There’s a ton of information out there about what being an empath IS, but not a lot of information about what being an empath is NOT. Empathy does have its limitations (which is kind of a relief, like thank the universe I don’t have to know everything, am I right?), and this article will help to clear up these limitations. So without further ado, here are the top 5 myths about being an empath.
And if this article makes you breathe a sigh of relief, then I have done my job. 🙂
Empath Myth #1: Empaths are not omniscient
It sounds kind of obvious, but I definitely think it needs pointing out that empaths do not know everything. Sure, an empath can feel the emotions of others and can therefore determine if someone is being authentic or lying, but that doesn’t mean that they know everything.
It is important to remember this, because once you start to get the hang of being an empath, it may start to cause a huge sense of self-importance (I speak from personal experience. I’m not proud of it, but there it is). But I’m here to warn you to please not fall into this trap! We are empaths and we can feel stuff that not everybody else can, but that doesn’t mean we know everything, and you know what? That’s totally ok!
Empath Myth #2: Empaths generally don’t know WHY people feel the way they feel
We’ve already established that empaths can feel what others feel, but it is important to note that empaths cannot always know WHY people feel the way they feel.
To give an example that illustrates this, let’s say that I am visiting a friend and I sense that they seem kind of angry and upset. This friend does not acknowledge feeling angry or upset, but I can feel that they are, so it becomes an elephant in the room. I leave the friend thinking that maybe the reason they didn’t talk to me about their emotions was because they were feeling those emotions BECAUSE of me. I have basically assumed that I know why my friend feels the way they feel, without actually asking them about it.
Sometimes it turns out that I was right in my assumptions, but the vast majority of the time, I am completely off base. Perhaps this friend who was angry and upset was feeling that way because they had just had a fight with their significant other and they were not ready to talk to me about it yet. I was picking up on the emotions, but it had nothing to do with me whatsoever. I was merely an innocent bystander.
While it is difficult to be able to sense intense emotions and have people tell you they are fine when you know they are not fine, it is important to respect boundaries and the free will of others to divulge information IF and WHEN they choose to do so.
Do not assume that you know the whole story, because chances are that you will be incorrect and you may inadvertently cause problems with your relationships (again, I’m speaking from personal experience here. Don’t fall into this trap! It’s like the black hole of empath relationships and is very hard to get out of). This is so important I think I’m going to write an entire post on this topic alone… Stay tuned!
Empath Myth #3: Empaths cannot read minds
This is more or less the same as the previous two points, but it is important enough to bear repeating. Empaths are emotion readers, but not mind readers. We generally do not know intentions, or why people feel the way they feel, and we certainly don’t know everything (how sucky would it be if we did??)
Remembering this can be a lifesaver, if and when an empath ever finds themselves frustrated that they don’t understand the emotions they are picking up on. The ability of empathy only goes so far, and it is important to understand that and to respect it for what it is, including its limitations.
Empath Myth #4: Empaths may not be able to sense the emotions of EVERYbody
Sometimes some people are so guarded, that empaths may not be able to get an emotional read on them. This can be disconcerting as empaths become accustomed to being able to sense most people’s feelings, so when we come across somebody who’s guarded, it can feel weird.
But it can also be an eye opener as to how much we actually do rely on our ability to feel. Not so much of a curse now, eh?
Empath Myth #5: Empaths may not be able to feel on command
If you’ve ever seen a movie or TV show where somebody asked a psychic to make a prediction on command and they came up shorthanded (think Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter, for my fellow HP nerds), that’s what this is like.
Empathy is not something flashy to parade around or use as a party trick. And even if an empath was abusing their gift in such a way, it may be difficult to actually try to feel another person’s energy on command. This is something that takes lots of practice and should really only be done if permission is granted to do it.
The Bottom Line
I hope this article has cleared up any confusion about empathy and its limitations and what not to do with this ability. We can get so wrapped up in figuring out how to deal with it that we can forget the importance of learning about something from every angle we can.
And it can become very easy to get a superiority complex about being an empath and then feel embarrassed about it later when you come to your senses (personal experience story #3. Wow I’m really bearing my soul to you guys in this article!).
And as I mentioned earlier, knowing that empathy has limitations may even feel relieving as it can take some pressure off of the empath. So let it go! You may not know everything, even though you can feel things, and that’s perfectly fine!
Empaths may experience other abilities such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc., but these are all abilities that are outside the scope of the Modern Empath (which is focused almost solely on clairsentience, aka empathy), so we won’t really discuss them here.
The limitations described on this page pertain solely to people who experience natural empathy only and does not take into account other abilities.