Wtf’s an Empath?

One of the first things that might come to many people’s mind when they hear the word ‘Empath’ is Deanna Troy – the Betazoid from the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. Trekkies will remember how Deanna Troy was utilized during interactions with Alien species, as she was able to feel their intentions and motivations. Empaths feel stuff – people, places, objects, world events – for better or worse.

Empaths are individuals who feel more than compassion, sympathy, or empathy for others.

  • Sympathy = you are sympathetic.  I sympathize with you.
  • Compassion = you are compassionate. I feel compassion for you.
  • Empathy = you are empathetic. I empathize with you.
  • Empathic = you are experiencing. I feel you.

Empaths are different than the discussions we see about ‘Highly Sensitive People’ (HSP) in the psychology literature; we feel much more and have higher sensitivities than HSP. Empaths are Empathic and experiencing other people’s emotional energies within them, as if they were their own emotional energies, whether they conflict with their own at the time or not. Empath = Experiencing: I feel you. Literally.

Sympathy, compassion, and empathy require an external stimulus – you see or hear of a situation, event, or circumstance, and you emotionally respond to the person involved in or impacted by it. Some of these compassionate responses are socialized morals and ethics (ie don’t laugh when someone hurts themselves), while other sympathetic responses are framed by cultural customs (ie funerals that mourn loss versus celebrations of life). When you are an Empath – there is not always a conscious doing; you are not actively offering an emotion to another person. You are not sharing an emotion with another person in response to an external stimulus. You are (initially) unaware of any external stimulus, only the presence of the person or people with you (and even if they are not in the same room or location as you. After all, We are all Connected). You’re seemingly minding your own business and all of a sudden your ‘mood’ shifts and you’re feeling – sad, blah, anxious, or worried for no reason – “Is that mine?” You ask. Nope! Probably not. Ever wonder why some places feel really good while other places give you the creeps? Ya, you’re feelin it. Follow the Feelz!

Here’s my Empath Mantra: If it doesn’t feel right, it ain’t right….

©2020 Dr. Tracy L.M. Kennedy