Sometimes I Wish I Didn't Feel Anything at All
Emotions make us human, but sometimes I wish I didn't feel anything. I believe life would be a lot easier without the ability to experience emotions and feelings.
The Problem with Being an Empath and Why I Wish I Couldn't Feel
I am aware of the emotional states of others almost as much as I am aware of mine. And this makes me an empath, which Verywell Mind defines as,
"A person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Empaths feel what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level. Their ability to discern what others are feeling goes beyond empathy, which is defined simply as the ability to understand the feelings of others. Instead, being an empath actually extends to taking those feelings on."1
While I often see this as a gift, there are times when I wish I didn't feel at all. Being an empath is emotionally draining because you are constantly experiencing others' negative emotions and a strong desire to free them from these emotions. Next, there is no shortage of people who try to take advantage of your kindness via manipulation and lies. And finally, there is the burden of experiencing feelings more intensely than one can handle.
How Being an Empath Affects My Mental Health and Makes Me Want Not to Feel
I feel others' pain so deeply that I often have to remind myself that it is not my job or place to save anyone. No matter how much I want to, I cannot play God and resolve anybody's issues. Still, I try to help as much as I can. But no matter what I do, I always feel I could have done more. When I replay a memory, I wonder if I even made a difference to ease a person's troubles. As a result, I feel inadequate, guilty, and anxious.
On occasions when I cannot do anything to help, I feel like a terrible human being who is just as selfish as the average human. It pains me when I cannot improve someone's life, and this pain usually makes me feel depressed. If I have a series of similar experiences, I try to avoid interacting with people as I feel unequipped to help them. So, through no fault of my own, I end up feeling anxious, depressed, and disgusted with myself.
Emotional regulation is almost impossible for empaths because we can't tune out our empathy at will. According to Healthline, mindful acceptance is the best way to cope with overwhelming emotions because,
"Empaths often find their emotional sensitivity difficult to switch off. Maybe you've noticed that the emotional energy given off by those around you prompts stress or a low mood. You can't help experiencing these feelings. But acknowledging them and letting them go can make a big difference. You can boost resilience and cultivate concern for others at the same time."2
I struggle with resilience in the face of challenging emotions and situations; this is why being an empath takes a toll on me. Plus, having both anxiety and depression makes it harder for me to be resilient. However, given a choice, I would rather be an empath than a narcissist. Even though I sometimes wish I didn't feel anything, I know empathy is a gift, and by learning new coping mechanisms, I can handle the empath in me.
Campbell, L. (2023). What Is an Empath and How Do You Know If You Are One? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-empath-and-how-do-you-know-if-you-are-one-5119883
Raypole, C. (2020, December 10). Empaths and anxiety: What’s the connection? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/empaths-and-anxiety
Shaikh, M. (2023, August 2). Sometimes I Wish I Didn't Feel Anything at All, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2023/8/sometimes-i-wish-i-didnt-feel-anything-at-all