Erica:On Life As An Empath


Judging me for being emotional? Well, don’t, because it may be YOUR emotions I’m feeling.

Remember that one episode that time of Star Trek: The Next Generation? You know the one, the one where Counselor Troi gets all upset and Picard doesn’t understand why but he knows if he doesn’t listen to her the Borg or the Romulans or the Klingons will destroy the Federation or the Enterprise or mankind or whatever? You know, that episode.

Counselor Troi, aside from looking kickass in her uniform, was an empath, and was able to read situations by taking on, sometimes unintentionally, the emotions of the people involved.

Welcome to my world.

Well, I haven’t done any work for the Federation recently, but for whatever it’s worth, I’ve been told by 15 psychics that I am the strongest empath that each of them has ever encountered. I am constantly being guided to suggest things to people based on what I’m feeling in them, which is great for my clients, because when they go to a psychic, they want to walk away with that guidance. As an empath, like our friend Deanna, I easily become other people by taking on their emotions, and also like the Counselor, I can’t turn it off. By taking on these emotions, I am able to help my clients to understand, interpret, and release what they are feeling so that they can have peace.

However, being an empath is not so much fun for me in my every day life.

Imagine this: You are hanging at the supermarket, comparison shopping and stuff. Should you get Ande’s Candies, Grasshopper Cookies, or Newman’s Own Newman O’s? Suddenly you lose track of the chocolate choices as you are overcome with a wave of sadness, so much so that you could just burst into tears.

Except, it isn’t your sadness. It’s the sadness of the woman who has just wheeled her cart into your aisle. Sometimes it isn’t sadness, it’s anger, or apathy, or depression. Sometime’s it’s not even an emotion, it’s a physical pain, like a migraine or a backache or a broken foot.

It comes from out of nowhere, and even though it’s got nothing to do with me, it might as well have – because I can’t turn it off and I feel the person’s pain it as if I am that person.
Most of the time, I show no outward reaction, and sometimes I can push it away pretty quickly.

But sometimes it overtakes me.

If I am talking to someone that is upset or disturbed, as I described above, I have the unfortunate ability of taking on their upset. Even if they are not vocalizing their upset. So, imagine you’re having a bad day but you’re trying not to show it. I’ll feel it, and if it hits me at the wrong moment, if I’m not in a “good place,” then you will hear your own emotions reflected in my voice. And then you’ll think I’m upset at you, and you’ll probably get upset at me or confront me or think I’m a bitch or walk away from me thinking I’m emotional.

But I will say, this overtaking of my emotions does not happen all the time. The more I’m going through in every day life, the more it happens. The more that people I love are going through, the more it happens. So all I have to do is be happy, and make sure everyone in my life is happy, and everything will be OK!


Because even on perfect days, it remains a bit difficult to be in a crowd. That’s why I have a tendency to go to the supermarket at night (oh, bless you, 24 hour supermarkets!) when there are not a lot of people around. I can’t drive on itty bitty narrow streets. I have to be drunk to be on an airplane. And I can absolutely not do elevators. I need SPACE. If people notice me starting to get overwhelmed, I mumble something about being claustrophobic, and sometimes for effect, my body decides it would be nice to have an asthma attack. Of course it’s not out of a phobia, the need that I have to run the hell away from crowds. Let’s call it a survival instinct. An instinct that might appear to others to be manic, but an instinct nonetheless.

Still, when I’m able to help a woman that has been in pain for years from a loss finally have a bit of peace, or when I am able to reassure a man that the woman he loves loves him too, or when I am able to help a mother finally stop worrying that something will happen to her child, I would have to say at those moments that being an empath does not suck, and actually, kinda rocks!

So, even though I have my moments of challenge, I wouldn’t trade being an empath for anything. Although, I always thought it would be fun to be telekinetic and move things around just by pointing to them, like Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian. So I might trade it for that. I don’t know. I’ll get back to you on that.

You can visit Erica Vanaver and celebrity feline Quentin the Cat, at, where psychic guidance and feline wisdoms are dispensed daily.

6 Responses

  1. Schmutzie says:

    Thank you for writing this! I have this ability, too, and it took me a long time to learn how to discern which emotions are mine and which belong to someone nearby. It’s nice to hear your account and meet another of us.

    • Thank you!! Before I knew what an empath was, I used to think everybody was mad at me all the time because I was the only one that picked up on shifts in their personality. It was a huge relief to find out there was a name for it!