- Dora Nudelman
How To Thrive As An Empathic Over-Giver
In this self-obsessed culture that we live in today, how do you as an empath, a nurturer, and an overall giving person find your rightful place? When you always seem to be the giver in your relationships, how do you deal with this lack of reciprocity without feeling resentful about it? Those of us who are of a giving nature, especially those of us who are empaths or empathetic, can sometimes feel like we are the ones getting the short end of the stick. We tend to be really generous and nurturing by nature and very attuned to the needs of others, knowing exactly what they need. But we sometimes feel like we are the only ones making the effort. Furthermore, we want to help, we want to fix, and we want to make others feel better, but we often neglect our own wants and needs in the process.
It's not that as empaths we are pushovers or wallflowers. On the contrary, once we are empowered we can be a true force of nature. We are simply super sensitive to the energies of the people and environments that surround us. As such, we pick up on cues that are not as obvious to the rest of the world and because of this we have an innate ability to be of service in the way others need us to be. But as empaths we also often have a hard time saying no. We don't want to leave anyone abandoned in their pain or discomfort and so telling people no makes us feel guilty. We know we can help and so saying no to helping someone feels like a selfish thing to do. But is it really?
If you're on the fence, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do people come to you for comfort yet rarely, if ever, offer it back to you?
- Do people act as if your generosity towards them is expected?
- Do people feel entitled to your time and attention?
- Do people expect you to always be available for them and get upset if you are not (and try to make you feel guilty because of it)?
- Does it often appear as though you care about others more than they seem to care about you?
- Do you often attract one-sided relationships?
- Do people just assume that you want to hear about their problems?
- Do you often find yourself attracting self-centered people who assume they are your number one priority (even when they are not)?
- Do you sometimes feel like your needs and wants are invisible or unimportant to others?
- Do you often attract people who only think about what you can do for them and how you can benefit them in some way?
- Do people just assume your kindness means you are willing to forgive anything?
- Do people mistake your good nature for weakness?
- Do people tend to assume that their needs trump yours?
- Do you notice that when you start to talk about yourself that others interrupt and change the focus onto themselves?
- Do you find it hard to "compete" in the ways society expects of you?
- Do you often feel like a fool when your giving nature is taken advantage of?
- Do you feel that others believe your only role in their life is to serve them?
If any of these ring true for you, you've got to eventually ask yourself, who are you actually serving by allowing these types of behaviors? If you continue to allow others to treat you in this way you not only end up draining yourself, but you also end up enabling others to continue to take advantage of you. This can make you feel like a victim but in reality you are not a victim. You are empowered to choose how you see yourself and how you allow others to treat you. Being generous or even empathic doesn't mean you owe the world more than you owe yourself. It also doesn't mean you are less important than everyone else. You have a gift, yes, but others are not entitled to take advantage of that gift and it is up to you to make sure that they don't.
At one point in my life I thought that my kindness was a weakness. It often felt like I was an alien trying to find my way through a foreign land. I knew there were other givers out there just like me, but for some reason I kept attracting the takers. However, it wasn't until I realized that I was responsible to some degree that this pattern stopped cold.
Resentment is not a fun emotion, but the only true way around it is through acceptance. We must accept our role in what we bring into our lives so that we feel empowered to change it. If we blame others and if we play the victim we are basically telling ourselves that we have no control. Oh, but we do have control. We can control how we allow others to treat us. We can control how we perceive ourselves. And we can control how we respond to the world. And all of these are powerful tools.
Once I learned these lessons I started seeing my empathy as a gift that I chose to give. And when I chose to give it then I knew I was doing it consciously. I am no longer motivated by guilt. I am no longer motivated by a false sense of obligation. And I am no longer motivated by others expectations of me. I am motivated by what feels right to my soul. If someone feels a false sense of entitlement to what I have to offer, I do not enable their behavior. Instead I uphold healthy boundaries to which I know I am entitled.
As an empath I will always care about others, but I will not do it at my own expense as I do not feel this is what God/The Universe/Source Energy intended for me or what I intended for myself. I can then use my empathic abilities to serve in the ways I feel are most beneficial to others, but also to myself. It's a win-win but it is only so because I have chosen to share my gifts while at the same time valuing myself. The result? The world values me too.
So don't shun your empathy. Celebrate it, embrace it, and control it. You have the power and the right to say no when it feels appropriate to do so. Remember that you do not owe anyone your gifts but you do get to share them at will. Your gifts are your superpowers and they make the world a better place. But in order to be truly of service (and have the reserves needed to do so) you must always respect and honor yourself as well.
Tips for Empaths:
- Set healthy boundaries and don't be afraid to uphold them.
- First figure out what you need/want. Then communicate it to others. Ask for it. Most people are not mind-readers and possibly want to give you what you want/need if they know what that is.
- Don't be afraid to let go of unhealthy relationships. Sometimes you have to shed something that no longer serves you in order to make room for something better.
- Make sure you partake in activities that represent your willingness to appreciate yourself. Self-care is essential.
- Don't be too shy about who you are and what value you bring to the table. Being confident and being vain are not necessarily the same thing. Besides, as an empath vanity is probably not a true concern for you as you are likely already more humble than you are self-promoting.
- Give consciously. Give without agenda. Give just to give once you've made the decision to do so. This will eliminate resentment because your giving will be coming out of choice and not guilt or obligation.
- If you don't want to give, don't. Say no when you feel it is appropriate. People will learn to deal with it.
- Don't worry about being the "bad buy" when saying no. Remember, if you as a giving empath feel the need to say no there is probably a good reason for it.
- Participate in social culture but on your own terms and with meaning.
- Be visible, not for ego-sake but in order to share your beauty and value with the world.
- Don't use society as a measure for validation but rather as a platform for spreading joy and sharing your gifts.
- Know that you don't have to "compete." Just be true to who you are and your light will shine brightly naturally.
- Do not wait for others' approval to live your truth, stand up for yourself, and honor your desires. You don't need to justify what you feel is right for yourself.
- Follow your intuitive instincts no matter what others think or say to you. You know what feels right so don't allow anyone to make you question that.
- Don't wait for the world to value, approve, or believe in you. Value, approve of, and believe in yourself and the world will follow suit.