Dear Dr. Orloff: I am familiar with your book, and although I have not read it cover to cover, I have skimmed thru it. I wanted to comment about empaths. I am empathic. If I let myself, I could cry for the whole world. I love others, truly. I try to not judge, to accept and love people for who they are, not what others wish them to be. I feel other people's pain. I have learned to feel, but to establish boundaries, for my own health, and for the other person's health as well. My daughter has always been extremely empathic, to the point where she seems to be a target for others who are having difficult lives, and "sucks up" so much of their situation that she cries and feels/gets physically ill. She is 16, and I try to suggest several ways in which she can ease her discomforts. I tell her to imagine that she is surrounded by a pink (or whatever color) bubble, and that she is protected by this bubble always. I tell her to listen to others, but to not "suck up" their problems and take them on as her own. I tell her when she feels upset or depressed, or has "negative" thoughts (she tells me she sometimes has "bad" thoughts) to honestly ask herself whether those thoughts are "coming from her" or whether they are "coming from someone else". Often these are thoughts and emotions that are coming from others that you are internalizing and making your own. If they are not your thoughts/feelings, recognize that they are not, and tell yourself to let them go out. I have asked her if she is unhappy inside of herself, truly. She says she is not. I truly believe they are other peoples' thoughts. (She has been taken to a psychologist as well--she went for 4 years from age 8-12, and the psychologist agreed that she is generally a happy child and does not have a troubled or unhappy life on her own). Lastly, I suggested that she take a walk, get some air, or some sun to distract and calm her mind from anxiety/fear/sadness she may be feeling. It is very difficult for me to see her struggling with these issues. I want both my girls to be happy, strong, and healthy, as all parents do. It hurts me so much that I have to even separate from her myself and let it be "hers", not "mine", because I don't think I can help her or me by freaking out. So, I hope this helps those of you empaths out there to establish healthy boundaries. I don't think the goal is to deny yourself. This is who you are, and it is a wonderful thing to be empathetic, but becoming overwhelmed is not good for you or for the person you are listening to. You cannot help their situation by internalizing their "stuff".
As to my question, I am empathic, but I also "know" things. Not things like lotto numbers but the "truth" of things, without knowing how I know. I don't get "feelings" about future events (my other daughter dreams of future events!) or feel illnesses in myself or others, but I just "know" things are true. I get really irritated at people who demand everything be "proved" before it is said to be "true". I do not need to "prove" anything, I just KNOW. I don't know what you call this. Do you? I also "see" inside other people, I "see" goodness inside them that others don't see, that sometimes they don't see inside themselves. I cannot explain how it happens, I just know, and I know that it is the truth. I know that it's real. Have you heard of this? Do you know what it is? What it's called?
I have learned over the years (I'm 54) to be empathetic, but not suck up other people's stuff, but there are times where I feel that I do not belong in this world. Like someone made a mistake when I was sent here to live this life in this place. I know that's a strange thing to say, but I feel like I am so different from other people. Never better than other people (never inferior either!), but just so different, like I am some kind of "alien" who doesn't fit in here. By the way, I am not a "fearful" person, nor am I introverted. I love people and can talk to anyone, even total strangers, and feel totally comfortable doing so. However, sometimes this feeling of being "different", causes me great pain and I just cry. Some days are "good" days, some days are "bad" days. (I am mindful of shielding my girls from this, if I am having a "bad" day) I don't mind being "different", I do actually like who I am, but sometimes I feel lonely, or get overwhelmed with this world/this life. Do you know what I mean? I struggle to make sense of all of this, and even struggle to try and explain what I mean with words. Do you understand what I am saying? Any insight you may have would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for listening....
Love and Peace,