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When I tell people that I'm an empath I usually get one of two reactions: they either roll their eyes because they don’t believe it's a real thing, or they have no idea what I mean. No idea what being an empath really is.
Being an empath doesn’t simply mean I have empathy, it means I feel everything. I am highly sensitive to my own emotions but also to people's emotions around me.
I can understand any point of view or perspective shared with me, and can put myself in that person’s metaphorical shoes, no matter their background or who they are.
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Sometimes it's even characters in a film or TV show. I get angry with them, upset when they cry, feel guilt when they do. Now, I research a film before going to the movies, to ensure the storyline doesn’t involve anything too intense. I need to protect my own emotions and the way it drains me.
It can be the subtlest of things, from body language shifts to changes in a person’s facial expression or tone of voice. I pick up on it all. I can sense their mood and their emotions just being in a room with them.
On one hand it's a positive ability to have, because I can relate deeply to people and that can be beautiful. I've developed strong friendships and relationships because I can connect with others and truly comprehend what they're experiencing.
But because of this, being an empath is also a curse. It completely drains my soul.
When I was a child I knew I was different to other people in the way I felt things and experienced emotions, I just didn’t have a name for it.
Teachers, friends and kids at school often called me “over-sensitive” and said I needed to stop worrying so much about other people and just focus on myself. I was told to “toughen up”; they just couldn’t understand how encompassing this quality is, like it’s a switch I can just turn off when I want to.