Questions for Empaths

For the Empaths and Highly Sensitive, how to do you determine if the feelings you pick up after focusing on someone are theirs?

I used to have anxiety and depression, so feelings without a “rational cause” aren’t new to me. Which makes me feel like I can’t draw the line using that line of thinking.

Then again, should I be looking back on the past and accepting that some of those bad times are a result of being overwhelmed by the auras of others?

Anyway, I recently read something by someone who, to me, seems like they’re trying to sound okay but really aren’t. An alarm is going off in my head that they aren’t, but…

Maybe it’s because I’m autistic, I don’t know how to communicate this well. I’ve had many instances where I’ve pointed out how someone isn’t what they say they are. But it doesn’t go well, not because I’m an obnoxious and rude (hopefully), but because people do not like getting called out regardless of how “nice” my language is.

Because of a history of that, I doubt myself when it comes to accepting what I “know” of others at times, in case I get called terrible things for it. I suppose that’s another reason I like tarot: I can say the cards are saying it, not me, and people will be more accepting of what is said.

(Sigh. I think I’m just revealing a lifetime of dealing with a lack of respect here. :face_exhaling:)

So, I’m just wondering what practices any of you might have to help you accept that you “just know” despite how much others will deny what’s going on? To get past that “is it just me” doubt?


Trust your intuition :black_heart:

You’re right that people generally don’t like being called out, but that doesn’t mean you’re not right, usually it means you’re spot on.

The nice thing about us autistic people I’ve noticed is that if we don’t have an explicit trigger there (because of trauma), we’re less likely to take it personally. More willing to go past the ego and think “is this me?”

Though with all people, the initial reaction may be defensive, it may plant a seed for change. Getting past the hurt feelings, starting to notice, “they might be right, I do fall into this pattern”.

Something I’ve noticed, most of us humans are walking messes of trauma and defenses. And we have limited capacity to face things we don’t like. That’s why we hurt each other and push each other away, because we just can’t handle them or what they’re saying right now. And we usually always regret it later and apologize, if that’s something we can handle.


My aunty says, if you hone your skills in the craft, your intuition is very rarely wrong. On the few occasions I’ve ignored my intuition, it hasn’t gone well.

I ward my emotions to the hilt. Crystal in my bag, crystals in a pouch in my bra. Lokis amulet round my neck, my Loki bind rune drawn on my arm, and my rune for the day (depending how I feel drawn on my wrist). My daily oracle/rune/demon advice in my head and heart. Sounds crazy? Maybe I’m extreme in this, but then I know my feelings are mine, and I’m able to stop other people’s emotions becoming mine. If that makes sense. It works. I sense their state, but it doesn’t mix with my state. My crazy warding keeps the two separate.

Take care of yourself. If people misunderstand you, hey ho, they misunderstand you. :person_shrugging:. Be yourself, that’s the best you, it’s unique and lovely :sparkling_heart:


I’m working on this myself.

One way I can tell if the energy is mine or someone else’s, If i wasn’t feeling what I’m feeling before the person arrived. Alot of times I’ll say it’s not yours. I’m the same way someone can tell me how they feel but I know when it’s not the truth. Most people can’t handle being called out and react in anger. Maybe they aren’t ready to accept the truth. I’ve been there, probably all have. I try to remember that everyone is on a different stage in their path. Ive called people out, they don’t always react well. Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth. Don’t accept what you don’t deserve! (As far as any disrespect over the truth. Maybe put that in your guidelines or rules before u read anyone. For lack of better words. Command your respect Queen :crown:. Put your crown on straight, shoulders held high, head held high. Don’t accept what you don’t deserve.


Thank you for your help all! :black_heart:

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to this. It’s been one of those busy work days. But at least it’s Saturday and I can relax now! A bit.

But like… Wow. I really appreciate your answers. I don’t know how to put my appreciation into better words right now. :joy:

It’s all so simple. Yet… I really needed to hear it all. My brain was turning a Rubik’s cube into a Rube Goldberg machine. So, thank you. :bowing_woman:

Such a double-edged sword. :joy: :black_heart:

That’s the hope. :smile: I’ve learnt so much from just talking to people myself. So it’s hard to not have hope that others can benefit the same.

Good point. I’ve found the same, even in super mundane situations where the outcome didn’t matter (like a game). :thinking:

That makes sense! So you’re saying you kind of “intellectually know” what their state is, but it doesn’t “seep” into how you’re feeling? That makes sense.

:bulb:! Oh my stars! … :exploding_head:! Oh my stars… That puts so much into perspective. It’s so simple and obvious, but it’s one of my missing pieces.

That’s a good idea. I hadn’t thought about it in the context of doing readings. All of this is from real-life situations. (So, yep, I’m not low-key talking about any of you here! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)

Speaking of which, everyone I’ve done a reading for so far has been so lovely. I’m shocked… But like, in a good way. Not that I expected the horrible, but like, when have I been able to have so many positive interactions with strangers before? (This forum, aside.)

And now I remember why I don’t like the Q&A section. Do I really have to pick one solution. Someone save me from the problem I’ve made for myself. :joy:

Anyway, I just need to give myself a way to remind myself of all your wise words when I next feel this. It’s writing on post-it notes time or something. :grin:

And you can tell my brain is melting because I can’t stop saying “but like.” I will get some sleep before sunrise. Hopefully. :black_heart:

Edit: Love your new profile picture, @tracyS. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Read this last night and needed to sleep on it before I got back to you.

That’s a tough one for me. Being an empath myself and one who has anxiety, I’m never quite sure where the picking up their feelings and me creating something that isn’t there from anxiety ends. I guess for me it’s fixing the things that could be triggering my anxiety first (sleep, food, meditation, yoga) and if I’m still picking it up, I feel more confident I’m not projecting my feelings/worries.

It’s too exhausting for me to constantly live that way (as it becomes a downward spiral with my anxiety and stress) so I’ve cut out people who constantly make me feel unbalanced, doubting myself, and stressed. I know, easier said than done.


Just my nsho (not so humble opinion) here, but NO ONE likes being called out, even if the point is valid. The instinct, right or wrong, is to revert to children and get mad and yell, no I’m not!! You ARE!! My SO is in the middle of performance review season and every day it’s “I don’t understand why people have to be so angry and defensive about criticism”. All I can do is remind him, that we have no training or desensitization for that sort of thing as we never had kids :laughing:


I am often told of the old reminder not to shoot the messenger. The saying is often repeated by those who are trying to hold back their ire.

It is a comfort knowing that I’m not the only one out there getting yelled at: I’m actually from a long line of people with unpleasant messages to bear to even more unpleasant receivers. The deities are the originators of the message, in this case. The receivers aren’t allowed to murder us messengers anymore, but it can sure feel like a crucifixion anyway!

It often becomes a case of seeking the lesser of two evils. If I tell what I see, I get yelled at; if I don’t, it’s my fault they didn’t have the chance to change their ways. Either way, I am responsible for the outcome. Maybe that’s part of my Catholic upbringing- they wanted to cull those who could see so the truth wouldn’t get out, but the deities always see anyway. That’s why there is such a message in the first place.

I try to see it as giving the receiver a gift of sight and choice. The tennis ball is then in their court. If they choose to reject it, the responsibility is on them, not me. I did my job. The Truth will set me free, even if it is uncomfortable for a little while. Sometimes, they come around and accept or even learn to trust a bit more.


Huh, I drew a very relevant card from my Mahabharata deck… :sparkles:

Expertise – Sahadeva

The youngest of the five Pandava brothers, Sahadeva was a brilliant swordsman. An expert in fencing and axe fighting, he was also an outstanding astrologer, as well as virtuous, patient and even-tempered. Apart from his expertise in military skills, he was also a master in medicine and politics. Possessed with such a vast variety of skills, he became enlightened about the history of the world, including what would happen in the future.

Throughout his life, Sahadeva was aware of everything. But Krishna had advised him to keep his information to himself unless asked by someone to reveal it. Even then, he was only to reveal what was asked, no more. This was agreed upon by Sahadeva in exchange for the protection of Krishna. During the course of the war, Sahadeva was fully aware of all the plots and strategies that were planned against his family. But he kept his promise of silence.

This card appears to advise you that expertise and knowledge are sometimes meant to be kept secret in order for the full potential of energies to be exchanged and expressed as destined. You may acquire knowledge, understanding and insight. Use your power of discretion to share only what is necessary, only when necessary. As the saying goes: “let sleeping dogs lie.”

Not sure if I fully agree with all of that, but there’s definitely something to keeping people’s capacity to receive in mind instead of hitting them with the emotional equivalent of a ton of bricks and saying “but wait, there’s more” :joy:

Perspective-wise, Krishna is an avatar of Lord Vishnu, who’s known for the preservation of peace and status quo… ask someone like Shiva or Kali and you might get a very different view :smiling_imp: :fire:


:wave: I did just return from a trip, but I wanted to let you know that I saw this, I do have input for you, but the brain space is lacking from the travel, getting home quite late last night, & adjusting to being home for almost a full day at the moment… :face_exhaling:

If I do not get back to you after I eat dinner, then I absolutely will tomorrow morning when I wake up & a bit more… home :hugs:


Wow - I love this post and question as I am tripping and stumbling through this as I grow and learn myself. I have become more attuned recently to all of this. @starborn - fully agree - it is a most bizarre feeling to hear their words and sense something so very different! Plus - how do I follow up to that - like what do I do with everything I am seeing/feeling on other levels???

As I have been assessing myself I do similar to what @CelestiaMoon posted which has been a challenge. Do nothing! However, it has been a freeing revelation recently. I don’t have to fix people when they come to me with an issue. It’s not mine to fix either. This totally takes me off the hot seat and running around with this bizarre feeling that I have to help and fix everyone. From an empath position. Case in point recently - my 17 year old son likes to talks to me (which I cherish) and said recently - I don’t want you to fix it for me Mom - just listen. Unless he specifically asks for me to help - I just listen.

Now I try to hold space and remind myself - Lead with Love. Release all else. I try so much harder now to let people be who they are. I don’t know if this is the right response for you. It has helped me get through these moments. I was spending so much energy trying to fix and make things better for others when I sensed they feel other than they are saying. It’s their path. I re-center myself, chose loving thoughts and pivot away from the other stuff. Some days it’s a win; some days…well… I spend a lot more time clearing myself too!

Many bright blessings! Great topic and share!


I’ve had this impulse for a long time too, wanting to be helpful that way. But often the most helpful thing is to be there and listen, letting them work it out themselves, and only offering help and suggestions when asked. They might not be ready to take the steps yet, or what might have worked for me might not work for them.

The hardest part is when you see someone keeps spinning in the same circle, sometimes for years, and you have an idea why that might be. Do you call them out? If yes, prepare to be hated, at least for a while. If no, nothing changes. Damned if you do… but if I feel I’m up to facing the consequences, I’d rather give them the uncomfortable truth than say nothing.


I don’t know if I would consider myself an empath, but I have noticed that my reactions to certain things can determine if I am reacting to my own emotions, having a trauma response, or picking up on someone else’s energy. For me, if I can feel the emotion and also have a physical response, then I know I’m feeling something of my own. For example, when I get anxious or overwhelmed, I have a very visceral physical response. It usually feels like a tightness in my chest or a rubberband in my stomach area around my diaphragm. If I feel something and don’t get a physical response, that is usually an indicator that what I’m feeling doesn’t actually belong to me. I’ll feel it as an emotion, but it’s more related to my mind than my body, if that makes sense.


Hi :wave: I didn’t forget, but the chaos picked up as soon as my feet crossed the threshold of my home this weekend.

It took me, a very long time to separate mine, other’s, & response to past events in my life. Which… because apparently I’m the against grain response to most things & usually the exact opposite of the norm… from past events I sort of heightened my HSP/Empath… There are still times I need to separate them, but a lot of the time I know upon seeing someone, being in the same area as them, & especially when they are saying or doing 1 thing, but actually their energy is very different.

Now I’m better at kind of keeping it to myself I guess & not worrying about whats not mine… unless… its family or someone I’m close to in any way. I had to tey different things & practice to find what works for me.

In public or with a group, or even reading a message about what someone is going through, depending on whats going on with me & any similarities then I unintentionally start feeling what they are at the same time I’m feeling my things. Which is usually when I have to really do work to manage it. Then my own protection things so that I’m not doing it with every person I see out & about or away from my home.

I purposely do read people & kind of pick up their energy & feelings when they are in my house, on my property, or in any way affecting my family. To kind of figure out more about what’s going on. Then I have to let those things go & separate from them & ground (all the things) Ultimately come back after & go through the best way to approach whatever or whoever it is regarding the situation with myself grounded & any type of protection or techniques ready & in place. Even if its not letting them in my house or getting them out of it & keeping them away from it.

Honestly, it took me… quite a while to learn any of this & the different energies, emotions, & effects that I’m experiencing being mine, another person’s, a past experience response, or even a combination of any of those. It is difficult to figure out & then manage. I had to & sometimes still do, have to block out everyone & do work on myself depending on what it is, severity, what I’m going through… because it can get really complicated & overwhelming extremely quick for me. I tend to take it all on, all at once… then it affects everything with me until I separate it at least a little to to get out of that space… because sometimes it is & no matter what you say or to who… sometimes it comes down to, you just know. Then keep your distance & when it shows itself to others further down the road. You can say, I felt something wasn’t right & did what I had to take care of myself.


And I suppose, if they have power over us, they can affect our lives in other ways. Kick us out, fire us, constantly heckle us with blasts of negative energy, etc. While not death, still a real threat. :sweat_smile:

True. :black_heart: That seems to be the general theme of the answers here. Not that I think it’s a wrong answer – I think it’s correct. If they choose to do the risky or dangerous thing, the ultimate outcome is not my responsibility.

So, I suppose the message is that I need to work on resilience in the face of hostility, as opposed to mitigating the hostility entirely. Because my approach to life will inevitably lead to conflict and therefore doesn’t mesh with avoidance of it. Resilience, strength, fortitude.

I’m so incapable of doing this. :joy:

The problem for me is that all actions have consequences, including inaction. So if I don’t say something and someone’s life takes a downward spiral, especially where they hurt themselves or others over and over again, I can’t pretend that I didn’t have any responsibility there. :sweat_smile:

It’s like the trolley problem, right? Some people think that by not doing anything, they can say they have no responsibility for the outcome. But I strongly disagree with that – they chose to let five people die through inaction. It’s not their fault the people are on the tracks, but when one has the ability to do something and chooses not to, they’re inherently involved. And I suppose this is ultimately a cultural distinction. Like, the difference between being more collectivist over being individualist? (No wonder I feel like so much of an alien in Australia! :joy:)

Of course, my belief is not one I expect everyone to uphold. But it does affect the kind of people I keep close to me – I like to know we all have each other’s backs when $#!7 actually goes down. And I appreciate the intervention my partner and a friend staged which pulled me back from the edge of oblivion. I would not be here today without that moment. :face_holding_back_tears: :black_heart:

I agree with this. :black_heart: But I find there’s a difference between trying to fix something for someone and giving them advice and ideas. I don’t believe that giving advice or ideas by talking to someone is imposing anything on them, other than an increased change of thinking their way to a solution. But that could just be because of how much I value the act of talking about things. :smile:

However, becoming invested in the outcomes and trying to impose via taking over the tasks they need to do for them, is definitely not a good idea! I agree with that, too. If they don’t heed the advice and everything blows up in their face because they did the thing I warned them against, that’s so not on me. :joy: I mean, it can be frustrating, but not personally so.

I think I’ve already said “same” by the rest of my words, but same! :black_heart: This is making me realise it’s about handling it and that I initially thought I could somehow avoid it. Oh, how naive. :joy: This mild embarrassment is almost a joy, because it shows such a leap in growth.

That’s a good point, the whole thing about an alignment of emotions and physical sensations. :black_heart: Multiple variables being taken into consideration in the overall equation.

To share an example of my own: Sometimes, when I’m hit by someone else’s strong feelings, I tend to feel stunned, physically and verbally. Like, I’m feeling all well and good, and then suddenly this person is here and it’s like they brought with them a giant foam hand and slapped me with it! :joy:

I’m going to have to think about what to do about that, as it can be quite inconvenient. :thinking:

Oh, yes. And I have quite a few examples where it really didn’t require being an empath to spot this. :sweat_smile: (My examples are blurred because they are emotionally charged situations.) Someone red in the face, tears in their eyes, shaking with anger, saying they’re not upset – I am. Someone crying and yelling, saying I’m the emotional one “with issues.” That same person having the same response when I try to talk about my actual mental health issues, but instead it’s “you’re not the only one with issues.”

You’d think I go around insulting people, but sometimes, compliments can set these examples off or comments about things unrelated to them. I mean, who expects to upset someone when they say someone looks nice or a product I have wasn’t well made? It’s like I was just a punching bag for some people. I don’t know. :woman_shrugging:

I’ve even gotten dragged in when I’ve said nothing and just stood there. Someone else said a person shouldn’t do something, and then next thing I know, she’s yelling at both of us, saying “you guys” like I had anything to do with it. Damned if I speak, damned if I don’t. :face_with_spiral_eyes:

That’s a good point. :black_heart: This isn’t a matter of being a problem to solve and be done with, but a set of strategies to adopt for the long road of life ahead. :astonished:

I now realise how much I was approaching this from the wrong angle, but I’m glad that I asked, because you’ve all managed to help get me on the right path – that being the path towards better self-care, ability to interact with others, and lead a life that I find fulfilling, where I can both help myself and those around me. :black_heart:

Thank you everyone for your really thoughtful responses. There’s such a wealth of value in this thread. It’s so beautiful. If I could respond to everything I wanted to without writing a book to show my appreciation, I would. But just know that I love you all. :sparkles: :black_heart:


Oh, there are definitely those as well :laughing: That was a bit harder to explain but I’m glad that you figured it out :upside_down_face:

Figuring out that I had to separate them all was the most difficult part. There are times even now that I will have trouble doing it or they come together & bombard me… I’m trying to remember instances where I just knew before anything was said or done, times I’ve walked by or into a room & it was just… no before someone got here or I knew something was happening… I might not know exactly what that is yet but it’s there, or someone else has something & now I am feeling everything that they are…

I have found myself doing the last one quite a bit with my daughter more recently. I know & feel it even if she isn’t talking about it or mentioning it, but I usually already know before she gets home or leaves the building to get in the car.

I’m currently figuring out what worked or works for me… I suppose I’ve landed back into I need to let go & ground myself first before heading into the day.


Thank you for sharing and I have felt and experienced similar situations (maybe less intense). I feel I am hypersensitive and I can see through people. But whenever I try to help, people get defensive. I have refrained myself to help much, only if someone reach out.
Also, I feel pain of other people too much which has caused me despair for days and sleepless nights. I am working on it as well.
On the flip side, I also become indifferent to few acquaintances who reached out to me but I realised they are only here to pour out the issues but not ready to take advice or take action to resolve it or work on themselves. For me, working on yourself to lift above the problem is a sign of strength and I am always there for them. I might be wrong but lending an ear is also difficult sometimes when you know you are treated like a sponge.


I could use a dose of this, myself.

Mom seemed to react as though she were being hit with brass knuckles instead of foam. Part of this may be the moderation of response to the attack. It is easier said than done, and requires experience to find that middle ground.

The first blurred experience is one of projection. It really isn’t yours. Let them have their own. Put up a castle and let the hurricane blow. As in Frank Herbert’s book Dune, you will be there when the storm is over because you are real.

This sounds like a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is not your fault. The greatest comfort in cases like this is to find comfort in telling yourself over and over that it’s not your fault. If you can then separate sentences spouted at you, which takes practice, you may see one spot with which you can help, even if only a little. Every little bit counts.

It is easy to lump experiences together as one sensation, but that causes frustration with the senses- internalizing rather than cool logic. Each experience needs to be looked at separately, just as each sentence can be separated from a tirade created in frustration and exhaustion.

Mom used to tell me I had to be the better person, and I may have imparted that subconsciously. That advice is actually abusive and elitist. Everyone goes through days of everything going wrong all of a sudden and not being able to separate things out well enough to be able to handle them appropriately. Basically, one person’s high stress causes another’s shock response.

It’s a jigsaw puzzle- one picture in 500 pieces, all jumbled together with a built in time limit. “This message will self-destruct in one minute,” as they used to say in spy spoofs. No pressure, there! :dizzy_face::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I never could handle it either.:person_getting_massage: :people_hugging:


So this was my entire last 2 weeks :rofl: I remember speaking with my cousin & being like… I’m getting it from all sides & just need everything & everyone to stop for 1 minute so I can take a breath & figure something, anything out… this is not all me & I need to remember what it was that did work for me & helped get through my days without all of this… then… involuntary nap :laughing:

It’s definitely something that you have to learn & kind of “hone” over time. It doesn’t happen immediately either (found that out the hard way)… I had to be willing to try different things, techniques, practices… to find what works for me then continue to use or practice them. It’s not a 1 size fits all with how to go about it & what will work best for someone… (also learned the hard way)

Yes, I have an immediate someone that comes to mind with this statement, where I have had to turn off notifications from them, make use of Do Not Disturb settings, or my entire phone at times. It can be too much along with what I have going on & I wind up… more than drained, exhausted, depleted or even dread looking at my phone when it would go off. It’s hard when this happens & when it can further turn into a boundary war. Where I would have them but it seemed like every time they found a way around them. This also… is not a very good thing to work out because it is like constant updates to the original settings.


I had a conversation with my daughter about something like this recently (and of course, it always relates back to parenting for me because… well, I’m a mom - I can’t help it :joy:) – we were at a trampoline park and two of her friends were breaking a rule. They weren’t hurting anyone, and they weren’t in danger of hurting themselves (for context, they were jumping in an area that was technically closed because no staff was there, but they were just using the trampoline and not doing anything wild, if that makes sense). Anyway, she told them it was against the rules but they didn’t care. She then decided to tell one of the employees what they were doing because, to her, any rule is meant to be followed and she sees this as doing her friends a favor by making sure they follow the rules.

Then we talked about the differences that can arise because of “see something, say something”, and when she may have a responsibility to say something versus when she’s probably better off minding her own business. In this case, her friends weren’t a danger to themselves or others, and they were aware of the rule – she could have walked away and left them alone to get in trouble if they were caught because inaction wouldn’t have led to any harm and her friends were aware of the rule. If they were doing something dangerous, e.g. jumping on the trampoline with a cup with a straw (yup, that’s happened), then she may have a responsibility to tell someone because that’s very dangerous.

I hope this all makes sense… she struggles with telling the difference between these two types of situations and when it’s her “job” versus when it isn’t “her job”. (side note, now I have more information to add to my notes for her appointment soon…lol)

This is another thing I watch for, too. If someone shows up and my mood changes very quickly (and it’s not a trauma response or other sort of emotional response of my own), then chances are I’m taking on something of theirs.