The Thin Blue Line between Empathy and Codependence

Tree Silouette © Liz Shewan 2016

In my earlier article we talked about being an empath and how to find out if you are one … and I know from what my readers have told me that many of you came away from it with a sense of relief that you are not weird and you are not alone!


Now you have discovered that what is going on in your life is explainable and happening to others, what step do you take next? … so, I briefly touched on various energy healing approaches to look at, but there are also a few things I want you to mull over and ask yourself as well, something you may have only glimpsed at briefly at this point before it disappears from your mind, only to appear again occasionally, yet not quite long enough for you to reach it or move forward with it … many of the things on this list below are very closely linked to empathy as you will see … but it is important to look at them and consider them in-depth as you move forward. Empathy can often be confused with codependency/or empathy can in fact drive you to codependency.

  • do you find yourself always anticipating the needs of others by trying to guess what the other person wants, and then give it to them?
  • do you find it difficult to draw the line between if what you are experiencing are your feelings and someone elses ie. your sense of self is rather blurred?
  • do you find that you end up sacrificing yourself for others a lot of the time?
  • do you have difficulty in loving yourself, resulting in a low self-esteem?
  • do you get easily carried away in conversations, over sharing, finding it difficult to express your reality in moderation?
  • do you continuously find yourself in relationships where you find yourself wanting to ‘fix’ the other person?
  • do you find yourself explaining away someone’s abusive behaviour with what seem like ‘compassionate’ explanations like ‘she’s only hit me once this week’ … or the classic and often extremely accepted ‘they are doing their best’ … and letting them continue on?
  • do you find yourself giving away more and more responsibility to others in your life often resulting in complete ‘surrender’?
  • do you find it difficult to make decisions or know what you want to do in many situations?
  • do you find yourself saying ‘I’m fine’ a lot of the time when you are in fact feeling pain, numbness, anger, shame, jealously, anxiety?
  • are you in a relationship that you feel helpless to fix?
  • do you often exhibit bizarre behaviour that even you cannot really understand how/why you did it?
  • do you exhibit too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on you?
    do you find yourself feeling the need to control others behaviours?
  • do you find it very difficult to spend time alone … and when you do, do you feel terribly lonely?


If you have already discovered you are an empath and now you have read the above and the answer is yes to any of these questions then you are an Empathic Codependant, to what degree depends on how many you say yes to. Can you see the thin blue line? … can you see that I call it this because actually if you step into the above arena you are actually stepping into a zone of unrest and dis-ease? The above behaviours severely cripple your spirit and eventually negatively impact your physical health.


It is a beautiful gift to be an empath, we all know that. Often I have empaths come to me desperate to sort out their energy issues because life has become unbearable and they crave and want change with a passion. But it is all too often that I see empaths who actually revel unhealthily in their empathy. What do I mean by this? … they really want to feel the emotions of others and feel it is their spiritual duty to do so – they strongly resist the idea of putting up protective boundaries or practice chord cutting to aid emotional detachment from an almost moral perspective as they think that they are committing some kind of spiritual sin if they do so. All too often I have seen the desire to help others come first and foremost which fulfills their desire to be loved and ‘good’ in the eyes of spiritual law … but what of themselves? It is very common to see an empath abandon themselves on so many levels that their very foundations crumble and they can no longer function healthily in everyday life. This is also where to consider where empathy has merged with codependency. Learning how to become a skilled empath so that you can merge with others but remain emotionally detached retaining your sense of self fully is often literally a life saving gift.


Healing codependency is a process and one that takes time so don’t expect healing to happen overnight, as is learning how to become a skilled empath. The first and often hardest step in the process is to recognise that this is going on in your life … it requires honesty, which is something that is not top of a codependents list, although often they think that it is – they spend much of their life in denial (and they don’t realise it so there is a bucket load of it going around making this first step a challenge!). There is really only one way to becoming a balanced empath or simply a balanced person in general (hence the name soul rebalancing) and that is by working on yourself, not on others all the time. This is another hurdle that many people face … that working on yourself is selfish! Well, that’s not true. You cannot look after anyone else well until you can look after yourself. You won’t last long in helping others if your foundations are thin on the ground. Work on developing your self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence by learning how to make your own decisions, saying ‘no’ and creating healthy boundaries with everyone you meet. This development takes a whole load of self recognition, self compassion, self empathy and self-love.

So, if all if this is new to you and you think that you are an unskilled empath, an empathic codependent or just starting to sort out the difference between being a born empath or having issues around being codependent you may benefit a great deal from healing. I would recommend that you consider chord cutting, psychic protection and grounding, energy management and clearing ‘stuff’ out of your aura. These are all listed separately on my website, however, you may find it best to book an  Energy Healing Session which covers everything – it is totally bespoke and will deal with issues as and when they come up.


© 2016 — Liz Shewan.  — All rights reserved

Twitter: @LizShewan
Facebook: @LizShewanEnergyHealing

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Please feel free to share my articles with your friends, social networks, newsgroups, and websites. Referrals and word of mouth has helped me reach and help many people and I would like to continue doing so.   Thank You.

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