People often confuse the words ’empathy’ and ‘sympathy.’ Where grammar is concerned it’s not life or death, but for empaths, it just might be.
Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling, where sympathy is the act of being able to understand what someone is going through. Sympathy can come from having had a similar experience, or just a general understanding of the human experience. Empathy, on the other hand, occurs when someone truly feels what someone else is feeling.
As an Empath, I can tell you that practicing empathy is a very unhealthy thing.
One of the aspects of being an empath is that you seek to understand the world by experiencing all sides of every story. Notice I said ‘experiencing’ rather than ‘understanding.’ Empaths literally try on the experiences of others. So in order to ‘feel’ what someone is feeling, Empaths try on what caused the pain, or the disease or the whatever it might be. You know that saying, ‘you don’t know until you’ve walked a mile in another’s shoes?’ Well, Empaths take that walk.
I have hundreds of personal examples of this and most of them end with me having an experience that I really didn’t need to have.
Here’s just one example. I was working with a client who was unable to do yoga because of an injury. She had been a yoga instructor and shared with me how difficult it was for her to get back into her practice. As a yoga teacher myself, who had been teaching 11 classes a week, I had a fleeting thought as she spoke which was , ‘I can’t imagine not being able to do yoga.’ About three weeks later I had a cyst rupture on my ovary (I had also been helping a woman who had cysts on her ovaries) and I was so weak and depleted that I could no longer do yoga and for years, every time I tried, some block would come up and stop me from getting back into my practice.
As Empaths it is so very important that we learn to NOT practice empathy. We are already sensitive and compassionate enough. We already understand the human condition and have felt and explored the multiple faces of many life experiences. As Empaths we need to learn how to manage our empathy, to recognize that we absorb and try on the experiences of others, naturally and with great ease; and we need to recognize that this isn’t the best thing for our own well-being.
I still shift to this place from time to time. But it is in learning how to manage our empathic nature that we can better protect ourselves. It’s not about shutting off, or shutting down. For me, it was learning how to ‘see’ instead of ‘feel.’ It’s about redirecting my clairsentience – that higher sense of feeling – into my clairvoyance – that higher sense of seeing. That’s what worked for me. Learning how to see in order to understand, rather than feel in order to understand.
Moving forward, I encourage you to embrace the difference between empathy and sympathy.
There are also many tools that you can learn to help support yourself.
Next Thursday, Sept 22, 2016, at 1pm ET I’m offering a free webinar ‘Clear The Clutter‘ which will give you a simple tool that will help you clear stuff out that you may have picked up by being Empathic. It’s a start and I hope you will join me. You need to sign up to attend.
I hope you keep coming back to read more – I know this post opens a lot of questions and many will be answered as I continue to share my thoughts and insights through The Sensitive Life.
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