Empathy. What is this? The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The definition in itself is pretty simple looking. You feel sad, I feel sad. You mad? Let's be mad together. But when it comes to empathy or being an empath, there are so many aspects others may not realize. Empathy is a huge concept. Before we dig deeper into this, I want you to understand that empathy is NOT the same as sympathy. Many get them mixed up. What is the difference between empathy and sympathy? Sympathy involves understanding from your own perspective. Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person's shoes and understanding WHY they may have these particular feelings.
If you are unsure whether or not you are an empath, here are some traits typically found with empathy.
Empaths are not meant to be sponges or enablers, they are simply for help, support and guidance. During the holidays so many get extra stress from extra purchases, or they are missing a lost loved one deeply. Throughout these times of year, friends and family need the extra support. If you find yourself helping more, and really aren’t sure how to keep up with it all, here are some tips to help make the process easier on you.
1. Make your overall health and wellness a priority.
Don’t let taking care of others stop you from caring for yourself. Find activities that replenish your reserves and find ways to incorporate them into your schedule. Read a good book. Set aside time to pray or meditate. Listen to a soundtrack that soothes you. Take your dog on a walk or keep up with a regular exercise routine. Allow yourself some time to decompress and be alone when you need it. These little investments in your health can make a big difference.
2. Don’t be ashamed of your big heart.
Your empath traits make you a compassionate person and a cherished friend. Your ability to connect with the emotions of others is a blessing. But it will require awareness so you don’t become overly immersed in the emotional highs and lows of others. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate tough emotions and situations.
3. Remind yourself that saying no is not selfish.
Boundaries are important and can help prevent burnout. We all have a limited amount of time and resources to give. You can’t help everyone at all times. Be gracious with yourself as you decide what you’re able to handle and when you may need to step away or pass on something.
4. Allow yourself time to recharge and regroup.
Rest is so vital. Be honest when you are at max capacity. It may feel unnatural at first, and you’ll want to give people rationalizations, but knowing your limits and making your mental health a priority is nothing to be ashamed of.. Empaths often need time to be alone and recenter. Giving yourself blocks of time by yourself to recuperate is probably one of the most important things to remember.
Don’t forget. Just as you have a heart for helping others, there are people ready to help you, too. Please, if you are struggling, do not be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we need tools to help us process our emotions or a trusted friend or counselor to listen. It takes strength to let someone in and evaluate when you may need additional assistance.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.