We all know someone who claims to be an empath. It’s not unusual for me to see someone referring to themselves as an empath on a daily basis, especially as my spiritual community and connections grow. Today I want to discuss a different take on this. My own personal belief. These are my opinions, and if you claim to be an empath, they may trigger you. Again, these are only my opinions, thoughts, musings...
What does it mean to be an empath?
Well - the answer to that depends on which source you’d like to quote.
Merriam-Webster defines an empath as “one who experiences the emotions of others; a person who has empathy for others.” They define empathy as:
-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.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, The American Empath Association (yes this is a ‘thing’) explains an empath as:
Empaths understand the mental or emotional states of others in a way that defies conventional science and psychology. Empaths have the ability to sense the feelings, thoughts, and energies of people, plants, animals, places, or objects.
In addition to sensing, Empaths absorb the energy of those around them. Empaths often experience stress or illness if they are bombarded by too many negative emotions. Empaths can also use their abilities to help others by imagining themselves in someone else’s situation and connecting with them on a deep level.
This ‘association’ also breaks down 17 different variations of being an ‘empath’ and (drum roll please) provides CERTIFICATION of being an empath. Say what? For the low low price of $320 per year, you can become a Licensed Certified Empath (L.C.E. for short).
Ok. This is too much.
From the first time I heard the word empath, it struck a nerve. Maybe it’s because it’s another label or story people tell themselves. Maybe it’s because at times, it seems like people take pleasure in referring to themselves as an empath. Maybe I don’t even care why it struck a nerve, it just fucking did.
Let me break it down:
The human species is empathetic by nature. Conditioning, whether it’s societal, familial, cultural, or religious, etc. starts to hinder our ability to truly be empathetic. We start making assumptions on what another person feels, instead of truly listening to them, holding space, and using our intuition to connect. Our current collective has a relatively weak third eye chakra (seat of intuition) and that inner knowing is needed to truly be able to relate and understand how another is feeling. Being empathetic is a sense of knowing how another person feels. We all have this ability inside of us. When you fully believe that we’re all connected, it should be inherent that we can feel what others are feeling, well, because we’re fucking connected. The heart connection (another topic which would require its own post) is the very tunnel, the pathway for us to exchange energy. To feel what the other is feeling, to know what they know, without officially knowing. Whoa. I digress.
Empathy requires intuition. It requires you to tap into that mainline that connects us all, that source energy, spirit, universe (whatever vibes with you) in order to establish the connection to the other person and experience that inner knowing. This all happens behind the scenes of course, one doesn’t plot this whole connection out like mapping out a fucking road trip. My point being, we’re in a time where our intuitive nature is being watered down. One could say we’re traumatized zombies, embodying the characteristics of what we ‘think looks good’ vs. the characteristics of who we truly are. We’re embodying and trying to manifest the life that looks good on paper, instead of the life that fulfills us deep inside our hearts. We’re out of touch with our intuition, our vitality is low (as a collective) and our clarity is nearly non-existent. So while I believe that the people who identify with being an empath, are intuitive, we honestly all are. It boils down to who has less noise drowning out the voice of their intuition.
Boundaries. As you begin to awaken, and realize you want to heal, you will have to learn to set and enforce boundaries. Not allowing other people’s energy to affect you takes practice and a high level of awareness. You need to be aware enough to know you need a boundary, to recognize it, and then ultimately, enforce it. Are people who consider themselves empaths just really bad at working with boundaries? Yes, there are highly sensitive people, but I will use the same argument that we’re all sensitive. It’s a super power. To be sensitive is to feel, and to feel is to be human.
Are people calling themselves empaths to low-key circumvent accountability? Is it easier to just throw your hands up and say “I can’t help it, I’m an empath.” Yes, it is much easier to just stay stagnant, not grow and not address and process some obstacles you know you want to overcome. I say it all the time, growth is not easy, and you won’t experience any less pain in your life, but you will dramatically decrease your suffering.
Let me tie it all in.
If you identify as an empath, I believe you are highly intuitive, but because of a (likely) weak aura, other people’s energy seeps into you like water to a sponge. You soak up and absorb their shit, because you haven’t strengthened your aura, placed boundaries and enforced them, and beefed up your will.
If you label yourself as an empath, what I ask of you, is to truly reflect on why you need a label to describe that which is a very basic human characteristic? If we flipped the perspective, if we viewed our life situations through a new lens, we can shift the attention and ultimately the intention. When we take our power back, we realize we’re now in choice mode versus survival, we have the ability to choose WHO we let in, HOW we let them affect us, and WHERE our boundaries lie. This is extremely empowering, as it puts us back in the driver’s seat. We allow what we choose, we don’t absorb what we don’t want. Go beyond the label.
The mind can be re-trained. Self-identified empaths can rise above their stories and their labels, make an active choice on what they will and won’t allow, and break the habit of being an empath. But it, of course, takes awareness first, and then a shift of attention. You’re not bound to a life of toxic absorption, and there are so many techniques and tools to help you whip your mind into shape! Inquire within :)