“I hate being an empath”: 6 things you can do if you feel this way

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.
confident woman

But wait, why would anyone hate being an empath?

Only people who aren’t empaths would ask that kind of question.

You know full well the difficulties that come with being empathic.

The constant emotional drain, the inability to turn off your feelings. Crowds are almost always overwhelming–the list goes on.

You aren’t the only one that often feels this way, and you’re very valid for feeling like you hate being one sometimes.

Being an empath myself, I have often wondered if there’s anything that can be done about all the downsides. Because, to be honest, sometimes I really do hate it.

The good news is that there’s definitely something that can be done. In this article, I’m going to help you not only understand yourself better as an empath but also give you some really great pointers to help you deal with the all too prevalent downsides.

This article will help you not only manage the problems that come with being an empath but actually gain the ability to thrive as one.

A huge part of reaching a healthy place involves catharsis.

First, we’ll run through 8 common difficulties. Then we’ll talk about 6 ways you can cope as an empath.

Finally, we’ll dig into the concept of catharsis: what it is, how it helps, and how you can achieve it.

So, let’s get started. Here are 8 things I find most difficult about being an empath.

The difficulties

1) Being lied to

Empaths don’t often need to be told things. They are very perceptive.

When someone lies to an empath, it’s as clear as day. And nobody likes being lied to.

If it’s someone lying about how they are, or about something small, it might just be no trouble.

But it can get exhausting. Especially when it’s people close to you, who you love and trust. They lie, and you can tell. They think they can lie to you and get away with it, and that can hurt your feelings.

You might often wonder why they don’t trust you enough to tell the truth in this situation.

The fact is, though, almost every person is untruthful to some degree in their lives, and often.

And that’s okay. In some cases, it’s better to avoid speaking the blunt truth.

But as an empath, being lied to is often a big difficulty. It’s hard to not take it personally.

2) Susceptibility to addictive habits

As an empath, you know just how fiercely you feel everything. Not only do you feel things that happen to you specifically, but you also feel everyone else’s emotions, too.

It can all be too much. I honestly sometimes wish I could just stop feeling altogether.

That’s where addictive habits can become a huge difficulty. It’s all too easy to begin overusing drugs, alcohol, sex. Really anything that suspends feeling or emotion and replaces it with euphoria or numbness.

There’s nothing wrong with finding an escape from our day to day troubles (what else would you call relaxing?) But abusing addictive substances to avoid facing problems, or avoid dealing with emotions in a healthy way, will be destructive. Both in the long term and the short.

There’s really no shame in it, even though it’s unhealthy. It’s a survival technique, a form of self-preservation. Evaluating your habits for any signs of addiction or abuse is always a good idea, empath or not.

If you feel like you’re struggling with addiction, here are some great resources.

Here’s a look at 10 healthy habits authentic people have.

3) Bored easily

This is one of my personal struggles as an empath.

When I’m constantly overstimulated by the intense emotions from the people around me and my environment, I almost adjust to it.

And then, when I do have silence, some peace of mind, or a lack of stimulation — I get bored.

It happens to a lot of empaths; it’s a common difficulty.

If your job, your school, or domestic life is boring, you’ll find your thoughts drifting far and wide, lost daydreaming and wishing to be somewhere else.

It just comes with the territory of being an empath.

4) Always tired

This one is close to home for me, too. I’m almost always drained. When people ask me how I am, I pretty much always say, “tired.”

Sound familiar?

Their response is usually something like “but you’re always tired.” Or they advise me to get more sleep.

While I don’t always sleep the best, I do get regular, healthy sleep most of the time. It doesn’t help me from being tired.

It’s so easy to be overtaxed as an empath. One person you encounter in your day could change your mood entirely and completely sap you of all your energy reserves. And if your day isn’t over, it can happen again. When you feel like you have nothing left.

That leaves you tired, worn out, and almost always exhausted. Sleep is hardly a factor for this kind of weariness.

People who aren’t empaths don’t understand this difficulty.

5) Struggle to keep a job

This ties in with the third listed difficulty: being bored easily.

Working a typical corporate job in a capitalist society very quickly becomes rote. The day in and day out is always the same; jobs just get repetitive.

That’s not a good environment for an empath. Especially if it’s a customer-facing position: the toll on your energy leaves you listless and numb.

Your coworkers and superiors probably won’t understand why. Your boss will demand that you work harder–or be happier–or get better at interacting with the customers. If you can’t, you’re likely to be fired.

Or, more likely, you get fed up with the job — too bored and too tired — and move on to something else, in the hopes it’ll be better at the next place.

It’s a constant struggle for empaths, and a big difficulty we face.

If you’re bored in your career, here’s a bunch of great jobs where empaths can use their gifts well.

6) Compassion becomes a burden

For many people who aren’t empaths, compassion is a lofty ideal. People are always striving to be more compassionate.

That’s honestly wonderful. The world could use a hell of a lot more compassion.

But for empaths, compassion just comes with the territory. They can’t help but feel compassionate about almost everybody they meet.

That’s because empaths feel other people’s emotions without having to speak a word about it.

Having a deep understanding of people’s emotions, to the point of feeling them as if they were your own, tends to create compassion.

Compassionate people feel a strong desire to alleviate the pain of others. They want to help in any way that they can.

The problem is that you, one person, can’t help everyone. An empath can feel the pain of every person they meet in their life, but they can’t help them all. Even if they want to.

That’s when compassion can become a burden. It’s just not possible to help everybody, and that’s a hard thing to deal with every single day.

7) Being used for empathy

There aren’t many, but there are a handful of people who you will meet (or have met) who can tell that you are extraordinarily empathetic. They sense your gift, your ability to understand and show compassion.

And they want your help. They seek it out, without regard for your personal well being. You’re like a dumping ground for their emotions and problems.

Being used for your empathy is extra draining.

When people seek you out specifically for your comfort and help, they are pulling it from you and demanding it.

Of course, you do want to help them. As empaths, we always do everything we can to help people out. Often it feels like an obligation like we have no choice otherwise.

So it becomes a bit difficult when we also have to deal with people who use us for our empathy.

Here are 6 things manipulative people do, and how best to handle them.

8) No space for personal emotions

The more people an empath interacts within the day to day, the less space they have to deal with their own emotions.

In fact, it’s one of the most difficult and unhealthy aspects of being an empath.

Empaths are especially susceptible to emotional contagion: other people’s moods will often dictate yours.

As an empath, you bring their pain into your body and feel it intimately. It’s hard to shut off, and impossible to turn off completely.

It often becomes very difficult to distinguish your own emotions from all the emotions you’ve picked up from other people who cross your path.

Their emotions bleed into your consciousness, and before long you have no space for your own. Or you’re just so confused you can’t remember which ones are yours in the first place.

This point kind of sums up the biggest difficulty with being an empath. At this point, things become unhealthy, it’s easy to lose track of who you are, and fall into a life filled with unhealthy habits and misery.

But there’s a lot of proactive things that can be done about it.

How to cope

There are ways to stop the emotional contagion and separate yourself from others. It just takes practice.

Let’s take a look at some ways to cope with the downsides of being an empath.

After that, we’ll talk about the importance of catharsis.

1) Identify the feeling, who, and what

It’s so easy to barely tread water as an empath. So quickly does the sea of emotions around us swell and threaten to sink us.

If it feels like an unstoppable tide, it’s okay. Take a breath, give yourself some space.

It won’t happen in one day, but begin picking apart those feelings. Learn to label them as they come.

When you can explicitly define what the emotion is, you can identify it.

Once it’s identified, you can figure out where the feeling came from. Who was feeling this way? Was it you, or did you pick it up from somebody else?

At that point, it becomes so much easier to manage the constant flow of emotions that bombard your senses day in and day out as an empath.

You could even keep a journal. Writing things out can be really beneficial, and it’ll help you remember and identify the numerous emotions you absorb.

It doesn’t have to be detailed: mark the time and place, the emotion, and the person if you think it appropriate. It can even just be a word.

2) Cherish your alone time

Empaths give. They give of themselves, they give of their time. What they take is the negative. They absorb people’s negative emotions, take away their pain as best as they can.

They’re truly wonderful souls.

You of all people deserve to heal, too, and you’ll need alone time to do that.

When you’re alone, you can process the emotions you’ve taken on, all that negative energy.

It takes time to sort through all the noise and energy that you’ve picked up throughout your day or week.

So cherish your alone time. When you have time to yourself, focus your energy on healing, metabolising that negative energy, and recuperating.

Alone time is good for all of us. But it’s especially vital for empaths.

Work through your feelings, devote your healing energy back to yourself.

It may seem foreign and strange, but self-compassion is vital for empaths. Giving yourself the grace and self-care you need will benefit you immensely. You shouldn’t feel guilty about doing it.

Keep your body healthy and clear of negative energy. Yoga, meditation, personal care, and more will keep you relaxed and cleansed.

The goal of your alone time should be revitalization. Your day to day life will improve drastically.

Here are some great ways to feel happy alone.

3) Imagine a shield around you

If you talk to the most experienced of empaths, they’ll tell you that a great way to avoid emotional fatigue and contagion is to simply imagine a shield.

Place that shield between you — your energy, feelings, emotions — and the energy of those around you.

This can be especially helpful in large crowds, or if you interact with a lot of people every day.

Imagining a distinct separation between you and others — whether it’s a brick wall, a glass pane, or a force field bubble — can be extraordinarily helpful.

Even if you feel other people’s emotions just as strongly, you’ve already separated it from your emotions, and they won’t stick as much. That’s a huge step in managing and processing all the feelings you’re exposed to as an empath.

4) Don’t just intuit all the time, ask

The temptation to just suffer in silence and rely on your gift alone is a strong one.

I know I have the tendency to “ignore” people when really I’m connecting with them more than they realize.

Usually, I’m already overwhelmed and at capacity when I “ignore”. The last thing I want to do is open that connection up even more.

But, here’s the thing. It might actually help.

We tend to think as empaths that maybe we already know everything about how a person feels. But if you ask them about it, you might find yourself surprised.

Learning the details of people’s stories and the things that caused them to feel a certain way will benefit you. Studies show talking to strangers is good for everyone, but it can be a useful tool for empaths.

Don’t just take on their mood, talk to them about it.

Doing so will inform you as you are exposed to more emotions. You’ll start to better understand all the countless nuances of people’s feelings and why.

It’ll also help them process their own experience. In all likelihood, you’ll both be a little uplifted for sharing that experience.

Understanding why someone feels a certain way will also help separate their emotions from yours.

5) Ground yourself

Grounding is a highly effective therapeutic tool that can be used in all kinds of situations by most anyone to help regulate their feelings.

For empaths, it will help the tempest of emotion swirl around you, instead of sticking to you and overwhelming you.

Focus on being 100% present. Take a few calming breaths. Touch a nearby object and focus on it intently.

These will bring you away from the feelings that threaten to overwhelm you. Grounding yourself will help you regulate your emotions, and the emotions you feel from others.

You can even imagine yourself pushing all of that negative energy down through your feet and into the ground. Pushing it from your body, separating it from yourself, and releasing it.

Here are 35 great techniques to ground yourself.

6) Set boundaries

This may be one of the most beneficial and important things you can do for yourself as an empath.

It’s so easy to get lost, overwhelmed, and have no idea what to do about it. The muddled confusion and mess of living in so many other people’s feelings can leave you with little energy to do anything about it.

This is why setting boundaries is so important.

We can’t fix the way we pick up other people’s emotions and feelings. In fact, it shouldn’t be something that we think needs to be “fixed” at all.

Being empathic is a gift, despite its drawbacks, and there are countless wonderful things that come from being this way. Don’t lose sight of that.

Setting boundaries is a very healthy thing to do. As an empath, these boundaries will be crucial to your mental health and ability to cope with the downsides of your gift.

Your gift is for other people. Having personal boundaries is kind of like a gift for yourself.

You aren’t a dumping ground for everybody else’s emotions. You have so much more value. So don’t let yourself be used like that.

Identify what situations are the most draining for you, and limit your exposure if you have to.

Your needs, wants, energy levels, and mental health will dictate what your personal boundaries are. When you follow them, you’ll be all the healthier and happier for it.

Plus, when you’re at your best, you’ll be all that more capable as an empath.

Reaching Catharsis

What is catharsis?

According to Merriam-Webster, catharsis is “b: a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension.”

So how does that apply to empaths?

No matter how much shielding you do, nor how good you are at mitigating the drawbacks of your gift, you’re still bound to absorb emotions from other people.

That’s why I say that you can’t just turn your gift off as an empath. You can limit the amount of emotional contagion you pick up, but no matter what, you’re still going to be sensitive to others.

So where do all that emotion and negative energy go?

A lot of times, it just stays inside of us. We push the emotions to the side, we ignore ourselves, we live in misery: tired, drained, doing our best.

But it doesn’t always have to be like that. Just because we can take other people’s emotions on doesn’t mean we have to keep them.

The key is to identify the negative and foreign emotions, and then release them from our body completely. Once our energy has been fully purged of the emotion, we have reached catharsis.

For example, let’s say you’ve been keeping a journal: each time you feel yourself absorb an emotion you write it down.

When you’re by yourself, you pull out your journal and start singling out each emotion. After you think about and remember each one, you completely let it go. Imagine each emotion flowing down a river, washed away by the rain, or blowing away in a warm breeze. And once it’s gone, it’s really gone. For good.

That’s catharsis. When you reach catharsis as an empath, you will feel truly refreshed, energized, and clear of any foreign emotions.

Being empathic gives you an extraordinary connection with others. Having a strong sense of your own emotions, keeping rigid boundaries, and maintaining the ability to care for your own emotional health will equip you to mitigate the downsides.

It’s not always going to be easy, but just remember that being an empath is a wonderful thing.

Empaths are people that have a keen sense of ability to read people and determine what is going on with people in their lives. This also means that they’re also many strong points to being an empath.

So in order to feel better about being an empath, here are 10 superpowers that empaths have. It’s also why no one would want to take an empath on!

10 superpowers every empath possesses

1) They Know You are Lying

Empaths can read body language like an open book. Liars often exhibit specific body language when they are lying and empaths can pick up on this quickly.

If you are trying to pull the wool over an empath’s eyes, don’t.

2) You Can’t Fool Them

You can pretend all you want, but an empath can see right through you. Whether it’s because you took something, broke something, made something, won something – whatever it is, they can read you like you wouldn’t believe.

So keep it real.

3) They Know You are Jealous

Empaths are really in tune with people’s feelings and they can sense when people are jealous of them, and others. This makes it difficult for them to communicate with people, and vice versa.

4) They Sense Hatred

Empaths feel more fully than other people and when they are around hateful people or things it is difficult for them to separate themselves from those feelings. They will call you on your hate and put you in your place.

5) They Can Read Your Prejudices

People who judge people, talk about people, or have racist tendencies should be aware that empaths can smell that bullshit a mile away. Empaths give everyone an equal chance, but if you mess it up, you are gone.

6) They Know your Feelings

Even when you aren’t sure what you are feeling, empaths can read your body language and tell you what you are experiencing.

They know when people say one thing and mean another. This makes for interesting relationships, breakups and more.

7) They Hate Posers

Nothing makes an empath more angry than when someone is trying to be something they are not. What’s more, people who follow around fake people make empaths crazy.

So if you aren’t who you say you are, steer clear.

8) They Can Sense You’re on the Wrong Path

Even when you feel like you are on the straight and narrow, an empath can sense that something might be missing from your journey. Maybe you took a job, but you really wanted to start your own business. Empaths can tell you what you should be doing with your life, whether you want to hear it or not.

9) They Can See Fake People

Empaths rely on their keen sense of self and confidence to read people they encounter. When they meet someone who does not turn out to be as advertised, they’ll keep on walking.

Empaths have some excellent skills that help them excel in certain careers.

10) They Hate Exploiters

Exploiters put people at risk for their own gain, and empaths have a thing or two to say about that. They can see people manipulating situations from afar and they’ll be sure to point it out when it gets out of hand. If you aren’t working in service of others, you are only working for yourself.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

10 ways to help your husband struggling with low self-esteem

18 signs you’re being a clingy girlfriend! (And how to STOP!)