From the time I was in middle school I have always been the advice giver and the secret keeper. In high school there were girls who never invited me to their homes or parties or to hang out – but if we had downtime in a class, they were telling me their problems and asking me for solutions. I was even chosen for the first peer mentoring program at my high school, which also happened to be the first program of its kind.
Even in my family and marriage, I am the problem solver. Something goes wrong, I know how to fix it – or at least put out the fire. I am the the one answering the phone in the middle of the night to calm someone’s anxiety attack or make someone feel better. I have friends who I only hear from if they need to talk. It’s what I do – and I’m not complaining. I am good at keeping secrets. I am a good listener I am good at pointing out the positive side. And, usually, I can offer some advice or hope that things will get better.
If I were to say I have any gifts at all, being able to emotionally support someone in crisis is it. Sounds like an easy job, doesn’t it? “Not much of a talent”, you say? Well, I’m no hero, that’s for sure. What I am is an Empath. I have an abundance of empathy and empathic instinct.
An Empath is a highly sensitive person who naturally absorbs the energy of others. Often problem solvers, empaths are magnets for people having difficulties and because they give off trusting and compassionate energy they are often approached by complete strangers in stores, on the subway or walking down the street .
And it’s not always easy to be me. I not only listen to others, but I also absorb their energy – their pain, sadness, and grief. I feel what they feel. That is how I am able to understand what they are going through. I also take on the behaviors that go along with the energy – I cry, I freak out, I get angry. I don’t do this in front of them because that would just add to their emotional state. Instead, I save it until I am around others who aren’t in a fragile state and then act crazy – often hurting the ones I love. Or at least I did until I understood who I am and how I can cut the cords to negative energy.
Something else that happens when you are an advice giver is that when you are asked for your opinion and it isn’t what they want to hear – they are likely to hate you for it. They will distance themselves from you, they will start lying to you, and they won’t want to include you in the discussion any more. And it is much worse if you gave the advice without being asked!
I learned this year that unsolicited advice is a no-no. I also learned that not everyone really wants to hear your opinion – they want you to listen and to agree with them. You have to decide if the relationship is strong enough, worth honesty or if you should just stay silent. Unless they are paying you as a client, you don’t always have to be the listener or the advice giver. You have a right to set boundaries and protect yourself from negative energy.