3 Surprising Ways Empaths Sabotage Their Happiness (And What To Do About It )

Jul 22 · 5 min read

Ever been told that you’re too sensitive? That life would be easier for you if you just toughened up?

Life as an empath can be overwhelming in every way. From feeling other people’s feelings to being easily manipulated, it’s a supercharged world when you’re a sensitive soul.

But, no matter what you’ve been told, it’s not your sensitivity that’s stealing your joy, even though it might be tempting to wish for “thicker skin.”

Your acute awareness is actually a huge blessing, but you gotta learn how to honor and tune the beautiful instrument that you are.

A great place to start is to explore these 3 surprising ways that empaths allow other people to stifle their joy. You may even notice that you use some or all of them as an excuse to avoid self-reflection.

These patterns might even be your default mode right now. But, as you notice how these behaviors sabotage your peace and happiness, you can choose a different — more authentic — way to be.

If you see yourself in one or more of the traits below, it’s likely you’re an empath who could be a lot happier than you are right now.

1. You’re a People Pleaser

Because empaths feel other people’s emotions, they will go out of their way to avoid hurting feelings, disappointing others, and even sharing critical feedback. In an effort to avoid hurting people, empaths will often say yes when they mean no and avoid difficult conversations (hoping the issue will blow over on its own).

People pleasing has a big payoff: by making sure everyone else’s needs are met, you’re less likely to be attacked (or, worse — rejected). You’re needed and valued; which feels good at a deep level.

But, by “saving” people from facing challenging emotions, you actually prevent them from growing and evolving. You inhibit their potential AND your own — all for the sake of keeping everyone (else) comfortable. You don’t have to be a superhero and carry everyone else’s burdens.

You’ll know this pattern is problematic if you find yourself feeling resentful, burned out, and exhausted after spending time with people who you’re trying to please, placate, or uplift.

Making things easier for everyone else but harder on yourself is a lose-lose proposition.

Imagine how much energy you’d reclaim if you stopped avoiding hard conversations.

2. You’re a Perfectionist

It’s not just the standard answer to the “biggest weakness” job interview question… It’s also a sign that you might secretly be an empath.

Why? Empaths love to help everyone else shine and they have a strong internalized critical voice.

It’s easier to lift others up than to put yourself “out there” imperfectly. You can usually see past their imperfections (they’re human after all), but you hold yourself to impossible, rigid standards.

By waiting until your project/outfit/speech/pitch/perspective/argument/whatever is perfect, you’ll never have to show up fully. What a “perfect” excuse to keep helping everyone but yourself.

If you are tired of seeing everyone you help succeed while you seem to stay in the same, stagnant place… perfectionism — and being an empath — might be the culprits holding you back.

What could be possible if you granted yourself the same compassion, flexibility, and encouragement you reserve for everyone else?

3. Your Finances are a Roller Coaster

As a vehicle for survival, money stimulates our ancient fight or flight responses. And, because empaths have particularly sensitive nervous systems, these reactions tend to be heightened.

When it comes to money, empaths may use overspending as a way of fighting to prove to themselves — or others — that they’re safe (even if that means the debt keeps climbing). Empaths will freeze when it comes to talking about money, thereby limiting their earning potential. And sometimes empaths make it a triple threat by taking flight instead of checking their bank balances (or mailbox).

As an empath, it can be physically uncomfortable to stick to a budget or otherwise take responsibility for your money situation. Instead, you may find yourself spiraling into addictive spending patterns or fearfully hoarding resources–leading to feast or famine cycles of having too much or too little; or never more than “just enough.”

But, what might unfold if you could trust yourself with money? If you stopped being afraid of success and all that comes with it?

Shift into a more empowered, joyful way of being

Do you see yourself in any of the above? Are any of these patterns impacting you negatively right now?

If they are, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, I’ve seen this subset of “symptoms” so often in my private empath coaching practice that I coined the term “Empath Stress Disorder” to account for these and other challenging side effects of being an empath.

Luckily, there’s a simple remedy to start turning these patterns around, and see your sensitivities as your superpower.

It boils down to asking yourself one, powerful question:

What do I need right now?

This gentle question is revolutionary, because — if you’re an empath — you might never have stopped to actually consider what your (emotional, financial, and physical) needs are.

Your needs deserve to be considered, love; at least as much as you consider everyone else’s.

This is the first step to radical self-honesty: trusting yourself. Start listening to your emotions, and begin following your razor-sharp inner knowing.

This is the process of reclaiming your JOY.

The more that you behave as though your needs matter, the better your boundaries will become. With continued, gentle practice you will begin to be released from the prisons of perfectionism and people-pleasing.

I lovingly challenge you to turn your empath’s heart back toward yourself at least once every day.. As you find your own balance between loving yourself AND caring for others, you just might find yourself in a world that finally welcomes and celebrates you for being exactly as you are.


For the last 10 years, Lola Pickett has been guiding empaths to rewire their brains, bodies, and behavior to create lasting success & happiness. She’s the published author of the Wild Messengers Alchemical Tarot and founder of EMPATH*ology™ — her flagship online course.

Her coaching practice and courses combine cutting-edge neuroscience with trauma healing and daring adventures to create sustainable results. When she’s not facilitating transformational work, you’ll find Lola out on a hike or loving up on her husband and kids in San Diego, California.

Lola’s a communication empath. What type of empath are you? Find out for FREE at https://lolapickett.com/quiz.

Lola Pickett

Written by

Mentorship & Wellness for Empaths * IG @thelolapickett * Discover your Empath Type at lolapickett.com

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