How to Overcome Emotional Overload When You’re Highly Empathetic

“When someone throws you a stone, throw back a flower.”

“Ouch,” I cried out instinctively as my husband, Barry, and I walked through the beach parking lot, barefoot. It was only when Barry turned to me and asked me why I yelled out that I realized it was him who stubbed his toe, and not me.

“Because it hurts,” I answered him. He looked at me curiously and said, “But it didn’t hurt you. It hurt me. I’m the one who stubbed my toe.”

It hadn’t dawned on me that feeling other people’s pain wasn’t a “normal” reaction.

All my life I have been extremely empathic, but for the first half of my life I didn’t even realize that this was a unique character trait, that not everyone shares.

When I was in close contact with people who were yelling, I would literally shake. When those around me were sad or scared, I would drink in those feelings like a sponge, not realizing that these feelings weren’t my own.

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