Accepting The Gift of Being An Empath: Part One

Empaths often absorb the emotions of those around them — so how do empaths take care of THEMSELVES? Nina Endrst begins by identifying some of their gifts…

When I was about 19, I fell for a man – he was incredibly charming, good-looking, “mature” – he worked in sales in NYC. He owned his midtown Manhattan apartment – a pretty incredible accomplishment for a 20-something – and I was impressed. He was a scrappy dude and even though I knew he was in a lot of pain, even though my gut said we were a toxic mix, I dove headfirst into the relationship. At the time I lived in a totally different world, attending college in Boston– his was much shinier. I think part of me also missed chaos, I had a wonderful group of friends and was getting by at University, even though it wasn’t really my thing. I felt a lot of pressure to be there… what I truly wanted was freedom and I wanted it in Manhattan. While I loved connecting with new people, college felt confining and highlighted a lot of my insecurities around not fitting the traditional model.

My friends joked that no matter where we went or what we did, one thing was certain — a stranger would definitely be lending my ear in the corner – sharing their deepest and darkest secrets. I took pride in being a great listener, friend, girlfriend, human – I felt truly comfortable in my own skin when I was offering space for another person this way. Outside of socializing, I spent a lot of time feeling like an alien. People told me I was “too much” of just about everything. Too sensitive, too opinionated, too dramatic. I presented as confident but was wildly insecure in many ways.

I hoped moving to Boston would at the very least help me answer the burning “where do I belong in this world?” question, far away from my small, stale Connecticut hometown. Most of my days were spent hungover in bed, with increasingly frequent stomach pains. I was bored to tears, a little depressed but would never admit it and, for the first time, struggling with mental, physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety.

I met the man on Metro North, the summer of sophomore year. He glided past me and I thought, “woah, he is not like the boys I know.” He definitely was not. He had sharp edges, molded from a pretty rough upbringing and trauma that I, to this day, cannot wrap my head and heart around. I realize now that I saw parts of myself in him. We felt part of a dysfunctional home together, a shared and palpable feeling of brokenness between us. It was here I began to realize how easily empaths absorb energy that is not ours. Almost instantly his anxieties and insecurities became mine – we were so wrapped up that most days it was hard to find my own truth. My stomach was a wreck, I started having regular panic attacks, dizzy spells, headaches. I was determined to save him even if it meant self-destructing. I could help him! What I struggled with was taking care of me, never getting to questions like, how am I feeling? What is my body trying to tell me? Is this what I want? Does this even feel good? Although the relationship was deeply painful, it was a catalyst to so much of my personal healing and still informs my professional work – for that I am forever grateful.

I read a headline for an article the other day: “Your Anxiety is Lying to You!” I understand what it was getting at — that anxiety can sometimes lead us down a rabbit hole of terror. It is highly unlikely that 99 percent of what we dread will come to fruition – got it, heard. I do, however, strongly disagree with the sentiment. Anxiety is not a liar and certainly not the enemy. In fact I’ve learned that, like a really brutally honest best friend — you may not always like them, but you want that person in your life, right? I think we all want someone or something to help us get to the root of things.

Empaths experience varying levels of anxiety and most, unfortunately, don’t have the language to define It and suffer in silence. We are highly sensitive beings – intuitive, often psychic – deeply in tune with energy and can actually FEEL it. It is not the same as having empathy for someone or something. The major difference being empaths often absorb the happiness, sadness, anger, fear of those around them – physically and emotionally. We are walking around with a lot of baggage that isn’t ours to hold.

I didn’t know what an empath was back then. Most of the time I just thought I must be “crazy.” I hope this series will give you comfort and also real-life tools to see yourself and the world around you with a little more compassion and grace.

Are you, or aren’t you?

Let’s start here. I’m not one for labels but I do think it is helpful to identify certain gifts that we may think of as curses. A few questions to guide you as we begin the journey;

*Do you struggle with waves of depression and/or anxiety?

*Do you feel “different” or more sensitive than others?

*Do you feel obligated to save people or help them find their way?

*Do you have trouble being in crowds?

*Do you ever feel like there is not enough of you to go around?

*Do you find yourself craving more alone time?

*Do you often feel drained after emotional interactions?

*Do you leave certain people feeling completely exhausted, or sick even?

*Are you surrounded by people who come to you for advice, a shoulder to lean on?

*Are you sensitive to light and sound, like the overhead lighting in a doctor’s office or grocery store?

*Do you feel like it is hard to separate yourself from tragedy, like you want so desperately to help but are overwhelmed by the enormity of it all?

Check back next month for Part Two from Nina; in the meantime, follow her important work here and here.


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Thank you for this post, Nina – your writing is beautiful. Looking forward to part two.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

Thank you for reading and for the kind words!

4 years ago

I’ve been empathic for as long as I can remember, and now more times than not, I wish I wasn’t.
In High school, I was the “sounding board” for friends, and those who weren’t even in my group of friends (I was more of a Hippie chick, but had acquaintances who were straight, jocks and everything in between)’s interesting in retrospect.
I too, have been in toxic relationships, and toxic marriages…do I really I really love them or am I trying to fix them is a question I think all empaths should ask themselves
I’m still learning self preservation, it’s a long hard road, and a very lonely journey. I find myself avoiding parties, shopping, or any place where there are large crowds of people, it’s very draining; if I do, I know it will take a day or two to recover. So making active choices are a very important to an empath.
I’m looking forward to finding out how Nina has handled her own painful journey, and her ideas on self preservation.

4 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie

Bonnie! Thank you for taking the time to read and for your vulnerability here. It will help more than you know. Hope you enjoy the series xoxo

4 years ago

I LOVE this article/piece. I am a super empath as well, and hearing the words from another human has done good things for my spirit. thank you for sharing your journey so far! I’m excited to read more!


4 years ago
Reply to  Taren Maroun

Hi Taren!

Thank you so much for reading! ❤️

4 years ago

As an empath, it’s incredibly important to take time for ourselves without the guilt. We are prone to negative feelings because we feel what is wrong more than what is right. This isn’t a bad thing because we are sympathetic to people in this way but we should also look at the positive. For example, my sister lives with depression and can almost feel what she feels so i help her but she uses me as punching bag (not literally) but now i’ve learned that I can help her but i don’t have to give her all my time. I’m trying to make her see that she needs to speak to a professional because I can not give her that support she fully needs. I’ve also learned this is okay and i’m not abandoning her but I’m helping her.

4 years ago
Reply to  mia

Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read. <3

4 years ago

Your post was so right on everything you said word for word, I have never heard it like that. Thank you for sharing the reality of life for some..

4 years ago
Reply to  darcee

Thank you for the kind words, Darcee! <3

4 years ago

I have answered yes to everything question! Hello dear friend.

4 years ago
Reply to  Karen

I hear you! Hope the next two installments will be helpful :)

4 years ago

First to thanks a lot for sharing this amazing blog post with us. Being an empath, it was amazing experience to read it. Good job, keep it……….

4 years ago
Reply to  Joom Hayden

Thank you for reading!

4 years ago

Yes!!!! To all the above. Loved this article and can’t wait for the next part

4 years ago
Reply to  Darcy

Thank you for reading! Part 2 coming soon <3

4 years ago

Your honesty is uplifting ❤️ after years of struggle I’ve been happy and balanced as an empath. Until last week..I’ve been attracting the weirdest depressing terrifying conversations from strangers, they just literally stop me to talk and I feel terrible and depressed after, something I recall happening in my teenager years. I’ve been reflecting on why that is happening again and I’m pretty sure that I’m not taking sufficient time alone for myself. As someone already commented for me taking time alone is the most important thing as an empath. I actually do well in crowds, ships, etc BUT I will need time to rebalance after. We take a lot in so we need more time to process. Ironically if we don’t it’s like our aura gets cuts and more easily we get even more drained. So yes that is my lesson for now…time alone for me, NOW.

4 years ago
Reply to  Rita

Yes! You time! i will also speak about sending people their energy back in next installment – stay tuned! xo

Thanks for this inspiring post. God bless you.