We are lucky enough to live during a time where spirituality and words like “empath” are becoming more mainstream, but generally speaking, many men that would benefit from knowing about these topics are still not clear on what it means to be an empath.
I’ve been speculating on the causes of suicide in men since I lost my twenty-six year old brother eight years ago. He was a man that loved life, took care of his friends, had a career doing what he enjoyed. He always had a joke and a strong hug to share. He made people feel good and he appeared happy. But a conversation I had with his girlfriend days after we lost him has stuck with me all of these years. She told us that he felt the suffering and pain on the planet deeply and there were times where it would just stop him. He would go out of his way to take care of someone in need, even to the detriment of himself. He couldn’t bear the thought of starving children. He never wanted to see someone in pain. He also never wanted to burden anyone else with his own pain.
More recently I was speaking with a man who reminded me of my brother. On the surface he seemed so happy, kind, and considerate, but after a long conversation he confided in me that had been having thoughts of suicide for as long as he could remember. As I was listening to his story, it hit me. Both of these men were empaths and didn’t know it.
An empath senses and feels the feelings of the people around them. Many articles and books have been written on the importance for empaths to know how to separate their own feelings out from the feelings of others… to know what belongs to them, and what doesn’t…to know how to create energetic boundaries so as not to take on the pain of others unwillingly.
I realized the challenge for men who are empaths. They are raised in a world with the message that men are supposed to fix it all. That they are supposed to be in charge and have the answers and solutions. They should be strong and not show tender emotions. Imagine the helplessness a man might experience when feeling the pain of his dysfunctional family, his unaware friends, his politically charged country, and the under-privileged communities all over his planet. Imagine that all these different kinds of pain have found their way into his thoughts and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He knows he can’t fix it, but he’s been taught that fixing it is his job. He wants to live carefree and happy, but his heart won’t let him. He’s consumed with the injustice, the worry, the anxiety, the fear. And he’s a “man”, so he’s not supposed to cry about it, ask for help, or even let anyone know how painful it is.
Let’s start asking the men around us the deeper questions. Let’s help them embrace their feelings instead of deny them. Let’s not lose any more empathic men to suicide.
“What if the pain and suffering you’re feeling isn’t yours?”
“What if you’re an empath and you just don’t know it?”
“How would your life be different if you were able to differentiate between the pain that actually belongs to you and the pain that doesn’t belong to you?”
“I wonder if that awareness and distinction would change how you feel about the option of suicide?”