Empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of another. The ability to empathize is being able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else. For example, if that thing that happened to someone else had happened to me then I would feel the same way. So I understand the emotion and can sympathize. This is "normal" and healthy.
An Empath does more than sympathize with others. They don't just imagine what it would feel like. They actually feel the emotion as if it was their own experience. There's no separation between themselves and another person or even a large group of people - like an entire country when a major world event happens.
Empaths are highly sensitive people. What do I mean by that?
Typically when people hear the phrase "highly sensitive" they think of someone who gets upset easily. They may be overly emotional or thin-skinned. These people may be highly emotionally sensitive because of the ego, unresolved trauma and/or self-esteem issues. These kinds of sensitivities stem from the person.
(But these people may also be empathic! Yikes. That's a double whammy.)
An Empath's sensitivity stems from things seemingly outside of themselves. It's like a spidey sense. Empaths perceive the energy emanating around us from both the seen and the unseen. Empaths are very energetically open making them more taped in and tuned into the field of consciousness. Even if like most of us they never go out!
Being empathic seems to be increasingly more common these days as more people are "waking up" or becoming more conscious. By waking up I mean becoming aware of all the system overlays; your social conditioning; or the Matrix.
When I first started writing about being empathic there were no books on this and now there are several! I'm hearing the terms Empath and Highly Sensitive People being used on TV shows and in podcasts that have nothing to do with self-help or consciousness. This is a good thing! Consciousness is expanding. Our separation is dissolving.
Your sensitivity and openness can also strengthen the more present you are.
Being Empathic is one of an Indigo/Crystal/or Starseed's strongest traits and one of the most challenging to deal with. Absolutely everything emanates energy so we constantly being bombarded with "stuff".
"Every human being emanates an energy field that corresponds to his or her inner state, and most people can sense it, although they may feel someone else’s energy emanation only subliminally. That is to say, they don’t know that they sense it, yet it determines to a large extent how they feel about and react to that person. Some people are most clearly aware of it when they first meet someone, even before any words are exchanged." - Eckhart Tolle
Empaths are very aware of how someone else is feeling without the other person needing to speak a word. They may not know why someone is feeling a certain way and will persist in finding out what's wrong.
They can feel the energy of a person or even the energy of a room or place. They know immediately if there are "bad vibes" and may want change seats or leave without being able to explain why.
Now can't most people sense the emotions of others or read the energy of a room? Yes, but usually only when it's extreme or obvious like when a couple has been fighting. And even then they might not be aware that they are picking up on something energetic and just dismiss it. How many times does some say I knew I should have left or that something wasn't right?!
Empaths can pick up on even the smallest cues that most people are oblivious to and then do something with that information. Maybe it means cancelling at the last minute. Maybe it means not trusting someone without having any physical evidence not to.
For example, truth has a frequency. So does a lie. An Empath can detect that distinction. They can feel the truth or lack of truth behind other peoples words. They're human lie detectors!
"Empathy is not a state that is accessible to those that are afraid to feel negative emotion." - Teal Swan
The reason this ability is not active in most people is because they are not present. They live in their minds, they are perpetually distracted, numbed out, or too narcissistic to notice anyone exists outside of themselves.
Also, many normal humans seem to be detached, disconnected, or disassociated from their own emotions as a coping mechanism from previous trauma or painful events. They have an aversion to feeling their own emotions let alone anyone else's.
I cannot emphasize enough how important emotions are in the grand scheme of things. Not only do emotions affect our physical and spiritual well being, emotions are the creative force of the Universe. Emotions are our inner compass. It is so important to get in touch with your emotions and to process and master them!
Thoughts are what generate emotion. If you can be aware of your thoughts you can start to change them when they start to make you feel bad. Byron Katie has a process known as The Work. And part of the process is asking yourself - "Who would I be without the thought _______." You fill in the blank of the thought that is making you suffer.
For example, who would I be without the thought that people should care about my birthday? Who would I be without the thought that I should have a significant other? Who would I be without the thought that I should be successful by now?
Without the negative repetitive thought - you start to feel relief.
If you can shift the way you feel then you can create whatever you want. I take you down this rabbit hole on Manifestation.
We can sense when something is bothering someone and instead of letting someone suffer in silence, we will often push them into expressing or dealing with what they are feeling. We understand the necessity of releasing and processing emotion. So much so that we try to do it for others.
Pain is one of the most powerful tools that we have as humans for transformation. The more honest you are about pain the more it starts to diminish.
Sadness is an emotion most people try to escape from. Empaths will let it consume them. If you want relief, the only way out is through. Emotions are not meant to be suppressed. They are meant to be felt and understood and to move through them. That is the purpose of being human on Earth - to feel these expressions.
In order to heal it, you must feel it.
Empaths are sensitive and caring. We have trouble functioning when there is any kind of disharmony between people, cultures, or countries.
We stress easily. We don't feel OK being around people who are unhappy. When we detect something is wrong we feel it is our job to fix it because we can't relax until we do.
If you find yourself being pestered by an Empath trying to get you to talk about what's wrong, it's best to just lay your cards on the table and don't bother lying because we'll know!
Empaths struggle being in crowds as it can become sensory overload. Simple tasks like grocery shopping or sitting in a classroom can cause anxiety or leave us feeling energetically drained.
Empaths need a lot of time away from people so they can recharge and shake off other people's energy.
Read more: Self-Help for Empaths