Everyone is empathic to one degree or another. I am focusing on those who are challenged by it, either by being overwhelmed, or drained.  Being empathic generally means we are sensing and feeling other people’s pain (emotional, mental, physical).
However, what most people don’t realize is that their pain is resonating with our own unresolved pain inside us.  There is an energetic resonance between our own hidden pain, that is hooking us up to the pain of the person we are empathically aware of.

This situation is a kind of neurological wiring which is based on situations when we have not been able to stay present when something painful happened; emotionally, physically or mentally.  Either that or perhaps as small children, a parent isn’t supportive when you are in pain, or perhaps they are not willing to hear your expression of it.   There is a lack of presence, yours, or your parents when you were very young.  Instead of feeling and expressing what is going on, we are ‘taught’ to cope and separate from our own experience.  Whatever the original cause, you have become dissociated from your own experience.
Unfortunately the pain lives within our subconscious mind, and is triggered by resonant experiences of others.  This can feel like a curse.  However, by turning it around and taking full responsibility for our own feelings we can come into alignment with ourselves, reclaim our souls by experiencing any unresolved traumatic material which lives in our own being.

When we  keep helping others, putting them first, we are reacting from our own pain and we will just get exhausted. This is a case of needing to be able to discern what we are truly responsible for.  It is not that we shouldn’t help others, of course, it is that we should first help ourselves so that we can respond more effectively.  Just like on airplanes, you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on first.  It is only when you are OK, that you can truly help another.

What is a better way to help others is to help ourselves first. That means instead of reacting to the feelings we are feeling, or acting out from them to help another is to actually recognize that you are not responsible for another persons pain (I am not saying don’t help). The best help we can give anyone, is the feel the pain inside ourselves first. In this way, as an empath, you can reclaim your own soul. That hurt out there in another,  is a reflection of your own hurt which is held in your own subconscious mind. Once you have felt it, you are actually helping the other person. Holding presence without reaction is  very powerful.  It means that you are healing yourself, by being with your own feelings and reaction.  Showing up in this way creates a profound space that gives courage to others to do the same for themselves.  Sometimes it is all the other person needs, to have the support and courage to feel their own pain. Being empathic is an opportunity to do the work to reclaim your power back from reacting to life, to being able to really respond effectively to life. Sometimes helping another is robbing them of their own power to help themselves.

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