90% of the world doesn't care what you think or feel. I happen to be in the group that does care. It's like being left-handed. I'm in a minority. I can't really describe what it's like to be a leftie in a right-handed world but I can identify with all the other lefties and know how they feel. You can call me a "people whisperer." My specialty is problem people. Here are my thoughts about living with empathy...
There's a reason I avoid negative people. I don't want to feel their negativity. It's like biting into a bad apple or a sour grape. Empathy is both a blessing and a curse. There are levels of empathy. Empathy 101 can be learned by observing pets and babies. When a pet scratches at you while you're watching TV, he's telling you without words he needs to go relieve himself. A crying baby is asking for some food or a clean diaper, also without using words. Advanced empathy is feeling what others feel even when they don't want you to know something's up or down in their lives. The clues are microscopic. They may be covered up. Once you discover the gift of empathy, it's impossible to turn it off. If you're suffering from empathy overload, here are some ideas to help you maintain balance:
- Minimize your time with negative people. You do this naturally when you stay out of the sun to avoid getting burned.
- Detach. If you're living or working with someone who is headed for a train wreck, uncouple yourself. If they come to you for help, point them in the direction of the professionals who can help and stay out of the way.
- Spend time with nature. This is one of my personal favorites. It's like recharging your cell phone. Don't let your batteries get weak.