Empaths At Risk Of Experiencing Compassion Fatigue, Psychologists Warn
Published in Jul 2019 / Updated in Aug 2021
The idea of being an
empath might seem cool at the moment, but a true empath knows that
having this trait is not as fun as most people imagine. Being an
empath myself, I know this better than anyone. And now, psychologists
are worried that empaths are at risk of experiencing ‘compassion
Because we can feel
so deeply, we have experiences that others cannot relate to. Just by
getting into contact with someone with negative energy such as
sadness, loneliness, or anything else, it rubs off on us immediately
and we feel the same way.
So, it can be
confusing for people when we mirror such emotions.
Without a doubt,
being empathetic is a great gift. We can love truly and have a lot of
compassion for all kinds of beings. We feel so strongly for others,
and we can’t help it. And that is a great thing.
But as noble as
empathy is, it is not without its downsides.
A price many of us
pay is ‘compassion fatigue.’ Surprisingly, I have only recently
learned what the term means. But I am well aware of how it has had an
impact on my life in the past.
Lots of people
suffer from compassion fatigue, including caregivers, highly
sensitive people, and all kinds of people who cannot help themselves
when a friend is in need.
But empaths get the
worst of it. They can feel helpless and suffer trauma by coming into
contact with people who are undergoing such experiences. When this
happens, compassion fatigue is said to have happened.
What follows are
behaviors that might seem anti-social such as withdrawal. But we do
this to keep our sanity. At other times, this is just a natural
reaction to getting overwhelmed with all the ill feelings we have to
absorb. We take the time to try to fix ourselves.
But the symptoms
don’t end there. Other effects of compassion fatigue include the
– Substance abuse
– Lack of pleasure
– Bottled emotions
emotional, and mental fatigue
stress can occur.
And it gets worse.
Therapists are reporting higher suicide rates among people who are
highly sensitive. They go on to explain that this has a lot to do
with the fact that they are exposed to the struggles of those around
them. Some empaths, who withdraw when the compassion they feel
becomes too much, get bullied for their unusual behavior.
The problem is that
we cannot separate ourselves from the sufferings around us. We are
therefore misunderstood. And let’s face it, we don’t even
There’s also not
much literature on what we empaths feel. We might be excellent
intuitive healers, but that tends to draw needy people to us.
Bo Forbes, a
clinical psychologist, insists that we should learn to take care of
ourselves. This includes setting clear boundaries in order to know
when to say no to sacrificing ourselves for other people.
But all is not lost. Just because you are an empath, it does not mean you are doomed to a life of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion. First of all, you should take appropriate breaks. And while at it, don’t isolate yourself. You can get help from family and friends if necessary.
A professional might
also help, especially when the expert specializes in people like
On top of that, you
can have hobbies and passions.
So, don’t pressure yourself. You have no obligation to be superhuman. There is certainly some beauty to helping others, but there are also scenarios where we cannot do much to help, at least not without compromising ourselves. So, it’s okay not to try to help when it takes more from us than we can afford to give.