Crying other people’s tears (If you’re an empath, read this)

When I moved from my sleepy little cottage in southern Connecticut to New York City, I was filled with excitement! A few weeks earlier, when my spiritual teacher had mentioned that some of us should consider moving into the City, I felt a huge rush of kundalini, and knew it would be a good move for me. I’d never considered moving to the City, with its noise and grime, and enormous population, but inwardly I knew it was right when I felt every one of my cells stand up at the suggestion, and say, “Yes!” 

So, in short order, I found an apartment in Manhattan and packed up my little cottage. As my landlady and I wrapped up the final walk-through, she reached over and hugged me goodbye. She was sad for me to leave, as I was a breath of fresh air from suburban Connecticut life—we were, after all, just a few miles from the town that inspired The Stepford Wives. She was more drawn to the conversations we had about spiritual books and meditation than to the Martha Stewart competitions some of the neighbors engaged in. As she hugged me goodbye, I could literally feel her sadness seep into me, and tears sprouted from my eyes and I began to cry. What was funny is I wasn’t sad to go (at all!), but was crying, while she was sad for me to leave, but was dry-eyed. As soon as I got in my car and turned out of the driveway, I could feel her sadness leave my body, and was again all brightness for the new chapter. I’d been crying her tears.

You might be thinking, well, you can be both sad about leaving a place and happy about a new adventure simultaneously, and that’s true. But that isn’t what happened here. I wasn’t sad at all. It was only when I was in the landlady’s bubble of sadness that I began to feel sad. And then when I left the bubble, I no longer felt sad.

If you’re an empath, you recognize this story. You’ve cried other people’s tears, eaten what others are hungry for, basically lived other people’s emotions a million times, and then, when you get some distance from those people, you watch those feelings disappear. 

Does it need to be said that not all tears arise from feeling other people’s emotions? I, of course, cry when something is sad, and like other seekers, cry at things that are high or are true.

Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on or Amazon UK,  CAFR , ITES and DE© 2013 Sara Weston. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.