Being an empath: 18 ways to stop absorbing other people’s emotions

If you’re good at listening to others, connecting with them, and intuitively understanding their feelings, then there’s a strong possibility that you are an empath.

An empath is a highly sensitive individual who can easily sense what other people are feeling and thinking.

They are human sponges who can easily pick up on others’ emotions, energies, and even physical sensations.

While being an empath is a great gift, it can also be an overwhelming burden as your personal world is vulnerable to the negative feelings and energy of the people who surround you.

Without a proper strategy, empaths can be worn down and drained after spending time with people.

So how can you deal with being an empath?

Here are 18 tips and techniques to try:

1. Practice mindfulness

Being an empath is like leaving your house to visit your friend, except all the doors and windows are open and anyone can easily enter.

As empaths are attuned to the feelings and experiences of others, they can abandon their immediate experience and have trouble returning to themselves.

An empath who doesn’t have a strong sense of self can get lost and caught up with everything happening around them.

This problem makes mindfulness an essential practice for empaths.

Mindfulness is the human ability to ‘tune in’ to the moment.

A mindful person is fully present, fully aware, and fully connected with themself.

A few key mindfulness tactics include touching objects with a unique texture, looking and naming the colors around you, and taking deep breaths.

By focusing more on the experience of the moment, you can keep others’ energy separate and deflect their negative emotions.

2. Learn how to meditate

Everyone can benefit from activities that keep the mind and body strong, like yoga or meditation.

For empaths, meditation can help them better navigate the world around them and refocus after something distressing has happened.

If you’re an empath who needs to let go of stress and calm down, a quick meditation session is what you need.

Meditation allows you to look inwards and observe your emotions from a distance, providing much-needed relief when you pick up someone else’s energies.

Find a peaceful environment — even a bathroom stall would do.

Stay in a quiet place, close your eyes, and begin breathing deeply.

You can imagine all the negative feelings leaving your body and replace these dark thoughts with clarity and positivity.

3. Take good care of yourself

Believe it or not, empaths are even extra sensitive to what they do to their bodies.

With food, they’re attuned to how the things they eat make them feel. If they eat unhealthy junk, an empath would feel sick and miserable.

Or if they don’t get enough sleep, they feel like they’re drawing energy from an empty battery.

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The inherent sensitivity empaths experience requires them to take good care of themselves.

They have to stay hydrated, eat nourishing foods in appropriate amounts, exercise regularly, and rest when they need to.

Empaths should also keep in mind that they can’t take care of others if they’re not taking care of themselves.

The ability to empathize is much stronger when you’re not feeling totally depleted.

4. Keep track of your feelings

As a person who is deeply empathetic to the feelings of other people, you have to be self-aware of your own emotions.

Spending more time identifying how you feel can help you distinguish between your emotions and someone else’s.

Take note of what triggers your positive and negative moods so that you can better manage your feelings.

It also helps to pour your racing thoughts and emotions into a journal.

Aside from lessening the burden, you carry around, you can more effectively sort through the other energies you’ve picked up.

5. Create a safe, personal space

Life in the outside world can be tough for empaths.

They are vulnerable to the mix of emotions as they jostle through crowds and they can be overwhelmed by noise.

Once you get home, it might not be any better. You might be living with a lot of people and you can’t avoid being bombarded by emotions.

If you’re an empath struggling to find peace, the first step is to create a quiet, comfortable, and calming space for yourself where you can recharge.

Fill your space with art, plants, and calming scents so your energy can recuperate.

It doesn’t have to be a bedroom; your safe space can easily be a bathroom or a closet.

Just make sure it’s somewhere you can have time alone to stay away from the chaos of your phone, the television, or other people.

6. Take a physical step away from the problem

For empaths, physical closeness can be dangerous.

Energy is transmitted through eye contact and touch, so it’s important to limit any physical interaction especially if you’re uncomfortable already.

Here are some ways to create physical distance:

– When with friends: Hugging is an act of comfort that many people use on their loved ones.

However, empaths have to be wary because they may take too much of the stress their friends are feeling.

Keep your hugs short and as much as possible, love your friends from a distance. You can opt to write cheerful messages or send small presents instead of physical contact.

– When close to a suspected “energy vampire”: There are people whose troubles are so heavy that they suck up the energy in the room with their presence.

If you think someone is an energy vampire, distance yourself 20 feet from them and see if you sense some relief.

Don’t let yourself be drained because you don’t want to offend someone when they stand or sit too close to you.

– When in a crowded area: Give yourself permission to leave or take a break if you’re getting overwhelmed by all the energies in the room.

Change seats if you must. You can also visualize a glass wall between yourself and other people.

Through the glass, you can see and acknowledge how they feel but glass will keep their feelings away from you. Instead, all the emotions and energy other people convey will bounce back to them.

7. Immerse yourself in nature

Empaths have a stronger bond with the earth compared to most people.

The natural, healing energy you get from nearby bodies of water or a fresh, green meadow can help you shed other people’s energies.

Take advantage of this connection to the earth by practicing grounding.

Grounding is when you take all the negative feelings you have and send them back to the earth to be absorbed.

Simultaneously, you can bring up positive energies from nature and use it to center yourself.

Grounding can be done by immersing your senses in the natural world.

Feel your bare feet in the grass, dirt, or another natural surface. Touch plants, pet animals and soak yourself in a bath at the end of the day.

Grounding practices can greatly help to bring you back to the present.

8. Schedule alone time

As an empath, you are naturally giving and it’s difficult for you to be selfish with your time.

You can get so into empathizing and comforting others that you forget to take care of your own needs.

However, this will cost you in the long run. You need to have alone time so you can replenish and be at your best for your loved ones.

Alone time doesn’t have to take up so much of your time in a day.

You can reserve one hour before going to bed just to release all the pent-up emotions you’ve collected.

Find a quiet spot away from any distractions and feel your own power while no one is around.

Take deep breaths and let yourself be still for just a few minutes. You’ll be refreshed enough to face the day ahead.

9. Communicate what you need

One bad habit empaths have is neglecting their own needs.

They’re so busy taking on the heartaches and joys of other people that they forget to protect themselves.

As an empath, you should speak up if your needs are unmet. Don’t suffer silently or expect your loved ones to immediately pick-up on what’s wrong because they might not be empaths.

Don’t forget that being an empath is a gift, not a superpower.

You can rely on others to help you process your emotions and turn to them for support.

The key is to make this communication regular. Schedule a weekly coffee date with your best friend or call a family member every month just so you can release your own emotions.

10. Ignore the negative voices in your head

Like many of us, empaths are not spared from the critical, inner voice that makes catty remarks inside our heads.

In fact, empaths are more sensitive and vulnerable to these negative thoughts.

There is a risk that empaths will continuously criticize themselves for being too sensitive or feeling too much, all the time.

The best way to fight these nasty voices is to practice self-compassion.

An empath should treat him or herself as they would treat a friend.

They have to constantly be aware if they are suffering so they can acknowledge how they feel and respond appropriately.

Empaths should also cultivate self-forgiveness. No one is perfect and empaths should know that’s okay.

11. Repeat mantras to yourself

Empaths are open and giving to others but it can be difficult for them to remain positive, especially when there are a lot of negative emotions around.

Mantras or positive affirmations can help empaths navigate away from negativity and back to a more centered place.

Some examples of mantras could be “Return to sender” or “I release any emotion that isn’t mine”.

It’s better to not use a negative statement like “I don’t feel anyone’s emotions.” You should still acknowledge others.

You can also say something like “I am focused on my emotions and I am setting aside everyone else’s.”

Affirmations can be a part of your meditation or they can be used when you slip into someone’s negative feelings.

12. Forgive and let go

Sensitive people are easily used and hurt by others. Empaths are especially prone to getting hurt because they don’t just feel things for themselves, they feel for others too.

When someone or something hurt you in the past, holding onto that pain will continue to drain your life force.

Part of managing your abilities as an empath is learning how to forgive and release the pent-up negativity inside of you.

Detach yourself from the hurt, let everything go, and heal. Of course, you should forgive yourself as well.

13. Identify what drains and energizes you

There are different types of empaths. Some connect better with the physical, others with the emotional or both.

Empaths can also be more attuned to certain energies, even their extending their connection to plants and animals.

It’s important for empaths to recognize and understand the conditions that are more likely to trigger their empathy over others.

When you figure out under what environment your energy gets drained, you can avoid those situations, people, or places.

You should also pay attention to the circumstances that boost your energy.

What sparks life in you? What refreshes you after a long day?

Once you realize what energizes you, you can spend more time cultivating these joys to replenish yourself.

If you don’t already know what drains or energizes you, keep a journal and take note when you experience feelings that you don’t think belong to you.

Find patterns on where you were, who you were with, what was around you, what was currently happening in the world, and how you felt at that moment.

14. Question who your emotions belong to

As an empath, you could be having a great day until someone in a bad mood stands next to you.

Suddenly, you feel anxious, exhausted, or sick.

If you experience a sudden change of physical state or mood, you might be absorbing the discomfort from that person’s energy.

The tricky thing about empathy is that you experience sensations from others as your own.

The transfer isn’t limited to moods or emotions; your mind could also be infiltrated by a sudden onslaught of negative thoughts.

You constantly have to ask yourself if the feelings are yours or if you’ve absorbed them from someone else.

A few signs that what you’re feeling doesn’t belong to you are:

  • Rapid mood swings or sudden irritability when you’re in a crowded environment
  • Random aches or pains that suddenly appear with no apparent cause
  • Overwhelming feelings driven by the collective emotion of everyone around you

When a situation like this happens, try to move away to see if the discomfort disappears. If it does, then it’s not yours.

Feelings are contagious so it’s also possible that the emotions are shared by both you and someone else. In either case, you have to question who the real source of the feelings is.

Learn to differentiate and name your emotions by paying careful attention and writing everything down.

Soon, you will be able to distinguish the subtle difference between your emotional and physical sensations from empathetic connections.

15. Find a healthy way to release emotions

Catharsis is the process of releasing strong, repressed emotions to give way to relief.

As an empath, all the unprocessed feelings you have (which may not be yours) can weigh you down.

Empaths need catharsis; they need to embody all those pent-up feelings and overcome them.

Some people experience catharsis when they let themselves feel those emotions at their peak.

They laugh in moments of joy, burst into tears when they’re sad, or scream when they’re furious.

Not everyone is in the right situation to do these things, however. Some healthy ways to release suppressed emotions are:

– Sweating it out: Think of how people stomp their feet when they feel frustrated. Motion has a way of unleashing emotion so if you can’t force yourself to control those feelings just yet, be active.

Go out for a run, do some jumping jacks, or dance your heart out. These activities are far more acceptable than crying or yelling in public.

– Rewire your brain: Coax your brain into letting the feelings go by accepting and releasing the emotions out loud. Say something like “I feel xxx because I chose to feel it. I’m ready to let it go now.”

– Write everything down: A classic piece of advice to unleashing pent-up feelings is to get everything on paper.

Write freely about what you’re thinking for 15 minutes. You’ll soon find that your ramblings will lead to a core belief that helps you reevaluate the situation.

16. Build strong boundaries

Have you ever met an energy vampire?

These are people who drain your energy to feel better about themselves. In most cases, energy vampires recognize empaths and choose them as a target whom they will unburden their stresses and worries to.

Not only will an empath feel compelled to help an energy vampire, but they get drained in the process of listening to them.

Although it’s a hard truth to accept, empaths have to learn that it is not their responsibility to save everyone.

An empath only has so much energy to listen and comfort others. You have to set up boundaries against physical, conversational, emotional contaminants to your energy.

Empaths should cultivate a strong sense of self to avoid being taken advantage of by others.

You have to know who you are and what you can or cannot handle.

Control the time you spend listening to emotional vampires and learn to politely refuse.

Remember, the word “no” is already a complete sentence.

17. Visualize a protective ‘bubble’

Try as you might, there are some situations that are impossible to avoid because of their significance in your life.

Even if it’s hard to deal with all the energy flowing at your family reunion or at a work event, you won’t be able to refuse an invitation.

What most empaths and other highly sensitive people do is to form a mental shield or bubble.

Shielding allows empaths to temporarily block out toxic, negative energies and focus on what is happy, energizing and loving.

It takes a lot of effort to master these protective bubbles. You have to close your eyes and take deep long breaths.

Once you feel centered, imagine pushing the shield from your core and surrounding you completely.

The shield encompasses your inner world so everyone visualizes it a bit differently.

Some think of a clear glass bubble, while others may think of a knight’s shield or a cocoon of soft blankets.

What is important is being able to use these bubbles effectively in overwhelming situations.

18. Try control techniques

Empaths can employ visualization to take control when everyone else’s emotions are all over the place.

Three control techniques you should try are:

The Filter: Picture two volume knobs in your head. One knob should be labelled as “Me” and the other knob should be “Others”.

When you’re alone, you should turn up the “Me” knob to maximum and turn down the other knob to minimum.

This helps you conserve your energy and focus on the present. If you’re in a situation that calls for empathy, you can turn the knob for “Others” all the way up and reset after.

The Anchor: An anchor is a gesture you can use when you’re caught up in negative feelings that aren’t your own.

Imagine something that makes you feel happy and peaceful, then choose a gesture to go with that feeling.

It should be something you wouldn’t normally do, like poking your index finger at your palm.

Train yourself to do this gesture whenever you’re feeling good so you can bring up those positive emotions when you need them.

The Jaguar: The jaguar technique is most effective when bad feelings are coming at you fast.

Visualize a strong, black jaguar protecting your energy field. It’s here to patrol your area and ward off any toxic people.

By picturing a protective animal, you can feel more secure and at peace when you’re facing negativity.

Hone Your Empath Abilities

The upside of being an empath is that you’re a great friend to have because you’re so intelligent and generous.

People find that they don’t have to verbalize how they’re feeling when they’re around you.

You also have a naturally giving spirit and when used for good, your empath senses can do a lot for the world.

However, empaths are also at high risk for burning out.

By learning to control your empath senses, you can be more at peace with yourself and with the rest of the world.

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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.

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