Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another, but an empath also feels the emotions deeply. The biggest problem for the empath is creating boundaries. Emotional burnout can and does happen. If you’re an empath or closely know one then you’ll understand their need for occasional solitude to cleanse and recharge. But sometimes getting back to stasis can be a challenge. Empaths are like energy and emotional sponges. The ability to feel someone’s energy so deeply is exhilarating just as it can be exhausting. It’s no wonder that so many empaths lead a more isolated life. It can be rough navigating the sea of energies, especially the more volatile ones.

I went to a doctor about 8 years ago to get checked on my hormone levels since I was feeling life more deeply than I had before. He called me back in to discuss my results, and said I was perfectly fine and everything looked good. I was relieved because I was healthy. The doctor was not content with these results and felt that although I was fit as a fiddle I still needed medicine. He broke out a fun little pad of a paper and began to write a prescription for an antidepressant. I asked him why he was prescribing this for me, and he said “It’s not normal to have so many emotions, and to cry when you feel them.” I was surprised and I said, “I’m pretty sure it’s healthy to cry, and I wouldn’t want to dampen the moments of exhilaration just to not feel the sadness.” He was so proud to then tell me that he didn’t even cry at his son’s wedding. I will never forget what happened next. My husband who had been sitting quietly by my side looked at the doctor and said, “You didn’t cry at you son’s wedding?…Wow, maybe you should have.” The doctor sat there speechless as we got up and walked out. I took a deep and empowered breath as I walked out that door. I realized in that moment that I wasn’t broken, I was exactly as I needed to be.

Made to feel abnormal or embarrassed because you’re labeled “too emotional” is a societal constant, so the journey of the empath begins with acceptance. Accepting your unique gift of feeling on a different level is beautiful, fully giving into those emotions is divine, but neither of which can be achieved without boundaries. The majority of my youth was misspent with unscalable walls of protection surrounding me. My attempt was to create boundaries, but I ended up boxing everyone out and insulating my feelings. It created a duality of me. I went against my natural order, because I denied who I truly was. In the past five years I’ve learned to break down my walls, and create more of a chainlink fence. I still need boundaries to protect my emotional investment, but that’s just it…it’s my emotional investment. I am the only one with the power to choose how much of me I can give any one person or situation. When the emotion or energy becomes dark, manipulative, or stagnant, that is the cue to step away and redirect focus as I don’t have the power to change anyone, but I can change my involvement.

I can navigate any situation, not because they have changed, but because I have.

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