Being Hyper- Empathic
An Empath is a person that is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of other people, animals and places. They have the ability to physically feel the energy field of others and their surrounding. They often feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less likely to intellectualise feelings. This empathic skills, in their extremity, can even seem mystical: “if you can read and understand emotions, you can look exactly like a psychic.”
A ‘hyper-empath’ is “someone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuance, subtexts, undercurrents, intentions, thoughts, social pace, interactions, relationship behaviours, body language, and gestural language to a greater degree than is deemed normal.”
Empathy is broadly defined as the way we react to one another (Davis, 1983), and it defines how we conduct ourselves in this world. An Empath is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of other people, animals and places (Orloff, 2011). Although the term ‘Empath’ has not been used very much within the academia, psychologists have extensively studied what it is like to have high empathy, and they have found the following phenomenon:
- Individual differences in empathy level affect the way people recognise facial expressions (Besel and Yuille, 2010) and react to social cues (Eisenberg and Miller, 1987).
- People with high empathy are better at recognising emotions in others. However, they also have a ‘bias’ towards negative emotional expressions, meaning that they are more sensitive and alert to negative feelings in others. Perhaps due to these propensities, they are also more likely to experience ‘empathic distress’ (Chikovani, Babuadze, Tamar Gvalia, Surguladze, 2015).
- Interestingly, it was found that women with high empathy are better than their male counterparts in noticing and recognising sadness.
- Excessive empathy— an intense sharing of other’s negative emotions— is linked to emotional disorders in health professionals and caregivers. Their empathic distress is often framed as compassion fatigue or burnout. (Batson et al., 1987, Eisenberg et al., 1989, Gleichgerrcht and Decety, 2012).
It is important that naturally empathic people learn to hone their empathic skills, such as emotional regulation, perspective taking, empathic accuracy(the ability to accurately identify and understand emotional states and intentions in yourself and others) (McLaren, 2013). Without these skills, many Empaths ended up ‘absorbing’ the emotions of others to the point of being burned out.
If you are an empath, you might have been born with this ability, or that your senses were developed through living in an unsafe and unpredictable childhood environment, or by having unavailable, abusive or inconsistent parents. Your highly attuned intuitive skills were at some point vital for your survival- as it allowed you to very rapidly assess, through picking up the body language of others, the level of your own safety.
Empaths are naturally highly intuitive. They have a strong sense of ‘knowing’ that there is more to a story than what meets the eyes. However, some empaths may intentionally or unintentionally ‘dull their senses’ due to the chaos and pain that comes from their abilities.
As an empath, you are naturally gifted to make instant connection with others’ emotions, and this would happen automatically and unconsciously. However, if you do not realise this and have not managed to distinguish your own feelings from that of others, you will absorb the impact of stress and pain around you, and suffer from being overwhelmed. This can result in things like unexplainable mood swings, and unpredictable energy levels. It also triggers physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. In order to evade the pain, many empaths have thrown their babies out of the bath water, and lost the ability to trust their natural intuitive gifts.
Another reason you might have subconsciously chosen to cut off from your intuition maybe that your early caregivers were blinded to, or even rejected or denied your emotions. If you grew up being punished for being sensitive, feeling intensely, or for expressing feelings, you eventually learned to reject your own senses. The message that you were given was that not only your feelings, but also your beliefs, values and opinions were ‘wrong’ . As an adult, this translates into an internal belief that says ‘ I cannot be trusted’.
Recognising that you’re an empath is the first step in taking charge of your emotions instead of constantly drowning in them.
Getting back in touch with your true self and your intuitive gifts would require your courage to face up to your true feelings, including the negative ones.
However, once you have owned your gifts fully, and re-united with your intuitive voice, it is a powerful ally that you can always count on.
AM I AN EMPATH?
- If a friend is distraught, do I start feeling it too?
- Are my feelings easily hurt?
- Am I emotionally drained by crowds, require time alone to revive?
- Do my nerves get frayed by noise, smells, or excessive talk?
- Do I prefer taking my own car places so that I can leave when I please?
- Do I overeat to cope with emotional stress?
- Am I afraid of becoming engulfed by intimate relationships?
Likely to be relevant for you: