9 things empaths find exhausting, according to psychology

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As an empath, I understand the importance of feeling connected, appreciated, and validated.

In contrast, there are certain things that can leave us drained, misunderstood, and stressed out.

Empaths, according to psychology, are individuals who are highly sensitive and attuned to the emotions and energy of people around them.

We often find ourselves overwhelmed by situations and people that others might navigate with ease. This is because we not only perceive but also absorb the emotions of others, which can be exhausting.

In this article, I am going to share some of the common triggers that can leave empaths feeling fatigued and overwhelmed.

By understanding these, you can better understand your emotional needs as an empath or better support the empaths in your life.

1) Overstimulation

Overstimulation doesn’t always happen in a crowded room or a noisy environment. It also happens through the overflow of emotions that empaths often experience.

As an empath, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the intense emotions and energies of those around you.

This can happen even when you are in a small gathering or with a close-knit group of friends.

You might notice that after spending time with people, even if it’s just a simple dinner or a short meeting, you feel exhausted. It’s as if you’ve run a marathon when all you did was chat over coffee.

In some cases, you might also find yourself feeling the emotions of those who aren’t physically present but with whom you share a strong emotional bond. This could be a sibling who is going through a breakup or a friend who is dealing with work stress.

This constant influx of emotions can be exhausting for empaths and often leads to a sensation of being emotionally drained and mentally fatigued.

2) Emotional negativity

As an empath, you’re not just sensitive to the emotions of others; you also absorb them. This can be particularly taxing when those emotions are negative.

You might find yourself disproportionately affected by someone’s anger, sadness, or frustration. It’s as if their emotions become your own, and you feel them just as intensely, if not more so.

On days when your colleague is upset about a work issue or your partner is stressed about a family matter, you might find yourself carrying that emotional baggage with you.

It’s as though their stress has somehow become your stress.

This constant absorption of negative emotions can leave empaths feeling emotionally drained and mentally fatigued. It can be exhausting to constantly feel the weight of other people’s emotions, in addition to your own.

3) Lack of personal space

Personal boundaries are crucial for maintaining emotional health and well-being. As an empath, you might find it particularly challenging to establish and maintain these boundaries.

Because of your natural tendency to tune into other people’s feelings and needs, you might often put their needs before your own.

This can sometimes lead to situations where you’re spending so much time and energy on others that you neglect your own needs.

You may find it difficult to say ‘no’ when someone asks for your help or when someone wants to spend time with you, even when you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed.

This lack of personal space can be incredibly exhausting.

Remember that it’s okay to prioritize your own needs and take some time for self-care. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

4) Solitude

While it may seem like being alone would be a respite for an empath, it can also be a source of exhaustion.

As empaths, we have an innate ability to tune into the emotions and energies of those around us. This doesn’t stop when we’re alone.

Even in solitude, empaths might find themselves deeply affected by the emotions of people they aren’t physically nearby.

This could be a result of a phone conversation, a text message, or even just thinking about someone else’s situation.

This constant emotional input, even in the absence of physical presence, can leave empaths feeling fatigued and overwhelmed.

It’s as if our minds are never truly at rest, constantly absorbing and processing the emotional energy around us.

5) Dishonesty

As an empath, dishonesty is more than just a pet peeve; it’s deeply unsettling.

We have a heightened ability to pick up on subtle cues and emotions, which can make it incredibly draining when someone is not being truthful.

When someone lies, even about small things, it creates a dissonance that empaths can feel intensely.

It’s like a discordant note in a symphony that jars the entire piece. We can feel the difference between what’s being said and what’s being felt, and it’s exhausting.

This continuous game of emotional tug-of-war can leave us feeling drained, anxious, and sometimes even physically unwell.

It’s a heavy burden to bear to know when someone is not being honest while having to handle the relationship with sensitivity and diplomacy.

6) Self-Doubt

Empaths can often struggle with self-doubt.

We are so accustomed to feeling and understanding others that we sometimes lose touch with our own emotions. This can lead to questioning our own feelings or even disregarding them entirely.

We might find ourselves wondering if we’re just overly sensitive or overreacting. We may even question if what we’re feeling is genuinely our own emotion or if it’s something we’ve absorbed from those around us.

It’s a tricky balance, and it can be exhausting to constantly question ourselves.

But remember that your feelings are valid and it’s okay to prioritize yourself. Being empathetic doesn’t mean neglecting your own emotional health.

7) Social expectations

In a world that often values assertiveness and competition, being an empath can feel like swimming upstream. We might find ourselves feeling out of place or misunderstood when our approach to situations is more compassionate and considerate than what’s typically expected.

The pressure to conform to societal norms and expectations can be mentally exhausting. It’s like wearing a mask that doesn’t quite fit right, all day, every day.

We might find ourselves trying to appear less sensitive or more competitive, just to fit in. But this disconnection from our true selves can be draining.

It’s okay to be who we are, sensitivity and all. After all, it’s our empathy that makes us unique and allows us to connect with others on a deeper level.

8) Retail therapy

Let’s talk about something a bit lighter: shopping. Now, who doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy, right?

Well, for empaths, it can be a bit more complicated.

Imagine walking into a store and feeling the energy of every single person there. The sales assistant who’s having a rough day, the excited child getting their first pair of shoes, the couple arguing over color schemes.

Suddenly, what was meant to be a fun shopping trip becomes an emotional roller coaster ride. The changing rooms become a haven where you can escape and catch your breath.

And don’t even get me started on crowded shopping malls during sale season! It’s like being in an emotional pinball machine.

But hey, at least we always know which sales assistant genuinely thinks that dress looks good on us!

9) Ignoring personal needs

Alright, let’s get real for a moment.

As empaths, we are often so focused on caring for others that we completely neglect our own needs.

And let’s face it, that’s not doing us any favors.

When we continuously put others before us, we’re not being selfless; we’re being self-destructive. It’s exhausting and unsustainable.

We need to stop romanticizing self-sacrifice and start prioritizing self-care.

Yes, we feel deeply for others, but we are allowed to feel deeply for ourselves too. It’s time we start treating ourselves with the same compassion and consideration that we extend to others.

Only then can we truly be at our best, both for ourselves and the people around us.


Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist and empath herself, says, “Empaths have an extremely reactive neurological system. We don’t have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb into our own bodies both the positive and stressful energies around us.”

Understanding and recognizing what drains us is the first step towards better self-care.

But what’s next?

The key is to remember that being an empath is not a burden but a gift. It allows us to connect with others on a profoundly deep level. However, this doesn’t mean we should disregard our own needs.

Establishing boundaries, practicing self-care regularly, and learning to differentiate between our own emotions and those of others are critical steps in maintaining our emotional health.

Being an empath can be exhausting, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

By understanding what drains us and taking steps to manage it, we can continue being empathetic without sacrificing our well-being.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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