Empath - The Good, Bad and Ugly
Are you a people person?
Are you an empath?
This is for you.
Admittedly, I'm a bit of an empath. From a young age I wanted to be a teacher to help the underdog. I do what I do for work because in my early 20s I wanted to help others. I feel a lot of pride and purpose in my role within my family; trying to guide and provide. I have put myself in a few bad situations with others where I ignored red flags, tolerated things I shouldn't, gave the benefit of the doubt and was more attached to their potential than their reality.
Here is the social intelligence take on it and why you need to pay attention.
The research shows each of us has a dominant pattern of behavior that was developed at a young age because it helped us get our needs met. As we've grown up we've had to figure out what works and what doesn't... what's productive and what's not. Through development and maturity, hopefully we engage in more productive behaviors than unproductive. This can be a blurry line though because even if the behavior is unproductive it still meets our need.
Half of the general population tend to be more emoting, meaning they feel and show more emotion (positive and negative) when interacting with others. They feel and show more emotion when taking action and they feel and show more emotion when responding and reacting.
Empaths are emoting.
For the people who tend to be more emoting, their needs for security revolve around people; their needs are relational. Of this emoting population, some people's needs are more around approval, recognition, feeling heard and feeling respected. Others’ needs are more around a feeling of safety and predictability with others. Because these needs are relational these people have been reading others and deploying relational tactics since they were little; being empathetic, showing compassion, taking care of others, showing concern, being kind, loving, caring and at times, putting others’ needs ahead of their own. Why? Because all of these tactics give them a better chance of receiving approval and safety in return. These tactics give them the best chance of getting their needs met.
Here is the good, bad and ugly.
Being an empath can be fantastic. You are the ultimate people-people and you are well equipped to anticipate others’ needs and provide support and value. You are wired to do so. But… for this to happen you must learn emotional management and boundaries.
Empaths are emoting. They feel and show more emotion when interacting with others. If your need is approval or safety from others and you think… feel… perceive… that others are not meeting your need… showing you approval… giving you kindness… matching your compassion… that will trigger a more emotional response that may result in taking things too personally, reading too much into things, making assumptions about others that aren’t true… all because your feelings are hurt.
Emotional management means you have an awareness of how you are, what you prefer, how you tend to react both positively and negatively and you try to manage it appropriately
Empaths give, give, give because it makes them feel good and they want others to give, give, give in return. Sometimes your need leads you to giving and pushing with others; not respecting their boundaries. When this happens, you are making it more about you than them.
At times, empaths are so focused on giving, giving, giving that they aren’t paying attention to whether or not others are respecting and/or showing concern for them until it’s too late. You must set appropriate boundaries with others, so when you’re not getting what you deserve, you have the ability to recognize something is off, speak up and/or move in another direction.
This is really important because if an empath doesn’t learn emotional management and to set appropriate boundaries this can lead to a never ending cycle of giving, not feeling reciprocation and hurt feelings; taking a real toll on their mental and emotional resiliency and well-being. When this happens it’s easy to become jaded against other people rather than accepting personal responsibility for your emotional management and setting boundaries, ultimately giving you greater control and getting you better results.
I see quite a few posts about the good things that come with being an empath. Though they are true, there are some real consequences if there is a lack of emotional management and boundaries. And my observation is there are a lot of people suffering because they are stuck in the cycle.
As always, emotional and social intelligence is key.