Being empathic means that you feel the emotions of people around you. Sometimes as if they were your own. Identifying the source of that emotion can help bring clarity to your own sense of self. This does not mean that it is other people’s ‘fault’ if you feel sad/angry/happy, etc…What you feel is always your own responsibility.
This has taken some time to figure out. I’ll work with an example, although the experience of this has been much bigger than this circumstance.
The situation: I have a good friend, and lately I am angry and mad at her all the time. It is unlike me to be quite so angry out of nowhere, she hasn’t offended or wronged me. I finally worked out that she is very angry at herself for several reasons in her life, not related to me. I am feeling this, and getting angry at her. She’s out of shape, and dangerously overweight, and I get sooo mad at her every time she is eating junk food (which I might be eating right along with her). I get mad at her when she fails to come to our friends’ sport evenings, I get mad at her when I see she didn’t take care of her appearance that day. I get mad at her when I see her not getting her job done. Anyhow, you get the point, I seem to be angry at her all the time.
Is it her fault that I am angry at her? she is bringing it up yes, but it is not her fault that I am mad at her. My emotions are always my responsibility. She – or anyone else- is not capable of bringing up any emotion that I don’t already have in me. So, this seething anger, while not something that manifests in me very often, is something that exists. She is bringing it up, and I am allowing her to do it. It is still my responsibility. More than the emotion that is coming up, my actions and words are completely within my domain. I must take care of my words, and my actions and act with integrity with myself.
Taking a step back and looking at the situation I see the poison that this anger brings to her. She is having trouble with other people, she already had a few nasty disagreements with people around her. Her relationships are all failing. People sense this anger and react to her in the same manner. She feels like a victim, like the world is against her. And it is. In reaction to her own image of herself. She eats out of spite and anxiety, gains even more weight, and gets all the more angry. It is a nasty cycle. When I try to point it out she gets angry at me. (and I get angry back at her)
I see it, I still get angry. Although she is bringing it up, it is my responsibility to hold up my side of the friendship. I’ve been trying to not go into an argument with her, but it finally happened, it was small, but still. I tried talking to her, I told her I sense her own self loathe, she heard me but it is not going away just because I pointed it out. For now, I will take some distance to preserve the friendship, still hang out with her, but less, or in a group. Until I can work out how to get through this anger, it comes up, and it is something that I don’t know. I am figuring out how to overcome it, whether she keeps being angry at herself or not. I am responsible for how I feel, and I can take steps to deal with this anger in myself. Regardless of how my friend evolves. Similar situations to this have happened to me time and time again, it is the moment to learn the lesson. If I take responsibility for this anger, then it can show me something about myself, and I can deal with it. I am not a victim of the emotional states of people around me.
As an empath, first recognizing where things are coming from is very useful to have an understanding of the situation. Second, taking responsibility for your own emotions, words and actions, is the ultimate enabler. The emotions that others can bring up in us are a mirror of our own unconscious mind. I wasn’t aware that I had so much anger in me. Similarly, we can choose what emotions we want to bring up in people around us.
I choose to bring joy and peace, this I declare, and so be it.