Understanding the Empath

Understanding the Empath

written by: Mia Johnson
by: Mia Johnson
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There are many articles and even programs that address the "Empath" phenomenon these days. If I haven't read ALL of them, I'm probably close. And I seem to be seeing the same things repeatedly. It seems, from the way it's being described, just about EVERYONE can identify with some characteristics described as being "attributed" to being an Empath. And from what I'm seeing, it sounds like a really "desirable" thing to be. Yeah No. Here's the cold, hard, truth: you either ARE an Empath, or you aren't.

True Empaths rarely WANT to be Empaths-at least not ALL the time. It's not an easy thing to be. Being an Empath means you are completely and totally affected by other people's energies whether you want to be or not. Totally against any plan or action you may employ, you have an innate ability to intuitively feel and sense the energies and emotions of others. And it's extremely hard to pinpoint exactly how you just seem to "know," it's just THERE. It's not just quite in any sense of an intellectual way, or even just emotionally. You feel it on a "cellular" level. No matter what you are doing, where you go, your life is unconsciously influenced by others' desires, wishes, thoughts, and moods. Empaths "feel" their way through Life. There is no break from it. You cannot turn it "on" and "off." And how do I know all this to be true? I was born that way.

Now, did I always know I was an Empath? Nope. For the better part of your Life, people just think you're TOO sensitive, that your emotions are too close to the surface. At times, people can tell you you're paranoid. You FEEL paranoid. Often, you don't only hear what people say, but somehow you also know what it is they DON'T say. How many times did I have THAT conversation? "You said..."" No, I didn't..." Okay, well to an Empath, a thought, a feeling can come through JUST as clearly as if you actually heard it aloud. Are you beginning to get an idea of just how disruptive any kind of interaction can be? Many Empaths don't understand what is occurring within them. They literally have no idea just how it is that another person's emotions are felt, as one's own and reflected outwardly. They are confused as to how one moment all was well, and then the next, they feel so depressed, alone, etc. The need to understand the possibilities of Empath connection is a vital part of the Empath's journey for themselves and for those around them.

Empaths can sense physical sensitivities and spiritual urges, as well as just knowing the motivations and intentions of other people. You are always open, so to speak, to process other people's feelings and energy, which means that you really feel, and in many cases, you inevitably take on the emotions of others. Many Empaths experience things like chronic fatigue, environmental sensitivities, or unexplained aches and pains daily. These are all things that are more likely to be contributed to outside influences and not so much yourself at all. Essentially you are walking around in this world with all the accumulated karma, emotions, and energy from others. How fun does THAT sound?

Empaths tend to feel what is outside of them, sometimes even more so than what is inside of them. This can cause Empaths to ignore their own needs. In general, Empaths are quite non-violent in thought or deed, non-aggressive and they tend to lean more towards being the peacemaker, even from an early age. Any arena or space filled with disharmony creates an uncomfortable feeling in an Empath. If they find themselves in the middle of a confrontation, they will endeavor to settle the situation as quickly as possible, if not avoid it all together. Empaths "leave" situations often. It's not uncommon for them to seek solitude. If harsh words are expressed in defending themselves, they will likely react in a very self-judgmental way because of their lack of self-control and have a preference to peacefully resolve the problem quickly. In other words, untrained Empaths apologize A LOT.

Because Empaths are inclined to pick up another's feelings and project it back without realizing its origin in the first place they often second-guess themselves. After speaking, many times they are left wondering, "where on EARTH did THAT come from?" Where another person might "brush" off things in a much more casual way, Empaths tend to internalize. Talking things out is a major factor in releasing emotions in the learning Empath. Empaths can develop an even stronger degree of understanding so that they can find peace in most situations. The downside is that Empaths may bottle up emotions and eventually learn to build barriers sky-high to not let others know of their innermost thoughts and/or feelings.

Empaths are sensitive to TV, videos, movies, news and broadcasts. Violence or emotional dramas depicting shocking scenes of physical or emotional pain inflicted on adults, children or animals can bring an Empath easily to tears. I, myself, simply cannot watch a National Geographic video, YouTube, or any depiction of one animal hunting or killing another. The very idea of even hunting or fishing makes me queasy. Some Empaths will struggle to comprehend any such cruelty and may have grave difficulty in expressing themselves in the face of another's ignorance, closed-mindedness and obvious lack of compassion. They simply cannot justify the suffering they feel and see.

Empaths may be excellent storytellers due to an endless imagination, inquisitive minds and ever-expanding knowledge. They can be hopeless romantics at heart and very gentle by nature. They may also be the "keepers" of ancestral knowledge and family history. If not the obvious family historians, they may be the ones who listen to the stories passed down and possess much of the family history. Not surprisingly, they may have started or possess a family tree. My hobby is to "learn." My curiosity is endless, I've always been a "wanderer," with a free spirit and a gypsy Soul. So often, what Society deems "Attention Deficit" is just a mind that runs ninety miles an hour.

People of all walks of life and animals are attracted to the warmth and genuine compassion of Empaths. Even complete strangers find it easy to talk to them about the most personal things, and before they know it, they have poured out their hearts and Souls without intending to do so consciously. It is as though on a sub-conscious level that person knows instinctively that Empaths would listen with compassionate understanding. In Empaths, you will find the "listeners" of life. It is not uncommon for Empaths to choose professions where they can aid others through their use of their listening, understanding, and empathetic skills.

While Empaths can be outgoing, enthusiastic and a joy to be in the presence of, as well as highly humorous at the most unusual moments! On the flip side, Empaths can be weighted with mood swings that will have others around them want to jump overboard and abandon ship! The thoughts and feelings Empaths receive from all stimuli in their life can be so overwhelming (if not understood) that their moods can fluctuate with lightning speed. One moment they may be delightfully happy and with a flick of the switch, miserable. This is one primary reason it is beneficial for an Empath to work with a Provider that is familiar with the Art and Science of their Highly Sensitive Emotional makeup.

As a Psychotherapist, I was often able to distinguish the difference between a true Mood Disorder, and a simple case of simply being an Empath. I conduct much of my Profession through Social Media, but there are times when I will suddenly walk away from hundreds of contacts because it's just too overwhelming for me. Not that long ago, I had reached the limit that Facebook had of 5,000 contacts, and in a sudden "mood" twist, unfriended nearly 4,300 contacts in a single weekend. Had they done anything to overtly annoy me? Not in the least. Their lack of interaction with me just became a burden to my Soul. Having been an Empath my entire life, and having studied all the Metaphysical aspects of interaction, relationships, and communication, I know when to "shield" myself.

Empaths are often problem solvers, thinkers, and studiers of many things. As far as Empaths are concerned, where a problem is, so too is the answer. They often will search until they find one – if only for peace of mind. This can certainly prove beneficial for others in their relationships, in the workplace, or on the home front. Where there is a will, there is a way and the Empath will find it. The Empath can literally (likely without an actual knowledge of what's occurring) tap into Universal Knowledge and be receptive to guidance in solving anything they put their head and hearts into.

Empaths often are vivid and/or lucid dreamers. They can dream in detail and are inquisitive of dream content. Often, they feel as though the dreams are linked to their physical life somehow, and not just a mumble of nonsensical, irrelevant, meaningless images. This curiosity will lead many Empathic dreamers to unravel some of the "mysterious" dream contents from an early age and connect the interpretation to its relevance in their physical life. If not, they may be led to dream interpretations through other means. My interest, and subsequent work in Regression modalities stemmed from a deep study and interest in the unconscious mind. I was smack in the middle of studying to become a Life Coach when I stumbled on Neurolinguistics. I took two years off to obtain my Master Practitioner Certification, and then returned to finish my Master Certification in Coaching.

Empaths are daydreamers with difficulty keeping focused on the mundane. If life isn't stimulating, off an Empath will go into a detached state of mind. They will go somewhere, anywhere, in a thought that appears detached from the physical reality, yet is alive and active for they really are off and away. If a tutor is lecturing with little to no emotional input, Empaths will not be receptive to such teaching and can (unintentionally) drift into a state of daydreaming.

Give the Empath student an Educator who speaks with stimuli and emotion (through the actual experience of any given subject) and the Empath is receptive and alert. Empaths are a captivated audience. Empaths who get caught up in life, in society's often dictating ways, in work etc., can become lost in a mechanical way of living that provides very little meaning. All "signs of guidance" are ignored to shift out of this state of "doing". A path to being whole again becomes evident and a search for more meaning in one's life begins. These types of experiences are the voice of guidance encouraging us to pursue our journey in awareness. A personal impetuous, which truly set me forth in the direction of my true purpose and Path, as an Empath and a Metaphysician, was my discovery of the work of don Miguel Ruiz and the concepts of Human Domestication. Work, school and home life must be kept interesting for an Empath or they switch off from it and end up daydreaming or doodling.

As a Psychotherapist that specialized in Mood Disorders and Attention Disorders, I can tell you that FAR too many children (and adults) are pharmaceutically treated when what they really need is a Lifestyle designed to their level of interaction. Oh please, DO NOT get me started. An Empath feels like they are living a lie by being forced into doing things against their Will or Interest. To force an Empath to do something they dislike through guilt or labeling them as idle will only serve in making them unhappy. It's for this reason many Empaths get labeled as being lazy or inattentive

You will find the most common traits of an Empath repeated over and over, but I'll enumerate them again for you now. I DO want to emphasize, even those that may seem to be negative in nature can be managed with an understanding that they are merely areas in which the Empath needs help and guidance in managing.

Knowing: Empaths just know "stuff," without being told and often without really understanding WHY. It's a knowing that goes way beyond intuition or gut feelings, even though that is how many would describe the knowing. The more attuned they are the stronger this gift becomes.

Listening: Others will want to share their problems with you, even strangers: An Empath just seems to send out an Energy field that invites others to seek their input or guidance. This is the area where the "untrained" Empath must learn effective methods of "shielding," or they can become a dumping ground for everyone else's issues and problems, which, if they're not careful can end up as their own.

Drawn to healing, holistic therapies and all things Metaphysical: Empaths live to heal others for they have a natural ability and affinity for it. Often, they've studied and qualified in numerous and varied modalities. One thing is true, however, for the Empathic Healer. They must be uniquely trained to learn to shield themselves from absorbing the negative or debilitating energies from those that they work with. Especially if they are unaware of their Empathy.

Curiosity/Creativity: This becomes more prevalent when an Empath discovers his/her gifts and birthright. Anything untruthful feels plain wrong. Always looking for the answers and knowledge: To have unanswered questions can be frustrating for an Empath and they will endeavor to find an explanation. If they have a knowing about something they will look for confirmation. An Empath will have a strong creative streak and a vivid imagination. They are "Seekers." Their curiosity is endless. Empaths have a "gypsy" Soul, they like adventure, freedom, and travel: Empaths are free spirits. They love to daydream: An Empath can stare into space for hours, in a world of their own and blissfully happy. They find routine, rules or control, imprisoning: Anything that takes away their freedom is debilitating to an Empath even poisoning.

Public Places/Large Crowds/Loud or Excessive Noise Wow, any, or all can be overwhelming: Places like shopping malls, supermarkets or stadiums where there are lots of people around can fill the Empath with turbulence. Too much or too strong of ANY kind of emotion can cause actual discomfort, even pain. Hospitals, Funerals, and situations where strong and often sad or despairing energies are abundant can leave an Empath drained and even physically ill for any extended period.

Need for Solitude (& a love of nature and animals): Being outdoors in nature is a must for Empaths and pets are an essential part of their life. Often Empaths would rather be away from the demands of Society, and find Solace in the Peace they can find from Fauna and Flora. An Empath will go stir-crazy if they don't get quiet time. This is even obvious in Empathic children.

Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own: This is a huge one for Empaths. To some, they will feel emotions off those nearby and with others they will feel emotions from those a vast distance away, or both. The more adept Empath will know if someone is having bad thoughts about them, even from great distance. Okay, I'm going to add that working in the field of "people" or even Neurolinguistics can intensify the impact of this. For not only can you "feel" what others feel, but you can analyze their body language, inflections, and choice of words. Studies have shown that when studying the components of communication is approximately 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.). Subtracting the 7% for actual vocal content leaves one with the 93% statistic

Picking up physical symptoms off another: An Empath will almost always develop the ailments off another (colds, eye infections, body aches and pains) especially those they're closest to, somewhat like sympathy pains. It's not unusual for a true Empath to suffer from Chronic Fatigue, as they can not only feel their own exhaustion but that of others. And it's not only physical exhaustion. It can be mental, emotional and Spiritual as well. An Empath can feel when not only their Soul is in distress, but also that of others.

Fatigue: Empaths often get drained of energy, either from Energy vampires or just taking on too much from others, which even sleep will not cure. One of the Major Workshops I promote is the recognition of "Negative Wizards" in one's lives. As I explain it to others, think of your "emotional" system as you would a checking account. Each time you deal with negative wizards, or Energy vampires, they make a "withdrawal." Self-care is essential, for if you don't take the time to replenish (or make deposits) your Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual accounts, a time will come when you need a vast amount of psychic Energy to cover traumatic events. Just as you can "overdraft" a physical checking account, so too can you do the same in your self-care.

Digestive disorders and lower back problems: The solar plexus chakra is based in the center of the abdomen and it's known as the seat of emotions. This is where Empaths feel the incoming emotion of another, which can weaken the area and eventually lead to anything from stomach ulcers to IBS (too many other conditions to list here). Lower back problems can develop from being ungrounded (amongst other things) and one, who has no knowledge of them being an Empath, will almost always be ungrounded.

Moody, shy, aloof, disconnected: Depending on how an Empath is feeling will depend on what face they show to the world. They can be prone to mood swings and if they've taken on too much negative will appear quiet and unsociable, even miserable. An Empath detests having to pretend to be happy when they're sad, this only adds to their load (makes working in the service industry, when it's service with a smile, very challenging) and can make them feel like scuttling under a stone

Addictive personality: Alcohol, drugs, sex, are to name but a few addictions that Empaths turn to, to block out the emotions of others. It is a form of self-protection to hide from someone or something. There's a difference between being an "Addict" and having an Addictive personality. Addiction to a substance of any kind is physical but an Addictive personality is more insidious. Addictive personalities tend to be Obsessive-Compulsive in one manner or another. They self-medicate mentally and emotionally. Hoarders, Shopaholics, and so many more categories fall under the umbrella of the Addictive Personality. It is not uncommon to carry weight without necessarily overeating: The excess weight is a form of protection to stop the negative incoming energies having as much impact

Violence/Cruelty: Anyone whose suffering, in emotional pain or being bullied draws an Empath's attention and compassion. I became a Master Mediator and Advocate because I could not help but feel the Adrenaline "pump" whenever I perceive injustice.

Dishonesty/Evasiveness. If a friend or a loved one is telling you lies you know it (although many Empaths try not to focus on this because knowing a loved one is lying can be painful). Or if someone is saying one thing but feeling/thinking another, you know. This can be very difficult on Empaths in sustaining relationships. Empaths and Narcissists often are like "magnets" to one another. However, Empaths have a great intolerance to narcissism: Although kind and often very tolerant of others, Empaths do not like to be around overly egotistical people, who put themselves first and refuse to consider another's feelings or points of view other than their own.

Time Sensitivity: Empaths are particularly prone to Season Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). The changing of the Seasons or even just the weather, if it is abrupt can cause disruption to the Empath. The ability to feel the days of the week: An Empath will get the 'Friday Feelings" whether they work Fridays or not. They pick up on how the collective is feeling. They find it harder to transition from one Emotional rhythm to another. Sunday evenings, Mondays and Tuesdays, of a working week, have a very heavy feeling. Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. What may initially start as, "Oh, what a coincidence", will lead to the understanding of synchronicities as an aspect of who they are. These synchronicities will become a welcomed and continually expanding occurrence. As an understanding of self-grows, the synchronicities become more fluent and free flowing. The synchronicities can promote a feeling of euphoria as Empaths identify with them and appreciate the connection to their Empathic nature

RESIDUAL ENERGY: Empaths feel Energy that is attached to places and things. Often, they would prefer not choose to buy antiques, vintage or second-hand: Anything that's been pre-owned carries the energy of the previous owner. An Empath will even prefer things that are "brand-new" that will contain no residual energy. Empaths SMUDGE a lot. Anything of a supernatural nature is of interest to Empaths and they don't surprise or get shocked easily. Even at the revelation of what many others would consider unthinkable.

Mia Johnson holds Master Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications in Counseling Psychology, Neurolinguistics, Transformational Life and Relationship Coaching. She is a Certified Master Mediator/Advocate specializing in Mood, Image, and Behavioral Disorders. With a Master Certification in Regression Hypnotherapy, Mia provides Empath Coaching along with work for PTSD and Forensic Interviewing for victims of sexual abuse; domestic or family violence. A true Metaphysician, Mia has been educated in most of the traditional modalities but also holds Master Certifications in Energy Work (Reiki, Chakra, Herbology, and Gemology.

If interested in working with Mia, or attending one of her ongoing Workshops or Specialized Retreats, contact her at mia@outofthetangledweb.com to set up a complimentary thirty (30) minute consultation.