Empathy is important, but to some, it is a natural gift.
To those who have this gift, they are labeled an empath; a person in which is overly sensitive to their environment and those that surround them.
Anyone can be empathetic, but only an empath carries the blessing and burden of the weight of humanity around them. A bit dramatic? No, Being “overly sensitive” to something can be overpowering and enriching all in the same spell. Add on to that a child who is discovering who they are, thinking differently… it can all be a bit scary.
Below is a list of simple tips for supporting an empath plus some reasons why they think this way. I myself am one and my daughter has started to show signs of being one as well. Years of struggling with depression, feeling different, and people not understanding why I am how I am… I’ve come to realize it’s because I’m different. I have a natural gift that I needed to learn how to cope with and harness. Everyone can benefit from the lists of tips, but for an empath, this support becomes crucial to understanding one’s self.
- Teach your empath self-perception theory as well as different points of view. As an empath feeding off of the emotional vibes from all around you, it can be very loud. There needs to be a realization of other’s emotions versus your own to fully understand what exactly needs to be silenced when it becomes too much. The world mainly sees things from a first-person/second-person point of view. It’s important that your empath realizes that they are rare in being able to access that omniscient point of view. From the moment they walk into a room they are widely aware of their surroundings and every person’s demeanor in said room. Normal people do not initially think this way. They have the thoughts of “I’m going to do this” and ” they will do that”, but not a full sense of “the entire room/ the entire crowd/ the whole mall”. Same with self-perception; it’s the theory that a person will only perceive things from the context clues around them. It’s important to know that your empath picks up on more than just body language and physical cues. Sometimes they will not be able 100% explain why they knew someone would be a certain way or why an event would play out how it did, they will feel it before they can rationalize it. This is odd for a natural human. Most people use deductive reasoning in factoring in how something will be from the clues around them, an empath with naturally sense these things faster than a human can physically gather clues and their deductive reasoning can sometimes be a second thought or sometimes not even come at all. It’s important to understand this and tell your child that this is okay to think differently from the rest of mankind.
- Never underrate their feelings by calling them dramatic or unimportant. They are absorbing all that is around them and it can be challenging to take in when you don’t even understand your own emotions or what’s going on in your own life. That first-person point of view is not naturally their first instinct, remember? So for this, sometimes they will soak in the vibe around them (could be the attitude of a friend, the negativity they’ve jointly experienced through the day, the sadness overwhelmingly from a tragedy). It will consume them and the vibes they’ve been feeling/ picking up on will oftentimes uncontrollably become their own. It is very important to validate this and show them healthy ways of healing, even if the pain was not initially theirs or you yourself can not justify why they are upset about it. It’s not what is hurting your empath that is the issue, it’s normally just too much and they need the support to move forward from this overwhelming emotion.
- Give them space and encourage alone time just as equally as you encourage social time. Empaths crave being loved and socializing, but it can be draining. We already know that they are like a sponge with soaking in the world of emotions around them, so it makes sense that our sponge needs to be rung out every now and then. Having time in silence or alone can help rebalance your empath and bring them back to full strength. A lot of time empaths are drawn to nature or art as a way of feeling the world around them in movement without having to shoulder the loud views and emotions of those around them. Sometimes just a nap is needed or alone time in their room. Encourage them to take this time when they are overwhelmed, encourage them to continue to do this if you see them already secluding themselves after a stressful day/event. Everyone needs to recharge in general every now and then, but empaths emotionally need to frequently (I’d say I need to about 3-5 times a week honestly).
- The age-old theory of ” do onto others as you want done to you” does not apply for an empath. Teach your child that there are realistic limits to how much a person can give of themselves before it gets toxic. This goes for everything they do because naturally, empaths strive to give their all until they are left overran or emotionally stranded. For this reason, empaths have often struggled with depression in struggling to know why the world doesn’t care as much as they do or why friends and family don’t give back the amount they do. It’s important to stress how rare they are and important they are and how they must be aware of their own needs.
- Their intuition is as strong if not stronger than some adults because of how observant of human nature they are. Do not downplay this. In fact, embrace that sometimes they can predict what will happen and encourage them to trust in that feeling. This will provoke a sense of confidence in your empath, in which they will grow to appreciate. When an empath is not supported or does not feel confident in the vibes they are feeling because of others underplaying it, it feels horrible. Your first thought is to second guess every feeling you have because others have deemed you to be “too much” or ” insane”. Then when what you thought would happen turns out to be a reality over and over from those who refuse to trust in you, your empath begins to feel helpless. The words and thoughts they shared are not being heard and they could have prevented/ altered the situation. Your empath needs a comfortable space where they don’t feel the consistent browbeating for having natural intuition.
If you feel that you yourself are an empath or your child may be, you’re in luck. There is plenty of books/ virtual support groups/ websites out now and days that can really help you feel normal or help with coping with this. Being an empath can often make relationships difficult, cause anxiety and depression. Recognizing that you’re different and that it’s okay to be different, is the first step towards preventing these trails for you/your child.