What's an empath and what it means for you if you identify as one.
When you see an empath in the movies or in science fiction or fantasy literature, it’s all cool and woo-woo. They are forever laying their hand on someone’s back and that person goes from anxious to calm in an instant, or some such lovely thing.
But the truth is, neither in literature nor in the movies, do you ever see what the reality of being empathic looks like. The truth about this personality type is that unless you know how to control your gift, which most people don’t, it’s less cool and far more confusing to be empathic.
Being empathic means you are naturally keyed into the human emotional sensations going on around you. But more than just hearing it and understanding the language, so to speak, you actually feel it in your own skin.
You are like a walking radio receptor for emotional information. And once you pick up on it, your own station starts broadcasting it immediately. And pretty much, unless you have some training, you can’t help but do this.
What is an empath? For the non-empathic people, it’s like, "Oh that person over there is having a rough day." For the empath, it’s more like, "Wow, I feel super bummed all of the sudden!”"
When they try to identify why they feel bummed, they can’t. That’s because the emotion doesn’t belong to them. It’s just the emotional radio station they are picking up by being in proximity to it.
The more intense the emotion, the more penetrating or overpowering the sensation feels for the empathic person, even going so far as to block out the empath’s own feelings and sensations.
Sound confusing? It is.
Even more confusing is that many (maybe most) empaths don’t even know that is what they are. Primarily because for an empath, they experience other’s sensations inside of their own skin.
For analogy's sake, it’s like they absorb the emotional experiences around them and then feel them as though it is happening to them. Secondarily, the words "empath" or "empathic" are only just showing up in Google searches and appearing in popular mainstream places like Psychology Today.
So unless you happened to be interested in psychic skill sets or reading fantasy novels, it’s not likely to be a term you come across on your own.
That doesn’t make it any less real, though.
I was recently teaching a workshop called "Caring for Your Sensitive Empathic Soul." In this workshop something truly beautiful happened: It was populated by several groups of parents and children.
It wasn't advertised it this way; it just happened. The "children" weren’t even children — they were adults. But seeing the title of the workshop, the parents decided that even if they weren’t empathic, they wanted to come to better understand their son or daughter.
It was truly heartwarming. But the interesting thing that happened was that one of the parents there was very clearly not empathic.
When I led everyone through the first exercise and we talked about it afterward, he was like, "Nothing. I have nothing to report. I didn’t sense anything."
For every other empath in the room — including his son — light bulbs of relief were going off all over the place. They could easily describe the sensations they experienced and the difference in how they felt after learning and doing a simple clearing exercise.
Empaths can sense all sorts of subtle energy, so they can feel shifts that those who are not empathic cannot. Incidentally, this means that for the empath, even simple tools are very powerful.
You either are or you aren’t empathic. And if you are, you know. Well, what I mean is that if an empath is perusing the internet looking up details on what exactly it means or is to be empathic, this information veritably sings to them!
One of my students said, "Discovering I was empathic was pivotal for me, so much about me and my life suddenly made sense." And of course, the empath will nod their head vehemently when you talk about how so NOT cool it can feel sometimes!
What are some of the most common signs?
- You have a very clear sense of another person’s emotional state and energy even without ever having spoken to the person at all. If someone is crying or laughing, you're doing it right along with them!
- Without the ability to control your gift, you often feel drained by crowds.
- You have the ability to know when someone is lying and usually also understand the reason behind the lie.
- You have a very strong sense of either being naturally repelled or drawn to someone.
- You can be easily confused, especially when they are in proximity to others who don’t share their same opinion. It takes very little for you to "believe" another’s point of view because you can also feel it in their skin while being exposed to it. This can make it hard for you to discern you own thoughts and feelings on a subject.
- Likewise, you can experience extreme swings in moods related to the shifting of what those around you are feeling. This also applies to large emotional shifts that are happening on a global level. Even if they are standing in your kitchen with no one else, you can have internal experiences of the general emotional state of the populace as a whole; especially when BIG things are happening: elections, stock market crashes, trauma etc.
- Frequently, but not always empaths are gifted healers in their own way. Your ability shows them instinctively what is needed to heal or harmonize a situation — whether that is smoothing ruffled feathers between friends or the actual physical healing others — you are a natural antidote maker.
- You usually want to help and will do so. For the same reason mentioned above and because you feel the suffering of others (even animals) in such a profound way, you are naturally committed to helping ease it.
In any case, if you can’t already see from this list, I’d be the first to tell you it’s not all shooting stars and hearts to be empathic. It took me several years to learn to understand and manage my own ability.
But I can tell you FOR CERTAIN that once you do know how to manage your empathic nature — it’s a downright lovely thing to be.
If this is one of your skills, I can guarantee that it has some key aspect, potency, or purpose in regard to your soul’s plan and what you are here to do.
Through her Empath Intuition University program, Aimée Cartier teaches other empaths how to manage their gift, instead of having it manage them. Her empath program starts twice a year and accepts a limited number of students each time. For details or to sign up for a free exploratory call, visit her website.