My sister Lorraine shared another post with me on the weekend. This one was relative to ‘Empaths’ and it got me thinking about sharing ‘a piece of my mind’ on the subject.
The term empath was originally coined by Scottish sci-fi writer JT McIntosh. In his 1956 story ‘The Empath’ McIntosh writes of paranormal empathetic beings who are used by the government to oppress workers. By the 1990’s science fiction writers regularly used the term ’empath’ to denote a highly sensitive person. In the 2000’s the term went mainstream with psychologists, spiritualists, and self-help and lifestyle authors. Everyday people took to self-identifying as empaths.
There are a number of traits common to ’empaths’ as we know them today.
- Strong empathy
- Easily overwhelmed
- Dislike of crowds
- Easily overloaded
- Love of nature
- Need for rest
- Trouble fitting in
- Aversion to conflict
- Deep caring
- Problem solving
- Boundary issues
- High sensitivity
- Unique view
- Strong intuition
When I first became familiar with the term ’empath’, it resonated with me. I could relate to virtually every trait commonly listed.
I sense the emotions of others. I assume all people do to some degree. On a one to one basis, I notice it more with negative emotions – particularly strong negative emotions such as anger, fear, or grief. I have had a couple of experiences with random people where I felt their grief so strongly that it was gut wrenching. People I barely knew and yet they knew that I felt their grief. It was the strangest, deepest, most intimate of ‘shared’ moments.
I am intensely uncomfortable in large crowds – especially crowds of ‘excited’ people. The worst for me is parades. When the band strikes up or the airplanes do their fly-over, I am overwhelmed by emotion to the point of struggling not to burst into tears. I have a friend who once told me that for her, the most overwhelming moment was hearing the first ‘batter-up’ at a baseball game. No worse than parades I guess. 😂
Needless to say, any prolonged or overwhelming contact with people is exhausting for me. I want to flee to a solitary refuge, preferably in nature, where I can rest and recoup. I am so fortunate to be at a place in my life where much of my time can be spent just being alone, in nature.
High sensitivity, aversion to conflict, boundary issues, deep caring, problem solving are all enter-twined for me. Being sensitive to the emotions (especially negative emotions) of others tends to make one overly vested in their problems. It is difficult not to want to push boundaries and meddle to relieve the emotional tensions. It doesn’t make it right or particularly helpful but it does help to know why one does what one does!
I am not sure about the unique view. Dan does tell me that I am ‘so wierd’ on a regular basis, so possibly.
I do have strong intuition. I feel serious discomfort when someone close to me, typically family, is having a major emotional experience. I don’t necessarily know who it is, or what it is – I just feel it. I have learned (somewhat learned) to send up a quick prayer and then ‘let go and let God’ protect my loved one in such situations. I usually get a call after such events and the situation is typically resolved or at least emotionally uncharged.
In some ways, considering myself an ’empath’ has been somewhat helpful in understanding myself and learning to modify my experiences and reactions to them. In that way I think it is a good thing.
Where I have trouble with the concept of empaths, is when I read certain social media post. Many of them seem to make ‘highly sensitive empaths’ out to be superior or special beings. I think we all have emotional traits as individual as our physical characteristics. I don’t think it is so much which traits we possess but how we use them that matter.
One of the things about empaths that is often noted, is that as an empath one must distance one’s self from others – especially energy vampires or those who bombard us with negative feelings and emotions. I get that to a point. Over the years, I have come in close contact with some people who gave me seriously creepy vibes. (They may have been men and it may have been their tendency to stand way to close to me, look down my shirt or up my skirt. 😳) Those people, I do believe in distancing myself from.
But the other people, those that seem to suck the energy out of us or bombard us with negative emotions – fear or anger or grief, aren’t those the people who need us? Aren’t we given this gift of empathy so that we recognize these people who need us, so we can offer our support and caring and kindness? Obviously we need to understand what is going on in a situation like this and we need to take care of ourselves and replenish our strength and energy, but if we push away anyone who needs us, how does having the power of being an empath make us better than anyone? If we were physically powerful, wouldn’t we be inclined to help someone struggling with a heavy load? If we were wealthy, would we not think it right to help those less fortunate? If we were intelligent, wouldn’t we be expected to assist anyone struggling to read or write or understand a concept?
Personally, if I do possess any magical empath powers, I am more than willing to use them to help others. If I can absorb anyone’s grief or anger or fear, if I can share peace or light or hope, I am more than happy to do so. In my mind, I wouldn’t possess such powers if they were not meant to be used.
That is it for today. Those are my thoughts on being an empath.
Take care and have a great day! 💞