Through my work as a coach for empaths, I found that there is a major meeting point between being an empath and being a high achievers.
It may sound totally contradictory. When you think of an empath, you picture someone with soft energy, a loving, open heart, and peace in their spirit.
When you think of a high achiever, you probably think of an extremely hard worker. Someone who grinds all day, who never lets up, constantly exhausted and very focused on themselves, rather than other people.
Surprisingly, these two come together, and the combination can actually be lethal.
The Childhood of High Achiever Empaths
So our story begins in childhood. Many empaths grow up in families where they are taught to always be doing, pleasing and achieving. They are taught that their needs, thoughts and feelings should not be expressed.
They learn how to please their parents with their outward expression, suppressing their own truth. In this process, many empaths grow into high achievers: they are constantly DOING more to achieve more, to prove their own worth and value.
But what so many people don’t realize is that when all your energy is focused on other people and how they will react to you and how you can best please them, you actually tend to turn into a very selfish person.
The healthy empath is more inward focused, balancing their strong ability to feel others’ pain.
They are able to focus on themselves, even in situations in which they can sense the pain of another person, and set a concrete boundary. They can choose if to let anothers’ pain impact them.
By putting themselves first, they can be much more present for other people and for themselves.
Adult Empaths as High Achievers
However, the unhealthy side of empaths is their focus and sometimes obsession with another person.
Because empaths are so good at intuitively feeling someone else’s feelings, they can be amazing coaches, therapists, healers and caretakers of many kinds.
These are beautiful professions that suit empaths very well. The trouble comes when empaths don’t notice that they are totally focused outside themselves.
In that case, the trauma from childhood, when they were taught that their needs don’t matter, that they are too sensitive, that they must please their parents in order to receive love and care (their biggest need and desire, like many other children) – this trauma gets played out in their lives.
They (alright, we, because believe me, I have been there!) begin to live on the unhealthy side of being an empath.
This looks like an obsession with approval from those people who they serve and take care of, neglecting their own needs and explaining it away quite easily (“but xyz person really needs me right now, and I know I can help better than anyone else”). It all can sound very rational in their minds… it makes sense.
But the truth is, it feels like shit to put yourself last. And it also does not actually serve the people you are working with.
It’s not empowering for them. It turns into caretaking.
Because many empaths have been through trauma (and in many cases, became empaths because they know what it’s like to go through hardships in life), they want to rescue their clients, friends and everyone around.
This rescuing turns into a goal in every day life, and it is coupled with self neglect.
But they are so so good at it, that they keep on chasing it because they start to define themselves only by helping, caretaking and rescuing. That is all they are able to see as their role and gift in the world.
Empaths and the Obsession with Results
So many empaths are used to people pleasing that instead of actually enjoying the journey of their work, they are obsessed with the destination.
Instead of valuing themselves and their work every step of the way, they focus entirely on the results of their work: how will people respond to something they do, how much money is made, etc.
In this process, there is neglect of the soul. There is a playing into the harmful side of being an empath: an extreme trend towards people pleasing and lack of boundaries.
Powerful, Healthy and Bold Empaths
There are several keys to our evolution into a healthy empath, who is also excited about the work they do in the world and who is a lightworker:
1. Focus on you and your journey. Not the destination, not the feelings of the person standing in front of you. Focus on your own feelings, thoughts and needs.
There will be moments when all you want to do is help another person, and that’s beautiful. When you do that, remember to ask yourself: what is my goal? Why am I choosing to do this right now? Do I want to do this? Am I neglecting myself in this process at all?
If your goal is simply to support them, wonderful. If you find yourself tied to the outcome of this support, ask yourself if this is healthy for you. This is part of focusing on the destination, seeking approval, and people pleasing.
In these moments, I encourage you to feel your own body. Literally feel the sesations in your body, and focus on that, as you speak to that other person.
This kind of focus will allow you to gradually build up boundaries over time.
2. Bring more joy and play into your life.
What gives you joy? Do more of that, and stop guilt tripping yourself. This doesn’t mean you’re not working or doing enough. It means you’re truly living.
When you feel joy, your work will be more productive.
3. Ask yourself the golden question: “who am I when I am not helping others?” take a moment. Journal on that one. It’s powerful!
4. Say no. To people you do not want to help. To work you do not want to do. To things that don’t excite you.
Start to define yourself by what you love about yourself, by how you show up in your life, instead of defining yourself by how much you help others, how much money you make, and how many likes your post got on social media (saying this to you because I get it, I’ve been there).
5. Uncover where your need to be liked, approved, make money, or focus obsessively on the desitnation/goal rather than the journey comes from.
When you dig into this, you will find some powerful shit my love, and it will totally transform this behavior. Remember to dig in there with love and compassion. This most likely comes from painful childhood trauma, so give that child all your love and compassion that was lacking back then.
I’d love to hear your story about the crossover between being an empath and high achiever: did reading this post spark any awarenesses for you?