Much has been written about the Empath. Millions of people are identifying themselves as such, and the word Empath is becoming commonly referred to in our culture. Until a few years ago, this was not the case.
First let’s start with a brief overview of the signs and symptoms of an Empath:
- Are often recognized as having “hearts of gold” and for their kind and generous ways.Empaths are amazingly gifted in countless and varied ways, especially once they have been on a healing path for a while.
- Empaths can suffer greatly until they receive the wisdom and skills with which to safely navigate the pitfalls of life.
- They consciously or unconsciously scan others and know unspoken information about them. They sense the truth of a person, and also “know” when someone is acting in an inauthentic or deceptive manner.
- Are often drawn to the healing and helping professions as well as to the arts and social activism.
- Highly sensitive, intuitive and can easily take on the emotional, physical and spiritual energetic emanations of others. It is not always clear to the Empath what is theirs vs. what truly belongs to someone else. Thus, Empaths often feel other people’s feelings and can become overwhelmed.
- Have often been told “You are just too sensitive”.
- The inner desire to help others (including animals, plants, the environment etc.) is profoundly deep.
- Empaths are generally able to be extremely compassionate and understanding. Some are willing to give to others until they become drained and depleted, until they learn differently.
Empaths and codependents have much in common.
Codependent is defined as:
“a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.”
- Food, alcohol, drugs, sex, love, gambling and various obsessive/compulsive behaviors are often used by Empaths for self-soothing when life becomes overwhelming.
- Medical and psychiatric drugs are often either not helpful or actually have opposite effects on the Empath.
Medical/Psychiatric Symptoms and the Empath
Those Empaths who grew up with trauma, violence, severe dysfunction, addiction, mental illness and people with personality disorders often learned a survival skill called “hyper-vigilance”. Hyper-vigilance is a constant state of “high alert” which leads someone to become overwhelmingly attentive to their surroundings in an effort to see danger coming and stay safe. This response is common among all survivors of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. This can become a hard-wired neurological response which creates anxiety, panic, mood swings and other disordered ways of being. Some find it difficult or even impossible to turn this off even when it is no longer needed. Thus, such Empaths will require professional assistance to release hyper vigilance and learn to feel safe. There are traditional psycho-therapeutic treatments as well as a great variety of holistic treatments available.
An Empath who is repeatedly exposed to such dysfunction over a long period of time without help and or psycho-energetic-spiritual intervention may develop symptoms that mimic major mental illness such as dramatic mood swings, social phobia, delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thought. Sleep disorders and attention difficulties are also common.
Others end up with symptoms and often diagnoses of Fibromyalgia, Restless Leg syndrome, Chronic Fatigue, chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and many other illness because their energy systems are so irritated and blocked. It is unfortunate that many gifted Empaths, who could be helped, find themselves in the care of traditional doctors and psychiatrists who are not trained in psycho-energetic-spiritual disorders and their corresponding effective holistic and spiritual remedies.
Fortunately, those Empaths who find out about who they are usually begin a search to find alternative approaches because the medical/psychiatric treatments are seldom helpful. Empaths tend not to respond well to synthetic medications because of their overall extreme sensitivities. The cause of such symptoms, in the case of an Empath, is often related to energy blocks, emotions and spiritual issues, which is why doctors are unable to find reasons and causes for many of the above listed physical illnesses. Most allopathic doctors are not trained in searching for causes outside of the physical body nor familiar with holistic treatments. The body becomes a signpost for unresolved emotions and blocked energy pathways. The symptoms can be used by a Holistic practitioner to find appropriate and effective treatments. Thus, a holistic mind/body/spirit approach is the more effective in general and certainly with some exceptions.
The Codependent Empath
Many Empaths and other angelic, pure souls have such a true spiritual desire to help others that they have a tendency to love and nurture those who are obviously troubled. Empaths can see the beauty and perfection in the soul of others and want to help them embody what they can see, which others often can’t. This desire to help can bring the Empath to a merry-go-round of difficult or abusive relationships. They find themselves giving their love, energy, time, financial resources and emotional support and receiving little, if anything in return. Thus, they become energetically, physically and spiritually depleted. This type of Empath can find themselves lonely, depressed, anxious, physically ill, and sometimes addicted. Addictions can be to food, substances, behavior, exercise, perfectionism, house-cleaning or just about anything else.
Empaths are highly aware that they have important work to attend to and are often highly motivated, at some point, to release the blocks and pain in order to be present for themselves, others and their earthly missions. They become willing to do the hard work (which may or may not take a period of time) required to find inner well-being, peace and functional daily lives.
Empaths often discover that they can’t heal alone and find help in such ways as a holistic/energy related treatment modality, support group, a spiritual or religious tradition, a 12 Step program (Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics may be very helpful), holistic psychotherapist, Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, an EFT or EMDR practitioner and others. Most Empaths use a combination of approaches at different points in their healing journey.
Then they go on to use their tremendous gifts to bless, help and bring hope and healing opportunities to others. This world is fortunate to have such experienced, gifted people!
The Raging Empath
The world is full of Empaths who feel the pain of society’s “victims” so intensely that they feel compelled to “right the wrong”, bring justice to the situation, and to bring the person/people to safety. The Raging Empath has a spiritual mission based in compassion that became totally diverted and oftentimes distorted. They tend to engage in behavior that bring them and their victims big problems and various forms of trouble, thus clearly comprising their effectiveness.
A raging Empath may go to any lengths to “save and protect” others, including verbal abuse, intimidation, threats, physical attacks, slander and other behaviors that are not socially appropriate and in some cases illegal.
A common place to spot a Raging Empath is in the school system. They are basically well behaved until a bully appears and begins to abuse a vulnerable student. The Raging Empath is the first one to stop the bullying, put the bully in his “place”, and make sure the victim is safe. Sometimes the Raging Empath may feel the need to get physical and violent in such a case. In a distorted and sometimes troubling way, the Rager sees him/herself as perfectly justified and as performing a good deed, attending to an important mission in the only way she/her knows at this point.
Many young Raging Empaths simply grow out of their less than mature ways to become responsible and caring in ways that no longer require rageful actions. This is often a phase that is common, but still requires interventions by the school and the parents. Physical activity such as sports and exercise are vital so the child has an outlet for this excess energy. They need to be taught other ways to help keep people safe.
The adult Raging Empath may appear to be an uncaring soul who is out of control. This may or may not be completely true. First, one may not be able to see or know the extreme pain within. Most Raging Empaths have had their own experiences that led to hard-wired and inappropriate responses to the injustices inflicted upon them, often early in life.
Despite the cause, the rager needs help. Sometimes this help is found in court mandated programs and in jails. After many losses and defeats, a rager often realizes that his/her ways are not helpful and not conducive to his/her earthly mission and starts to seek out help.
As with all Empaths, there are many pathways to healing. Many ragers get help in Anger Management classes. Also, they sometimes end up in 12 Step Fellowships, and through such a spiritual way of life begin to find their spiritual center and amend their ways. They can find benefit in meditation and anxiety reduction practices. Spiritual and religious affiliations, support groups, journaling and many other self-actualization practices can bring a Raging Empath wisdom, peace and inner growth.
Once a Raging Empath is in control of his/her behavior and is well into a program/practice that is effective, they often become the greatest social activists the world can know! They learn to channel the energy of anger into their spiritual, earthly missions. They are passionate, outspoken, fearless and determined to change the world.
Think of all the stories of “hardened criminals” that found themselves in prison, and once released were able to start amazing programs for disadvantaged children, domestic abuse, animal rights, environmental causes and much more. Once a Raging Empath finds her/his center, they are unstoppable in their quest to make this world a better place.
A specific example are those former raging motorcycle enthusiasts that have found recovery and compassion, and now devote themselves to giving comfort and a feeling of safety to children who have PTSD from abuse. If the children can’t sleep, they call their “friend” at any time of the day or night to sit in their driveways so they feel protected and peaceful.
The former “Raging Empaths” can become our fiercest protectors, our most loving friends, and our most blessed activators of social change. Let us all hold our Raging Empaths in our hearts and send them gratitude, love and light for the work they have done or will do in the future.
Empaths have tremendous gifts and challenges. They have important things to accomplish in this lifetime, and that includes The Extreme Empaths. It is important for all of us to remain non-judgmental and supportive as Empaths find their footing. This is not an easy time to be sensitive, and the density of this planet is confusing and confounding even to those who aren’t as sensitive and/or conflicted as our Extreme Empaths.