Empathic, Why Do We Feel Emotions?

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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.empathic poem on black with purple abstract

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.


Statistics

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.hangers in a closet

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.

Empathic

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 electrical cloudsthought 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.Dave and Laura Fuller

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?

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20 thoughts on “Empathic, Why Do We Feel Emotions?”

  1. Hi Laura
    I am one of the 2% and through my life, it has been both a blessing and a curse.
    For years I had no understanding of why I felt others pain, how come I could pick out a dark soul in a crowd. I had been doing this from a very early age and fortunately, my Mother always let me share my knowledge of “Bad” people when I was a child and if I told her” He is yukky” she would always understand which was so great.
    About 12 years ago, I did some study which helped me come to terms with my Empathic being and I am able to use my abilities to protect myself and when I know things are not right, I remove myself from a situation very quickly.
    When others hurt, yes I still feel it, however, I understand it is their pain and not mine and I guide them and help them without being internally affected which I am so glad I learned how to do because it can be extremely exhausting when we feel everything going on around us all the time, especially when their pain hurts you.
    At 60, it has taken loads of learning and inner strength I can tell you, my friend.
    This post is brilliant- Thank you Laura

    • Vicki, I know exactly how you feel. The world around us views us as freaks because we know things before they do. It is fear that drives this belief. And yes it is both a blessing and a curse. But because we care about people we have to see it as a blessing. The pain can run so deep but we are children of God and he has put us here for a reason. That reason is to help others see. I as well as you live it every day so to us it is the norm. It only becomes strange when someone else does not understand it. It is a form of Clairvoyance but without the awesome stigma placed on it. Hang in there and use your gift only to help others.

  2. A gift or a curse? The choice is yours. I’m very thankful for my empathic friend. She chooses to be a blessing to/for me. There are times she was able to help me without even asking about the situation. She is very protective and encouraging. My friend chooses to utilize her gift to help others. Her honest, true, spontaneous, fun loving spirit with a no nonsense tolerance is delightful to be around in this difficult world. If you have this gift, shine brightly and utilize it for good! I’m very thankful my friend does.

  3. There is a lot to say about emotions. Like you said, we all go through a number of them – happy, sad, pain, anger. 

    At times I can be quite sensitive, but that depends on the subject. I will have to take a look at The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. The feeling of being overwhelmed is not that great of a feeling, to say the least. I’ve learned to take certain steps to ensure I remain calm and focused and keep looking towards the future. 

    What are your thoughts in the aforementioned book?

    • Brandon, 

      You may be a HSP. Every 1 in 5 people are. I read this book some time ago. She does an excellent job of helping you understand how to survive as a HSP and helping others understand what it is to be a sensitive person. She would help you feel more comfortable. 

      Good luck to you Brandon. 

  4. Laura I love your passion to help others in this situation. I was completely unaware that people have these types of internal instincts and I think it is amazing. It is a gift like you said but can be a curse if you’re unable to handle it.

    I am curious if there are people that know they gifts and they leverage that to be highly successful in certain professions? Professions that can help others.

    I would love to see you start a community of people with the Empathic gift and show them they are blessed, can control their emotions, and use it to help others.

    Have you me other Empathic people?

    Thanks for helping me understand the rare emotions of others and to know that if I come across someone with this ability to let them know I understand. and they are not alone.

    – Jay S.  

    • Jay, Thank you for your kind words. 

      There are numerous people who know they are empathic. It is very hard for an empathic person to work in the helping field but so many of us do. 

      We are often sought out by narcissistic people because they thrive on our energy. 

      Thank you for suggesting I begin a community but I do not see this as a part of my life. My plan is to write to help others overcome hard times. 

      Again, Thank you Jay for taking the time to read and comment.  

  5. As I read your article, I was reminded of a term called Emotional intelligence which refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions.  I’ve heard some people claim abilities like yours are inborn, while others say it can be learned and developed. What is your opinion?

    Additionally, and sadly, I’ve also read that specifically EI (emotional intelligence) is becoming less of a “skill” or ability in millennials in the workplace.  What a sad commentary when young people seem to be losing the ability to connect with others or even monitor their own emotions, discriminately analyze them and then use that information to guide their actions and ways of thinking.  What do you think?

    • Hi Sharon, I believe learning the trait is the opposite of what you said. We are born with this trait and we have to learn to live with it. We can use it to help others or we can hide away with anxiety and fear. 

      I have not given up on millennials. I have a strong belief in the mellennial group of young people. I don’t believe they created the problem we have today. I do believe they have fallen into trying to figure out how to function in a world of chaotic technology. 

      It may be a part of the baby boomers to help them find their emotions. 

      I hope this makes sense to you. 

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I do appreciate you. 

  6. What a beautiful article to read and one broke straight from the heart with love. It’s been a pleasure to read about empathic people .

    I can’t begin to know what it feels like only to remember my own pain and heartache and relate to it that way.

    It can’t be easy ! 

    I really feel a connection with you especially in the last part of your article. I can tell from this article that you are a kind and caring person 

    • Darren, Thank you, You sound like you really do understand what I have written. It is hard for someone who is not empathic to understand and you have done a wonderful job. 

      No it is not easy to live in other people’s shoes but life in general is not easy and we all move forward to the greater good. 

  7. I’m also empathic and honestly, I don’t think I want to share that with people. While it makes me understand people very well, it doesn’t really help when it comes to being taken advantage of. I find that people often ask me to do things and I find it almost impossible to say no because I know how they feel. Yet I can’t possibly take on the world’s problems. It is a difficult situation to be in and I’m not sure how to resolve that.

    • You are where I was for years. I had to learn to set boundaries and stand by them. I had to learn to love and care for myself first. That is the only way I can help others.

      I read both of these books I have in the post. They made a tremendous difference. I read a book by Cloud and Townsend “Boundaries” It was the beginning of growing and learning. 

      It is hard to hide this because it affects you more than it affects others. 

      It sounds like you have been deeply hurt. You too can grow just as I did. We are an amazing small group of people who love and care deeply. 

      You do not need to tell people you are empathic but you will need to find a way to live with it. These books will help. Most do not come out of the close,t so to speak because so few understand. this post is to help people understand that we are good, kind and positive people. Not freaks. 

      Sharing my knowledge will help to pave the road for you ahead. One day to be empathic will be accepted and a part of our life. 

      If I can be of assistance to you in any way please comment or email me. 

  8. What a beautiful post well written from the heart. Loved the poem you wrote at the beginning Laura.

    I must admit this is the first time I have heard of empathic as a condition. I always though it was just an emotion experienced from time to time.  I learned something new today for sure  

    I have however read a lot about highly sensitive people and it must be quite frustrating for you how the two conditions are made to look the same. 

    You must have tremendous coping skills to be able to deal with this on a daily basis. Take care. 

    • Thank You so much Michel for your compliments, understanding and for reading the entire post. 

      and yes I do have tremendous coping skills. I have been blessed this way. My glass is always half full.

  9. Hey there! I’m glad that there are empathetic people in the world although few and far between. In my opinion, the world needs more caring people. Everyone is so focused on what they are doing and not caring what is happening to the person right next to them. It is probably very hard to live with empathic since you can’t help but to help. Its like on the movie Ella Enchanted just you want to help people but its much needed in the world today so thanks for caring and I hope that you realize how much you mean to the people you help.

    Take care,

    Marlinda

    • Thank You Marlinda, It use to be hard to be empathic but I have learned to set boundaries. I also realize I can only help those who want to change. I have to walk away from those who do not want to do so.

  10. Hi Laura
    I loved reading this post and understand deeply about being one of the 2%
    I have had to learn a lot of different strategies along life’s path when I have felt the pain people are going through and it sometimes it feels as if my heart will break with them.
    I love people and my purpose in life is to help people break through barriers to move into a more positive space and I have often been challenged myself when I working with clients and they share a past hurt with me. So difficult to remain objective and learning how to do this has been the biggest challenge in my career as a Personal Development Coach because I feel what they feel – Empathy is wonderful and tough sometimes that’s for sure – Thank you for being awesome

    • Vicki,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on Empathic, why do we feel emotions. Yes, it is hard to help people without also feeling the emotions they have. You work as a personal development coach is life-changing for many. Thank you for doing this work and helping so many along the way.

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