Saturday, June 19, 2010

What Is An Empath? Are There Empath Traits?

On this blogsite we've described what an Empath is numerous times using different methods. We've also found numerous ways to define Empathy, as well. But while we've used definitions, trait lists, examples, and so on to help elucidate what an Empath is, we've never really sat down and talked about what kind of people Empaths really are. (Forgive me if I'm mistaken on this, because there is so much information on this website even I forget some of the things I've written about...lmao).

What is an Empath? Let's talk about it. It feel like a HUGE question, particularly for this blogsite and its overall purpose.

What Is An Empath?

An Empath is someone who tends to be hypersensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others. But in saying this it does not mean an Empath will actually be empathic/empathetic toward others. It simply means they are more sensitive to the emotional undercurrents that surround them than other people.

An Empath is often someone who can be associated with other titles like HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and INFJ. What are these other ideas?

Well an HSP is a person, who comprise about a fifth of the population, having the innate trait of high psychological sensitivity and may process sensory data much more deeply and thoroughly due to a biological difference in their nervous systems.

An INFJ, which is defined off of a Personality Test developed by Carl Jung, is defined thusly:

  • I – Introversion preferred to Extraversion: INFJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extraverts gain energy).
  • N – Intuition preferred to Sensing: INFJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
  • F – Feeling preferred to Thinking: INFJs tend to value personal considerations above objective criteria. When making decisions, they often give more weight to social implications than to logic.
  • J – Judgment preferred to Perception: INFJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability.

But I digress, you see even beyond these things empathy can be broken down into 3 basic ideas: Cognitive Empathy, Emotional Empathy, and Compassionate Empathy.

  • Cognitive Empathy: we recognize what another person is feeling
  • Emotional Empathy: we actually feel what the person is feeling
  • Compassionate Empathy: we want to help the person deal with their situation and emotions

To understand what an Empath really is, you need to understand these 3 simple ideas. This is because Empaths come in all shapes and sizes. They come with all kinds of different personality types. And they exhibit different levels of Empathy, just like normal people.

I had a friend recently tell me about how she described what an Empath is to a psychology friend. And she said basically it was empathy x 10. And while I agree the hypersensitivity an Empath experiences to emotional undercurrent around them is excessive sometimes, I don't believe the actual Empathy an Empath experiences is any more or less than anyone else at the Compassionate Empathy level. That is....unless they choose to make it so.

You see, the reason this becomes a choice is because of something called Empathic Concern. What is it?

Empathic concern refers to other-oriented emotions elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of someone in need. These other-oriented emotions include feelings of tenderness, sympathy, compassion, soft-heartedness, and the like. Empathic concern is often and wrongly confused with empathy.

To empathize is to respond to another's perceived emotional state by experiencing feeling of a similar sort. Empathic concern or sympathy not only include empathizing, but also entails having a positive regard or a non-fleeting concern for the other person.

Human beings are strongly motivated to be connected to others. In humans and other higher mammals, an impulse to care for offspring is almost certainly genetically hard-wired, although modifiable by circumstance.

A person can choose to show concern for another person, to in essence empathize with their plight and reach out a helping hand. They can also choose to walk on by and do nothing. And I would be remiss to say that either is the right choice, despite what might seem the obvious choice, because it's all about personal choice. And in that, we all must do what is right for us and not what is considered right by society and thrust upon us.

Traits Of An Empath

So are there traits of an Empath? Well, sure there are. But they are generic and fit any number of people who might have other problems and/or issues. I'll show you some:

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 understanding 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 television. In particular, television programs that depict emotional drama like the news and police shows.

7. They 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 theorize 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.

14. They are likely to have had, other paranormal experiences in their life. This could be astral projection, psychic ability or a variety of other experiences.

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.

These are some general traits of an Empath as described by the author of them, Aymen Fares. Are they wrong? Certainly not. But do they describe every kind of person who can be an Empath? No, they don't.

What are the real traits of an Empath?

Empaths come by their hypersensitivity in numerous ways. Some, sadly quite a few, come by it through being abused. Does this mean all Empaths are abused? No, not at all. But you see, when a person is consistantly in a state of fear of being harmed, particularly in their formative years (5-12 yrs old), the mind will find ways to cope with this. One way this occurs is by developing a sensitivity to the person who is harming them so that they are able to gauge that person's moods and temperaments. This ability can carry over into adulthood, even if the abuse stopped a long time ago. And it can become quite debilitating, bringing on bouts of high anxiety, agoraphobia, depression and other issues.

Empaths aren't just hypersensitive to the emotional undercurrents around them. They can also be highly emotional people themselves. And when in this state its easy to lose ability to discern where the Empath's emotions end and another person's emotions begin. Often times Empath's are highly prone to something called Emotional Contagion. Emotional Contagion is the tendency to catch and feel emotions that are similar to and influenced by those of others.

Empaths can have a very deep seeded fear of intimacy of any kind. And this can even translate into the bedroom. Intensity of feeling, due to hypersensitivity plus past issues of possible abuse, can cause them to push away from this desperately. But understand, it's not that they don't want to be loved, cherished, or to experience passion.

Empaths can use a form of escapism to leave behind the sharp edges of their harsh reality. Sometimes this is found in the metaphysical/new age arena. Spirits (even nasty ones), Soulmates, ideas like Christ Consciousness, Astral Projection, and a plethora of other ideas are easier to deal with than the reality that surrounds them on a daily basis. It acts as a kind of buffer that cushions them from the outside world and allows them to feel their own uniqueness.

Does this mean these things do not exist? No, it doesn't. I'm not here to judge the reality of such things and people's particular belief in them. I'm simply pointing out that sometimes these things can be used as a crutch to keep from dealing with their real issues.

Empaths can hold themselves to an extremely high standard calling themselves things like Lightworkers and Human Angels. And then they can set a purpose on themselves like fighting evil, the darkness, or people deemed as Psychic Feeders/Drainers, as though it is a war.

They can also focus outwardly so completely, as they go about helping people with their problems and being a salve to their emotional wounds, that they can completely forget about themselves in the process. And they can do this to the point of emotional exhaustion on their part. Even then, it can still feel like it's not enough.

These things tend to occur because alot of Empaths suffer from extremely low self esteem and find their value in serving others. And in moderation, this is a wonderful thing. But in excess, like anything else in life, it can be detrimental to the Empath.

Empaths can also be judgmental, cliquish, prejudicial, apathetic, drama queens, abusive, aggressive, and a whole bunch of other things to numerous to mention.

There is more I could write here, but even I admit as I reread this that it sounds slightly depressing, so I will refrain from adding more.

The main point I'm attempting to make here is that Empaths are human beings with human experiences, human emotions, human prejudices, and human issues. They suffer and they hurt. They can suffer from low self esteem. They can be as hateful as they can loving. And being an Empath doesn't mean that they will show empathic concern for others.

And while the first list of traits are indeed traits of an Empath, they aren't the only ones. They simply shine a light on the more positive aspects of being an Empath to entice you to adopt that title as your own. But being an Empath doesn't take away your real world problems. It doesn't set you apart from people. It doesn't make you different or special. It doesn't give you a greater or holier purpose than others. Only you can set yourself apart from or above others. And if you are honest with yourself, how does that offer others empathy when you do that?

Think about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment