It’s Not Your Job to Take on the World’s Pain


Empaths and sensitive people have an open heart. They don’t have the same emotional guard up that many others do. They feel people’s pain–both loved ones and strangers–and instinctively they want to take it away from them.

Right now, we are going through an extremely challenging time. Many of my empath patients are suffering tremendously from the massive suffering and fear that is manifesting in the world. This makes them and all sensitive people particularly vulnerable to overwhelm, exhaustion and anxiety. Especially when many of them have been taught that being compassionate means it’s their job to remove other people’s pain.

This is not true. You can hold a supportive space for someone without absorbing their distress in your own body. Finding this balance is the art of healing. Inwardly you can say, “This is not my burden to carry.” It is impossible to fix someone and it is really none of your business to try. More than twenty years of being a physician has taught me that everybody deserves the dignity of their own path.

Here are a few tips from Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People to decrease your stress level and find your center, even in the midst of uncertainty and chaos.

  1. Practice deep breathing to exhale stress
  2. Limit exposure to news
  3. Do not let others feed your panic. Even though we are going through a scary time now, panic is not the key to any door. When you feel panic, breathe deeply, meditate for a few minutes to center yourself, and focus on feeling safe in the now.
  4. If you notice yourself absorbing the stress or pain of others, take some alone time to regroup and replenish yourself.
  5. Do not get into victim mode. Try to see the lessons you can learn from chaos and crises rather than feeling only victimized.
  6. Stay in the Now. The only way to get through this is a day at a time. Try to stop yourself when your mind catastrophizes about the future.

Many empaths are used to socially distancing as part of their everyday lives so it may take less getting used to than others experience. Earth is not a realm just of sweetness and light. It has great darkness here, and also great suffering. Our intention, as sensitive people, is to not become martyrs and victims, but to try to summon all the light possible to increase the light in the world and overcome the darkness with love. This requires faith, and a strong belief in love—we can all do it together.

Practice this intention from Thriving as an Empath:
I can be compassionate without becoming a martyr or taking on another person’s pain. I can respect someone’s healing process without trying to “fix” them.

(Excerpt from “Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People” 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.

8 thoughts on “It’s Not Your Job to Take on the World’s Pain

  1. Thank you for all of the suggestions and comments. More and more, I see how sensitive I am to others’ pain and suffering. One of my challenges is that I can only use technology in small doses and can’t tolerate social media at all (it’s like “Times Square” for my nervous system). A friend just passed along Dr. Orloff’s You Tube video on “Self-Care for Empaths”, I found it so helpful (along with “The Empath Survival Guide” book which I’ve been using and sharing for years) that I decided to check out this wonderful website and share a little.

  2. I am so very happy, and relieved, to have found this website. I have been almost paralyzed this past year, agonizing over all the human suffering due to Covid. I did the “am I an Empath” questionnaire and scored 18. Now so much makes sense and it’s a relief to know that I’m not just losing my mind and soul. I will be ordering the Survival Guide next and hopefully this old dog can learns some new tricks to survive emotionally. Thank you, thank you for this wonderful and enlightening resource 🙂

  3. What a relief to have discovered what was “wrong” with me! Thank you, Dr.Orloff for sharing and guiding. Realizing that I am an empathic entity has been a revelation of enlightenment. I sometimes think of it like being a sponge. It can only absorb so much before it no longer functions as designed. We have to learn to use it briefly then set it on the drainboard for awhile. You can only absorb so much then you have to make the decision to set something aside.

  4. I loved this summary. The few hints helped me a lot because I was turning into a martyr.
    I was really considering translating the summary into Arabic and I have posted on your page on this regards.

  5. dr. Judith Orloff Thank you I am very grateful for all you publish blogs etc. I need to read many times, thanks for your excellent studies and blogs to be aware and practice in reality.

  6. Hi Judith! I am reading and loving your books, i have the 365 day care guide, the journal and the survival guide. I was wondering — do you or would you consider supporting RSS on your blog? I use RSS to keep track of the blogs that I like and I would love to add you to my reader but I can’t find the option.



  7. I find that it is the hardest to NOT take on the pain of my daughters, who are 26 and 24. Not that they are even suffering (they both have friends, decent jobs, etc), but I have a very hard time not worrying obsessively for/about them.
    one of them just became a Nurse and started working at a hospital (2 weeks ago), and my anxiety is through the roof. She is not on a Covid19 ward, but that doesn’t matter to my obsession.

    my late husband used to say, “You can’t walk their paths for them, their lives are THEIR spiritual journeys,” but without him around, I have a hard time detaching. Any tips?
    I am “seeing” a therapist via Zoom, and that helps, but when I’m alone in my house, I can go into orbit.

  8. Some time ago, I read some words of Judith Orloff which caught my attention. It was while she was studying in University and was sort of losing focus in the conference until they began talking about ‘energy’ and she really started listening. This happened for me when I first learned about Reiki therapy. I have great respect for her books, C.D.’s, online classes. Looking back on my life of almost 77 years, 3 marriages and 3 divorces and a current relationship of almost 30 years, I decided I needed to a lot of studying and research to try and understand why I kept ending up in the same pattern. I now am totally convinced I am an Empath and attracted/or was attracted to Narcissists .

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