Approximately one fifth of the people on Earth are considered highly sensitive, and of this fraction, one tenth of highly sensitive people are actually empaths. Empaths are incredibly perceptive and feel emotions very strongly, whether they are their own feelings, or the feelings of others. This can make it especially difficult for empaths to care for themselves, because they can’t always identify their own emotions, and they often bear the emotional burden of many people’s problems and struggles. It’s important for empaths to use their emotional intelligence to care for themselves sometimes, and not just use their energy on other people, as is their instinct. Empaths aren’t always able to take care of themselves, so here are some steps for empaths to make sure they don’t burn out or hurt themselves, especially when helping others.
Setting boundaries is incredibly important for empaths because they can’t always rely on rationality to take over when they’re in a situation led by emotion. If you’re an empath, or are even just highly sensitive and struggling to cope, it’s critical that you spend some time alone thinking through potential emotional encounters and visualizing how you want to react. If the situation ever arises, stick to your idealized reaction. Not only will it help you, but your calm rationality will help soothe whomever it is you’re trying to support. To help the most people possible, empaths must work to ensure emotional survival.
It is also a good idea for empaths to be honest with themselves about their limitations. Trying to push past what one’s natural skills will allow can traumatize an empath. Every time you experience discomfort when empathizing, make sure you take note and take time to reflect on it later. Letting go of the feelings of responsibility is difficult for an empath, but it can free your mind and lift weight you didn’t know you were carrying off your shoulders. Accepting that there is a point at which you can no longer help and have to surrender to the universe can be anxiety provoking for someone who wants to help the whole world, but it is so necessary.
One final piece of advice is fairly intuitive, but empaths won’t always seek out support, so it is good to mention. Find and invest in a network of other empath friends. Spending time with people who experience the same difficulties as you can be refreshing and validating for tired empaths. Being with other people who have the same instinct to help can make you feel cared for reciprocally in a way empaths aren’t always used to feeling.
Being a highly sensitive person is an incredible gift, but it can place an enormous weight on one’s shoulders. Ensuring that you are cared for and connected to people who understand your struggles is vital to the responsibility that comes with being an empath. Taking care of yourself first and foremost is important not only for your own sake, but to make sure you’re happy and healthy enough to keep sharing your gift with the world.