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So, They Said You're An 'Empath'

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Is the matter of being labelled an 'Empath' about nothing more than - well - the matter of being in touch with our normal human nature to 'feel'? These are the people who are perhaps markedly more in touch with their 'feeling' capacities, where others appear less so.

I watched an interesting documentary last night about 'psychopathy' which was both fascinating and a little alarming. It explored the involvement of the amygdala and the idea that the brains of 'psychopaths' function differently in response to stimuli that have a more notable effect on 'normally' functioning brains.

The thinking seems to be headed in the direction of nature rather than nurture, though from my own learning over the years, excluding cases of physical injury, birth defects or serious illness, it's always seemed that nurture has a lot more to do with a malfunctioning brain than is being given credit. For instance, many incarcerated individuals who may, at face value, be labelled as psychopaths appear to have suffered neglect or abuse in childhood - but then I'm only a mere lifelong avid student of human nature, a seeker of understanding (and an 'empath'), and not a brain scientist, you understand!).

Setting aside the matter of pathology for a moment - could it be as simple as how disconnected we are from our natural emotional nature as human beings that more commonly tips people over the edge in varying degrees? It certainly seems that depression - and addiction - may well, at least some of the time, be a healthy - or at least predictable - response to disconnection from our emotions.

When we live in a culture where it's viewed as the norm to shy away from feelings, being a 'feeler/empath' (or just a person who is pretty well in touch with their inherently emotional nature) can seem a little unusual, if not downright weird. A 'feeler/empath' knows only too well that their nature can bring with it intense psychic pain at times, as well as heightened experience of all the good emotions and where many people seem able to 'turn down' all emotional responses to a more acceptable level just so they don't have to deal with the tough stuff seems a bit like cutting ones nose off to spite one's face. It's impossible to selectively numb down only the less desirable emotions. If you numb down, you numb down the whole range of emotional experience and that also means that the colour, brightness, volume etc of some of the best experiences life has to offer will risk becoming bland, dull and rather boring.

So could it be that when we've learned to 'choose' which emotions to allow ourselves to experience fully based on the commonly accepted ways of being human, the unfortunate consequence for those of us who seem to 'feel' in perhaps a more 'obvious' way than others in a still fairly emotionally constipated world, experience this as personal rejection when in fact it is rejection of anything that threatens to take another into the disowned arena of 'feeling'?

Can our 'in-touchness' be perceived as 'too much' to someone who prefers to live in the emotionally toned down world of (perhaps) the larger majority of people?

I find it interesting - and amusingly revealing - how all that repression goes right out the window on a belly full of alcohol, or even in a moment of anger when we dare to let rip with what we really feel!

Perhaps we 'feelers' are among the most emotionally balanced people on the planet - because we have no need for all the drama of the pretend game? If we can accept that being emotionally expressed is a much safer / healthier / more 'organic' way to live, maybe we can let ourselves off the 'there must be something wrong with me' merry-go-round and get on with loving life in all its vibrant colour and richness.

Isn't this, after all, what life is about; or for the spiritually minded among us - why we incarnated here?

With love,

Trish Brennan


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