Did you know that some people don’t feel empaths are real? Some even claim empaths are merely egomaniacs in disguise and that they have some psychosis that makes them need to feel special or superior to be accepted by society (undercover narcissists).
But… you don’t have to be a psychology major or have a doctorate degree to understand that many people struggle to figure out who they are. It’s literally life to some extent!
It’s also not uncommon for someone to identify with a particular pattern of behavior or personality type they find attractive or that they think others would admire even when they don’t themselves demonstrate those traits. And with the rise of social media, there’s a steady buzz about empaths, which is quite appealing to some of these personality types.
So, sad to say, but some empaths are phonies, which might make it hard for others to understand the uniqueness that sets empaths apart.
Because of these imposters (and a lack of research), people don’t believe empaths are real. But while they don’t hold any special powers, and there may indeed be a phycological component to highly sensitive people, they are certainly real. And they feel A LOT (unlike a narcissist.)
So where do we draw the line between a person with empathy (not a psychopath) and an empath? In short, the first may understand someone else’s situation compassionately, but an empath may feel the sorrow as their own. Perhaps the latter is nothing more than an acclimated distinction in the energetic field, but it exists regardless.
Psychologist and author of The Highly Sensitive Person, which sold over 1 million copies, Dr. Elaine Aron, estimates that roughly 20% of the population may fit the bill for being a highly sensitive person (HSP), a concept linked to empaths. She asserts that HSPs are normal and that this quality is a distinct survival strategy of observing before acting.
Other research supports the idea of empaths in that scientists have identified special mirror neurons that help us mirror and feel what others feel.
What experts on opposite ends of the spectrum agree upon are two primary qualities of empaths:
Empathy: a skill developed to tune in to how others feel. It can be an adaptation stemming from early trauma or an uncertain environment. Some people have learned to become hyper-attuned to those around them to feel safe.
Sensitivity: an inherent personality trait connected to the sensory processing ability.
Semantics don’t matter so much!
In the end, it’s about how you show up for yourself. It’s incredibly beautiful to realize you’re an empath or highly sensitive person. And if doing so makes you feel understood and encourages you to take good care of yourself and engage in constructive introspection, these labels are healthy.
In contrast, it’s not constructive if we abuse the labels of empath or highly sensitive person to not work on the things that bring us and others suffering.