Kind people are often proud to be empathic. They believe empathy is evidence of their sensitivity to the needs of others, and they’re not wrong. Stepping into another’s shoes can drain your energy when practiced without self-care, though. If you can use your insightful nature judiciously, it is more likely everyone will benefit. This is because you will no longer soak up others’ stress and you’ll have the clarity to help them.
Definition of empathy
Empathic people pick up the verbal and non-verbal cues from others about how they feel. Their keen observance allows them to recognize the joy and pain others experience. Body language, tone of voice, and attitudes provide clues about people’s mental states.
If you are empathic, you recognize others’ feelings and take them inside your body and mind to test how they feel and expand understanding. You try on their emotions for size whether they ask for help or not. Even when you’re watching TV, you become engrossed in what’s happening, drawing the characters’ moods inside you. Everyone tunes into others to a degree, but your experience is intense.
When empathy is useful
Whether you assist others professionally or listen to a troubled friend, empathy can help. When you empathize, you glean information people won’t always reveal with words, and see the emotions behind what they say. You receive the vibrations of their feelings.
You may mirror people’s movements and let the feeling in your body tell you more about them. Recognition of their moods provides valuable insight that helps you understand their needs.
Know when to switch to concern
There comes a point when it’s necessary to switch from empathy to concern. Once you know how others feel, empathy alone has no value. If you identify with people’s mindsets but are no longer useful to them, your own well-being dwindles. The best way to use empathy is to gain awareness and then return to a calm, balanced mental state.
Recall your intention to assist others but do not share their emotions. Being self-aware can help you switch from empathy to concern and help without suffering. As soon as you have insight into people’s emotions, remember you aren’t them, and go back to feeling like you.
Let empathy guide you when you want to gain understanding and then return to a state of harmony rather than becoming overwhelmed. When calm, you can use the knowledge gleaned via empathy to see people’s difficulties and be helpful without feeling overwhelmed.
Note: Card image is from the Healers of the Earth Oracle