During these trying times, many people struggle to connect to their emotions and the emotions of others. To combat the hate existing around the world, we need healers, lovers, and compassionate beings. We need the gifts of the empath.
About 15% of the human population are empaths—extremely sensitive and intuitive people who have the ability to absorb the energy of others. This is a powerful and beautiful gift that often comes with feelings of loneliness and confusion.
Someone who is an empath differs from someone who is empathetic in particular moments. Most people practice empathy to understand what another person or creature is going through. We put ourselves in their shoes to relate to their experiences. Being an empath is much more complex.
Empaths live and breathe empathy; it does not turn off.
They can not only understand the experiences and feel the feelings of others outside of their own perspectives, but also take on the mental or emotional states of other individuals. In other words, someone else's pain or happiness becomes an empath's pain or happiness. They can truly relate to and understand others because they absorb energy and emotions that are not necessarily their own.
This ability can feel like both a blessing and a curse, as the absorption of other people's energy can be draining, overwhelming, and disconcerting. Too much energy in one room or from one person can deeply affect an empath and make it difficult for them to identify their own feelings. Experiences like this may lead to extreme amounts of stress, shame, and sometimes mental instabilities. Empaths will often gravitate towards substance abuse in an effort to escape the abundance of emotions they feel.
I am and empath, and before I understood what it meant to be one, I often wondered if something was wrong with me.
I read descriptions of mental disorders hoping to find an explanation for what I was feeling, which was everything—and I felt it all intensely. I was misunderstood, often labeled too sensitive, and always on the verge of losing control. For me, the confusion that came with absorbing other people's energies led to a lifelong struggle with anxiety, depression, and self-medicating.
I felt the sweetest embrace from the universe when I realized I wasn't alone in this experience, and that there is an entire tribe of people who live and breathe empathetically like me. From there, I found myself on a more spiritual path that led to my calling: the practice of yoga and meditation. Everything began to make sense once I stepped on the yoga mat, where feelings, connection, truth, acceptance, and love are glorified. Here, I gained important wisdom, realized my gift as an empath, and found purpose: to help others embrace the intensity and beauty of their souls.
The path of an empath is not always easy. There will be overwhelming emotional energy, feelings of shame, and moments of being misunderstood. The good news is that the stigma attached to being too sensitive is softening. The world is evolving, more accepting, and more interested in understanding the empath than ever before.
Empowering your empath soul is more accessible than you may think. There is an abundance of tools and insight within yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. If you think you may be an empath, or you know someone who may be, I encourage you to consider exploring and discussing these resources. Try a yoga class to challenge your body and ease your heart. Meditate for a few minutes each day to create clarity when feeling overwhelmed by the world around you.
Empathy is a gift, and in a world where so many people struggle to identify and express emotions, it can also be your superpower.
P.S. Here are some common traits associated with the empath:
Possesses a deep sensitivity and strong desire to understand and help others, as well as a deep desire to be understood.
Highly sensitive to external stimuli, and experiences strong emotional response to large crowds.
Has the ability to take on other people's emotional energies and pick up on body language, tone of voice, and sense of experiences.
Prone to anxiety and depression.
Capable of deep thinking and over analyzing.
Very creative, insightful, and intuitive.
Can be described as a truth seeker or walking lie detector.