The Benefits and Challenges of Being an Empath – Part 1

A brief account of my life journey

Part 1: The Challenges

Empaths and Highly Sensitive People (sometimes referred to as HSPs) can have a very difficult time coping with life. According to Judith Orloff (2018), there are various types of empaths and sensitives, many empaths fitting one or all of the different categories and each with their own particular degree of sensitivity.  You can be a highly sensitive person and an empath at the same time, but empaths are higher on an energetic sensitivity spectrum.  In general, they both share a love of nature, quiet environments, and often have a rich inner life.

Being any type of empath is often viewed as a major, ongoing challenge of human life – not only for the empath themselves, but also in some measure for those closely associated with them.

As someone who was born an empath, super-sensitive to everyone and everything, I can honestly say it has taken me many decades to be able to deal with its associated problems effectively. My experience of the world has always been very different to that of most people and I never really ‘fitted in’ at school, at work, with peers, or sometimes even with other family members (although they have tolerated my ‘over sensitive nature’ more than most). I was mainly viewed as weak, awkward and anti-social.

I always tried to shield myself from the bombardment of different energies around me (both negative and positive) as best I could by going ‘inwards’. Throughout my life this has led to me being perceived as ‘difficult’ or ‘aloof’.

My attempts to remedy this only resulted in me coming across as more difficult or aloof than ever. I did what I could to fit in better but, because I wasn’t being my true self, the extra effort of trying to be someone other than who I really am was very wearing. I ended up being reluctant to mix with others as I found most situations at best abrasive, at worst downright unpleasant.

For example, I remember being taken to the circus as a young child in the 1950’s – a treat for everyone else except me: a) because I was in the middle of a large crowd of people and b) because I was so upset by what I now recognise as the animals being ‘exploited’ in that way.  Although I didn’t know for sure that they were unhappy or cruelly treated, I simply sensed their sadness and knew that there was something not quite right about the whole thing. This is only one of many such instances I could share.

Being in the company of lots of people was akin to torture for me back then and, even today, is something that I still need to manage carefully with the effective coping strategies I now use. As I grew up, I had to be greatly persuaded and cajoled into generally socialising, for example, going to the cinema with friends. I never had the same opinions or observations of life as my friends did due to my over-sensitivity to things like sounds, smells and light and I usually felt tired and drained of energy after being with them. In fact, it was usual for me to feel slightly wobbly and distinctly ‘below par’ but not ill, something that conventional medicine was never able to help with.

If only I’d known then what I know now – that there are solutions and life as a empath doesn’t need to be a debilitating roller coaster!

Kathleen Judd

See part two for Benefits & Solutions


Orloff, Judith – The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. True Sounds. 2018  ISBN-10: 1622036573 ISBN-13: 978-1622036578

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