Frequently asked questions about empaths and empathy
Are empaths real?
Yes. They are not understood by the mainstream, neuro-typical, population. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
Newtonian physics can’t explain them but Quantum Entanglement is starting to reach into the world of empaths!
National Public Radio’s show Invisibilia explains this well in layman’s terms in the January 2015 episode “Entanglement.” They start the program with a section on quantum physics and the science of quantum entanglement. They explain that there is a way to “entangle” two atoms separated by space such that an action applied to one instantaneously changes the other.
They interviewed David Hucul, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, who said the following:
And so far, scientists have been able to get entanglement to occur at a distance of just over eighty-eight miles. Though theoretically you could fly one atom to the moon, and still, if you affected it in some way, the other atom back on Earth would be affected instantaneously in the same way . . . quantum entanglement, the scientists told us, probably happens all the time in the natural world. Like there could be one particle of you right now entangled with a person that you just passed on the street.
Yes, the idea of being entangled with a person you just passed on the street sounds familiar to every empath! Although, more usually, we process the emotions of people we have a connection to; relatives, friends, work colleagues, etc. It doesn’t even have to be a positive relationship. The energy involved in disliking, even hating—especially hating—somebody can create the strong bond that enables the empathic connection. As an empath, if you are struggling with negative feelings toward someone, it is more likely that you are picking up on their energy toward you than your real feelings toward them.
Obviously, there is still a lot that scientists have to learn and explain if the rest of us are to understand what is happening on the scientific level.
Are empaths rare?
Let me refer to Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” which I recommend for every would-be leader regardless of your field.
In his video he talks about “… Something called the law of diffusion of innovation […] The first 2.5% of our population are our innovators. The next 13.5% of our population are our early adopters. The next 34% are your early majority, your late majority and your laggards. The only reason these people buy touch-tone phones is because you can’t buy rotary phones anymore. We all sit at various places at various times on this scale, but what the law of diffusion of innovation tells us is that if you want mass-market success or mass-market acceptance of an idea, you cannot have it until you achieve this tipping point between 15 and 18 percent market penetration, and then the system tips.”
This had me wondering about how many empaths are out there. Ten years ago I was seeing suggestions of 5-10% of the population. We know that consciousness is rising rapidly, if not exponentially, right now.
In 2017, the bestselling author Caroline Myss said, “Being an empath is the new normal”.
The world is changing so fast these days (in case you hadn’t noticed) and empath self-awareness is growing fast. What sort of a world will we be living in when we make up 15-18% of the world’s population?
I think the tipping point is coming sooner than most of us dare to even hope for. Here’s looking forward!
What is the difference between empaths and telepaths (empathy versus telepathy)?
The short answer is that empaths have sensitivity to other people’s emotions, telepaths have sensitivity to other people’s mental concepts.
Empaths receive feelings and sensations from others – usually emotional but for some empaths this may take the form of physical sensations and pains. Many empaths also have other neuro-divergent sensitivities. These may include precognition, animal communication, remote viewing, and telepathy.
Telepathy is the communication of thoughts and ideas from one person to another by non-typical methods that bypass the intellect. Telepathy can transverse language barriers and vocabulary by conveying the inherent meaning of words. This is true even for those people who would be unable to communicate, without dictionaries and translators, using traditional means.
Are empaths born or made?
First of all, describing someone as an empath unfortunately implies that some people are empaths and others are not. The fact of the matter is that is totally a grey scale where some people are highly sensitive empaths and others, at the opposite end of the scale, are barely recognizable as empaths – with everything in between.
My personal belief is that most babies are born empaths with acute sensitivity to their mothers and the world around them. Most people in our modern culture have that sensitivity socialized out of them. It is not neuro-typical to retain those empathic abilities because they are discouraged.
Those of us who grew up as empaths did so because we needed all of our empathic abilities to survive our dysfunctional childhoods. It was useful to be able to tune into our parents and know when the next spark of insanity was about to manifest. By tapping into the inner world of the people around us we were able to predict their behavior and adapt accordingly to stay emotionally and physically safe.
Can I develop my empathic abilities?
Yes! Like anything else, empathy is a muscle which will grow stronger the more you use it.
Three practices that will help to deepen your abilities:
- The Light Projector Exercise. This is an essential practice to help you manage the energies that you pick up from other people. You can learn more about that here.
- Practice tuning into different people. Spend five or ten minutes a day several days a week with this exercise.
a) Sit quietly and connect with yourself first. Become aware of how you are feeling in yourself.
b) Start to think about someone else – a friend, family member, or work colleague. Notice how the feelings and sensations in your body change and how your emotions change. Stay with that person for a minute or so.
c) Run the Light Projector Exercise for that person for long enough that you no longer feel their energy,
d) Repeat from step a and continue, choosing a different person in step b.
If you want some different people to connect with, go to a news website and pick from the photos of people there. It doesn’t matter whether they are celebrities, politicians or members of the general public. Each person will feel different. The objective is just to feel the change from one person to another without any judgment, good or bad, right or wrong.
This exercise will be easier choosing someone that you have not got a strong intellectual opinion about (for instance, if you have strong political judgments).
- Meditate, meditate, meditate. My own preference is for Vedic mediation – the same practice from which Transcendental Meditation came. That said, I am in favor of any practice that emphasizes meditation being an easy and effortless technique. Trying to meditate is a contradiction.
What is it about empaths and narcissists?
Empaths and narcissists are a natural pairing – they attract each other. But before we talk about why that happens, what do we mean by a narcissist? A narcissist is a person who is self-occupied such that they disregard the needs of people around them. Although everyone has the potential to act narcissistically occasionally, it becomes a problem when someone consistently neglects others and their emotions and fails to understand the impact of their way of being in the world. In many respects, this is the polar opposite of an empath. An empath picks up the emotions of other people and processes those emotions as if they were their own. Empaths care way too much about other people. Narcissists care too little.
That said, it seems like empaths and narcissists attract each other. Empaths are natural healers, in the broadest sense of the word healer. We feel better when we are in healer mode – that is, sending energy outwards – and therefore we enjoy sending energy out to people around us who need healing. Empaths thrive on sending energy out. Narcissists have learned to take energy from others instead.
Once we connect with a narcissist it is often easier to go along with whatever the narcissist wants – because if we don’t keep the narcissist happy, we have to process all of the negative emotions that get dumped on us. Once we first get hooked, it becomes hard work to extract ourselves.
Being an empath tends to be hereditary. Many empaths can identify who in their family are also empaths. When it is one of our parents that is a strong empath, there is a strong chance that the other parent is a narcissist. Sometimes it may be easier to start with identifying the narcissistic parent before realizing that the other parent may be an empath.
Again, empaths and narcissists are a natural pairing. You may well enjoy being in a relationship with a narcissist but there are a couple of points to remember. Firstly, limit your expectations. You will only get a limited amount of support from a narcissist so if you need someone to lean on you will probably have to look elsewhere. Secondly, a relationship with a narcissist is intrinsically dysfunctional. As you grow and get emotionally healthier your relationship will change in ways that the narcissist won’t like. Eventually, it will be time for you to move on and find healthier people to be in a relationship with.
One last point; I like the noun Empath for its distinction from the term “Empathic” but I dislike the noun “Narcissist”. It is traditional advice to hate the behavior but love the person. Label the behavior and the person can change. If we label the person, it becomes harder for the person to change and for everybody else to see past the label. So, rather than using the term “narcissist”, I prefer to talk about “someone with narcissistic behaviors”.
Where are all the male empaths?
We’re out here … hiding! I used to be in hiding myself.
I believe that there are just as many male empaths as there are female empaths. The challenge has been that most of us were raised to hide our sensitivity. Although women also certainly get told “You’re too sensitive. Toughen up”, boys have that drummed into us from a very young age.
We constantly receive the message, “Be a man”. We are encouraged to be tough at Ballpark, virile in the Bedroom, and successful with the Bank account (the “3 Bs”). Being emotionally sensitive is discouraged in all three areas — because despite talking about wanting their man to be emotionally open, most women actually want their partner to be the rock that they can lean on to express their own emotions.
I’ve certainly met many male empaths, but often they have been reticent to admit the fact – even to me as a male empath coach.
But times are changing and, slowly becoming increasingly socially acceptable for men to show their sensitivity.
Do you have another question? Please contact me!