It took me years to figure out that was an empath. I always kind of assumed that I was “in tune” with other people’s emotions, but I never realized how much they really affected me. Reading about empaths for the first time, I thought, “wow, this explains a lot.” For the record: I am not one for self-diagnosis in the least. In fact, I usually dismiss any type of diagnosis, but when it came to being an empath – the shoe just fit.
For people that don’t understand what it is like to be an empath, it isn’t a matter of simply understanding how someone feels – you actually feel the emotions they are feeling. If someone tells you that their favorite cat died, you don’t just understand their grief – you feel like your favorite cat just died, even if you don’t have a cat. It can be exhausting. I take that back, it IS exhausting.
Me, being the way that I am, am hyper-aware of my empathic nature. I pay attention to the vibes I pick up off of people and work to keep them in check. As manageable as true empathy can be, I have discovered one specific situation that will bring even the strongest, most self-aware empath to their knees every single time: narcissists. As the title implies, narcissists are the empath’s kryptonite, and here is why:
The number one goal of most narcissists is manipulation. That is how they get what they want, or make you think what they want you to think. Not all narcissists have malicious intentions, it is just a control thing for them. Now when an empath and a narcissist cross paths, the empath is susceptible to this manipulation more than most. For a narcissist, this is like having a fun new toy to play with.
Read: The Intricacies of the Quiet Narcissist, and how to Deal with Them (Effectively)
Guards are Down
As an empath, we are typically less guarded. It’s not a conscious decision, it is just how we are. That’s what makes us able to pick up on the emotional state of other people so easily because we aren’t trying to figure out if we should trust someone before getting emotionally attached, we just do. For a narcissist, this is like fighting against a boxer who has his hands in his pockets (assuming boxing shorts have pockets). All of those manipulations and controlling activities that take work for other people slide right in like unblocked punches on an empath.
Battle of Egos
Narcissism is really a product of the ego, and for the most part, Empaths are not egotistical people. Because of this, the narcissist’s ego eventually overtakes the empath’s. Essentially, a narcissist can make an empath into a narcissist over time. For the empath, they start to doubt themselves based on the manipulation of the narcissist, and they begin to feel like a victim. The victim mentality is also a product of the ego, so over time, the empath’s feelings about themselves change.
It’s a fundamental shift in ego that can lead to depression.
In the end, being an empath is tough enough as it is. As an empath, you know this. Being aware of the people around us and their influences on us is the most important thing we can do to hold on to our sanity and self-worth.
Empaths are special people and deserve to be treated as such. I had to learn the hard way by dating a narcissist, and I can tell you from experience: nothing tears an empath apart quite like loving a narcissist.