Every day people are hurting. Every hour someone gets bad news and is crying. Pain is an inevitable part of life. We go through it to learn and grow.
At least some grow and learn. Some people refuse to change and then choose to blame another for their problems. There are all types of people in this world, and each handles difficulties differently.
I am sure by now you wonder how I know these things. How am I able to write deeply about other people’s problems? I will get to that part here in a few minutes.
Who is the elephant in the room?
If your neighbor next door were having marital problems, you would not know about it unless she told you about it or there was a public show of anger between her and her spouse.
If a person at work were having thoughts of harming someone you wouldn’t know about it unless they shared it with you.
You walk into a party excited. You mingle and have a few drinks, but you are oblivious to what kind of people are there. People at a party can quickly put on their best face, and no one in the room will know what is really in their heart.
How do you think it would feel if you walked into a room and your attention went straight to a dark feeling in the middle of the room. You look around and see that the life of the party has a wicked heart.
He doesn’t look bad. He is smiling and happy. He appears to have many friends and is the life of the party. But you know he is evil. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to be able to protect the girl who he is hitting on at the moment?
Let’s take this from a different angle. You feel compelled to warn this girl about the evil heart this guy has and he may not be nice to her. She can’t grasp this emotion. And she is charmed by his behavior.
You wait until she goes to the bathroom and you follow her. You tell her about this guy. She asks if you know him. You say no. You tell her you know that you know that you know.
Do you think this girl will believe you? NO! She will not. Instead, she will think you have lost your mind, and this guy is a decent person. No one wants to know who the elephant is in the room. No one else can see it, so they don’t want to know.
But you think everyone must be able to see what you see. How can other people not know what you know when it is screaming at them. The real truth here is you are the only one who knows who that elephant is in the room. Everyone else is oblivious to the situation.
I have set up a scenario here, but I am talking about myself and every other empathic person on earth. There is a maximum of 2% of the world population that are empathic. There are a higher number of Highly Sensitive People (HSP). People who can empathize with you with a far stronger intuitive sense than most of the world. But only 2% are empathic.
I will explain in a moment what empathic means.
Time to come out of the closet
When slavery was present from 1640 to 1865, you were just a slave. It wasn’t until just before the civil war that people began talking about it and wanting to change the poor treatment of human beings.
It wasn’t until in recent years that people came forth with depression and talked about it in the open. It was considered to be weak to take medications for such a diagnosis.
Research is discovering new autoimmune diseases all the time. Before these discoveries patients with symptoms that did not fit the norm were considered to have a mental illness.
All of these situations were considered to be a problem of the person or persons that had the issue. Why because if the world does not understand it, then it is something wrong with the mental stability of the person afflicted.
It was acceptable for blacks to be slaves and if a black person talked about it, then they were just crazy to want to change it.
People with depression didn’t talk about it because it was a sign of weakness. There weren’t many medications to take care of the symptoms. Since no one knew how to treat depression, then the emotion did not exist.
People with autoimmune diseases where hypochondriacs. If a health care provider didn’t know how to help them because they didn’t know what the symptoms were caused by then, the disease didn’t exist.
Do you see where I am going with this? Empathic people do not talk about their gift/curse because the world does not understand it.
Definition HSP and empathic
Let me take a moment to tell you what an empathic person is. I am empathic, and I absorb the emotions of everyone around me and those who are far away from me.
Many people put HSP and empathic people into the same group, so I am going to give you a definition of each.
Highly sensitive person
In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people. According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.
According to Judith Orloff Author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide”
Empathy is when we reach our hearts out to others and put ourselves in their shoes. However, being an empath goes even farther. Like many of my patients and myself, empaths are people who are high on the empathic spectrum and feel what is happening in others in their own bodies. As a result, empaths can have incredible compassion for people–but they often get exhausted from feeling “too much” unless they develop strategies to safeguard their sensitivities and develop healthy boundaries.
Do you see the difference between HSP and empathic people?
An HSP can empathize with you and understand what you are feeling.
I feel inside my body what you are feeling
And empathic person feels what you are feeling.
I discovered that I am empathic about five years ago. Up until that time I thought everyone felt like I do. I thought everyone could feel the pain of another person. I mean feel pain inside of themselves when someone else is hurting. I thought others new when their family members or friends were in trouble.
I felt the emotion of extreme fear when my friend’s husband was harming her. I was shaking, sweating and having trouble catching my breath. I was in her shoes feeling what she felt as he was hurting her.
I have hidden my trait as an empathic person for years. But like depression, I have to let people know this empathic condition exists. I know there are other empathic people out there. There are 7.442 billion people on earth according to the world census in 2016, so 2% of that number is 148,840 empathic people. And it is said this number is very generous.
WOW, only 148,840 people have the same trait as I do. That makes me feel like a minority because I am. When I look at these numbers, it makes sense why no one can understand how I feel. And it makes sense why people are afraid of me. They think I know what they are thinking or can read their mind. The definition of empathic does not include mind reading.
What I am and am not
Am I excited about knowing how you feel when you write or talk or send me a text message? The answer would be no. I have dreamed of being just like everyone else. I don’t want to know how you feel inside my body. But I would love for you to share with me so I can help. I listen well and give incredible insight into problems. But it is what I am.
And it is time for the world to understand more about this condition. I am here to help those who have come before me explain what it feels like to live with empathic abilities.
As I close here, I would like to say that I do not read tarot cards or bridge the gap between the living and the dead. Can I do this? Yes, I can. But I believe in the word of God, and I believe the Bible speaks against this practice.
I can feel your emotions, and I can know if another is in trouble. I can lay hands on people and give them peace and a sense of healing. But mostly I use my energy not to feel what you feel. I want to have my feelings, not yours and I want to co-exist in this world with you. I want to care about you and help if I can. I want to be your friend.
I am empathic, not HSP and you don’t have to tell me that you have the same abilities that I do to feel like you are connecting with me.
I am not weird or a monster. I am not mentally unstable. I am a kind and loving person with a big heart that only wants to help the world overcome the difficult times that come in their life.
If you are blessed to meet one of these 148,000 amazing people in your lifetime don’t judge them, love them for who they are.
You may have questions. There is very little information on the subject of empathic traits. Please leave a comment, and I will get back to you shortly.
But my question to you is
Is the trait of an empathic person a gift or a curse? What do you think?