Do You Get Drained By Other People’s Energy?


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Empaths Survival GuideGrowing up, my girlfriends couldn’t wait to hit the shopping malls and go to parties, the bigger the better–but I didn’t share their excitement. I always felt overwhelmed, exhausted around large groups of people, though I was clueless why. “What’s the matter with you?” friends would say, shooting me the weirdest looks. All I knew was that crowded places and I just didn’t mix. I’d go there feeling just fine but leave nervous, depressed, or with some horrible new ache or pain. Unsuspectingly, I was a gigantic sponge, absorbing the energy of people around me.

Thank goodness, as my intuition matured, I had a life-changing revelation. From conversations with other healers and from working with patients I realized I was experiencing intuitive empathy: the ability to sense what’s going on in others both emotionally and physically as if it were happening to me. Amazing at times, but also challenging. Let me explain the dynamics of empathy: the more people per square foot, the more our energy fields intersect–thus the tendency to become overloaded in high-density areas. This aspect of intuition is the most neglected and misunderstood.

I’m not referring to ordinary empathy–for instance, when you sympathize with a friend whose fiancee left her, or share your brother’s joy on the birth of his first child. Intuitive empathy goes way beyond. It’s the capacity to energetically merge with someone else and, for the moment, see life (positive and negative) through their eyes, sense the world through their feelings. If this describes you, it may be impossible to distinguish these sensations from your own, throwing you off center.

I know. I’ve been there. That my intuitive empathy has become a gift is mind-blowing–and a tremendous relief. Many of us never get to the good part of empathy because we’re not shown how. What ails us even eludes our doctors. We go in for care, but it’s like the blind leading the blind. No one know what’s going on. Empaths, unintentionally, can make even a good doctor’s life hell. They manifest such a barrage of “unexplained” treatment-resistant symptoms, that frustrated physicians write them off as hypochondriacs. Empaths are notoriously misdiagnosed. Patient after patient has come to me labeled “agoraphobic” or with “panic disorder,” having received only minor respite from traditional treatments: Valium and behavior therapy. Some were nearly house-bound. They’d all say, “I dread being in crowded places where I can’t make a quick escape. Forget department stores, busy streets, elevators, tunnels. I avoid them like the plague.” Sounded very familiar. So I decided to take a history of how these people processed subtle energy in the world, something all healers must be trained to assess.  I found many were undiagnosed empaths. For me, this changed everything. My job then became teaching my patients to center themselves and deal with the day-to-day nuances of energy more productively.

In my workshops I always inquire, “How many of you have intuitive empathy?” It’s astounding. Hands shoot up from at least a quarter of the room. Of those people, nearly everyone concurs, “I had no idea how to describe my feelings, let alone cope with them.” Then they’d dangerously conclude, “I thought something was wrong with me for being ‘overly sensitive’.” I want to dispel such a myth, illustrate how you can positively utilize this form of intuition in daily life. From telephone calls, letters, and feedback I receive during my workshops from New York to Omaha, I’ve seen how widespread empathy is. I encourage you to embrace your empathic abilities and intuition. They are gifts to be cherished.

Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People (Sounds True, 2017) by Judith Orloff MD

Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at

Connect with Judith on  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

4 thoughts on “Do You Get Drained By Other People’s Energy?

  1. Certain people are like energetic maelstroms to me and others are like energetic leeches or vampires. The first are terribly disturbing to my energy; it get’s whipped up and frenetic and makes me quite irritable and sometimes to the point where I can’t refocus myself and I become frustrated with the slightest challenge. The second type are energetic vampires (different from emotional vampires.) They are typically overly friendly, and think they are universally liked because, hey, they’re so friendly. But their “pleasantries” drain me. One guy at work, will alter his path or lean a certain way to make fixed eye contact in order to greet you and expects the same effort on your part (no it’s not flirting – believe me – he does it to everyone because I think he thinks it makes him likeable and that’s apparently super important to him;) That tiny little exchange often leaves me feeling drained. He’s super energetic, so he may have perfected the ability to recharge from others. I don’t sense emotions; but at 60 years of age, I might have just tuned that out because of my sensitivity; and I tend to prefer isolation as a means of protecting myself.

  2. I avoid crowds and am learning to choose my friends wisely. I remember being around two individuals in particular that brought me to the edge of a panic attack each time we’d meet. One was a co-worker who was completely without boundaries, hyperactive and ignored my requests without consideration. The other was an elderly neighbor who needed help getting around but started to take advantage of me. Ridiculous things like changing her remote batteries and running errands. Her daughter would visit daily. I noticed bad things would happen to me after interactions with these people. Once my colleague spent a weekend a my place in the country. She proceeded to bark out orders and smoke in bed. When I was getting ready to take her to the train station she was in a tizzy about being late. Out of nowhere my beloved cat ran up and bit me! The result was an infected puncture wound that required antibiotics and a tetanus shot. My neighbor had me battling on her behalf with our cable provider. The entire neighborhood was without service due to a storm.She wouldn’t accept there was no immediate solution and she’d have to wait it out like the rest of us. After and hour of her ranting I got into my car and just drove. Unfortunately, I was so distracted by the chaos that I ran a stop sign. Thankfully the damage to the other car I was minimal and no one was injured. The minute I start to feel drained by certain people I block them out of my life. It’s lessons learned and self preservation.

  3. I can relate to what you said! I can feel people’s
    Energy on such an extreme level! I am also intuitive and sometimes psychic! I thought I was weird at first, but the more I learn
    About this gift the more I am able to be ok with it! Although I don’t know how to find my place in the world, where everywhere I go I feel overwhelmed by loud noises, negative people, and people are drawn to me like a magnet and they tell me all their problems! One guy came to me admitting he committed one of the deadly sins! An then he said it felt good to get that off his chest! I am not completely sure why I am so different from everyone sometimes I feel like I belong on a different planet, and don’t belong on earth! If this book can help me understand myself more, I may look more into it, thank you!

  4. Everything I’ve read…from every sentence to every topic…it’s as if I wrote your book. I am going to purchase your book, with every ounce of positivity I can muster up, because nothing has worked for me so far. Sine I can remember, which would be 5 years old, I felt different from others, I know it’s because I felt all of these emotions. In fact my family has always called me the “gatekeeper” of our family. I’m the saddest person I believe I’ve ever met. You mentioned “crowsfeet” well I’m 60years old and have not a one, however, I have the lines between my eyebrows and lips. In college my professor asked me to stay after class because she wanted to chat for a minute. I sat down, looked at her, and she had tears in her eyes. She said there are so many colors around you that it’s almost blinding, and then proceeded to advise me to be very careful of people, that I had a gift and at times this gift could or would hurt me. Why I was born an empath I don’t know, but with great faith I pray your book will finally bring joy into my life…. JMH

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