I'm a sponge. I soak up everything. The good, the bad... it all intermingles. Joy amongst grief. Pain amongst pleasure. Random information that has no purpose other than to just be known.
I can take one look at you and know how you're feeling. Outwardly you may take on a certain appearance, but the look in your eyes or the way you utter a phrase lets me know what emotion is governing your thoughts. I don't just know it... I can feel it. My empathy is a gift, and a curse. Your sadness can grip me. Your joy can overwhelm. Your anger can infect me. I feel your emotions as if they were my own. And if I really care about you, this may happen uncontrollably. The more comfortable I feel around you, the more I will assimilate to whatever emotion it is that you are feeling. I've always been this way. This consumes energy. If unchecked, it can prevent me from processing my own feelings. However, experience has shown me the tools I can use to manage it.
Filter - If your emotional energy tends to fall overwhelmingly on the more unpleasant side of the spectrum, I really have no choice but to limit my contact with you.
Isolation - Sometimes I just need to insulate myself from everyone. Time alone allows me to experience my own feelings and purge those of others. I spend this time in solitude examining life and the human condition.
Create - I'll write a song, poem, or a post like this. The internal-external transfer makes me lighter.
Education - Just knowing a little bit about psychology helps me to better cope with the perils of being a human. The daily struggle with cognitive bias and their associated emotions is a fascinating field of study. Coming to understand them lessens my frustration and gives me solace.
Movement - When I'm overflowing, I discharge it through exercise. I'll pound it out on the tennis court, sweat it out on a yoga mat, or channel it into physical strength at the gym. Endorphin is my drug of choice. It leaves me feeling cleansed, and ready to start again.
Reality Check - I sometimes have to conduct an inner dialogue and remind myself that its not my job to keep my fingers on the emotional pulse of everyone around me. I remind myself that sometimes caring too much is not necessarily a good thing; And that in most cases, nobody asked me to check up on them.