What is an Empath?
I am an Empath.
There, hope that clears it all up.
An Empath, depending on what you believe, is either a name or description someone made up (totally bogus) to describe someone who cries too much, is a drama queen, is anti-social, etc. – OR – An Empath, sometimes called an HSP or Highly Sensitive Person, is someone born with the gift of feeling. Google dictionary defines Empath as “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”.
Don’t let the word “paranormal” throw you. Empaths aren’t evil, ghosts, spirits, witches, or make-believe. They are real, flesh-and-blood people like you, good reader, who feel on a level much higher than most. When I describe this to others, I like to say “mine goes to 11” and I also reference E.T. and Eliot. (If you do not understand those references, get off my blog now. Seriously. Quit. Bye.)
My ability shows up in little ways in my life. Quirky things, like not being able to watch blood-and-guts movies. I have a visceral reaction to … well, viscera. I also can’t handle lots of loud explosions. Honestly my favorite types of films are happy ending, Disney-style, boy-gets-girl ones. I tend to insert myself into the film, and feel emotions even as I watch, as if the story were real, and it hurts (physically, hurts in my chest) when I have to watch tragic things. So I avoid them. My sweet husband is wonderfully accommodating with me on movie dates, even if it means we see something rated PG or animated. Another way it shows up is in thinking so strongly about someone that they call (or show up), or dreaming about someone, asking if they are alright, and having them respond with “how did you know?”
In addition to having stronger experiences emotionally, Empaths can often “read” other people, or feel the emotions of the people around them. This is true in my case. (Remember Deanna Troy in Star Trek? She had this ability.) As you can imagine, this makes trips to places like the mall and crowded restaurants uncomfortable. Often, it makes me tired, and I experience sensory overload. The talking, the music, the clanging, the smells, and on top of that, the anger/depression/worry soaking into my pores usually gives me headaches and a strong need to nap. Empaths love to love people, and have a strong desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. (I have a shirt that says “Lover, Not a Fighter” on it. That pretty much sums it up.)
Some people say that Empaths are not really gifted, they are just people who get their feelings hurt easily. I am writing to say that 1) That’s a lie, and 2) People who call others “too sensitive” just don’t want to feel guilty for acting like jerks. Now, it is true my feelings get hurt easily. But I also love easily and deeply, feel compassion and – of course – empathy in a way that most others don’t, and when I’m happy it’s an ecstasy that most people don’t get to experience.
Most Empaths are gifted in more than one way. Some can see auras, some have visions in dreams. In a crowd, they usually go unnoticed, sitting in a corner somewhere watching quietly. But they are valuable members of society, the “bleeding hearts” who have a tremendous ability to love their fellow man, generosity beyond measure, and an appreciation for people of all shapes, sizes, and creeds.
Mother Teresa is believed to have been an Empath, as well as actor Keanu Reeves, who is famously reclusive, shy, and kind. Empaths are extremely good listeners, will quite literally hand over the coat on their back for someone else, and do well in creative careers like writing (hello) and painting.
Do you know an Empath? Are you Empathic? I’d like to hear about your experiences. If you would like to take an Empath test, try here: http://www.empathtest.com/ or here: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html
If you love an Empath or HSP or want to know how to love them best, please read: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-tips-help-you-love-empath.html AND http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/famous_empaths.shtml AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/awake-the-wheel/201305/feel-live-the-secret-life-empath .