Being an empath and being empathetic are two different things. “Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else; being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body,” according to Judith Orloff, MD, a psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide.
Before I found out I was an empath I was an emotional wreck. They say ignorance is bliss, I refute the statement and vehemently believe that knowledge is power! I hated feeling too much or caring too much and feeling like it was up to me to save someone from something or even themselves. I always gave so much of myself it left me hollow and a bit depressed.
On New Year’s Day, I made a call that opened me up to a self-discovery Journey. I was advised to take the Myers Briggs personality test to see what I can find out about myself and my character in general. I got to it five days later and I was mesmerised! I could not stop reading about it and it led me from one self-discovery book to another and that is when it all made sense. I am an empath. I started reading more about Empaths and Highly sensitive people and how to cope in this highly enthused world.
According to Judith Orloff, MD, A skill that sensitive people must learn is how to deal with sensory overload when too much is coming at them too quickly. This can leave them exhausted, anxious, depressed, or sick. What makes an empaths overload symptoms worse? Fatigue, illness, loud environments, toxic people, low blood pressure, arguing, overwork, chemical sensitivities, too much socializing, and feeling trapped in overstimulating situations such as parties and cruises. People commonly catch other people’s feelings in groups.
A recent article in the New York Times stated that this ability to synchronize moods with others is crucial for good relationships. What is the lesson for empaths? To choose positive people in our lives so that we are not brought down by negativity. And when a friend is going through a hard time, we need to take special precautions to ground and centre ourselves. Also, for some women empaths, empathy can turn into codependency. They have such big hearts that they get caught up in caretaking roles, attending to others more than they attend to themselves. A female empath who is balanced knows how to set boundaries with her time and energy. She learns to give and receive in a balanced way, a powerful combination.
Judith Orloff further explains and gives us some insight on how to identify whether we are empaths or not and I have listed a few self-assessment questions below.
• Do you frequently get overwhelmed or anxious? • Do crowds drain you and do you need alone time to revive yourself? • Do noise, odours, or non stop talkers overwhelm you? • Do you have a low threshold for pain? • Do you absorb other people’s stress, emotions, or symptoms? • Do you need a long time to recuperate after being with difficult people or energy vampires? • Do you prefer one-to-one interactions and small groups to large gatherings?
By now, you must have an idea of whether you are an empath or not, and I recommend this book for in-depth knowledge on what makes you tick as an empath. (THE EMPATHS SURVIVAL GUIDE) By Judith Orloff, MD.