5 myths about being an empath

5 Empath Myths That Need to Go

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These 5 empath myths have got to go. So, today we’re debunking empath myths, exploring misconceptions surrounding empathy, and uncovering some truths about being a sensitive.

So, whether you’re an empath yourself or just interested in learning more about these unique individuals, you won’t want to miss this episode.

But First, a story

Before the pandemic started, I ran this empath support group. We all met at the local library once a month to talk about empathic stuff. And, on the very first meeting I was talking about the different types of empaths, because I wanted to get a feel for what type of empaths had shown up for my meeting.

We all talked for a couple of hours and then mingled for 15 minutes afterwards. And eventually, there was just one woman left. She clearly wanted to talk with me, but I could tell she was upset. I could feel that the damn that was holding all that emotion back was starting to crack.

Now, if you come to one of my meetings, there are strict instructions that you cannot drama dump or in anyway muddy the clear energy of the group. We are all sensitive people who have to deal with drama all the time and this meeting room was meant to be a safe space.

So, I’m not sure what to do. I walk up and stand beside her. Not in front of her because if that damn breaks I don’t want that energy coming right at me, and sometimes it’s easier to be at ease with someone if they aren’t staring you in the face. it’s just less intimidating.  So, standing side by side, she doesn’t have to look at me and she can say whatever she needs to and it won’t go all over me.

So, I say, “what is it?”

And, after a few deep breaths, she says, “I didn’t know.”

There’s a long break and then she adds, “I thought I must not be empathic because I didn’t fit the mold that is created by the stuff I’ve read on empathery. But, you described me. I feel like I’m being seen for the first time.”

<deep breath>

Wow, right? 

And, that’s really my reason for being here – to educate people on the state of being an empath. To correct the errors on Empathery that keep people from seeing who they really are.

Empaths Feel and Deal Differently

Empaths are frequently described in gross generalization. Often in an inaccurate and victimish  way. So, when I read a post of 10 traits that make you an Empath, I found enough issue with 5 of them to dedicate an entire blog to them. 

Empaths have a lot of shared characteristics. But, saying that all empaths do anything is like saying all kids like ketchup. Not they don’t. Most probably do, but not all. There are children on this Earth right now that don’t know what ketchup is. 

Empaths are very unique people in general and differ greatly from one to another. There are so many different energy field to feel and deal with first of all. Then, each of these settings are unique to each Empath. Think of the anatomy of an Empath like a sound mixing board where each empathic trait is represented by a dial of lever. Each dial is setting the Empath’s unique abilities in that moment.

beautiful Persian cat with yellow eyes that looks irritated

Unfun Fact:

A warning that you’re about to get misleading or inaccurate info is a sentence that starts …empaths are always…whatever.

Empaths are always emotional. No, they aren’t.

Empaths are always overly sensitive. Really? All of them? No, they’re not.

Empath Myth #1 - All empaths are emotional people who absorbs the emotions of others.

So, the tip off that something’s about to go wrong here is the start of the sentence. “All Empath are…” That’s the gross generalization I warned you about. 

Actually, there are 2 things here. The first, that all empaths are emotional and the second, all empaths absorb the emotions of others. That’s true for only one type of empath. It’s a very common type hence the popularity. But, there are several other type that don’t feel the emotions of other people.

Emotional empaths, the ones with a primary emotional filter, can definitely absorb the emotions of other just like they were their own.

But, the emotional empathic filter is not hyper active in a lot of empaths. If an empath has a different empathic filter as their primary, then they may absorb very little emotions from people or none at all.

That means, you can NOT absorb other people’s emotions and still be an empath.

In fact, skilled empaths, even if they are emotional empaths, don’t absorb the emotions of others either.  They learn to simply observe them and allow them to flow through.

I see this pseudo empathic trait listed as a litmus test for being an empath. A lot. And, it usually comes with an implied bless-your-heart, you-poor-thing sentiment which is again – victimhood. It’s the empath being victimized by their ability to feel the emotions of others. 

But here’s the thing. 

Feeling champagne like bubble of another person’s sheer joy flowing through your body is a glorious experience. As is laughter and love and peace and compassion and understanding.

Empath Myth #2 - Empaths always feel like crap because they always hone in on the abusive people in a room due to suffered childhood trauma.

Wow. I’m not a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, or any kind of child specialist or medical professional in any field, however in my opinion, lots of people with childhood trauma seek out abusive people, probably because it feels like home. People with the same trait as their narcissistic and/or abusive parents feels like home. Conditioning from their childhood.

I don’t think that childhood trauma makes people empaths, otherwise, there would be a lot more activated empaths of earth. Because, I don’t know anyone who didn’t suffer some sort of childhood trauma. But, they’re not all empaths. 

Did an empathic child use their abilities to sense impending danger from an abusive person? Absolutely. But, non empathic children also know what signs to look for in an environment that can turn violent at any moment. So, foresight isn’t an empathic thing.

And, the reason this misconception doesn’t sit right with me, is because it’s sustaining the myth that empaths are victims.

That empaths are weak and fragile. Unable to escape that which will victimized them. Drawn to the darkest person in the room because that’s what empaths do.

This is total bull shit. While empaths may be more sensitive to emotional stimuli than others, this doesn’t mean that they are weak or fragile.

In fact, many empaths are highly resilient and strong-willed amazing people. They are able to handle intense emotional experiences with a tremendous amount of inner strength and grace, and clear your energy on the way out the door..

Empath Myth #3 - An Empath always knows when you are lying.

Let’s just take this burden off your shoulders, Empath. There has been a time when someone lied to you and you missed it. You are a human, not a walking lie detector.  There’s no buzzer that starts flashing LIAR on the forehead of someone who deceives you.

What you can feel is the difference between the energy of what someone is saying and the energy created by what they are doing. If these 2 vibrations are out of sync, an empath can feel the disconcordance. In other words, the frequency generated by the vibration of the words and actions don’t match. They are out of tune.

An Empath can feel resulting disharmony, but often it is subtle and easy to miss or explain away. Remember, an empath is often immersed in a sea of vibrations. Isolating a single one that might be a lie takes skill and practice. 

Discerning what that single vibration indicates isn’t a skill automatically included when empath was stamped on your human existence. Also, a disharmony maybe indicate things other than a lie like nervousness or fear or lack of self confidence or something else not obviously related to the current situation.

And, some people are really good liars with a lifetime of practice.  You may love a liar dearly which can cloud your ability to read them. The disconcordance may not be obvious and will often come with many other distractions.

So, no. Empaths don’t always know when you are lying. But, they might know, so don’t risk lying to them.

Empath Myth #4 - Empaths are loving, compassionate always happy and positive people who just want to love you.

Maybe some empaths are, but empaths can be irritating and hateful too. Depends on the burdens they carry. Depends on a lot of things. Because, they are human, and humans are complicated.

Some empaths are loners. Introverts. They aren’t lined up at the door waiting to give you big hugs and lots of love and light. But, some are the complete opposite. Those empaths love people and seek out connection. They love to spend time with and talking to people.

Yea, I’m baffled by that one too, but I’ve witnessed it on many occasions so I know it’s true.

Empaths aren’t always full of compassion either. In fact, those empaths with a predominant mental filter usually switch to a channel of understanding rather than compassion. They see why a situation is unfolding as it is. It’s not that they are uncaring people. Not at all. But, Their filter work such that it shows them why a person is acting and feeling the way that they are. They often understand what has lead to this point. But, this empath isn’t flooded with compassion like an emotional empath might be.

Some empaths aren’t tuned into humans and can seem prickly rather than compassionate. They may have a stronger connection with animals or plants or machines or something else where all their love and compassion will shine.

So, if you feel like you might not be an empath because you’re not waiting everyday to greet people with rainbows and unicorns and a plate of compassion cookies, that’s ok. You can still be an Empath.

Empath Myth #5 - Empaths don’t do conflict.

Empaths might not leave the house in the morning looking for an argument, but they won’t shy away from a fight they find important. Many empaths are indigo warriors who will knock you out of their energetic sphere if you stray into a cause or distress a person they hold dear. 

An indigo warrior is an individual who possess unique or special abilities, such as heightened intuition, sensitivity, or empathic abilities, and fights for a particular cause or to bring about positive change in the world.

Woe be to the person who harms that which this empath holds dear. The Empath can fight on an energetic level and cut you to your emotional core or slay you with words you will remember on your deathbed.

Hold on. I’m not advocating this. I’m just saying that this victimhood myth perpetuate in almost every book and blog on empaths where the empath is a victim of everyone else’s emotion and powerless to fight because they are too spineless and too sensitive is inaccurate.

An empath standing in her clear energy, centered and balanced frequency, or whatever you want to call it, is an amazing creature – strong and adept at handling any situation.

SO, it’s totally possible to be competent at conflict and still be an empath.

And, along these same lines I have one more myth to bust. We’ll call it a bonus myth. 

Bonus Myth: Empaths Can’t Say No

Yes, they can. Boundaries are learned behavior and humans struggle with them, even those that aren’t highly sensitive empaths. Nevertheless, empaths still seem to carry this stereotype of being easily manipulated in romantic relationship, friendships, work environments, family drama  and social connections.

Empaths are extremely diverse and complex. There is no one size fits all for empaths. Saying all empaths do ANYTHING is just wrong.  You have to think of being an empath as more of a buffet where the empath has taken different amounts (or none at all) of a hundred different sensitivities lining the table. So, don’t let anyone tell you what your empathic experience is like. It’s up to you to figure out what’s abilities are on your plate and how you are meant to shape your world.

Explore Who You Are

The reason this type of misinformation bothers me is because some empath out there looking for help or advice will read this stuff and believe it. These lies will limit their precious empathic light. They will not understand that these misinformed beliefs and their misunderstanding of their empathic nature will drastically and dramatically dimmed their light and limit what they are capable of doing on this planet at this time.

This stereotype of the empath that can’t handle relationships or social engagement and is in a contact state of emotional distress, isn’t your truth. Don’t believe this deception, because if you do, you may manifest this life, and it doesn’t sound like any kind of fun.

Like that woman at my empath group. She had been told so many wrong things, that she was just didn’t know who she was. But, getting accurate information and support help set her back on her feet. It opened her eyes to who she was and what she was capable of doing.

The truth is your are in charge of what you believe. And, if you remember nothing else today, know this. You can be sensitive without sacrificing any of your strength.

The world is your petri dish. Experiment. Being an empath is adventure. You have great power when your empathic skills are honed. Explore them. Let me know what you find. You can reach me at lori@empathery.com.

woman in a purple shirt with pink glasses
Lori Morrow Kelley

Lori is an empath supporter, podcaster, and blogger living in Texas. She is a gifted over analyzer and dog lover and spends most of her time doing both.

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