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Are you an Empath?

by bevbarnes on October 26, 2009

Up until I was twelve years old I didn’t know that much of what I was feeling didn’t belong to me.  I thought that my sister (one year older than me) and I were the same person and we shared the same feelings.  Some of my early memories are things that my sister experienced and I didn’t.  It might sound pathological but it actually took me until my teen years to start referring to myself as “I”, not “We”.

I recently put a name to this quality: empath.  I am an empath.

Description of an Empath                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The most basic definition of empath is someone that feels others’ emotions.  An empath feels someone else’s truth even if that person doesn’t know their own truth.  An empath feels these truths physically, in the heart area.   (You should know that I am making this definition up….but I know it to be true, because I feel it in my heart.)  If you can relate to what I’m talking about, maybe you are an empath too. 

Because feeling other peoples’ feelings was so normal for me, I thought everybody did it.  I was wrong.  Being an empath is one of my natural talents.  And if you’re like me, it’s one of yours too. 

Empaths in the Workplace

Many people become aware of their empathic nature in the workplace particularly a workplace that is in upheaval.  When I was unhappy at work, I was flooded by negative emotions as soon as I walked into the building.  My workplace was undergoing a massive re-organization and downsizing.  For the eight years that I worked there it seemed that all we were doing was moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic.  People were angry, anxious and grief stricken.  I couldn’t believe that the powers that be weren’t addressing this.  Until I realized that many of them just didn’t see it.

If you are and empath you:

  • Make sense of the world primarily through your gut feelings;
  • Know what other people are feeling without being told;
  • Know when others are telling the truth and when they are lying;
  • Find that others frequently turn to you for help;
  • Mirror the cadence and emotion of the person you are talking to;
  • Sometimes feel like you are a chameleon;
  • Often feel alone because you can’t explain how you know things;
  • Can immediately spot inauthenticity or phoniness;
  • Can get drained by the emotions of others;
  • Find that people are drawn to you;
  • Are drawn magnetically to other empaths without knowing why.

Here’s my hunch, many of you who are unhappy at work, particularly in the corporate world are sensing the distress all around you and are having trouble pretending that you don’t feel it.  My hunch is that for many of you it is not the work per se that is the problem; it is the environment in which you work. 

What empaths need to learn:

As an empath your biggest challenge is learning how to stop getting mixed up in the energy of others so that you can find your own truth and live it.  Empaths who haven’t learned this lesson can be prone to extreme ups and downs and risk leading their lives as victims of their emotions (and the emotions of others).  Here are some ways to unravel your energy:

  • Have a regular demanding physical exercise practice: power walking, running, spinning, kayaking, cross country skiing etc.  Demanding exercise brings your focus back to you.  It allows you to establish a baseline physical sensation of what you feel like when you are not feeling other people’s emotions;
  • Write.  Empaths need to process and separate from what they are feeling.  Writing allows you to sort out what you are feeling and distance yourself from it so that it doesn’t overtake your day to day; 
  • Get outside in nature.  Find an oasis in nature where you can breathe and reflect;
  • Become conscious of your empathic abilities and view them as a skill.  Start to notice when you know something that others don’t know.  Notice the physical sensations in your body when you are using your empathic abilities.

When you are an empath, you can’t not use your abilities.  Accept your empathic abilities and decide how best to use them in your workplace.  Think of Deanna Troi on the Enterprise, pictured above.  She was the captain’s trusted advisor and her empathic abilities were the key to her career success.   Why not find a way to put your empathic abilities in the centre of your work?  When you do, you will feel like you are flying, finally using all of you. 

To borrow from Oprah, one thing that I know for sure is that the world needs empaths, now.  We have strayed so far off course that we desperately need people to guide others to find their own truth.  This is what empaths are born to do….no matter what their job is. 

If you are an empath, celebrate.   Your time is now.  Find a way to use your natural talent!

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