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The Life of an Empath: From Surviving to Thriving

Updated: Apr 13

For years, I went through life not knowing something crucial about myself—I am an empath, though I only discovered this well into adulthood. Learning about what it means to be an empath changed everything for me. Now, I’m eager to share my journey with you, from the challenges I faced to finally finding my strength. My goal is to help other empaths not just get by, but truly thrive with their unique gifts.

Understanding Empathy vs. Being an Empath

What exactly is an empath? According to Judith Orloff, MD, having empathy means our heart goes out to others in joy or pain. However, for empaths, it's much deeper—we feel others’ emotions, energy, and physical symptoms in our own bodies, without the usual defenses that most people have. This sensitivity can feel like both a blessing and a curse, but with the right knowledge and support, it becomes a profound gift.

My Story: A Life Shaped by Sensitivity

Growing up with two narcissistic parents, I quickly learned the importance of tuning into the emotions around me. To keep the peace and avoid conflicts at home, I adapted by always managing my surroundings, which often meant neglecting my own emotional needs. This became a deep-seated pattern that lasted through my teens and into my twenties.

During those years, I unknowingly absorbed the emotions of others while striving for perfection and achievement, all without truly understanding or expressing my own feelings. This ongoing suppression often culminated in explosive outbursts of sobbing and rage. I became the reliable friend, daughter, and colleague—the confidant everyone turned to, which left me feeling drained and overly responsible for everyone else’s happiness.

The Turning Point

By the time I reached my thirties, the stress I had accumulated spiraled into a severe, yet undiagnosed, anxiety disorder. My days were consumed with absorbing workplace stress, which left me feeling like a zombie and utterly defeated by the evening. My coping mechanisms? An eating disorder and binge drinking. These were desperate attempts to regain control and numb my heightened sensitivities, but they were only temporary and ultimately harmful solutions.

My friendships began to deteriorate as my fear of genuine emotional connections intensified. I found myself pushing away those who might help, because accepting their support would require me to acknowledge and deal with my own emotions. The turning point came at age 39, when I was diagnosed with acute anxiety and began treatment. This marked the start of a long journey of talk therapy, self-help courses, and deep spiritual exploration, which helped me to unearth and confront deeply buried emotions and begin the process of healing my inner child.

Book Recommendations

The journey of healing and self-discovery has been transformative, and it's a path I continue to walk every day. Along the way, I've found invaluable resources that have guided and supported me. If you're seeking further understanding and tools to navigate your own empathic traits, here are some books that I highly recommend:

  • The Empath Experience: What to Do When You Feel Everything

  • The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People

  • The Empowered Empath: A Simple Guide on Setting Boundaries, Controlling Your Emotions, and Making Life Easier

  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

Invitation to Join Me

If these reflections strike a chord with you and you suspect you might be an empath, embracing this realization could mark the beginning of a transformative journey. I am here to support you every step of the way. Recognizing and embracing your empathic abilities can profoundly change your life, just as it has transformed mine. Let’s embark on this path together.


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