Empath: A person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.
Last night whilst watching Free Solo I noticed something about myself. My hands and feet were sweating bullets.
Do you wince when someone is punched in a movie or squirm when someone is shamed or humiliated on screen? These reactions are triggered by empathy: feeling the same thing we believe someone else is feeling. Empathy allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
I’m beginning to realize that this mindset might explain many of my strengths and weaknesses.
- I often feel like people are not trying hard enough to ‘understand’ the views of others. I’m often resentful about helping others.
- I often find myself trying to save others. I’m confused by the differences between ‘loving’ and ‘saving’ people.
- I struggle with music because I’m constantly tracking the audience as opposed to focusing on my performance.
- I’m often exhausted when surrounded by others, rolling in their experience. Family dinners are exhausting. Crowds are overwhelming.
- When I write, I don’t bother to share back story because I expect my audience to ‘empathize’ with what they already know about me.
Hmm. I wonder. What impact does this mindset have on my life goals?
- Is a career in people management suitable?
- What sort of hobbies will I enjoy most?
How do I remember I’m wired this way?
What is the opposite of an empath?
In the extreme, it would be a person with personality disorder. E.g. psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. Although they share many of the same characteristics, there are some subtle differences.
It seems that narcissists and empaths are attracted to one another. The empath with his or her predisposition to help, encourage and counsel others will feed the narcissists ego, often to the former’s detriment in the long run.
What should a empath do to remain healthy and happy?
Explore intellectual pursuits. Meditate. Cook. Study academic and macro social ideas. Master an art form.
Spend less time worry about other people and put yourself first. This is a skill that needs developing.
What makes someone become an Empath?
- Temperament. Some babies enter the world with more sensitivity than others.
- Genetics. Highly sensitive children can come from mothers and fathers with the same inborn traits.
- Trauma. Childhood neglect or abuse can affect your sensitivity levels as an adult.
- Supportive Parenting. On the other hand, positive parenting can help sensitive children develop and honor their gifts.
Perhaps we empaths haven’t learned to defend against stress in the same way as others do.
The goal being to feel empowered to use this sensitivity to be both loving to self and loving to others.