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Wake up to your Empath-ability!

by bevbarnes on January 16, 2014

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When I had a corporate job, now eons ago, I remember my last performance review.  I knew that I wasn’t thrilled with my job but I had found ways to make it more pleasant.  I was really enjoying working with my staff –  three new university graduates.  I tasked myself with finding fun innovative ways to help them develop their self-awareness, emotional intelligence and to discover their biggest talents.  This was not the core of my work – developing programs and policies was – but I knew that if I could help my staff grow and develop, then they in turn would create amazing programs that could only benefit the company.  I knew that they were all brilliant and that if nurtured in just the right ways, we could do amazing work and have lots of fun at the same time.

(Truth be known, I cared more about developing these people than designing the programs and policies for injured workers that I was paid to do.)

I sat with my boss in the performance review waiting for my kudos about the work I’d done with my staff.


I waited some more.

More crickets.

She told me I was doing a good job, yada, yada, yada but no mention about my most prized accomplishment, developing my staff.  Finally I asked my boss, “What about what I’m doing with my staff?  Are you going to talk about that?”

She looked up, surprised and said, “Oh yeah, that’s great – but that’s not really part of your job.”

I looked at her incredulously.  She saw my surprise and said, “Your job is to develop this program, not to develop the staff.”


I could have argued the point.  How did one happen without the other?  I chose not to and instead heard the truth and not what I was hoping would be true.

The part of me that I valued the most, was not valued in my workplace.

I hadn’t named my empath-abilities at that time.  They were commonly known as ‘soft’ skills.  But those were the skills that I’d found to use in my job.

And they weren’t valued.

Karla McClaren says that we are all empathic to different degrees.  She makes a distinction between being empathic (natural abilities that we all have) and being an Empath – someone who uses their empathy intentionally and with awareness.

Empath-ability is not a post script, an aside or a side dish.

Empaths use their empathic abilities as the main course. 

Their empathic abilities are a huge part of their essence.

I love the Karla McClaren’s definition:

“An empath is somone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuances, subtexts, undercurrents, intentions, thoughts, social space, interactions, relational behaviours, body language, and gestural language to a greater degree than is deemed normal.”

You don’t learn this in University.

You don’t learn this by getting a degree in psychology, a doctorate in education or a masters degree in communication.

You showed up in this world with these abilities and you probably didn’t realize that you had them. You weren’t taught  to manage them and you absolutely didn’t learn to value them.

If you are an Empath, being an Empath is part of your original medicine – your unique gift.

My experience with my ex-boss so many years ago was a wake up call for me.  Though I couldn’t name it, a part of me knew that I was an Empath and that I could not relegate this part of me to the sidelines.

Karla McClaren’s book gives a whole generation of Empaths the information they need and the permission they have been craving to wake up to their essence.

To start acknowledging it.

To start developing it.

To start managing it.

And to start using it.

The world needs your gifts Empaths.

Your first step is to read Karla McLaren’s book – The Art of Empathy.


I LOVE hearing from you.  Share your experiences on the blog.  When did you learn that you were an Empath?  Maybe you are uncertain.  Let’s talk about it on the blog.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl Brown January 16, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I’ve worked with many people that have had a hearty portion of empathy. I was a hairdresser for 25 years. We would joke, that while having a good, and dependable skill level with hair is a good way to keep butts in your chair, empathy, and a natural interest in human beings will keep you booked ahead for months in advance. I was at a funeral last year. The deceased was a former client of mine. I only saw her on what most would consider a professional basis, yet I was in several pictures in her photo video. I’m always amazed at how many wedding albums I’m in, and how much personal information I knew. I’ll definitely read the book you recommend.


bevbarnes January 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I love that Cheryl. It sounds like your empathic abilities shine. Thanks for commenting!


Linda Burdett January 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Hey Bev,
Your empathy and guidance of those 3 university students may not have been valuable in your workplace. But I have it on good authority that it was very valuable to at least one of those university graduates. It was life changing for her actually. Your work in that workplace helped her see a path towards personal growth, valuing herself and her own empathic nature that continues to this day. It may not have been part of your job, but she is forever grateful for the work you did with her back then – it changed her life!! 🙂 Happy New Year!!


bevbarnes January 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Linda, thank you for that. I remember us laughing quite a bit to the chagrin of the other office workers. I love hearing from you and am thrilled that I got to play a role in helping you find your self.
Big hugs….


Gail Kenny January 17, 2014 at 1:08 am

I agree that Karla McLaren’s new book is truly awesome! I love that you blogged about it and your experience with empathy. I just read the “Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert, too, that you mentioned in your newsletter. I always enjoy reading your blogs.


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