Empathy is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: The feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else’s feelings.
Empathy is a trait that most of us are familiar with, even one that we can, and should, try to cultivate as human beings.
Having empathy is seen in our Western Culture as a good thing.
Being an empath…well now, that’s a horse of a different color.
That being said, and at the risk of you placing me squarely in the “she is coo-coo for cocoa puffs” category: I AM AN EMPATH.
On some days that fact seems distant… even strange; yet, at other times, the depth of what this really means about my life, and the influences of that part of my spiritual make-up become all too clear.
For years I have struggled with why I can FEEL the pain of another. I can relate to a stranger and where they are in life, making them feel as if we had known each other our whole lives. I can literally (and not always comfortably) feel the prevailing spirit in a large group of people. I cannot, under any circumstances, read newspapers or watch the daily news on T.V. Sudden violence to humans or animals angers me and can make me physically ill. No matter where I am people are completely comfortable to “dump” any and all of their life circumstances in my lap. I do not just hear music, I FEEL music. To be cruel to someone intentionally is something I am incapable of doing; to do it by accident brings a pain to myself that is as great as if I had been intentional. I am a friend to the death, and yet I find that trait seldom reciprocated. My “intuition” is spot on. I do not understand rejection or selfishness. When I am wounded, those cuts are deep. I live carefully, and slow processes/reactions way down in an effort to minimize my own pain. A truly narcissistic personality sends my emotions and spirit into fits as I want to heal everyone and this personality type refuses to admit brokenness. If I am not tuned into myself I can and will take the emotions of others as my own. I just know when someone is lying. As a Respiratory Therapist I would literally take on the breathing traits of my patients. I will wade into a fight that I have no vested interest in simply because the underdog needs defending from the bully.
I wrestled with this self discovery for quite a bit. It took an all knowing and all loving God to point out that we are all spiritual creatures, first. The gifts he chooses to give his creations are completely up to him. For many of my friends, who also claim to believe that the spirit is part of our makeup, this is a little to ” Star Trek” for them. ( I told you, I don’t like rejection:)
But I’m ok. I’m ok with being who I am. In truth, being an empath is a beautiful gift. I can feel the pain of another. Therefore, I am able to minister to them. I can relate to the stranger and by making them feel as if they have known me forever I get to truly influence their lives. I can feel the prevailing spirit in a large group of people, which helps me to reach out to groups in need. People are comfortable to dump their burdens in my lap allowing me the honor of commiserating and offering assistance where I can. I get to feel music! My loyalty cultivates true and lasting relationships. My intuition has helped me and helped others on many occasions. Because I slow processes down I have time to help myself and others navigate through many of life’s difficulties. Taking on the emotions of others as my own helps me to take responsibility for those around me. I know when someone is lying. Empaths are creative and loving, nurturers who get the joy of living to help others.
Discovering that I am an empath has helped me to to really know myself. If any of the traits that I have listed here resonate with even one reader, then let me encourage you to start studying yourself. Do the research, pray for guidance. Discovering your true authentic self is the path to a whole life. As an empath I am all too aware that sharing the nuances of my life opens me up to the very rejection that I shun; yet, I am compelled to do so because I realize that my experiences can help someone else along their journey. To this empath, that is what life is about.