Working as an Empath: Navigating Career

As an Intuitive Empath, public places and social situations can be overwhelming - filled with mixed emotions and revealing messages. Navigating these emotions while interacting with others and maintaining composure can be challenging at times. When among close family and friends, I at least feel comfortable enough to point out appropriate conflicts and offer advice, but that’s not something that everyone wants (or cares) to hear. So when I spend time in environments with strangers, or among those only there for a purpose, I end up feeling drained and out of place from being the silent observer.

I have often struggled to find happiness throughout my employment history. Some of this comes from being an INFJ, with the effects of being an intuitive empath that ultimately causes me to move on. As an INFJ, I am a perfectionist who enjoys managing and organizing tasks. This has always driven me to learn more by never limiting my interests, always wanting to master every new skill, and always asking questions to understand how things work. As much of a pro as this is, it serves as a con for us personally - I am my own worst critic when mistakes happen, but this also makes me reliable and diligent.

If you’re an INFJ, then I’m sure this has already rang true for you too. Despite wanting a fulfilling and glorious career to put my efforts into, I’ve come to conclude that I can’t find that without creating it for myself (somehow). While being an INFJ has been beneficial to where my career has taken me, the flip side of being an empath has revealed truths to me that I couldn’t tolerate. For me, nothing was worse than working hard for a cause or people who didn't care as much as I did. It's difficult to witness lies and injustices in decisions and feel powerless to address them.

Dealing with conflicts like the above for a period of time can eventually take a toll. I personally find I can tolerate most things, but I always keep a tally of the number of issues that push me toward quitting. Another lifelong struggle I’ve had was I wanted to be happy in a “normal” life (a vision I’ve come to question since my discovery) – I tried my hardest by sticking with some things until past the point where it’s unbearable. Deep down, I’ve always just tried until I realized my gut has been telling me I need to move on. After all, a job does not encompass who I am as a person, and it definitely isn’t the most important thing in life.

In the first few months of my self-development, I was able to manage working full-time as I was genuinely happy with what I was involved in. With interpreting emotions/messages being new though, I felt I started to see everything for what it really is. I honestly felt optimistic given that I could finally deflect the unexplained stress that would suddenly take me over (how I used to interpret certain messages and emotions in the workplace). Despite knowing this would make me a stronger person, and therefore a strong professional, I started to question what was the best use for my skills and capabilities.

Truth be told, I was inspired to write on this topic specifically after I had left that job. After months of struggling to stay, I confirmed some unsettling truths and decided to resign. Interestingly, my reaction to leaving sparked the idea for this post. Even when I'm ready to move on, saying goodbye is emotional for me.

I often feel guilty for 'giving up,' even though I know it's necessary for my well-being. I realize I’m only quoting my negative self-talk on the issue, but nevertheless, the thought is there; to which I counter with my need to be happy and safe in what I’m doing. INFJs can relate to the struggle involved in these thoughts and also know that they never truly leave us.  The perfectionist me that has worked through promotions has a hard time with where I’m left now - I wonder what I’ve really worked so long and hard for already when it’s left me nothing but temporary physical means (finances, strong resume), bad memories and unhappy thoughts.

For anyone else out there who’s been here or is here, I really do hope you can find something that works well for you. If you’ve been here and have found a career that you’re happy and excelling in, I commend you for getting there. I realize it will take work, but I finally have hope that one day I’ll have my dream job (however that will look). As an INFJ and old soul, the work part doesn’t intimidate me nearly as much as the thought of being stuck where I have to paint on a face. When I realized that putting myself through this period of potential self-destruction only shaped me into more of a bitter person, I took a step back and re-evaluated my personal definition of “priorities”.

During a personal retreat after my departure, I reflected on what truly matters in life. I began to wonder why this “normal” life was so essential to have when it just hasn’t worked out for me. Thoughts about how I use my time, what money is spent on (and perhaps, what not to spend it on), what is really essential for living, and what can be sources of happiness, ended up changing my view on life. I realized that I was limiting myself from being genuine and finding my path by just trying to do what was expected. This was around the time that I started to get ideas about using my qualities to provide my own services to others. Regardless of my goal of working for myself, I now know that it’s only beneficial to me to take on work that I am interested in.

It took me a lot of trial and error to figure out what roles and environments don’t work for me, but I’m thankful for all of the experience it’s given. Even with working towards aspirations, I’ve decided to stick to working for a temporary agency for now (I won’t have to be in one place too long if it doesn’t jive with me). Ultimately, the best advice is to follow your heart and pursue what makes you happy. If there’s anything that I can say I stand by now, it’s exactly that!

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