@everyone, thank you for all the thoughtful replies. gives me plenty to think about.
@zacharias thanks a lot for that extensive reply. just like you say, i also want to make sure that i don't end up judging that someone has a "bad energy" and avoiding them when in fact it's one of my own issues. although, i guess that's a legit reason to avoid someone too, if otherwise i'd blow up. but still, i like to know the truth.
also as you say, i think it happens for me that i feel another person's anger or "being triggered" (when someone kind of loses ground/gets pushed buttons inwardly) and sometimes i can't tell whether that's because i actually got angry or triggered, or i'm just echoing back what i received.
that kind of thing happened a lot to me, and think it has ruined several relationships – where these loops just don't stop and grow sort of out of control. that happened a lot before i knew i'm an empath. i just got into these anger/trigger loops with people but i had literally, honestly no idea what i am even angry about (and ended up overanalysing and coming up with every type of reason of course, but i was somehow never convinced it's the real reason).
i basically thought i must be heavily traumatised or sth. to be that easily triggered (which doesn't seem to be the case at all). now i'm thinking maybe it was because i was angry as long as the other was angry, AND i was probably angry at them for making me feel that way.
the grounding before entering a social situation seems like a good thing to practice. i'll try to pay attention to that.
i actually keep having this issue with my father. i start getting tense and trigger-able as soon as we're in the same room, and i keep wondering whether it's because i'm still holding old hurts – or whether it's empathic in nature. it does feel very physical, it's like suddenly my whole body and skin gets "itchy", like it's vibrating with some kind of red, buzzing energy even though the lid is on (but it's just waiting to blow up). and my dad is like that, he does hold a lot of old pain and anger inside and can sometimes get triggered by random remarks. so i'm trying to decide whether it's me holding old hurts or just "me becoming him" / feeling like he does inwardly as soon as i enter the same room.
so it kind of matters to me, on the fence between psychoanalysing myself whether there's anything that i still have an issue with, or accept that i am simply sensing his energy and it's very unpleasant to me and somehow practice "damage control".