WHAT IS AN EMPATH?

 
realizing I was an empath changed my life and finally allowed me to recover from my 'mental illness' and find mental health

Without getting too 'out there' (though we definitely will get out there on this blog) empaths are intuitives who feel the energy of the world around them. This includes the energy behind the thoughts and feelings of other people. It's like empathy but to the extreme.

Us empaths exist across race, ethnicity, gender, sex, socioeconomic status and ability, and while most people believe empath ability is something *certain* people are born with, I believe we all have the ability to feel and interpret energy - especially as the consciousness of our world continues to increase - and that those of us who fit the empath label were simply born with the layers that keep most of us disconnected from our energetic reality already peeled off. 

The term 'empath' is relatively new but understanding the world and its inhabitants as energetic is not new at all. An energetic understanding of the world is rooted deep in Indigenous belief. As the Western world becomes more and more interested in mysticism (think the New Age Movement and the Law of Attraction), an energetic understanding of our world is becoming mainstream. This is good - especially for those of us sensitive to energy.

The more normalized something gets, the more likely it is to be studied and integrated into society, however, it's important to keep in mind that just because the West is beginning to see value in an energetic understanding of the world, it doesn't mean the West discovered it. It's been here all along, but like many other aspects of Indigenous/Shamanic culture, it's been systemically oppressed. 
 

METAPHYSICAL / SPIRITUAL ROOTS:

Because empath ability is not yet respected in most formal institutions, most empaths learn about their abilities from the metaphysical community, where their experience is known as Clairsentience, a type of psychic intuition called "clear feeling." 

According to metaphysics, most Clairsentients also have the gift of other forms of psychic intuition including Clairvoyance (clear seeing), Clairaudience (clear hearing), Clairalience (clear smelling), Clairgustance (clear tasting), Claircognizance (clear knowing), and Mediumship.

Regardless of additional "psychic" skills, empaths are considered 'forward thinkers' and known for being fascinated by mysticism and dark / lightwork and drawn to the restorative frequencies of Mother Nature and everything natural and holistic. 
 

EXAMPLES OF CLEAR FEELING

1. Having a panic attack with no trigger or explanation and then realizing someone you know was in a threatening situation a couple hundred km away.
 

2. Walking into the grocery store with lots of energy and then feeling exhausted a few minutes later because you
unintentionally picked up on the energy of a parent who is burnt out.


3. Having a strong gut feeling that something bad is going to happen and then hearing about a mass shooting. 


4. Feeling painfully happy and excited and then hearing your sister just found out she's pregnant. 


5. Being physically sick (or immobilized) over news of human rights/animal rights violations.  


6. When life is going great but you wake up feeling heartbroken and you realized you have tapped into a world event.
 

RELATION TO MENTAL HEALTH:

When an empath is awake and aware they can learn to protect their energy and use their gifts to intentionally tap into how others are feeling, provide better care and compassion, create creative solutions to complex problems, and be a stronger advocate. When an empath is unaware of their abilities, they can walk through life absorbing negative energies. This leads to strong unexplainable emotions, including anxiety and depression, and feelings of extreme fatigue and burnout that no one, not even the empath, can understand. Until an empath understands themselves as someone with an unique set of energetic and emotional needs they spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed and confused about their emotional states and their life in general. 

Because empaths are highly aware of the interconnectedness of our world, they intuitively know healing another is healing to oneself. An inherent need to be there for other people often leads empaths to developing poor personal boundaries and giving too much of themselves without taking time to replenish their energy. Giving to the point of exhaustion in caregiving roles, romantic relationships, etc. is what usually leads empaths to seek support and synchronistically realize their gift of empath ability.
 

the-diary-of-an-empath
Personality theorists describe you as a Counselor, an Advocate or a Humanitarian, the champion of the oppressed and the downtrodden. You recognize and carry the emotional baggage of others. When you feel, you feel so deeply that other people’s problems might as well be your own. Sometimes you can’t even watch a horror film or news program without reacting negatively to the terrible things you have seen. These things happen because you are deeply empathetic. An empath is a person who feels exactly what other people feel, even if they have no direct experience of the situation. [You] are so finely tuned to other people’s energy waves that [you] find [yourself] being unconsciously influenced by unwanted desires, moods, and wishes. And it can be exhausting.
— Introvert, Dear

COMMON CHARACTERISTICS:

1. Empaths are highly expressive when it comes to emotions:

"They are highly expressive in all areas of emotional connection, and [communicate] openly, and, at times quite frankly. They may have few problems talking about their feelings if another cares to listen."
 

2. They can also be unbelievably closed off.

"However, they can be the exact opposite: reclusive and apparently unresponsive at the best of times. They may even appear ignorant. Some are very good at "blocking out" others and that's not always a bad thing, at least for the learning empath struggling with a barrage of emotions from others, as well as their own feelings."
 

3. They have difficulty understanding their own needs:

"Empaths have a tendency to openly feel what is outside of them more so than what is inside of them. This can cause empaths to ignore their own needs." 
 

4. Empaths are peacemakers:

"In general an empath is non-violent, non-aggressive and leans towards being the peacemaker. Any area filled with disharmony creates an uncomfortable feeling in an empath." This of course does not relate to issues an empath is passionate about (ie. veganism, women's rights, anti-corruption) as an empath feels a strong need to defend the vulnerable and the oppressed.  
 

5. Empaths can be really difficult to get to know:

"Empaths may bottle up emotions and build barriers sky-high so as to not let others know their innermost thoughts and/or feelings. This withholding of emotional expression can be a direct result of a traumatic experience [or] an expressionless upbringing."
 

6. Empaths attract people and their life stories, and often have many pets:  

"People of all walks of life and animals are attracted to the warmth and genuine compassion of empaths. Regardless of whether others are aware of one being empathic, people are drawn to them as a metal object is to a magnet!"


7. And others are afraid of their fluctuating moods:

"[Empaths are the listeners] of life. They can be outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic and a joy to be in the presence of, as well as highly humorous at the most unusual moments. On the flip side, empaths can be weighted with mood swings that will have others around them want to jump overboard and abandon ship! The thoughts and feelings empaths receive from any and all in their life can be so overwhelming (if not understood) that their moods can fluctuate with lightning speed. One moment they can be delightfully happy and with a flick of the switch, miserable."


8. Which is sad, because empaths have no idea why they are so moody no matter how hard they try to rationalize it: 

"Many empaths don't understand what is occurring within them. They literally have no idea that another person's emotions are now felt, as one's own and reflected outwardly. They are confused as to how one moment all was well, and then the next, they feel so depressed, alone, etc. The need to understand the possibilities of empath connection is a vital part of the empaths journey for themselves and for those around them." 


9. Empaths love to research and problem solve:

"Empaths are often problem solvers, thinkers, and studiers of many things. As far as empaths are concerned, where a problem is, so too is the answer. They often will search until they find one - if only for peace of mind. This can certainly prove beneficial for others in their relationships, in the workplace, or on the home front. Where there is a will, there is a way and the empath will find it. The empath can literally (likely without knowledge of what's actually occurring) tap into Universal Knowledge and be receptive to guidance in solving anything they put their head and hearts into."


10. And are prone to nightmares and vivid dreams:

"Empaths are often vivid and/or lucid dreamers. They can dream in detail and are inquisitive of dream content. Often they feel as though the dreams are linked to their physical life somehow, and not just a mumble of nonsensical, irrelevant, meaningless images. This curiosity will lead many empath dreamers to unravel some of the "mysterious" dream contents from an early age and connect the interpretation to its relevance in their physical life. If not, they may be led to dream interpretations through other means."


11. Empaths really struggle with the boring and the mundane:

"Empaths are daydreamers with difficulty keeping focused on the mundane. If life isn't stimulating, off an empath will go into a detached state of mind."


12. They experience a lot of deja vu and synchronicity in their lives:

"Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. What may initially start as, “Oh, what a coincidence”, will lead to the understanding of synchronicities as an aspect of who they are. These synchronicities will become a welcomed and continually expanding occurrence. As an understanding of self grows, the synchronicities become more fluent and free flowing. The synchronicities can promote a feeling of euphoria as empaths identify with them and appreciate the connection to their empathic nature." 


13. And finally, empaths are always in the pursuit for meaning:

"Empaths are most likely to have had varying paranormal experiences throughout their lives. NDE’s (Near death experiences) and or OBE’s (Out of body experiences) can catapult an unaware empath into the awakening period and provide the momentum for a journey of discovery. Those who get caught up in life, in society’s often dictating ways, in work etc., can become lost in a mechanical way of living that provides very little meaning. All “signs of guidance” are ignored to shift out of this state of “doing”. A path to being whole again becomes evident and a search for more meaning in one’s life begins."
 

* Quotes from The Mind Unleashed, one of my favourite resources for all things woowoo.
 


Do you resonate with the list?


You are most likely an empath! This is a starting point, there is so much out there to learn. I've linked some additional articles below. Understanding yourself as an empath will change your life; who you are and what you need will finally make sense. You will slowly begin to feel less of a burden and start to understand that being highly sensitive, when controlled with lots of self-awareness, self-love, and strong boundaries, is incredibly beautiful. Once an empath understands their abilities, they are able to control them and use them to better themselves and the world as a whole. Take a stroll through this site to read more about what it means to be an empath and what you can do to work with and embrace your energetic sensitivity. I also offer mentorship to help support other sensitive people build healthier, happier lives.



Know anyone who might benefit from this information?

I'd love if you could share this information with anyone you think it will help. Any bit will help spread the message that being sensitive is normal - and really, really beautiful. It's time to step into our power as sensitive people and change how the world understands our needs. 
 

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