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The EMPATH Trap: Why Identifying As An Empath Is Blocking Your Ability To Heal

An empath is described as someone who has the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others. The definition implies that empathy is a unique attribute belonging only to empathic people and that being sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others is a unique ability that only certain people possess.

But isn’t this actually just what it means to be human? Don’t all human beings have the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others?

If this is in fact true then empathy is just describing the way in which ALL human beings relate to each other.

The distinction between being human and being an empath only shows up in how we choose to use this ability in our life.

For example:

Sally may be fully aware that her choice will disappoint Dan AND she chooses it anyway.

Harry may be fully aware that what he wants will hurt Susan SO he lets go of what he wants in order to please Susan.

Is Sally selfish or confident? Is Dan powerless or emotionally sovereign? Is Harry a victim or a good person? Is Susan manipulative or just good at creating what she wants?

How you see each of those people in the examples above will reflect a lot about how you relate to your life and the people in it.

Perhaps empaths tend to be more prone to relate to Sally as selfish, Dan as powerless, Harry as victim, and Susan as manipulative.

Take a moment to contrast what it feels like in your body to say I AM HUMAN with I AM EMPATHIC.

For me, when I embody I AM HUMAN - I feel empowered and connected to others and a sense of peace and belonging.

When I embody I AM EMPATHIC - I feel victimized, resentful, hopeless, and powerless. Like my ability to create is hindered by a flow of emotional awareness that is outside of my control.

Empathy usually shows up as the shadow side of being human. We use it as a trump card to avoid conversations, parties, opportunities, and things that we want to do but can’t because we are too drained from being around other people and their feelings all day.

As a human being, if I fall victim to another’s feelings it is because I am relating to THEIR experience rather than my own. I am honoring THEIR experience at the cost of my own.

If I claim to feel another’s feelings what I am really feeling is MY OWN feelings ABOUT their experience.

Truly BEING human is to learn how to coexist peacefully with another while holding separate truths. It is about separating my feelings from your feelings. Honoring your experience while still holding space for the truth that exists in my own heart.

We confuse honoring someone’s experience with having to admit that their experience is right and ours is wrong. What if both my experience and yours is perfect just the way it is.

The pathway out of the trap of empathy is to separate our feelings from our experiences while simultaneously holding connection to each other as human beings. When we do this we stop clinging to our experience as truth and anything that opposes that truth as wrong. This opens us to a greater understanding of who we are and what it really means to BE human.

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