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Understanding Empaths

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

It feels good to be understood. Basic people understand that when someone is upset, it’s best to try to make them feel better, to be sympathetic. Although, showing sympathy is the complete opposite of trying to understand someone and why they could possibly be upset.

Sympathy is feeling bad about someone else’s misfortune situation. To be sympathetic, someone feels sad, but they aren’t able to relate or put themselves in the shoes of the person they are feeling sympathetic for.

Empathy allows a deeper and more vulnerable bond then sympathy. To be empathetic, you understand what someone else is going through and can feel the same way they do. To be able to be empathic naturally makes someone an empath.

An empath is someone highly attuned with the feelings of others to the point where they can be described as overly sensitive. Empaths can connect emotionally with anyone and, to an extent, feel exactly how the person feels.

You would think this makes them amazing at getting to know people or being social, but this isn’t always the case.

Empaths can experience emotions so strongly that they sometimes prefer to be alone due to not wanting to come on too strong to others. Empaths can be intense and sensitive, which isn’t a bad thing, but can be hard to explain to others. However, many empaths love being able to connect with people.

Lauren Atkinson is an empath that loves having the ability to empathize with anyone, but she does know that being an empath has some faults.

“It affects my relationships positively because I can always feel what they feel and empathize with their struggles and experiences,” said Atkinson. “But, it also affects them negatively when I have a hard time separating myself from their issues and I take on the emotions so strongly. This primarily happens in romantic relationships for me.”

“It also affects my relationships because I forget that not everyone empathizes the way I do, and when I don’t feel like a significant other can empathize with me, I feel that they can’t relate to me and build walls between me and them,” said Atkinson.

Empaths are special because they are the people that many choose to confide in. They are the ones we go to make us feel better or when we need advice because we can count on them to recognize how we feel.

However, when you lack the amount of empathy a empath has, it can be hard to return the consideration they deserve. Atkinson has been in this type of situation before, but sees that people can’t always be as emotionally in sync as her.

“I have always been prone to anxiety and depression, and being an empath sometimes compounds the problems,” said Atkinson.

“I do feel like I am the go-to person for everyone to come to for help, whether it is my best friends, people I hardly know or coworkers. Generally, that is something I greatly enjoy because helping others brings me joy and I never want anyone to feel alone through their struggles.”

We can all learn something from empaths: to be more caring and understanding. You don’t have to be an empath to be empathetic. Empaths have a talent that can’t be learned, but we should be encouraged to try and be more like them.

A world where everyone can put themselves in someone else’s shoes is a world that would care more.

Featured image by Timia Cobb.

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