Why Taking On The Pain Of Others Is A No-Win Situation

There has been a lot of movement of death and rebirth, whether symbolic or literal, in many of our lives at this time. Because of this, many of us are witnessing distress in the lives of our loved ones. This could show up as learning about the fatal illness of a dear one, or learning that someone we love has passed, or even just observing someone experience hardship, even if we don’t know them. Because we are emotional beings, we are geared towards, and connected to, learning about ourselves, and our self worth, in relationship to others. It’s part of the human experience.

But, what if we decide to take on someone else’s pain? It may not make sense as a concept. After all, who’d like to absorb the pain of another?

Actually, for those of us who are empaths, this can be very easy to commit to. And, for anyone who’s ever loved anyone in the history of ever, who would not want to take on the pain of someone they know, especially if we love them? Particularly if it means that they can live with less hardship?

For some of my empath patients, they’ve admitted to allowing themselves to “hold”, “channel”, or “absorb” energies, particularly negative ones, that don’t belong to them, simply because they can sense peoples’ needs, and therefore feel obliged to assist them in making them feel better.

To take the pain away from them, if you will.

Although it is noble to want to help others, we are much more helpful to others when we assist from a place of grounded power, rather than as an energy reservoir to tap into.

What is “grounded power”, exactly? When we are grounded in our power, we are helping others by standing in our power, rather than helping others by tapping into our personal energy source. That is the number one way to burnout!

We can cultivate our personal power, Qi, energy, through meditation, qi cultivation practices like Qi Gong and Tai Chi, through eating healthy, whole foods, exercise, qi-building herbs, and other methods. And, instead of giving away what we’ve cultivated, we can assist others in helping themselves. Or, as with certain energy healing modalities, such as Reiki, we simply act as a conduit for the energy, without investing our own in the process.

It is no wonder why those who have assisted others by giving out their own energy, or jeopardizing the clarity of their own energy field, end up feeling like a used, dirty sponge, in the process. Because that’s what we become when we open ourselves up to take others’ pain away, we absorb it into our being! And, that is dangerous to do, for many reasons.

When we open ourselves up to take away the pain of others, we run the risk of:

  • Unknowingly opening ourselves up to forces that are not of light,
  • Creating imbalance within our own system,
  • Robbing the affected person of their sovereignty.

How do we rob a person of their sovereignty by taking their pain away?

What we are effectively doing when we take away a person’s pain is assume that they may be too overwhelmed to handle it. And, in so doing, we take away that part of their journey that is there for them to learn whatever specific lesson they are here to learn. No matter how hard our lessons are, they are ours, and in going through them, we are connected to the strength we never knew we had.

To give you some perspective on the difference between empathy and sympathy, check out this clever video, below, “Brene Brown on Empathy”.

What are the best ways you’ve ever helped someone with their pain, while being grounded in your power?
Let me know in the comments, below!

May you stand in your power,







Copyright © 2015 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.


  1. Patricia
    February 26, 2015

    Dear Margarita, yes and no. I agree, to a certain extent. However,, as a mother my first instinct is to protect my children from harm and if they are in pain you try to help them trying to remove sources of pain or looking for ways that will reduce their pain. Yes, we all have a life to live, each of us has a different journey and we all have our lessons to be learnt but, at least to me, helping the kids with their burdens is something I do not regret. I know I am an empathetic person and I pay attention to other people’s needs. I do, however, do selfcare – I want to be of help as long as possible.

    Enjoying your newsletter and blog. Unfortunately, you live too far away!

    All the best

    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      February 27, 2015

      Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for enjoying my newsletter and blog! I totally hear you on what you said about honoring your instinct to protect your children, as a mother. It’s so important to be an empath who practices self-care!

      In light,

  2. Nikki
    October 8, 2016

    Thank you for writing this. It’s very helpful. I’m pretty sure God led me to read this. Thank you

    • Margarita Alcantara, M.S.Ac., L.Ac., Reiki Master/Teacher
      October 8, 2016

      You’re welcome, Nikki! I’m so glad you found it helpful.



Leave a Reply