We are going to look at the Social Empath. What this type of person truly is, and why they are given the title Social Empath. And we are going to look at the benefits and disadvantages of this type of Empathy.
So lets take a look at what social empathy is first. Social empathy is defined as a sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings, with another person, group of people, or something other than oneself. Sounds alot like the definition of Empathy, which is defined as the ability to project oneself into the situation of another person and thereby understand the feelings and thoughts of that person.
The reason these sound so similar is because they are the same thing. Empathy is about social awareness and interpersonal relationships, which is defined as a relatively long-term association between two or more people based on emotions like love and liking or some other type of social commitment, through heightened emotional intelligence, which is defined as an ability or capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, and of others.
So Social Empathy is, in and of itself, Empathy. That social awareness and the willingness to have social interactions with others, ie. interpersonal relationships, added to the willingness to cultivate the ability to not only understand others emotions, perspectives, and intentions, but also to respect that and work within the scope of the other person's perspective, at the same time as your own, equals Social Empathy.
This is how society, as a whole, interacts with one another. This is how mediation and diplomacy are cultivated. And this is how the business world interacts with the social world, to sell products and help customers.
The Social Empath
The Social Empath is one who has a superior capacity for empathy toward others. Not only do they understand others feelings, intentions, perceptions, and thoughts, they tend to work within the scope of those boundaries, or at the level at which the other person is at mentally, physically, and spiritually, as they are reaching out to others.
Often times, though, this outwardly expressed need to help others is an symptom of some form of emotional dissociation within the Social Empath themselves. Perhaps it was a lack of love growing up. Perhaps it is a lack of trust. Perhaps it was neglect. The reasons are endless. They seek to deny what happened to themselves by offering to others what was lacking in their own lives. Basically compensating for what is missing in their own lives.
This can leave a huge gaping hole in the Empath's psyche, because what they offer to others in such full measure is, more often than not, not reciprocated in equal measure. In other words, they don't get back what they send out. And it disheartens them all the more, building on the hole, like a heavy and crushing weight upon the chest, that was already there in the first place.
This leaves the Social Empath feeling lost, alone, different, isolated, and worthless. And in all the world, what they long for most is a place, a safe haven within the turbulent storm of life, to call home. Home, as in a place in which they belong without question or judgment. Belonging, as in fitting in with others like themselves who have similar experiences, opinions, and needs.
The Social Empath Circle
The Social Empath Circle, as averse to the Empath Circle which encompasses everyone equally in an interconnection of sharing and compassion, is one which is sought out by those who have this need. It is one which becomes tightly nit, because it is based on the interconnection of everyone's need to be interconnected with others of their own ilk. In a sense, it becomes cliquish and is defended staunchly against any outsider, or someone deemed different or unacceptable, who tries to enter into it.
The Social Empath Circle becomes that which they themselves, as Social Empaths, suffered at the hands of others. And without realizing it, they continue this cycle of abuse which was perpetrated against them through the demand of conformity to enter into their closed off society and the denial of entry to those who do not do this.
And then, like high school social groups like the preps or the jocks, who denied entry to the nerds and the alternative children, they sometimes lash out at them for being different, simply because they refuse to see beyond the walls of their own cliche to understand the other person.
Groups like this stunt the expression of Empathy and promote inequality, prejudice, and bullying. As well, they do not promote individual growth, but instead advocate interdependence on one another and enabling of this kind of behavior.
Empaths are extremely special people, for what they can offer society when they themselves are healthy. The Social aspect of this is a wonderful part of being an Empath. Of that there is no doubt, when it is kept in balance with other aspects within the Empath.
This is because Empaths generally are the way they are because of experiences they have suffered in their lives. They have unresolved issues from the past that creep into the present and express themselves in a multitude of ways, some beneficial to others and some not so much.
It is so much easier to find a cliche to belong to that advocates the evasion of dealing with these unresolved issues or offers ready answers without doing any real work to receive them, like self analysis. And every Empath, Social or otherwise, is prone to falling into this kind of situation, no matter what level they are at health wise.
If we begin to set ourselves away from others, even those of our own kind, other Empaths, because we do not like who they are, what they say, what they stand for, what religion they are, or whatever, we lose the capacity to express empathy, except for a select few, because it becomes buried beneath the need to be territorial, prejudice, and judgment. And this does not promote understanding, kinship, or compassion. It simply advocates the selfish needs of the group, individually and as a whole.
Think about it. Its an important topic to understand.