This needs to be said.
I’m so tired of the confusion. Being an Empath is NOT the same thing as having empathy.
Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It then gives examples:
- He felt great empathy with the poor.
- His months spent researching prison life gave him greater empathy towards convicts.
Concise Encyclopedia defines empathy as the ability to imagine oneself in another’s place and understand the other’s feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. The empathic actor or singer is one who genuinely feels the part he or she is performing. The spectator of a work of art or the reader of a piece of literature may similarly become involved in what he or she observes or contemplates.
These are great. These are important aspects of society and very important to the well being of the world, since so many people lack the ability empathsize with others and many people believe this lack of empathy is why there is war and hatred. Yes, the world needs to learn empathy if there is ever to be any facsimile of peace and I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to take away from that need. Yes, this kind of empathy is learned. Everyone can do it. So few choose to allow themselves empathy and compassion towards others, however, this is not what I’m here to discuss.
Having the empath gift itself is so much more than these definitions.
Concise Encyclopedia states the word “imagine” and that is the whole key.
True empaths do not “imagine”. They do not simply “try to walk in another person’s shoes”. They are not simply saying “been there, done that, burned the t-shirt” and they definitely are not just trying to understand. They are not writing or reading a book that allows them to “experience” something vicariously.
They are physically and emotionally LIVING through the experience.
True empaths FEEL everything. They pick up the energies and they are living the experience. Sometimes they cry for no reason because someone around them or connected to them is sad.
These are great places to learn, grow, share and discuss the gift (or sometimes curse, as thought by some, although I disagree that it is a curse) of being an Empath. Seriously, we empaths feel EVERYTHING. We need to learn to shield or control our gift. We need to protect ourselves.
Many of us are healer empaths and can heal energetically and even physically, but we can only do that when we are in a good place ourselves. Often, we have many other gifts that enhance our empathic powers. We have the ability to take negative energies and turn them into positive energies, but these abilities are already listed all over the internet, so I’m not going to describe them now. (Traits of an Empath at a Glance)
We strive for balance. We strive for control. But it isn’t easy. In the beginning, before we learn control, before we find a balance, it can be downright painful, exhausting, terrifying and lonely.
We are from all walks of life. We are not to be feared. We are not to be shunned. We are people who are here to help.
Please, understand that there is a difference between being an empath and having empathy.
All empaths have empathy, but not all people with empathy are truly empaths.
My next statement may piss some people off, and ya know, I hope it does.
If you have NEVER been brought to your knees with someone else’s pain, you are NOT an empath.
Updated: Found this great blog: