Empaths are individuals who can sense the feelings and emotions of others. To an extent, we all have empathic abilities - many people can tell when a loved one is feeling low, for example, even though that person may be trying to hide it from them. However, true empaths take that ability to the next level for, rather than simply being able to perceive how someone is feeling, it can be as though they are experiencing those emotions for themselves. While being empathic can be a wonderful gift to have and gives you a greater understanding of the world around you, it also comes with its own set of risks.
What is Empathy?
True empaths have a heightened sense of intuition, which is particularly attuned to the emotional aspects of other people. Our subconscious selves are perpetually transmitting and receiving both positive and negative energies, regardless of the façade we may be presenting to the rest of the world. Empaths connect with the bubbling pool of emotions that exist behind that façade. In many ways, it is as though they tap directly into that pool, creating their own tributary that leads directly to their own psychic centres. Because of this, psychics who are extremely sensitive or perhaps have not yet learned how to control their gifts, can absorb the feelings of others without even making a conscious decision to do so.
Being empathic comes with its own problems. For example, an empath driving a car might pass an accident and suddenly be assaulted by the waves of fear, pain and even grief that are generated by those involved. However, with no warning or filter available to protect themselves, an empath might find themselves breaking down at the wheel. Alternatively, an empath’s abilities can lead them into potentially confusing scenarios. Should you find yourself in a conversation with someone who has been in a recent argument, you may pick up on the residual energies of that argument and interpret them as being directed at you. Empaths are extraordinarily sensitive and are often people who will burst into tears for no apparent reason or suddenly seem inexplicably happy. They are affected by the emotional environment they are in, and unless they know how to use their gifts properly they can find themselves bouncing from feeling to feeling like an emotional pinball.
‘Mirroring’ is a common complaint amongst empaths. This is the situation in which the psychic takes on the emotions of the person they are talking to and reflects it back to them. While this can be helpful to some, such as in cases of shared grief or happiness, it can also be destructive, such as when an empath reflects anger or aggressive behaviour. However, it is most destructive for the empath who, if he or she is not careful, can lose track of which emotions are their own and which belongs to others. Taken to extremes there is a serious risk that they can lose their sense of identity.
Are you empathic?
Many people who are empathic but unaware of it, feel that they are ‘outsiders.’ They are sometimes regarded as over-emotional, unstable or just plain weird! However, there are ways through which you can identify your empathic abilities. If you identify with the statements below, then you may well be someone with empathic abilities:
● You feel the world’s suffering in a profound way and wish you could do something to help. However, this makes you feel insignificant as the strength of emotion you feel is so overwhelming you wouldn’t know where to begin.
● You have a tendency to put the needs of others before your own, because you can sense what it means to them. You may find yourself agreeing to every invitation you receive, even if you don’t want to, because you are swept up in the needs of the other person.
● You may find that you prefer to be on your own and distance in relationships. The only quiet time you get is when you’re alone and the intimacy of a relationship comes with its own problems, as you are always drawn to exploring your partner’s emotions, almost like a reflexive action.
● You assume a responsibility for the way other people feel and go out of your way to rectify any situations that may be causing them distress, even though it might be inconvenient for you to do so.
● You have a tendency to let relationships and friendships develop too quickly and become very intense in a short space of time.
● You often assume the unofficial role of counsellor to your friends and family. While listening to someone isn’t unusual, you tend to come away from these exchanges feeling incredibly drained and as though you have lived the experiences your friend or relative is going through.
● You may find yourself being accused of not knowing how to have fun or that you need to lighten up.
Empaths can be very spiritual people, as their abilities give them a taste of what oneness is like. Although they are not fully able to access the collective unconscious, they certainly know that the idea that we are separate spiritual beings is an illusion. As a result, they can gravitate towards spiritual ideas and often practice meditation in order to help gain some control over their abilities.
If you feel that you have empathic gifts, but are finding that they are affecting your daily life, then there are three things you might like to consider working on:
1) Grounding yourself. You need a strong sense of your own identity to be able to cope with the unconscious demands of others. Meditation and positive visualisation can help you protect yourself.
2) Become aware of triggers. You may find that certain people, places, behaviour or situations can trigger your gifts. While you might not be able to avoid them, knowing that they are there can help you prepare yourself for them.
3) Work towards choosing when you will use your gifts, rather than having the decision made for you.
Empathy can be an enviable quality in a person but, as with any other psychic ability, it needs careful management and attention.