The short answer?
No, being an empath isn’t terrible. Not at all! It’s actually pretty amazing.
But it’s also a little more complicated than that…
If you do an online search for “empath” you’ll get back a lot of results that make it look like being highly sensitive and empathic is pretty awful!
If you knew nothing about empaths, you might get the impression that we can hardly handle leaving the house—and then spend our time whimpering in a corner when we do. Lots of sad messages about weakness and stress, fragility and overload.
There’s another popular--and frankly pretty scary! --narrative about empaths that will come up in that same online search. You'll see a lot of blogs and articles that might give you the impression we’re constantly being followed around and tormented by narcissists and energy vampires.
The same message about weakness and stress, fragility and overload. Plus a whole lot of extra drama! No. Being highly sensitive is not about drama, and it's not about being a victim.
Many influencers—big and small-- seem to be trying to pathologize and stigmatize high empathic sensitivity. But this is mostly about click-bait, and our culture's love of pathologizing just about anything that isn't totally average. I’m not saying there’s absolutely no truth to any of it, but it’s a huge exaggeration and it does us all a disservice.
Being highly sensitive does not mean being fragile.
Yes, empaths are very sensitive to the world around them and that can be overwhelming at times. But while there are challenges to this high level of sensitivity, the fact is that it comes with way more positives than negatives.
Empathy is an important and necessary trait. Not having it is a symptom of psychopathology. On a basic level, empathy helps us to see another person’s point of view. It allows us to be compassionate, caring, and understanding.
Having a greater sensitivity to empathy is a strength! Even better, if you learn how to handle and understand this special strength it can become a kind of superpower. When you’re gifted with high empathic sensitivity, it’s like everyone else has the basic package and you’ve got the luxury edition, with all kinds of upgrades.
Sure, the luxury edition comes with some complexities, because you need to learn how to work will all those extra features. You have to learn about self-care, self-knowledge, and self-awareness. Yes, you have too learn to focus on YOU. This can actually be a fun and rewarding process.
As an empath coach, I see my clients making that progress every day--becoming more comfortable in their sensitivity and excited about their amazing potential.
For highly empathic people to really thrive, we need to build strong relationships with our intuitive selves. We have powerful intuition, but it can be difficult to access when there’s so much distraction and stimulation coming from the world around us, in the form of opinions, emotions, expectations, and all kinds of energetic and sensory input.
You can find ways to clear your busy mind. That will help you to sense your own feelings, motivations, and intuition with more clarity. Find a way that works for you. Meditation, dancing, gardening, time spent in nature or with animals, are all ways we can quiet our minds and make room for our own intuitive guidance. And I can promise you, without any doubt, that the benefits will be worth the effort.
Most truly great writers, teachers, speakers, performers, artists, and other creators are working with high levels of empathy. They are greater because they have a more profound connection to the human experience. They can go deeper into their own creativity and translate what they find in a way that’s resonant and relatable for others.
Being highly empathic also helps you connect more deeply with others one-on-one. When you can feel what others are feeling you can see their side of things. You understand what they need, and you can communicate in a way they can understand.
Being highly empathic makes you a better friend, parent, family member, coworker, and partner. Empathetic communicators are better at meaningful interaction which also makes them better bosses, interviewers, counselors, and healers of all kinds.
Most important of all, the world is in desperate need of more sensitivity and empathy.
We need you! We need confident and empowered empaths out there communicating and leading. Don’t buy into the click-bait negativity. Accept and embrace your high levels of sensitivity and empathy as strengths you can develop and grow. You are sensitive, not fragile. And you are truly a gift to the world.
I'd love to hear your questions, comments, and ideas for further posts. Click here to work with me and please share this article on social media if you think you might know other Empaths and HSPs who could benefit. Subscribe for the next blog post.