What is an empath? The term gets thrown around a lot, but you may find yourself wondering what exactly an empath actually is. Perhaps you’ve heard the term before and have always been curious. Perhaps you have taken our quiz and discovered that you are an empath yourself. However you wound up on this page, you may find yourself confused as to what it actually means to be an empath in the modern world.
Well my friends, you’ve come to the right place!
Let’s start with the origin of the term, shall we?
According to good old dictionary.com, the word empath is a shortened version of the word empathy, which derives from the Greek words “em”, which means “in”, and “pathos”, meaning “feeling.” Therefore, empathy quite literally means “in feeling”.
Simply put, an empath is somebody who can feel the emotions of others as if they were one’s own. Oftentimes, this happens without even trying. It is an ability that comes naturally, whether one likes it or not.
Empaths are emotionally sensitive people who are acutely attuned to the energy of those around them. They are generally very caring and compassionate individuals who try to resolve problems in an attempt to avoid conflict.
They may find themselves drawn to healing, nurturing or artistic professions as these can be great outlets for them to express their inner sensitivity. Perhaps they have even been called “too sensitive” by their friends or family members who don’t quite understand them. Which is frustrating and completely unhelpful, by the way.
Empaths can feel on an intensely deep level and may crave relationships with people who want to experience the same depth of feeling as they do. Being an empath can be a very beautiful and human experience as we are able to experience both the sorrows and joys of the lives of those around us. We do not need to try to “put ourselves into someone else’s shoes” to understand what someone else is feeling. We do this effortlessly, without even thinking about it. That’s sort of our thing.
The problem with being able to feel so much
When you think about being an empath like that, it sounds lovely! So what’s the problem?
While the ability to naturally experience empathy can be a wonderful thing, it can also come with its share of challenges. Being able to feel the emotions of others as if they were your own is not as cut and dry as it may sound (does it actually sound cut and dry??). It can be quite muddled and confusing, as emotions themselves are not cut and dry.
Empaths frequently struggle with their sensitivity because they often have a hard time figuring out which emotions are theirs and which belong to others. To an empath, you feel what you feel, even if you have no idea where (or who) that particular feeling came from. Your brain doesn’t know the difference!
If you don’t understand the nature of your ability and how to manage it, you can be left feeling confused, frustrated, highly overwhelmed or perhaps with a mad case of anxiety or depression. Maybe even all of the above. I’ve been there, and it isn’t fun.
And if this wasn’t difficult enough, throw in our unnatural modern lifestyles, and an untrained empath may have a hard time getting out of bed, let alone functioning in the world.
What do I mean by “untrained empath”? As I have learned in my personal quest to get my own empathy under control, almost all other empaths I’ve come across are untrained, or under-trained. This basically means that people with natural empathy are generally not taught that they have this ability, nor are they trained in how to successfully manage it. It is an unfortunate byproduct of living in a modern world that does not value traits like sensitivity.
What’s up with that, modern world?!
Is there a solution?
So how the heck do you go about handling such an ability? Are empaths simply doomed to be emotional sponges, susceptible to all of the intense emotions floating around in the world? Or is it possible to learn how to successfully navigate the waters of being an empath?
That is all entirely up to you. It is absolutely possible to learn how to become an empowered empath, but it is a skill that does not happen overnight. It takes work, time, effort and practice. But the effort can lead to a state of being that can dramatically help make your life as an empath better.
The thing that most people don’t realize is that empaths are made of very strong “stuff”. It may not seem that way at first glance, because empaths are so sensitive to all of the energy around them, but think about it. An empath has to feel their own feelings, which can and should be enough for anyone. But on top of this, they also experience the feelings of the people around them. It’s kind of like having more than one person living inside your brain, chattering away.
It may seem impossible, but once you learn how to not be debilitated by all of those chattering emotions, you will become a very empowered empath indeed. The fact that you can survive in the world with multiple people chattering away in your head, makes you very strong right off the bat.
Realize that if you weren’t capable of becoming a master of empathy, you wouldn’t be able to feel as much as you do in the first place. It’s as simple as that. You are strong enough and you CAN do this.
Ok, stepping down from my cheerleading soapbox now…
The Bottom Line
Empathy can be wonderful and beautiful and nightmarish, all at the same time (because what’s the fun of being an empath if you don’t have contradictory feelings about your gift?!). If an empath chooses to learn how to master their gift, they will have to put in time and effort, but will eventually reach their goal.
The Modern Empath exists for this exact purpose: to teach empaths how to thrive with their ability. It is my sincere hope that anybody who wishes to learn how to master this gift should be able to find the tools and guidance they need, without having to become overwhelmed or frustrated by the lack of practical information out there.
So if you find yourself in this category of people and are looking for ways to learn how to master your ability, welcome! You’re in good company.