Empathy, by definition, consists of the ability to understand another person(s) feelings or viewpoint.Too often I hear people explain to me how empathic they are, and how they ‘can’t shut the emotions of other people out’. Worse is when they try to impress that they are gifted. Its not a gift if you can’t handle it. Its not a gift if its not somehow helping yourself or others. Whatever they think they are feeling from others is not empathy as much as their own issues.
For instance, if you listen to someone who deals with an abusive relationship, a person who is truly empathic should be able to sympathize and listen, keeping in mind what is best for the person speaking. This is not how you would feel if dealing with an abusive relationship. Not everyone dealing with a troubled relationship considers themselves ‘abusive’ let alone a victim, and setting YOUR feelings on another doesn’t help. Not everyone is willing to leave an abusive relationship without trying to salvage it first.
Being unable to face crowds also is not a sign of being empathic as much as being introverted and unable to cope with the amount of attention. Not that being an introvert (shy) person is wrong or even a handicap, but recognize the difference.
Someone who can put themselves in someone else’s place must have a very good understanding of people but more importantly the individual they are talking with.
One ‘empath’ told me she never could break through my walls. What she never recognized is that she didn’t need to, nor did she need to use her powers of empathy to do so. Simply talking and sharing with me, building trust and mutual respect, drops the walls very easily. I do not easily trust others, and if she were truly empathic, she would know this.
The true gift of empathy enables you to understand others.