Sometimes you can have too much empathy.
One of the reasons why it seems like I want to save the world (which I don’t–just the people I’ve met) is because I can feel other people’s pain as though it were my own. When they are hurting, I’m hurting. So it’s really for selfish reasons that I help other people; I don’t like being in pain.
When I worked in day care after I graduated from college, the children who had the most difficult time adjusting were the ones who were attached to me. In case you are worried about your children being in day care, rest assured that there were some kids who loved it so much that they didn’t want to go home.
But not these kids. These were the kids who cried from the moment their parents dropped them off until they picked them up in the afternoon. And this would go on for weeks. It actually drove me crazy. I didn’t feel positively towards them at all. Which is why I could never understand why they were attached to me.
Now I think it’s because I could feel their pain, so I would break the rules and hold them all day because it’s the only thing that comforted them. And it turns out that being held is one of the best ways to soothe people. So next time you’re feeling upset, ask for a hug from someone you care about. Or do something that feels like a hug, like take a warm bath or wrap yourself up in a blanket.
Sometimes I feel like I’m a receiver that picks up the emotional equivalent of radio waves. I’m bombarded by all of these feelings, all the time. Sometimes I don’t even know where they’re coming from. I wish I could just turn the receiver off every now and then, or at least turn down the volume. Anything to have some relief from the constant noise.
The best solution I’ve been able to come up with is the yes and no thing: yes to what I want, no to what I don’t want. I need to choose the people who I’m around more carefully. If it’s someone who doesn’t take responsibility for dealing with their own feelings, I need to stay away. I can barely deal with my own feelings.
It sounds cold and calculated, but I always tell clients that if it comes down to you and someone else, you have to pick you, because there’s no guarantee that anyone else will.
So from now on, I’m going to try to pick me.
|Photo courtesy of Maria Roman|