There are a few things I want to talk about on the subject of empathy. Empathy has turned into a buzzword, and people seem to be confused about what it is to be an empath.
What Is An Empath?
Before I delve into the definition, I want to point out that you can feel empathy without being an empath. Empaths feel empathy to the max, and not for only one species. True empaths feel empathy for all creatures, including humans, even when they don't want to. Feeling empathy for a hurting child, but feeling nothing for a homeless person, means you’re not an empath.
Empaths feel more than bad feelings, and they do more than feel those feelings. Empaths, those who don’t have grounding skills and haven’t learned to control their gift (especially), will become those feelings, taking on that pain or joy.
The definition of empath varies depending on your source. Searching “what’s an empath” online gives you a definition describing the term as "mostly science fiction," but those of us who live with empath abilities know that being an empath is a real thing. Empaths are feelers, and they often feel far too much. They are the people who cry over sappy movies (even the smallest moments filled with emotion will queue waterworks, joy, or other feelings, depending on what emotion is happening on the screen) and dwell on feelings, good and bad. They are the people who reach out to friends, and even strangers, in need. Empaths can’t help but feel for people that have wronged them, even though they may still be upset.
Empaths are not able to completely shut off their feelings. You can learn to control your empathy, but you still feel. You can learn to ground yourself and to put up barriers, but you’re still ready to drop those walls when it’s time for you to help someone in need. The walls and barriers only keep us from becoming so overwhelmed that we burn out.
Those feelings and reactions empaths have are broken up into three categories of empathy. Empaths usually experience all three at the same time.
- Emotional Empathy is when you feel someone’s pain or joy along with them. You genuinely cry when a friend is sad because you can feel their hurt and pain as if it is your own.
- Cognitive Empathy is when you can tell someone is feeling something, even if they don't show it. It’s like intuition, a gut feeling.
- Compassionate Empathy is a combination of the first two, but it is also that drive that makes empaths need to help.
The First Rule of Being an Empath is to Not Talk About Being an Empath
Empaths don’t really talk about their gift much. For one thing, many people don’t understand or think it’s a science fiction thing like the search engine dictionary says. We talk about it in closed circles, when we’re under attack by sociopaths and narcissists, or when we’re trying to help someone in need. People who constantly say, “I’m an empath” generally aren’t. They’re most often a narcissist playing an angle, either to gaslight someone who is an empath or to get other people to think they’re more genuine than they are.
I’m an empath. I said it, but that’s because I am here, trying to help you. I started my business many years ago as a holistic life coach because of my ability to feel other people's pain and to have a sense of walking in their shoes without ever setting foot on their path.
Other Common Traits of Empaths
The gift of being an empath is driven a lot by our intuitive abilities. From my own experience, most empaths are extremely intuitive in more aspects than the feelings of animals and people. We can feel what plants are feeling (and we talk to our plants far too much). We also get upset, and probably even cry, when one of our plants dies. We often know when the phone is going to ring before it rings, or who is on the other end of a ringing phone before we see the caller ID.
Empaths are often creative souls. We are attracted to things that allow us to let go of all of the feelings that are being shared with us. We also feel our own feelings pretty intensely, and all forms of art help us free our minds and souls of that build-up of emotion. Art therapy is a great, expressive tool for empaths.
We’re loners. Empaths need alone time to find peace and calm. Without that time to ourselves, we’d go crazy. This doesn’t mean we don’t like people; we love them. But that love can sometimes be painful and draining, and empaths need a break. Think of empaths as introverts with extrovert tendencies. We want to spend time with people, but it drains our energy. Plus, there are lots of psychic vampires out there that would bleed our souls dry if we gave them a chance.
Empaths attract narcissists. It’s said that opposites attract, and narcissists are definitely drawn to empaths like a moth to a flame. Narcissists like the attention, but as the empath draws in the negativity they’re being fed by the narcissist, they begin to take on those same tendencies. If the empath can break free, they can heal and reverse the damage made by the narcissist.
Need Help With Your Abilities?
Are you an empath who’s feeling overwhelmed? Does your gift feel more like a curse? Let’s talk. I can help you get grounded and learn how to keep the emotions and feelings from taking over your life.
Visit my website for more information.