There are usually only two perspectives through which an Empath is able to see. And this is not to assume that all Empaths see through one or both of these, and no other, either. But the first reactions of an Empath tend to flow through these two perspectives. The first is becoming emotionally drowned in the other person's emotions, where in they are unable to recognize the differences between their own distinct emotions and the other person's. The other is utter emotional detachment, or closing themselves off in their shells.
The First Perspective
The first perspective is that of the completely unaware or newly developing Empath, drowning and becoming lost in a dark ocean of other people's emotions. It is that feeling we all have experienced once in our lives as Empaths, where we feel connected to a person, and we travel deeper and deeper into that person at a rapid rate. We lose sight of our boundaries and theirs. And we sink, as though were were in quicksand, into the moors of their psyche. And when this happens, even the most developed of Empaths can have a hard time distinguishing where they end and the other person begins.
This is a destructive way to wander through life. You have no sense of self, no self value, no self esteem or worth. You have nothing other than what is bestowed upon you by others and their emotions. Its like walking around as an empty husk, filled with nothing of your own. And it is this perspective that, sadly, can breed Empathic victims who constantly rebound themselves into cycles of abuse and manipulation.
This particular perspective is sometimes hard to rise above, because more often than not, there is no conscious awareness of what the person is, an Empath. And if they are aware, they do not realize there are ways to rise above the ocean they see themselves drowning in both literally and metaphorically.
But once the realization is had, a new journey of self discovery and self awareness begins the likes of which the newly discovered Empath has never seen.
The Second Perspective
The second perspective is Emotional Detachment, or Shielding, which is a basic tenet of learning for any developing Empath. It is the ability to pull oneself away from the encroaching emotions of others, and hold oneself secure in a shield, bubble, shell, or whatever description you wish to add to it.
But this perspective promotes isolation and indirectly, depression, if it is done in excess. It is viable for a quick fix or a momentary point of time, when the Empath is being inundated with the overwhelming emotions of others. But it takes focus and concentration to maintain this state of mind. And it can lead to mental exhaustion in a very short time, if used to often or for long durations of time.
So this particular perspective is good for short bursts of time, particularly when one is a newly developing Empath. It is a great way to stop the flooding of emotions, particularly when one feels the complete weight of another bearing down on them. Its like a life preserver for those moments of necessity. But its not a practical long term tool.
In the first two perspectives you've seen an Empath go from an infantile state, where there is no ability to control the constant flux of emotions which flow in and out of them, to toddler's state of early development, where there is moderate control and a yearning for balance. But those are only the first steps into becoming an awakened Empath who is has both empathic awareness and the ability to manipulate and utilize their abilities at will in order to find a sense of balance and peace.
The Third Perspective
The third perspective is a continuation of the second, but sits on a whole different level. Because for this one to work, one must bear a duality of skills and understanding to make it feasible. To make it possible, one must have the ability to shield or detach themselves emotionally from other people and an integrated imagination capable of visualizing different perspectives such as first person and third person (its a good thing empaths tend to be day dreamers full of creativity and imagination).
(On a side note, reading books, watching movies, and listening to extremely emotional music tend to enhance the imaginative capabilities of an Empath, giving them deeper insight and perspective without the real world attachments being added to it. And since it is vicarious, the feelings, no matter how strongly emoted, are indirect and thus have a lesser impact on the Empath, allowing them to learn without drowning.)
This perspective allows one to metaphorically pull themselves away from the onslaught of emotions, encapsulating themselves in their shield. The difference between the second and the third perspective is that the third has a window in it with a filter, which also leaves the Empath open to any and all who are in need of help.
To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, let me ask you a question. Have you ever stood with someone who you connected with empathically, but at the same time, felt yourself floating above the situation looking down at the same time? You become a dual presence, through your ability to imagine. You stand in both first person perspective and third person perspective, as one might do in a book, depending on the writer's choice. But in this case, you are the writer.
We find ourselves doing this unconsciously more often than we realize. It is actually second nature to us. But the difference here is the fact that you become consciously aware of what you are doing, and you learn to utilize and manipulate it at will, as you already did unconsciously at times. In being consciously aware of this, you realize you have it to use, instead of it simply being instinctual when you are in need.
This idea brings together all sides of your psyche, emotional, mental, and imaginative to work together toward a singular goal, with two different aspects. You still help the other person empathically and you retain your complete sense of self, without becoming lost in the muck of other people's emotional lives.
It might sound hard, but none of this is truly beyond your understanding and capabilities. But it takes time, focus, and practice. You have to work for it to make it happen. Otherwise no matter what I say, they are no more than words on a screen.
Think about it. ^_^