Lots of people think that empaths’ abilities come naturally.
It is believed that these abilities are handed down through the DNA. As for how it works, everything boils down to bioelectric fields. It is thought that empaths can sense the variations in the the other people’s bioelectric fields, or auras.
Their mirror neuron system enables the empath to naturally “sense” what others might be feeling in a specific situation.
Another theory suggests that empathy can actually be learned. Psychologists and cognitive scientists like Hodges and Myers are now inclined to think that Cognitive empathy is more like a skill that can be mastered. We can gradually learn to recognize and understand others’ emotional state.
When empaths watch someone else doing something, the same regions in their brain which are responsible for doing that activity are at work. “They cause the brain to act as if we were going through whatever that other person is experiencing. The bond to empathy looks pretty clear” (Marsh, 2012).
What’s even more disturbing is that a few people have the so-called mirror-touch synesthesia.
That is a rare phenomenon in which visual and tactile senses combine and people can literally “feel” their body being touched when watching how another body is touched (Medina and DePasquale, 2017).
The story of Dr. Judith Orloff.
Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D., is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA. She is also an author of The Empath’s Survival Guide. Dr. Orloff has spent over twenty years helping empaths to learn to control their natural skills. She has also has been assisting them to enhance their abilities.
Being an empath herself she tells a story from her practice that reveals a lot about empaths:
In her book Second Sight, Orloff remembers how as a psychiatrist, she had managed to stop her gift of an empath to “fit in” with the mainstream beliefs of the medical community. She, however, had an experience that changed her perspective on the matter. In the middle of a positive session with a client, Dr. Orloff had an intuition that this person was about to commit suicide. She neglected this flash of intuition. But later she understood that this client had indeed attempted to take her life although she survived. That is only one of the numerous intuitive insights of hers that came true.
When it comes to emotions empaths are extremely sensitive, like finely tuned instruments.
They feel everything, usually in a very intense way, and are not that likely to intellectualize their feelings. They perceive the world through their intuition. Empaths are people who live to give to the others, exist in harmony with the world, and know how to listen to their friends. Through thick and thin, they’re always there to help. And what is more, empaths are usually those with intense feelings who not only sense different energies but are also able to experience them.
Empaths make the best relationship partners, family members or friends. For the rest of the world their abilities are a gift. However, for the empaths, there are two sides of the coin. For them carrying the dark side of their skills might turn out extremely heavy.
On the one hand, the abilities of empaths make other people feel safe when they are in an empath’s company, and as a result, empaths are the ones who build the most profound connections with others.
On the other hand, however, comes the stress that empaths have to handle while dealing with other people’s emotions.
1. The dark side of being an empath comes in the form of two opposing forces that exist in an empath’s soul.
At all times, empaths can feel both the good and the bad vibrations around them. The dark side and the force for life live together in an empath’s heart. At times, empaths may feel overwhelmed by the one or the other. In general, these people are much more sensitive to the negative things around them.
This means that if you have an empath in your family, at work, or if you are sharing a house/apartment or a room with such kind of person, you should be extra careful what you do or say around them. The rule not to bring your bad mood home from work becomes ever more important.
2. Their acute awareness of the others’ feelings makes them vulnerable to toxic influences
As empaths are painfully aware of even the subtlest emotions circulating in the air, they often feel overloaded with emotions which are not their own. Just like George Lucas’s Master Yoda, they can sense each “disturbance in the Force”, whenever it occurs. Since they are natural-born healers of the human soul, they always want to remove the pain from others thus making it their own.
3. Being an empath is a 24/7 job, hence their chronic emotional and mental exhaustion
However emotionally drained they may feel, they never show this to the world. They merely observe and feel. Empaths would willingly ignore both the needs of their body and mind for the sake of healing other people’s pain.
However, this neglect builds over the years. So, it finally leads to the need for an empath to recover their soul. This process of self-healing is oftentimes long and painful. UK’s Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Lessing has described it quite well in her postmodern masterpiece The Golden Notebook.
4. When an empath falls in love, they are never able to fully devote themselves to their loved one.
This is because they just cannot get rid of all that emotional burden they have accumulated in their hearts. And if they do, their love could be overwhelmingly strong and very difficult to handle for both partners. In other words, empaths often tend to be clingy and obsessive.
This is their way to protect their partner from all the negative energy they can sense around them. They feel as if they were their partner’s guardian angel. Sometimes they get torn apart from the inside because they only want to be free to love and be loved.
5. Empaths are constantly tormented by inner conflicts.
An empath’s life is full of all the conflicts between good and evil that those around them are experiencing. Unfortunately, empaths sometimes give in to all the pain and suffering they absorb. The best way for an empath to save themselves from self-destruction is to learn to shield their soul from the constant flow of human emotions circulating around them. Empaths should also pay more attention to their feelings.
Empaths’ dark side is painful to carry. As they are always so preoccupied with helping others, empaths often tend to forget about their own emotional needs. As a result, they keep carrying the other’s sorrow on their selfless shoulders all their life. For the sake of their own emotional wellbeing, empaths should understand that coping with the issues of others is not what they have come to this world for.
To prevent the dark side of empathy overwhelming their life, empaths shouldn’t give that much of themselves to every person they meet.
They should also destroy the walls surrounding their heart so that they can allow their empathic selves to do good in their own lives as well.