Most empaths are givers. We value the feelings and emotions of others, and will often do whatever we can to help. Because we can FEEL and empathize with the emotions of others, we will go out of our way to make them happy (Thus, keeping our own world pleasant, we think)
How often have you volunteered your time when you didn’t have a spare minute? Offered to help a friend financially when money was already tight for you? Given someone patience and the benefit of the doubt when their words/actions didn’t warrant it?
Think about how you feel when you put the wants/needs/opinions of others above your own, repeatedly, to your own detriment... Most of us walk out of these scenarios feeling drained and irritable. We take care of everyone else, but no one takes care of us!
There is a fine line between being generous and being taken advantage of- this is where healthy boundaries are important. My good friend Sara has the best philosophy about boundaries:
“Work back from resentment”. Before you say YES to anything, consider the question
“Will I resent this? Will I dread going to this event or be irritated about having to help this person?” If so, set a boundary and say NO.
This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, personally. When I started “working back from resentment“, I realized exactly HOW MANY things I was doing “to be nice”, “because I should”, or because I felt guilty for all of the blessings that I have in my life. Sara’s Method of setting boundaries required a complete overhaul of my commitments, my schedule and my relationships. In return, I have learned the necessary art of self-care.
For me, setting boundaries didnt put an end to doing things for others. But now, when I help others, it is truly because I WANT to. I enjoy looking at my calendar and realizing that most of my social commitments are things I WANT to do. I have learned how to walk away from a relationship when someone refuses to honor my boundaries. And I am learning the art of caring for my own needs - which just leaves a better me to share with the world.