It’s taken me a really long time to recognize and embrace being an empath. For the longest time I bought into all the gaslighting, I truly believed the problem was me, I was just too sensitive and I needed to harden up!
My entire life I’ve been told by family, friends, colleagues, strangers, I’m cry baby, I’m oversensitive, I overreact in situations. I need to toughen up. I’ve pretty much received the message that being deeply sensitive is somehow a character flaw. People are confused by my extended emotional overreaction to situations and it’s difficult for me to explain how situations and circumstances that don’t even involve me oftentimes, are so deeply painful and traumatic for me to the point where they cause anxiety and in extreme cases can flare my depression. All the images of burned koalas in the Australian bush fires are a prime example, the images are so deeply disturbing for me that they cause instant anxiety I don’t sleep at night. I’ve spent so much time being told how ridiculous I am that it’s even embarrassing for me to admit to such a strong reaction.
Are You An Empath?
There are so many resources available online and books to read about being an empath and coping as an empath and over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned here on my blog. I’ve also realized that my sweet Hannah Banana is also an absolute empath, which is why she reacts the she does in various situations.
But first of all, I think it’s so important to understand the difference between being empathetic, which most decent human beings are, and being an empath. Dr. Judith Orloff describes the difference as follows:
Being an empath is different from being empathetic. Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else. Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body.
There is a great self-assessment quiz over on Dr Orloff’s website, which you can take here: Empath Self Assessment Test
I scored 14 out of 20, which indicates that I have high empath tendencies. Did you take the test? What did you score?
Key Characteristics Of Being An Empath
There are loads of resources available online to understand the typical characteristics of an empath but these are the most common ones:
- Highly sensitive.
- Highly attuned to other people’s moods and emotions.
- Introverted or become anxious and overwhelmed in crowds.
- Highly intuitive.
- Go out of your way to help others.
- Crave alone time (I always call this going inside my head).
- Overwhelmed by intimate relationships.
- Like to sleep alone – this is so me, even after being married for 19 years I complain about how my husband disturbs my sleep.
Do you think you’re an empath?
I actually stumbled across all of this quite by accident while reading up on overly emotional children because Hannah is exceptionally emotional and very very sensitive to people and situations that most others wouldn’t even notice.