Do you find that you’re overwhelmed in public places or that your friends and family tend to unload all of their problems and concerns on you? You might be an empath. Being an empath is not a negative trait. This gift of being able to feel and understand what other people are experiencing can help you live an empowered life. You hold such an important place in your friends and families’ lives because of this ability. Sydney Campos, author of THE EMPATH EXPERIENCE, shares how to embrace being an empath.
An empath is someone born with the innate ability to feel and understand what other people (as well as other living things such as animals and in some cases even plants) are feeling and experiencing. The key to deciding whether or not you are an empath is to ask yourself if you truly feel the energetic, emotional, and physical experiences of other living beings, or even the entire planet, as though they were your own. Being an empath is also often associated with clairsentience, which signifies an intuitive ability to intentionally harness empathic tendencies as the gifts that they truly are. That’s right, being an empath comes with special superpowers, especially once the gift bearer becomes consciously aware of his or her unique capacity to feel and process energetic information at such a heightened degree.
Being an Empath vs. Being Empathetic
The empath experience is not to be confused with feelings of compassion or empathy. Every living being is to some extent empathic, but certain beings experience the condition more strongly than others and as such may identify as empaths outright. If you feel compassion or empathy toward others, you may feel sadness, hopefulness, or perhaps a desire to help them feel better. If you are an empath, you will experience the pain, suffering, emotions, and/or physical sensations or other emotional, spiritual, or physical information emanating from other beings as though it is your own. You may also feel hopefulness or a desire to help other beings.
Let’s say a friend tells you that his longtime family dog passed away recently. A person experiencing empathy would feel sad for the friend, have compassion for the effect this loss has had on everyone connected to the dog, and would perhaps offer to help in some way before moving on with his day-to-day life. An empath, however, wouldn’t only feel empathy and compassion for the loss, but would also feel the depth of sadness, loss, possible depression, and grief as though this loss had happened to her personally. If the friend describing the loss of the family pet is feeling a heaviness in any particular part of his body—perhaps pain in his stomach and a headache from not sleeping very well—the empath is likely to feel these same bodily aches in her body as well, just like they were her own. And instead of feeling compassion and then simply letting it go, the empath would continue to be affected emotionally and physically for days or possibly even longer depending on how intensely the experience has been imprinted.
As an empath, sometimes it can even feel like you’re reading other people’s minds, like you can thoroughly understand what another person means in the deepest sense of whatever it is he or she is trying to convey. And all of this happens subconsciously, without even trying. It’s your automatic program, always running on high alert.
Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs)
Another interesting consideration when it comes to empaths and other intuitive distinctions is the difference between empaths and highly sensitive persons (HSPs). Elaine Aron, PhD, from the Foundation for the Study of Highly Sensitive Persons, estimates that 15–20 percent of the world’s population is highly sensitive. No one knows exactly how many HSPs are also empaths, but it doesn’t really matter—what’s important is that you know you’re not alone as an empath. The thing that sets HSPs apart is their extremely sensitive nervous system. They tend to be affected more by temperature, sounds, and visual stimulation than non-HSPs.
Empaths are great friends. Our editor has rounded up the best qualities of a good friend.