SPIRITUAL TERMINOLOGY AND MEANINGS

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Empath

What is an empath?

The term empath refers to a highly sensitive person who has the ability to sense subtle energies in their environment, including the emotions of other people.

It is important to note that in the psychic sense, being an empath is not synonymous with having a high degree of emotional empathy/intelligence, though many empaths do have a high emotional intelligence. These are entirely different things:

Having a high degree of emotional empathy simply means that you have the ability to comprehend how another person feels and to envision what it might feel like to be in their circumstances. It does not necessarily mean you feel a sense of compassion.

 

Being an empath means that you literally absorb another person’s emotional energy, both as a physical, energetic sensation and as though you were experiencing the emotion yourself, first hand.

Many descriptions of “empath” on the internet conflate being an empath as having a high degree of empathy and compassion along with exhibiting codependent behavior.

An empath can be exceptionally attuned to the subtle energies of their environment and still exhibit a low emotional intelligence and lack of compassion (because they lack the ability to fully understand and regulate their own emotional state and easily experience emotional overwhelm). This kind of empath may feel moody and not understand that it’s coming from someone else.

 

An empath can be exceptionally attuned to the subtle energies of their environment, have a high degree of empathy, and still exhibit self-sabotaging, codependent behaviors and a lack of compassion. This is what would be termed as the “empathic narcissist” or a covert narcissist.

 

An empath can be exceptionally attuned to the subtle energies of their environment and display perfectly healthy boundaries and a high degree of emotional intelligence and compassion. This is what would be termed as the empowered empath.

 

And likewise, someone who has a high degree of emotional intelligence and compassion that does not exhibit codependent behaviors may not be exceptionally attuned to the subtle energies of their environment.

How is an empath made?

Every person is naturally empathic to some degree, but some are more highly sensitive to energy in their environment than others. Another term for this is Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

A Highly Sensitive Person’s nervous system can be easily overwhelmed by large amounts of sensory input: light, sound, other people’s energy, or smells.

There is a correlation between HSP, empathy (emotional intelligence), compassion, and being an empath. Individuals with physical and emotional boundary issues may, subsequently, also have energetic boundary issues which results in them becoming psychic sponges.

Boundaries are learned from our relationship with our parents during childhood, so how your parents interacted with you during key moments of development (particularly as the sacral chakra is developing) would have a significant impact on what kind of boundaries you end up with. Typically boundary issues are created as a result of childhood trauma or abuse.

Some people whose nervous systems have not been trained to appropriately process the incoming onslaught of energetic and emotional data may cope by insulating themselves behind extremely rigid boundaries, thus shutting themselves off from nearly all empathy and/or environmental energy. We might call these people overt narcissists. Another subset may turn to various forms of escapism to remain out-of-body, in order to avoid processing it or otherwise numb it, and still others others may feel it and falsely assume responsibility for it, becoming co-dependents, or narcissistic empaths, or covert narcissists.

The commonality between narcissists and codependents/narcissistic empaths/covert narcissists is the lack of boundaries and using other people (and relationships) as a form of validation.

What does an empath do?

Empowered empaths have the unique ability to absorb and transmute negative energy in their surrounding environments. Unhealthy empaths, such as those who exhibit low emotional intelligence or codependent tendencies, will instead absorb and hold that negative energy without transmuting it, resulting in mental health issues, self-sabotaging behavior, and physical illness.

Each of us can train our bodies and nervous systems to more efficiently process emotional energy, first by engaging in our own shadow work and healing and learning healthy boundaries, and secondly by practicing sitting and feeling uncomfortable emotions instead of avoiding them.

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