Handling Emotions of Others – Empaths and Highly Sensitive Person
Do you find yourself feeling really affected by things that go on around you? Do you feel yourself really being in tune with the emotions of others? Do bright light and loud sounds overwhelm you? Do you feel exhausted if you have been socializing for long periods of time? If any of these resonate with you, you could be what professionals consider a Highly Sensitive Person.
Psychologist Elaine Aron was the first one to introduce the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). In simple terms, people who are considered highly sensitive are people who are highly sensitive in sensory processing. So, what does this mean?
High sensory processing sensitivity is when you process things around you much deeper than most. You can read situations for what they are rather than what is shown on top, you can feel the emotions of those who are pretending to be okay, and you can put yourself in the place of others no matter how far they are and no matter how unrelated their situation is to your life.
For some people, it can go as far as to take on the pain and feelings of others. This is in line with most Empaths that come to me for help. Empaths, by their nature, tend to feel and often take on the emotions of others, which is why I am putting empaths and highly sensitive people together in this.
Often when empaths come to me for help, they feel overwhelmed with their own life events and the events that are happening to others they love or even in the news more generally. Where they may find it hard to focus and complete daily activities. This can really impact a person’s day to day life as they often need some downtime to process everything – regardless of how insignificant a situation may seem to others. As well as sometimes process what has happened to other people they know.
For example, I worked with a lady who would constantly overthink situations based on the emotions of others – she was constantly trying to read the other person’s emotional state that she didn’t end up enjoying herself; she was more concerned if the person was upset, stressed or even if they just weren’t their usual self it used to bother her so much she would reflect on it at home alone. This took up so much of her energy that she was left exhausted after a simple dinner with a friend. She was so consumed with the other person’s emotions and energy that she absorbed it all in as if she was going through it all herself. This is really common for empaths and people who are classed as Highly Sensitive Person.
Let me explain two intensive breakthrough sessions I completed last month (these are 3-day intensives where we help someone break free from old patterns in 3 days of 3-hour sessions)
Tara was struggling with overwhelming guilt. Her marriage had ended as she no longer felt attracted to him and had fallen in love with someone else at work. When she reviewed the relationship, she realized that she had seen and looked after him more like a child than a husband. She cared for him, paid the bills, organized everything for them, and after 12 years, was running empty. Not only had she been looking after him, but she also had been supporting her brother and sister financially and her parents emotionally. Her empath personality was to rescue others. She had rescued her family from financial trouble, her sister from drug abuse, her husband from work stress, and at 37 realized that she had not been looking after herself at all. She wanted to change, but she didn’t know-how; the first thing she felt she had done for herself was to leave the marriage that she didn’t feel good in. But she felt so much pain in this and had some very dark thoughts about how mean she was and how she didn’t deserve to live, let alone be happy.
Carrying everyone and her relationship with her husband has become more of a parent-child relationship. She had associated loving yourself with being selfish. When we dig a bit deeper to understand why she was carrying the emotions of others so much, it became clear that
She believed that when you love someone, you absorb their emotions.
Explain this to me, I asked!
“To really love someone, you have to take on and feel their pain too. Showing love is where you take on the emotions of others.”
Wow, what a discovery in our first session. She had made a decision as a child to show love and what love means is you take on other’s pain. This belief was ruining her enjoyment of life. When we switched that to love yourself first and then give to others without taking on the pain – everything shifted for her.
She saw her value and that she no longer needed to carry the guilt. She had suffered for so long carrying other’s feelings and being sad, down, etc., with them, and now she felt lighter and more at peace.
Less need to rescue others, and we set a list of healthy boundaries to put in place with all close friendships, family members, and in romantic relationships.
We ended the intensive with a protective shield hypnotherapy to protect her from absorbing others negative energy. The transformation was beautiful to witness, and all the answers came from within her, not me.
The other man I supported was grieving his dad’s death 18 years prior; he could not let go of the grief. As he had not let go when his wife cheated on him 3 years ago, he was an emotional mess in his own words. Highly anxious and angry all the time.
Small things used to irritate him; he had become miserable to be around. Finally, he booked the session as he didn’t want his children to suffer anymore and knew his wife also deserved better.
He was tracking her daily and always checking her social media, and still punishing her for the affair.
When he came to me, he said Nicola I’m broken, I want to stop being negative, I want to stop getting angry over small things that don’t matter. He had been stuck in a negative cycle of thoughts and emotions for many years, and I explained to him that this didn’t make him negative and that they can be released and change.
We discovered after starting the breakthrough process that he
1, was taking everything personally – a common trait for empaths
2, lost belief in himself,
3 believed that if you put yourself before others, you are selfish,
4, that he had kept the grief because he was scared that if he let it go, he would lose the memories of his Dad.
5, he had made a decision that he cannot forgive and therefore couldn’t forgive his wife, his friends, his sister, and work colleagues.
Once we deleted these decisions and beliefs limiting his life, he became free. He forgave his wife, and they have set a date to renew their vows next year; he created a daily gratitude ritual with his family over dinner where he can bring up and celebrate his Dad that day if he wants to and choose 3 dates a year (birth date, death anniversary and fathers day to celebrate him) and began taking action to look after himself. This for him, was alone time, friend time, exercise time, and of course, family time.
So that is the first tip: ask yourself what your beliefs about being an Empaths and a Highly Sensitive Person are? Do you feel it is in your control or not? What do you believe about love and self-love – is it selfish? Do you really need to take on other’s emotions to show love?
Examine them, examine your beliefs, the benefits, the limitations of staying that way you are, and then decide what is working for you and not working and take a decision on what you might want to let go of.
Feel free to book a free 20-minute personal intro chat with me on my website if you would like to know more about my intensive breakthrough program.
If you are wondering if you are displaying Highly Sensitive Person and Empath traits, check out the below checklist. As well as how I help people completely break free from it and absorb other’s emotions if you choose that the way you are is no longer serving you.
How to work out if you are a Highly Sensitive Person and an empath–
- You reflect and think deeply about everything
People who are highly sensitive tend to absorb everything, analyze what they know, and take some time to really process everything before reacting to things. Which means they may take a while to respond, but when they do, they do with a lot of reflection and thought behind it. This is a good trait to have, and almost all introverts have this as they are often in their own inner world thinking and reflecting. However, overthinking and making assumptions is not good, so the question to ask yourself is, does your reflection time help or hinder you?
- You get overwhelmed easily
When someone thinks deeply about everything and absorbs all the energy around them, it can be really overwhelming being in social situations or being overly busy all day. Being outside or socializing for long periods of time is exhausting for people who are highly sensitive. Especially if the energy is not positive. This is often why people come to me; they want to protect themselves from absorbing it.
- You empathize with everyone
Highly sensitive people are really in tune with the emotions and feelings of others. They are able to tell when someone isn’t okay or when they need help. People who are highly sensitive can put themselves in the other person’s shoes and really feel their pain or emotions too. The question here is are you carrying it in you or caring without absorbing it.
- You struggle with setting healthy boundaries
Highly Sensitive People really struggle with putting in boundaries with friends and family members because they have such high levels of empathy. Instead of protecting or looking after their own well-being, they are so consumed with not wanting to offend or upset others that they rarely say “no” to people.
- Work stress can leave you feeling burnt out
People who are highly sensitive put 110% into everything they do – they are so perceptive, and because they absorb everything, they tend to take on extra work to ease the workload of others. They are constantly doing more than they should at work, and because they are always overthinking or deeply processing the situation around them, doing simple tasks at work can leave them feeling tired and overworked.
- Make deep connections with people
Being someone who is highly sensitive and empath you deeply. This means you love deeper, and you make real deep connections with those around you – whether it’s the shopkeeper or your best friend, all your interactions are meaningful to you. Being so in tune with the emotions of those around you helps you to really build solid friendships because you are able to work out what a person needs emotionally. When it becomes unhealthy, and people come to me to change this, it is because they find they are always putting others’ needs before their own.
Other challenges that come up with people who come to me to lessen their empath and highly sensitive traits can be
- Tendency to avoid situations and things that leave them feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable – for example, they can’t watch the news or violent films as it affects them deeply, and they can also end up crying watching movies.
- Avoid conflict if they have a disagreement with someone; they prefer to avoid all communication with that person as they are constantly overthinking the whole interaction.
- Because they can give so much to others and are so in tune with the emotions of others, they expect the same back when they need someone and get frustrated, irritated, feel lonely, and down when they are not treated with the same love and care. They often believe that others do not care about them because they do not display care, love, and empathy on the same level. Often because they do not process emotions as deeply or do not know how to do that.
- They get consumed by the energy or feelings of others – so unless they work on themselves to change this and protect themselves, they can end up feeling low, tired, and drained being around angry, negative, and anxious energy. They may struggle to hear negative news and others in a difficult spot. It’s almost as though they are going through it themselves.
- Because an Empath and Highly Sensitive Person pours so much of themselves into figuring out others, they tend to have less time to dedicate to themselves and struggle to spend time loving themselves. They are constantly questioning themselves and often filled with self-doubt as they prioritize the feelings or opinions of others before their own. As a result, they can lose themselves in their emotions.
Here are some more tips for empath and highly sensitive people
- Educate yourself
One of the first things I advise anyone who I believe fits the criteria of being a Highly Sensitive Person is to educate themselves and decide if it is working for them or not. There is a wealth of information out there about people who have higher levels of sensory processing and what this means. For example, one lady I worked with to help her change was having really sensitive hearing when she felt anxious. I know for some people being highly sensitive is so exhausting, and being an overthinker can really make you doubt yourself. However, change is possible if you are ready to take the step to free yourself. Many people have successfully implemented changes, and with empaths and highly sensitive people, many tend to think that this is who they are and have no power to change it. Yet they can, even if it has run in generations, even if they believe the trait is in their DNA or copied from childhood protection and new ways to cope is possible.
- Plan self-care positive activities
Make a conscious effort to do things that make you feel good. This includes having some downtime and incorporating some self-care practices so that you are replenishing your own energy. This also gives you the opportunity to process what you have been exposed to during the week in a safe space so that you are not feeling overwhelmed.
- Learn to implement boundaries
Remind yourself that it is okay to say no when you do not want to do something. Your emotional well-being matters as much as anybody else’s, and it is so important to remember the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” This is exactly why, as a person who is always there for others and who wants to make others feel better, you need to have some healthy boundaries so that your health isn’t affected. When you start putting in boundaries, you are also establishing a healthy barrier between you and potential negative or draining energy.
- Lead a healthier lifestyle
By healthy, I don’t just mean the food you eat, but also the things you do day to day. For example, making sure you sleep at a decent time so that you are waking up refreshed. This is so important as studies have shown that lack of sleep can negatively impact how Highly Sensitive People deal with day to day life. There are also things that help calm the mind from overthinking – for example, meditation, yoga, or activities like journaling – all of which can help process thoughts and is a way of offloading the stress inside.
- Plan some time to switch off from social media and news
It is so hard nowadays to switch off from negative news because of the constant stream of posts on social media and on our phones, TV’s Radios etc. This can deeply affect Empaths and Highly Sensitive People because they feel the deepest emotions even through watching videos of strangers online or reading news of things going on around the world. This means even in your own home; you can be left feeling overwhelmed, low and emotional. By incorporating “no technology” time, you are able to really switch off from the outside world and have time to just be present. This can be just having a bubble bath while relaxing without your phone or having a cup of tea or coffee outside; taking in the nature around you can be soothing.
Being an empath and or a Highly Sensitive Person feels things so much deeper than the average person, and while it can be a great thing to build meaningful relationships, it can also be exhausting and overwhelming because you take on others their emotions and energy. Whilst it may almost feel like a curse to be someone who is highly sensitive, and so in tune with the world around you, it is something that can be changed with an intensive breakthrough process I run and when the person has the choice to choose the parts of being an empath and highly sensitive person that suits them and switch off what doesn’t it can make sure a difference.
If you are struggling with life as an empath or highly sensitive person, feel free to contact me for a free consultation to see if we can decide what to keep that helps you and what to change to live a fuller, happier and freer life.
Another way to improve your life and relationship is to take our relationship coach training. When you complete the relationship coach certification course you will receive 3 internally accredited certifications in NLP coaching, NLP Practitioner and Time Line Therarpy(r) and get a relationship coaching certification.