Empaths are valuable to all kinds of careers. However, you need to find the right work that supports your skills, temperament, and gifts.
An empath’s attributes may not be as appreciated in places such as corporations, academia, professional sports, the military, or government. A better match may be the helping professions, the arts, and organizations with more humanistic awareness. So, when you’re considering a job, use your intuition to sense if you are a good fit with their mission and shared goals, the people, the space, and the energy of the environment. Just because a job looks look on paper doesn’t mean it’s right for you. It has to feel right in your body and gut too.
Related: The 5 Powers Of Empaths
Jobs to Avoid If You’re an Empath
One of the best ways to take care of your energy is to choose work that enhances your unique empathic gifts and avoid draining jobs.
What jobs are best to avoid?
Sales is high on that list. Not many empaths enjoy being salespeople, especially if they’re introverted. Dealing with the public takes too much out of them. One patient who worked in technical support said, “I was too sensitive to constantly deal with angry customers, even if they were right.” Also, empaths pick up people’s emotions and stress which can make them sick. One man said, “Being a cashier at Walmart nearly gave me an anxiety attack. The crowds, the noise of people talking and loudspeakers, bright lights, and long hours were exhausting.” Whether it’s selling cars, diamond rings, or advertising, empaths don’t generally feel well having to “be on” all day.
Other stressful careers for empaths include public relations, politics, executives who manage large teams and being a trial attorney. These high-intensity professions value extroversion, the ability to engage in small talk, and aggressiveness rather than being thoughtful, soft-spoken, sensitive, and introspective.
The mainstream corporate world is problematic too. The “this is how it’s done” corporate mentality is difficult for empaths, including myself. This response has always frustrated me since there’s nowhere to go with it, and it clearly doesn’t value an individual’s needs. Empaths are independent thinkers and question the status quo at work if it doesn’t feel right. They like to know the reasoning behind a decision so they make sense of it in their gut. Plus, regular team meetings and power-hungry team-mates are draining for empaths, who function better on their own.
Related: Empathy Can Transform the World
Even if your job is not ideal–and you can’t leave–you can improvise to find solutions that make your situation more comfortable. When empaths are happy at work they can flourish, and make important contributions to their occupations.
Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD, which is a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.