Sunday, November 15, 2009

Emotional Or Empath/HSP?

Upon occasion questions creep up that are well meaning and deserve answers. One such question was asked quite recently. Empath or just emotional? So lets look at this in some detail, shall we? What sets apart an Empath and/or a Highly Sensitive Person and one who is Emotional?

Definitions

An Emotion is a mental and physiological state associated with a wide variety of feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Emotions are subjective experiences, often associated with mood, temperament, personality, and disposition.

Emote: to display emotions openly

Emotional Person: a person subject to strong states of emotion

Drama Queen: Any exaggeratedly dramatic person.

Sensitive: Susceptible to the attitudes, feelings, or circumstances of others.

A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is a person having the innate trait of high sensitivity.

An Empath is a person who is "sensitive" to energies, and often finds themselves feeling the emotions and sometimes physical sensations of the people, places, things and animals around them.

Empathy, which literally translates as 'in feeling', is the capability to share and understand another's emotions and feelings. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes".

The Emotional Person

The emotional person is one who feels their own emotions very deeply. Most people go through this at numerous times in their life, due to situational circumstances like a death in the family, a divorce, a breakup, a lose of job/home, a natural disaster, or any other number of things. This is normal and expected. Just as it is equally expected to occur when one has joyful news in one's life like a proposal of marriage, a job raise/promotion, a pregnancy, or any number of other things.

But then we come to the highly emotional person, who is often times labeled 'high maintenance' and a 'drama queen' (gender not withstanding). They tend to be easily hurt by external stimuli such as the harsh words of others, other people's suffering, and violence. This does not necessarily mean that they feel those other people's pain though. But it is not excluded either.

Extreme cases of highly emotional people, who tend to be melodramatic, are 'drama queens'. They make an issue out of any little thing, all in the hopes of being the center of attention, even if this means they are looked upon as the consummate victim. The emotions people feel toward this person aren't as important as the fact that all eyes are trained on them through their behavior.In this type of extreme case, it generally points to a lack of self esteem and a need to be constantly validated by others.

I've even heard quite a few Empaths refer to these type of people as psychic vampires, because of their almost insatiable need for attention. But being emotionally needy is not synonymous with being a psychic vampire, because there is no conscious intent to 'hurt' or 'drain'. They generally aren't even aware of what they are doing.

The Empath/HSP

The Empath/HSP is one who is sensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others. But....they are also emotional people. They are people who feel their own emotions just as deeply as they feel another person's emotions. They simply tend to avoid this part of the themselves in order to of focus on other's emotional needs, because that part of themselves is so overwhelming to them. Vicarious emotions, or the emotions of other people, are preferable to their own, so they don't gain that sense of being overwhelmed or 'drowning'.

In this world, though, there is a continuous onslaught of people who are emotionally needy, who are ready and willing to use an Empath/HSP to fill that void when they are available. And the downside of being an Empath/HSP with an aversion to introspection is that they also end up losing the ability to put up sustainable boundaries between themselves and others. In effect they lose the ability to say 'I've reached my limit to what I can do for you'. And instead they end up giving of themselves until it literally feels as though they are an empty and dried-up husk.

The Difference

The most obvious difference is focus and perception. An Empath/HSP is generally focused outwardly, toward other people. Thus they are sensitive and susceptible to the emotions/emotional states of others. While the emotional person is not generally (which does not speak to everyone) sensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others, because they are so caught up in the throws of their own emotions/emotional states.

The focus between self and others differs. And the perception of which holds greater importance differs, as well. And this difference in focus and perception can also breed an imbalance in the person. The imbalance for the emotional person, is a lack of outward perspective toward others. The imbalance for the Empath/HSP is a lack of inward perspective toward themselves.

The Balance

Both of these types of people, no matter how much they cling to the single perspective of their preference, are capable of having a dual perspective ~ a healthy balance of self awareness and acknowledgment of others. The balance is simply that.

It does not condemn either type of person for their focus, because each is admirable in moderation. It simply asks you to expand yourself a little. And no one is promising a pain free experience or an overnight cure-all.

Its your journey. You can't change the past, what brought you to the point of being an emotional person or an Empath/HSP. But you can choose what you do with it and how you apply it to your life from here on out. It is, quite literally, in your hands.

Empathy

Whether you are highly emotional or highly sensitive, it does not mean that you will be empathic. Just because you feel for another person, doesn't mean you will stop and offer them a hand, a smile, a kind word, or friendship.

Indifference and apathy are also masks/shields hypersensitive people wear in order to survive in this world, until the point that intentionally turning away from something displeasing to the senses literally becomes something you do not perceive at all anymore.

And when we shut our eyes to the things we find the most horrible in this world, we lose the chance to be, not just empathic, but to be human, as well. Its like saying to the world, 'Your pain and suffering is to much for me, so I won't acknowledge it because I'm to sensitive'. And there in lies, not empathy, but apathy. And that, like your balance and/or imbalance, is your choice.

Think about it.




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