Updated: Jul 15
Levels of Being Empathetic
Being an empath and being highly empathetic are fundamentally distinct. Do you ever sense that your ability to understand and connect with others' emotions surpasses that of the average person? Are you exceptionally sensitive? Perhaps you often find yourself shouldering the burdens of others as the go-to person for their problems. If you responded affirmatively to any or all of these inquiries, there is a possibility that you possess empathic traits... or perhaps you exhibit a solid sense of empathy. While these two qualities may share similarities, it is crucial to recognize which part of being an empath is serving you, and which part is hurting you.
If you frequently find yourself prioritizing the needs of those around you over your own, it may be time for introspection. It can feel safer or easier to focus on and contemplate the experiences of others rather than addressing our own issues and circumstances. Whether you genuinely identify as an empath or possess a high degree of empathy, it is essential to occasionally question whether this tendency serves as an escape mechanism for you. One important question to think about is whether your focus on others comes at the expense of your own well-being. Empaths often experience a deep understanding of other people's emotions and show compassion towards them, but they sometimes struggle to extend the same compassion to themselves.
What Sets Apart Being an Empath Person From Having Empathy?
To put it simply, an empath person is an individual with a remarkable and profound ability to sense the emotions of others intuitively. Being an empath can sometimes feel burdensome because the constant awareness of others' emotions can be intrusive and difficult to switch off. When a friend shares their experience of a breakup, someone who is empathetic will naturally provide support and understanding based on their own past heartbreak. However, for an empath listening to the same story, they are able to deeply feel and connect with the emotional turmoil their friend is experiencing. Sometimes this lead to the desire to fix their problem for them in order to keep their friend from hurting.
For empaths, sometimes other people's emotions engulf them and leave them feeling overwhelmed. It's as if they have figuratively stepped into the other person's shoes, experiencing all their emotions firsthand. They may even tap into someone else's emotions even without having had the same experiences.
How Do You Determine If You Possess Empathic Abilities?
If the characteristics mentioned earlier resonate with you, there's a possibility that you are an empath. Reflect on specific instances where you intuitively understood someone's feelings, thoughts, or actions. As an illustration, imagine being at a movie theater, sitting beside a stranger, and suddenly sensing their extreme discomfort. After a few minutes, they abruptly leave and never return. If this type of experience you are feeling their energy, body language, etc. You are aware of way more things that are happening than the average person.
How can you practice self-care as an empath?
Mindfulness involves purposefully and consciously directing our attention toward our actions, emotions, and what we are engaged in. This practice allows for finding a balance and establishing awareness.
Engaging in self-care, pursuing relaxation activities, and incorporating meditation into mindfulness routines can be beneficial. Our bodies work hard to hold onto emotions, and these techniques can aid in releasing and letting them go.
Notice how you are breathing. It sounds simple but this is something you can integrate at any time into your daily practice. Are you exhaling more than you are inhaling? Are you inhaling deep enough breaths? As an empath myself, I often find myself not taking the time to take, to inhale, or to give myself space first because I am so focused on the exhaling or giving portion.
Grounding. You can find many grounding practices, including my favorite, visualizing roots from the bottom of your feet going deep into the ground. Allow yourself to feel present and connected. Helping you feel balanced and more in control of how you are reacting to the external world.
Protecting your energy. Again, I love visualizing! Imagine yourself in this aura energy ball and put a force field around yourself. Start to really create this safe space for yourself, where it's just you and no one has the right to enter. You can work on this in terms of your energy space and even your physical space where you can start to set your boundaries.
Can Empaths Exhibit Narcissistic Traits?
Last but not least, while there may be some similarities, empaths, and narcissists are not directly the same. The primary distinction lies in the intentions behind their understanding of others' feelings. Most empaths seek to assist and support individuals by comprehending their emotions, whereas narcissists can exploit this understanding for their own selfish purposes or completely disregard others' feelings.
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