Is it possible one can be overly empathetic?
I feel that sometimes I was born with an over dose of this feeling, this emotion.. some would call it passion.
When I was in high school I really wanted to get into counseling, I wasn’t sure which exact avenue, but I really thought it was my heart’s desire. I helped people in my day to day life when I was a teen and onwards, I was told I had a certain knack for it, and people ARE my passion after all.. But I have a feeling I might be too empathetic for that.
I did go on to do counseling course majoring in relationship counseling and effective parenting.. But i’m still sitting on that piece of paper and haven’t used it professionally just yet.
The fear that I have though, is getting into counseling and someone is sitting there telling me their situation, their troubles, etc etc and am I going to just BREAK DOWN crying… How am I going to be able to control my heart breaking for them… the internal flame that’s going to be exploding, and it wouldn’t be because I pity them, I guess it could be a form of feeling sorry for them but it seems more than that, its because I couldn’t begin to imagine their daily pain/struggles. Its because I would honour their courage, and their strength that got them to that point, of opening themselves up to someone and its because they more than likely will be hurting..
Examples of why I may think I have been given too much empathy shtick ;
If I see someone in my group of friends or even not my group of friends, if I see someone hurt /crying, you just try and stop me.. just try. I’m not likely to break down and sob like a complete nut job, but the tears will stream, and my heart will break, for them, for their pain.
If I have someone call me at work with a problem that I can tell is really grating at them, I lose myself in their story and will do everything in my power to help them, even if that is going way above what my job requirements are because sometimes if they have an issue that doesn’t get fixed, that could see them working over time or working on the weekend, or worst of all, not getting paid. And I just can’t handle that thought..
If I see a kid in the store who has counted out his coins and stops dead when he realises he is 10/20 cents off, tears start to well in my eyes and I find myself grabbing the few odd cents that’s required and handing it over, because my people passion just takes over. And I can’t bear the thought of him/her feeling humiliated or having to leave without.
If I watch a tv show on Africa or Vietnam or wherever it may be, with people struggling in their day to day lives regarding food and water and schooling and health, before it s over, I’m already planning my trip over there.
I don’t know if I have articulated all it is that I am trying to get across here.. But I am just trying to figure out if I have in fact been dealt the over empathetic card or if this is just life.. Either way, I am happy with how it is. I just don’t want it to affect my job choices. I really want to get into a people based role and I think I just need some lessons in being able to control these feelings and emotions so they don’t get the better of me.
Can you give me any advice on dealing with empathy? Do my examples ring home with you? Am I just a sook?
<Linking in with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for IBOT, jump over and check some others out>