Empathy is the capability to share and understand another's emotionand feelings and is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes".
I believe it is much more than just a definition.
Is it a list of common traits that anyone could find a way to relate to or is it something more?
16 Common Traits Of An Empath
1. Empaths are quiet achievers but expressive in area's of emotional connection. They find that talking about emotional issues is a great outlet that aids in undertanding themselves and others.
2. Some empaths can be the opposite of what an empath 'should' be because they are overwhelmed or unable to handle emotion and what they feel in the world around them so they block their feelings.
3. They can be focused outward, toward what others feel, rather than themselves. This is a common trait to many people who have not gone through a process of self development.
4. They avoid disharmony caused by emotionally turbulent situations. This type of situation can easily create an uncomfortable feeling because an empath feels this emotion.
5. Empaths are emotionally sensitive to violence and general chaos.
6. Empaths are sensitive to loud noise and televison. In particular, television programs that depict emotional drama like the news and police shows.
7. Thery struggle to comprehend acts of cruelty and crime that involves hurting others.
8. They struggle to comprehend suffering in the world and are often idealists who theorise about fixing the worlds problems.
9. Are often found working as volunteers, with people, animals or the environment.
10. They are expressive so they can often be found in areas of music or the arts.
11. They often have the ability to draw others to them. This includes children and animals as they have a warmth and compassion that is beyond normal You may find that strangers always talk to you if you are an empath.
12. They can be good listeners as they generally have an interest in other people.
13. Empaths can be moody or have large mood swings due to overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotion.
15. Empaths are daydreamers that have difficulty keeping focused. This is common with people who deal more IN emotion and neglect other area's of their mind.
16. Like many people on a spiritual path Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. This is something that occurs to everyone however empaths are often more aware and therefore 'look out' for it.
I believe it is much more than a set of traits that could described anyone. It is a way of life, as much as it is a gift.
Is it a psychic ability or something that everyone has the ability to experience in some capacity or other? I'll offer an explanation from one website I found interesting, Empathic Psychic Abilities, to answer this question:
Perhaps the most common aspect of naturally occurring mental powers are empathic psychic abilities. This is the ability of a person to experience the same feelings or sensations felt by another. Empathic psychic abilities are exhibited even by people who doubt the existence of spiritual forces that can be tapped into. Almost everyone has heard the phrase "sympathy pains", and most of us have had moments to which this phrase could be applied. While these are not always empathic psychic abilities being exhibited, they often are.
Many people who experience empathic psychic abilities find themselves avoiding situations where they will be subjected to severe traumatic sensations. For example, a nurse who has empathic psychic abilities would be well advised to avoid working in the emergency room, as the result could be quite debilitating. It could be counter-productive for a person with empathic psychic abilities, because they often become afflicted by sensations identical to the ones experienced by the patient.
It is also common to feel these empathic psychic abilities in non-painful ways. Mothers report experiencing strong emotions felt by their children, even though they are separated by vast distances. Loved ones often report feelings of extreme joy and contentment when their spouse or loved one is given an unexpected bonus, or some other form of enjoyable coincidence, even though there is no physical contact between them.
Is it something that a person suffers with, like an illness all their life, if they are an Empath, or is there a way to learn to work with it and use it to help oneself and others?
The answer to this one is simple to explain and much harder to do, because the answer has much to do with the individual in question and how they approach this gift. The simple answer is that if a person approaches it with a firm foundation of self worth, which means that they base their worth on their innate value and not on the opinions, thoughts and feelings of others, then it can be understood and growth can occur from it. If it is approached as a gift to help a person, who lacks true self worth, find value in themselves from external sources, it will only cause that person to fall into depression and despair in the long run.
Buddhism says I am whole and complete as I am. I don't understand. How do I make that happen? How do I apply that to being a Healthy Empath?
Again the explanation is quite simple, but is much harder to apply to your life. You are indeed whole and complete. But that is a foreign concept to you, as well, I would bet. You can't see yourself that way because you've always felt like something was missing in your life. Perhaps a big gaping hole in your heart you've tried all kinds of things to fill, even the use of your empathic skills to help people in the pursuit of filling that hole. Has it consumed your life? Have you had trouble with relationships because you perhaps tried to use them, as well, to fill that hole? What about drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors? Its all a pattern, if you let yourself see it. All of them circle around one central theme ~ that big gaping hole (or how ever you wish to describe it). Your entire life has probably been circling that one theme, if you can relate to what I'm saying.
Now the answer that has been staring you in the face, but was so foreign you couldn't accept it. All of that is illusion. You wear yourself thin and finally out completely running in circles and dancing around the answer you don't want to face. This is emotional dissociation, because the one thing you refuse to do in all of these things is deal with you. The answer is you, and again, the value you place on yourself. Its just that simple: you.
How do you apply that to Empathic abilities? The question above answers that question. Its all about your approach and your perspective. If you spend all of your time worrying about filling that hole, that is all you will spend your time doing. Even helping people seems meaningless after a while, when the shine disappears off of it and the compliments stop coming. Its an act of futility unless you are able to value yourself first. Because once you can do that, you will be able to genuinely set yourself aside, because you don't have those worries and concerns anymore, to help people for no other reason than you can help them. It won't be about you seeking accolades. It will be about helping others (if that is what you really wish to do with your life of course). That is real altruism. That is also empathy in its purest form.
Is there a process for understanding Empathy? All of the discussions on this blogsite give me a headache and confuse me.The process to understanding the gift of Empathy begins with understanding ourselves. All of the discussions offered here are pieces to that puzzle. They offer insights piece by piece, so you are not overwhelmed at any one point in the process. You receive information, definitions, processes at many different levels, and insights into yourself (if you are willing to do the self analysis that is asked of you), to make understanding Empathy an easy process.
The more you understand about yourself, your own motivations, your own desires and dreams, and so on, the easier it is to understand other people. Because the truth is that we are all not so different beneath the surface. We all have the potential and the capacity to do the same amazing or horrifying things. Understanding the why that exists beneath the surface, whether it is your own issues or someone elses, takes the mystery out of it. It also takes away the possibility for prejudices to rise up. Understanding does away with judgment, even if you don't find something personally tasteful. Your emotions, your experiences, your perspective on issues, pictures, and other things, are the keys to understanding other peoples emotions. It is like a portkey into someone else's mind.
If I don't want to be 'altruistic' with my empathic gifts, what are some real world uses for the gift of Empathy?
Customer service. In every industry, empathy is applied to understand the customer's wants and needs, to engender coworker relationships and facilitate and motivate team work, to help balance the hierarchy of employer/employee needs, and to simply build trust in the work environment, whatever the connection: employee/employer, employee/customer, etc.
In personal relationships, if used in a healthy way of course, it can engender trust, form deep and lasting bonds of friendship and/or love, offer support to others when they are in need, and speak with a truth that will be heard and respected when it is offered, even if the person doesn't want to face the issue in question.
Empathy is the mark of Leaders throughout this world, because they must always take into consideration the needs and wants of those they serve. Because to be a Leader, one must learn to serve others. A real Leader is not a dictator, a know it all, or an intellectual superior. A Leader is an Empath.
No matter how you choose to use it, its about altruism in the end, because you must learn to take others into consideration. Whether you teach, lead, work in customer service, or simply apply it to personal relationships, it is an asset.
Why does an Empath always end up being a Counselor to others, whether they are trained or not?
Empathy is not just a psychic gift. Whether one is deemed an Empath or not, it is used in all kinds of fields. One primary use of this is exemplified in that of the Therapist or Counselor. They are trained to use this ability in the service of helping others, whether they are an Empath or not. Empaths, as opposed to being training, use this gift naturally to do this. People in need, which includes just about the whole global population, flock to this type of person, because they percieve someone who can help them, will take the time to genuinely listen to their problems, and offer support.
No sense being embittered or cynical about what is a natural human inclination. It simply is what it is, just as you are what you are. Denying it or ignoring it won't make it go away. You just have to learn to balance this with your own wants, needs and desires, because you are also a person in need sometimes. You are just as important as anyone who you choose to help.
Can I choose to be an Empath? Is it hereditary? Can Empaths be made through abuse or trauma? And 'I am a True Empath, because I was born this way, compared to those frauds who claim it!'
Empathy is a gift everyone has. It is true that if it is felt in elevated levels it can be deemed a gift and/or ability that is sometimes thought to be psychic in nature. But ego plays no part in it. To claim to be an Empath as opposed to anyone else, in the attempt to make yourself look better or set yourself above others, is the mark of someone who has issues with ego, whether that is to much of it or a lack of faith in themselves they attempt to cover up with inflated descriptions of themselves. The title Empath doesn't make you any better or worse than anyone else. But the term 'True' Empath, as opposed to simply an Empath, is a mark of prejudice.
Can it be hereditary? Yes. Can it occur through things like abuse or trauma? Yes. Can one choose to be an Empath, and work toward that goal and make it a reality? Yes. Are there real frauds out there who will use and/or abuse you with such claims? Yes, sadly, there are.
Why don't you write a book on this stuff or teach a class on this stuff, instead of offering it for free on a blog site?
I believe that this information, all of which was found on the internet through diligent study, should be offered freely to help people grow, nuture and understand themselves better. Self help means just that, you help yourself. I have learned and grown through the accumulation of this material in equal meassure as anyone else who has used it for themselves. Why shouldn't I share that with anyone who wants the material, when I'm done with it? Offering it through this venue keeps it free for everyone's use and allows me, at the same time, to keep growing as I walk my own path, as well. ^_^