Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
We love empaths. We are empaths. We understand it can be hard to be an empath, or a highly sensitive person, in this polarized world.
What does being an empath mean?
To us, we are all empaths and highly sensitive persons at some level; however, there is a continuum that ranges from being completely unconscious to being an empath, all the way to being an embodied and fully conscious empath. Additionally, the continuum also goes from having slight empath characteristics to having significant empath characteristics.
Many people also interchangeably use the term ‘Highly Sensitive Person’ coined by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D. in her highly recognized book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. Another personal favorite is Judith Orloff’s use of the term ‘Empath’ and her book The Empath’s Survival Guide.
We also go as far as seeing the Empath as a lightworker in this bleak world and love Rebecca Cambell’s work.
So, what are the Empath characteristics?
When you look up the dictionary online, it defines an empath as ‘a person with the paranormal ability to perceive the mental and emotional state of another individual.’ We believe that not only can an empath pick up energetically, from other humans, but also from nature, animals, objects, rooms, places, etc. They are simply more able to sense energetic information, subtle energy, of the world around them.
This can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t even know what you are picking upon. Science shows us that some people may experience the same event, the same stimuli, and react very differently to it via seen-on brain images.
What is most important truly though, is understanding this is valid and is real to your experiences, regardless of whether others pick up on it or not. Someone who is a strong empath may feel very invalidated in this world. Feeling things at heightened levels is not easy, and you may have grown up, and may still be, being called too sensitive.
From our research, both novice and experts alike, believe most empaths are introverted, however, we don’t necessarily believe they are interchangeable.
Rather we believe that an empath just ends up taking on so much energetically, whether they are introverted, extroverted, or a mix of the two, that they often need a lot of downtimes, away from others and stimulating environments, in order to recharge. And if they don’t get this downtime, they are more prone to higher levels of exhaustion, anxiety, anger, migraines, depression, and more. Therefore, this may make others perceive them as introverted, but it is not necessarily a characteristic.
An empath has a mission, you could say a soul-mission, here on earth. Whether they are conscious of it or not, they are here to bring in healing, compassion, light energy, new technologies, or something meaningful in some way. And if left exhausted and burned out, they can not do this to their full potential.
Therefore, counseling, bodywork, and other supportive therapies are crucial for these highly sensitive beings. The empath tends to be highly clairsentient, which means having the ability to acquire intuitive knowledge by means of feeling and having a sense of knowing. Additionally, it is defined by the Merriam-Williams dictionary as the perception of what is not normally perceptible.
Remember an empath feels more, therefore they can perceive and feel what we perceive as good feelings and energies also. All energy is amplified for the empath. One of the trickiest issues for an empath is having an enormous ability to take on others, or external, energies that are not their own, and feel them as if they are. This is particularly difficult because, at a deep level, we can’t process other people’s energy for them.
The empath is especially sensitive to other people’s unprocessed traumas, and unclaimed emotions. No wonder why many empaths feel anxious and overwhelm. And this is not going away, in fact, it seems to us, more people are developing strong empath characteristics and younger generations may have even more empath characteristics. In fact, in our group counseling practice, we serve many clients who deeply resonate with this, and are having extraordinary experiences they may not be able to explain and in some cases, spiritual crises.
What can lead to more of these characteristics, well it is not completely known, but it appears many come into the world as empaths, others develop these characteristics through traumatic experiences, and others awaken to these abilities later in life. And likely most of us have a combination.
Know, you are not alone. There is hope, you have more power than you know. The empowered empath knows how to navigate energy, learns to become mindful of the energy within and around them, and learns how to release it, transmute it, or use it appropriately.
It is necessary to have tools so you can realize the gift these characteristics offer you and the world around you.
The Empath’s Tools:
Trauma processing can recalibrate your nervous system and help you stay more calm and present.