerating a car on a dusty road. Before you know it, you’re choking on a cloud of emotions all getting kicked up at once. It’s an overwhelming feeling that you just want to escape. Isolation seems like the best solution. But it’s only a temporary one.
How to better manage emotions as an empath
When I do deep transformational work with my clients, they inevitably get triggered emotionally. The truth is that this is a necessary part of the process if they are to be free of any kind of lifelong pattern like loneliness.
You see, as painful as it is to have suppressed feelings of unworthiness, shame, fear, or anger come up, it’s really an opportunity.
There is immense power locked up in your unprocessed emotions. Think of it this way. We are energetic beings and all emotions—even the ones we ignore and hide—are made up of energy, too. Release those emotions and you free up A LOT of wasted energy.
There are countless ways that you can be supported as you deal with unprocessed emotions and overcome a pattern of isolation. I personally have worked with energy healers and hypnotherapists.
When I coach my clients through their transformations I draw on a wide variety of tools, including neuro-linguistic programming, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), visualization exercises, and other techniques to create pattern interrupts and release emotional blocks.
I recommend that you also develop a dynamic toolkit of rituals, exercises, and supports to process difficult emotions. Start now before you’re emotionally triggered and feeling so lonely it hurts. This way you’ll have solid support systems in place before you feel like your life is falling apart.
Over to you
Are you an empath who struggles with loneliness? Please feel free to share your story in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. If you’re new here, or you haven’t seen my face in a while, here are 5 things you should know about me:
1. My name is Michaela and I’m an HSP, INFP, introvert.
2. I LOVE apocalyptic movies (currently obsessed with The Rain on Netflix).
3. I’m the author of The Irresistible Introvert.
4. I help introverts gain confidence, self-love, and fulfilling friendships in their own innie way.
5. I share some of my best insights, wisdom, and free ebooks with my subscribers. Join my Innie Tribe and get a free Introvert Connection Guide here.