What is an empath?
Have you ever been called "too sensitive" or "avoidant" before? Do you ever feel another's pain or emotions as if they are your own? Have you ever been told that you are overreacting and too sensitive during confrontation? You may be an empath.
Being empathic is not simply feeling empathy for others in the sense of compassion; rather, it is actually deeply feeling another's emotions or stress as if they were your own (Orloff, 2017). This is experienced as taking on the energy that others are emitting, from an energetics standpoint, and is neurologically related to hyper-sensitive mirror neurons (Orloff, 2017). These cells are responsible for compassion; those who are empathic experience compassion so strongly that they directly feel what the other person is experiencing. This can be overwhelming for empaths and often manifests in the body as anxiety or extreme stress (Lebeau, 2012).
Empaths also tend to gravitate towards introvert activities and avoid crowds, such as concerts or bars, as they take on too much energy from others in those settings and feel overwhelmed (Orloff, 2017). If this is something that you are experiencing, there are strategies and techniques to be in these settings, which can be found in the resources cited below. However, it is important for empathic individuals to chose their surroundings wisely, as negativity can manifest in empaths much stronger than others; therefore, it is important that empaths surround themselves with positive, supportive individuals and environments who are not depleting their energy (Orloff, 2017). Empaths are also more sensitive to dopamine, which allows them to find happiness and joy in simpler activities and in smaller groups (Orloff, 2017). This shift in social structure can happen as a child or as an adult, if the empath experienced an awakening later in life (Lebeau, 2012).
Many empaths do not recognize that they experience the world differently until they are past their childhood or teenage years, while others recognize their empathic abilities at a young age (Lebeau, 2012). Awakening to the empathic experience is a challenge; it can bring about clarity and also a lack of answers. Empaths are still widely misunderstood, but there are emerging strategies and techniques for managing the intense emotions that empaths experience on a daily basis. A few of these resources are cited below, and beautifully explain the science behind or the experience of being empathic.
Reiki is a very valuable healing option for those who are empathic. Reiki balances energy and can rake out energy that is cluttering the energy body, possibly put there from outside sources such as a work environment or negativity. Reiki practitioners read the energy body, identify areas that are deficient or overactive, and work to align the various areas that are in imbalance. Reiki also provides a space for empathic individuals to share their experience, be open about what they are feeling, and to receive gentle healing that helps balance their emotions, anxiety, or physical manifestations of stress.
If this resonates with you, do not hesitate to reach out! I can provide resources or Reiki healing sessions to help manage your empathic experience. Being empathic is not a weakness, it is a strength that can be used to create a more compassionate, loving, and accepting world; however, self care is the most important part of being an empath. Take time for yourself and accept your sensitivity as the beautiful gift that it is!
E. Lebeau (2012). The empath experience: a review of its biological, psychological and spiritual bases. The Empath Experience. https://www.eliselebeau.com/the-empath-experience
J. Orloff (2017). The science behind empathy and empaths. Psychology Today,
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