When I tell people that I am an empath, I am often asked what that means. If you are an empath you may want to learn how to explain what an empath is in a way non-empaths can understand. By no means am I advocating explaining empaths or empathic superpowers to everyone, pick the people that are willing to listen, and want to learn about you. Make sure you are selective of who you are sharing your truth.
HSP vs. Empath
You may have noticed that I say that I serve HSP (highly sensitive people) and empaths. Explaining what empath is without discussing sensitivity is not possible. Empaths are HSP’s, so if you are an empath you are highly sensitive. If you are an HSP that doesn’t necessarily mean you are an empath.
HSP’s nervous systems are heightened which means their senses are enhanced. The impact of this is that we can be overwhelmed by simply living in the world. If you want to learn more about being an HSP, please check out this video: What is an HSP
Know yourself first: What are the characteristics of an Empath?
In order to explain being an empath, you must first be clear about what an empath is. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, there are several characteristics of being an empath and there are also different types of empaths. I will go deeper into the different types of empaths in another post, for now, let’s explore some general characteristics:
- You can feel other’s emotions
- Introversion is the dominant trait among empaths
- Empaths have a strong sense of intuition
- Alone time to recharge is vital for your well-being
- You can absorb and take on other’s emotions
- Relationships can be extra challenging
- You can attract energy vampires
These are some characteristics of an empath, you may not share all of them, choose the ones that feel right. Learning about yourself, and embracing your strengths is an essential step if you are not sure who you are, or what your strengths are, please start there. Spend time getting to know who you are and understand what you need.
How you show up to the conversation, who you choose to share this information with all depends on how you feel. You have the ability to shift the energy in the conversation or allow the other(s) to shift you. Before you begin to explain what an empath is you must embrace it. If you want to learn more about “How to embrace Being an Empath and Live an amazing life” start here.
Is this Person Worthy of Knowing me? My Truth, my Empathic Strength?
You don’t have to explain being an empath to everyone. Not all non-empaths need to understand you. There are some things to ponder before you start talking. Is this person really interested in getting to know me? Use your intuition to guide you if you are unsure. Then ask yourself “does it truly matter if this person understands me?” If you answer “no” to either of these questions, just let go of the need to explain yourself.
On the other hand, if this person is important to you and they really want to get to know you I have found that the best way to start is by asking the question “I am an empath, do you know what that is?” You can usually gauge by their answer if they are open to learning more. Their words, facial expressions, or even their energetic reaction will tell you a lot.
Next, tell pick a couple of the traits listed above, because you are an empath you can feel things deeply, and can often feel and absorb others’ emotions. So you tend to need more time alone and usually are tired after large gatherings or parties.
Then stop and wait to sense their reaction. If they don’t want to hear more or are not open, you can tell! This is one of your superpowers. If they want to know more keep the conversation going, and answer their questions.
Be OK with their reaction
Know you can only control what you say and do, you cannot control others. Even if you are intuitive and use your empathic abilities to sense what a person is feeling when you are in a conversation, you can’t control their reaction. Understand that even though a person may be fascinated by you, they may not want to accept your explanation. Some individuals just might not or want to understand.
Know that the people that are meant to be in your life will be in your life, those that are meant to stick around will stick around! Although it may be difficult to accept, not everyone will like us.
Be clear that you don’t need approval from others for who you are. If you are explaining being an empath to gain approval, STOP! Go back to learning about yourself, loving yourself, and embracing who you are.
Use Your Stories
On the other hand, if the person wants to understand but still doesn’t based on your explanation. A story can help. Tell a story of how your empathic abilities have shown up in your life. You can think if a time when it helped you make a decision, or supported you in your relationships. Another option is to explain how you use your abilities in your work.
As an empath, you are well-suited to work in occupations where you interact with people in small numbers. Using stories can help non-empaths understand you as an empath.
Although there are key elements on how to explain being an empath, the approach you use is unique to you. There are different types of empaths, although there are some key traits we share. Not everyone is interested in learning about you and will not always be open to what you share. Everyone is entitled to be who they are.
Use your own stories, people tend to learn from stories.
Know yourself first, feel good about your empathic abilities before you share this information with others. You don’t need approval from others for who you are!