Are You an Empath?

In a lot of spiritual and metaphysical circles, the word “empath” gets thrown around quite a bit. But what is an empath, really?

Firstly, let’s get something clear – Being an empath, in a metaphysical sense, is much more than simply experiencing empathy. According to the Merriam Webster website, one of the definitions of empathy is: “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.”

Having empathy is only the beginning of the experience for the true empaths. The way I describe it to clients and students is that they are highly sensitive people; in some respects, an empath is a walking energetic antenna. Not only will an empath pick up on the subtle cues and nuances in what you say, but they will pick up just as strongly on what you don’t say. Again, to be clear, it is not that they are reading your mind. They are just picking up on a feeling, a knowing, a sense of something. A lot of times, empaths can’t quite put into words how or why they know or feel something . . . they just DO.

How do I know if I am an empath?

Although every empath has an individual way they experience the energy and world around them, these are some pretty common signs that you might be empathic:

· You feel emotions more deeply, sensitively and intensely than others around you. You may even notice that your emotions tend to change at the drop of a hat. For example, you may wake up feeling great, then talk to someone who is in a grumpy mood and find yourself feeling grumpy “for no reason”. Or, others may have pointed out to you at one time or another that you’re “too sensitive”.
· You can’t handle large groups of people or crowds well. For some empaths, they can spend a certain amount of time in a large crowd, but then have to leave, or balance out that time with a period of solitude. For other empaths, they will avoid groups and crowds at all costs. It is rare you will find an empath hanging out at shopping centers at holiday season (or almost any time of year), grocery stores, and large sporting or public events.
· You have significant fluctuations in weight, or find yourself having water retention issues. Because many empaths are “psychic sponges”, they will quite literally “take on” the energy from others. A lot of times this isn’t a conscious behavior, but they tend to handle that intense energy by “absorbing” it physically. It is important for empaths to find a good physical outlet for this excess energy, so exercise or any creative activity (singing, dancing, painting, or drawing, for example) is encouraged.
· You tend to avoid the news and mainstream media because it is too negative. Most empaths, if they do decide to tune into media, do so sparingly and are very particular about the media outlets they choose to use. Often times, empaths will use television or radio to “zone out”, and use it more as background “noise” than as a source of information.

Okay, so I think I might be an empath. What do I do now?

Firstly, try not to feel overwhelmed or hold too strongly onto the “title” of empath. Being empathic does not make you better or worse than anyone else; it simply is a description, and can help you to understand why you respond to certain people and situations as you do. Just as a person with allergies learns over time what their triggers are and what substances to avoid to help them feel better, over time you will learn what energies and situations trigger a “sensitivity response” and which ones are easier to handle.

If you feel guided, read books or take classes or workshops to develop your intuitive abilities. Learn how to meditate to calm your mind and get an understanding and handle on your sensitivity. Take part in more physical activities to help move and transmute the energy.

Above all, the key is to empower yourself as you learn more about yourself and your intuitive and empathic abilities. As I tell my students all the time, “Learn to command your abilities – Do NOT let your abilities control you.” When you take this gentle but empowered approach, you will find that being an empathic is less of an overwhelming thing and more of a gift from God to be celebrated and enjoyed!

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