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Are you an empath?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Big_Bend, Dec 22, 2020.

  1. scrapyardblue

    scrapyardblue Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Very interesting topic, Big Bend. I have empathy also, consider it a positive, but it is not unfettered. I involve when it's a genuine soul, but smell bullcrap a mile away. Keeps me from wasting time or worse, being drug into a dark cave.

    What you didn't mention is what impact you've had on those damaged souls you've attracted? Did you help to improve their lot in some way? Reading your post I would deduce that the toll on you far exceeds the reward. Regardless, that is how I look at things. I give everybody an opportunity, the first interview. Only the genuine get further.
     
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  2. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Well, like the saying goes, the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.
     
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  3. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, I’m a total empath. But I’m also retired military. So when I feel someone else’s pain, I yell at them like an angry drill instructor for making me feel bad.
     
  4. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for this thread, @Big_Bend.
    I've never heard of being an empath before today. I now identify as one.

    I've been called sensitive and moody my whole life. And I've learned to defend against the drag of it all by passing on the anger and snubs and belittling and disgust that I've felt from others over the years. Or by channeling Howard Roark (which really just means being an a-hole). Often, I use my own elevated sense of personal responsibility or "justice" to disdain and avoid the VDPs ("very draining people" we call them in my family) who would otherwise expect me to carry their burdens for them. VDPs can smell an empath a mile away.

    Basically, I'm constantly trying to trick myself into believing that other people are worthless, just to keep from being consumed by how much they mean to me.

    I'm tired. "Compassion fatigue" just from daily life.

    And the older I get, the more readily I will ruin someone's day.
    The way I've been operating for the past decade: very little grace and forgiveness comes my way, and I respond, against my nature, in kind. I mean, I hate to wreck the balance of the universe. :)


    But what if my empathy is the balance to others' lack thereof?
    What if being true to my very nature is the balance?


    This gives me a completely new perspective about it all. And a lot to chew on over the holidays. Especially lately while I work to blend a new family and work out constant problems with the ex-wife.
    Hopefully, this new "label" will help my sweet bride understand me a little better.


    Thank you so much,
    Ben
     
  5. hnryclay

    hnryclay Tele-Meister

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    Interesting hearing from people that have this personality type. I am about as far on the other side of the spectrum as you can get. Usually I can tell how others feel, but my natural reaction is that I dont really care as long as we are able to proceed with the job/interaction. In my personal life working on having any empathy at all towards loved ones, and friends is a struggle. In general I have lots of acquaintances but very few true friends.
     
  6. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I’ve cried more in the last couple of years than all the years before. I don’t know if you’re with me but I can see through a lot of the political BS that others swallow whole.
     
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  7. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Soooooo... A few have mentioned psychology and/or working in mental health.

    *deep breath*

    One thing I RARELY will reveal online is that I am a licensed PhD psychologist. Yeah, yeah, I know. I say a lot of really dumb things despite that. But I generally try to stay out of mental health related threads because of this, for personal and ethical reasons.

    In graduate training and beyond I did tons of research in empathy, compassion, sympathy, etc... I'm not going to pick apart all that here. It's a battle of semantics that misses the forest from the trees for our purposes.

    My sense of empathy, drive to understand others and my reactions to them, and ability to make others feel safe to open up, led me to study human behavior and become a therapist. Other driving forces were beliefs about myself instilled in me from childhood. The problem being, of course, some of them were wrong. Or at least inaccurate.

    The biggest one being that I was born to be a helper. Well, I'm not a helper. I'm just not. That doesn't mean I'm a selfish *****, either. It just means I'm not the first to run into a burning house, as it were.

    Believe it or not, I'm actually very good at what I do. You might say that in many ways I'm a natural. I'm certainly better at it than I'll ever be at making marketable music. Or anything else I might prefer doing, to be frank. But it's not without its drawbacks. Being that I'm not a natural helper, I get burned out very quickly, and constantly feel like people are trying to use my position for their own selfish motivations (usually money and/or trying to get out of trouble), and not for true healing and recovery. As someone who worked so hard on recovery in my own life, I tend to take it very personally. That's not a healthy way to be in my field.

    Helpers are prone to ignore their own needs and self-care by focusing so much on others' temporal needs. OTOH, I tend to focus on others' emotions first and foremost, for good or bad. That makes me protective of myself in ways that are not necessarily helpful toward others in a temporal way. It can very helpful for others in an emotional way, though. But I had to learn the hard way that people are not always in a state they can benefit from it, and will instead prey on it. Or as least get angry (and even violent) when it's clear I'm not going to help them get what they want because I don't think personally or clinically that they need it for healing and recovery.

    They don't always really teach that last part very well in mental health training programs. :confused: In my case, I've had to learn that some of the people charged to supervise and train psychologists are in fact the very people that prey on others' emotional reactions. They tend to get angry and abusive when you stop feeding their egos. That was a very hard lesson to learn. I've had to learn that same lesson in my personal and family life, too.

    To some extent, sunk cost fallacy drove me to finish graduate level training and beyond to get a stable job in my field, get and maintain a license, and pretend to pay back the massive amount of student debt I incurred. Becoming a therapist is hard. Getting a PhD is hard (and long. And expensive). It is not for the faint of heart (which I am). It took me many years to get where I am. Far more so than most. So I have a ton invested in it. I simply can't afford to just decide to walk away for greener pastures.

    My therapy? TDPRI, of course. :cool:Please just don't tell my employer. :eek:
     
  8. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

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    Detecting emotions in others to varying degrees is normal human behaviour.
    Crowing about it is another kind of human behaviour.
     
  9. rcole_sooner

    rcole_sooner Poster Extraordinaire

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  10. cnlbb

    cnlbb Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm not falling for your tricks Deckard!
     
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  11. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Probably.

    Over the years I've known three gals that were into the wicca thing and all three at some point in the relationship said I was a lightworker. Not a light worker...a lightworker. The first time I heard it I had no idea what it meant.

    I don't think much about all that, but I do care deeply about people and I can appreciate the beauty in everyone--sometimes even bad people, and that has caused problems o_O
     
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  12. rockhound

    rockhound TDPRI Member Gold Supporter

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    Nope.
     
  13. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    I have tendencies in this area. Always thought of it more as learning to trust instinct, that inner voice. Which is probably just a new agey way of describing being open to certain types of perception. And behavior.

    I too have had so many people confide in me through the years. They know I can listen, not judge, and will not take advantage. Animals, cats especially, get friendly fast with me. I think it's all part of the same thing. Projecting a sense that you're not hear to hurt others, and can listen to what they're saying and are themselves projecting.
     
  14. buster poser

    buster poser Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Yup, and I definitely relate re narcissists and other problem people. Not that I think I can fix them, but I find something to like in just about everyone, and tend to minimize their faults. I fortunately tend also to be a pretty good first-blush judge of character, and I have no issue dispassionately telling such people to get from in front of me if I see it a little late.

    Those paired qualities have kept most toxic folks out of my life, but I had a recent-ish experience with someone who was an master 'long-con' manipulator; it let me know my spidey sense isn't infallible. He fooled a lot of us, but again, that ability to recognize and walk away quickly got me out early... dude wrecked his career and every relationship in his family before those folks even realized what was occurring.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
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  15. ukepicker

    ukepicker Tele-Afflicted

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    I hate that thing where I soak up the feeling in the room and reflect it back, effectively magnifying it. I especially sucks when my wife is frustrated with me, it becomes a spiraling cycle.

    In defense, socially, I try to be purposefully at odds with the room. Or hide.

    Right now, the morale is an all-time low at the office. My coworkers keep coming in my office to confide in me and I'm simply adding fuel to the fire (not intentionally, not even verbally or non-verbally, sometimes just vibrationally).

    Very timely to have this brought to my attention today. Maybe I can find a way help spin this in a little more positive direction.

    Because, you know, it's my responsibility to fix every problem in the world. ;)
     
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  16. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    I'm an empath, high Emotional Q as they call it. I've taught myself not to care because people can be annoying. So now I'm a stealth empath projecting being a jerk. I turn it off for stunning brunettes.
     
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  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hahahahahaha yeah intercultural communication SNAFU is the nature of humanity!
    Can't we all just get along?

    As 12 Step programs started translating texts into other than the original English, it was a slow process because language is full of that stuff.
    Around 1999 I was talking with a nurse in historic Lowell MA, birth of the industrial revolution, and she wanted translations of some lit into Khmer language for the Cambodian youths she was encountering with drug problems.
    Did some hunting including contacting the Asia Pacific service structure and there was no translations available at that time.
    I offered to hunt down some Cambodian volunteers because my Greek gf was connected in the community and her Mother was a well loved ESL teacher who had taught many new immigrants to speak English, while also helping with integration into society etc.

    Anyhow, in that process I had to be told by those who knew about language barriers that there were some significant problems with direct translation, like for example the key 12 Step word, Powerless, used as the very first thing we do, admit we are powerless over our drug or alcohol problem; translated to Spanish it becomes a word that also means impotent.

    Try to get young Hispanic men to admit they are impotent?

    Yeah OK I was in over my head and I told the nurse that we just didn't have those translations available yet, and the sensitivity required really needed to come from inside the programs if it was to be done well.

    Hell, even in the English language among those who speak English as a first language, agreeing on words and terms is like wrestling bears!
     
  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well all humor aside, there really is a legit point to be made that after we FEEL, our empathy might better be returned in some form that is nothing like gentle kindness and understanding hand wringing, as in supporting or cosigning the individuals continued participation in their own hardship.

    Sometimes though it's hard to know, how much listening is actually beneficial, and where should we choose to give some unsolicited advice.
    I get deep personal torments dumped on me by a variety of friends and associates, but only go the distance with a few of them, keeping most at arms length.
    Some are howling about their relationship problems in situations where I know all the involved individuals.
    Gotta be cautious with that stuff!

    Right now there are a couple of people who I have a strong desire to slap upside the face and scream at!

    Seriously!
    Sometimes the poor suffer bunny needs a god face slap, not a hug!

    My boss at work is a friend of going on seven years and she tolerates me calling her a doormat, when appropriate.

    I think that's one result of living as empath.
    We let everyone wipe their feet on us...

    There's a song from childhood that suits here:

    But if somehow you could
    pack up you sorrows
    and give them all to me.

    You would lose them
    I know how to use them
    Give them all to me

    As far as what we are to do with all the dirt of the world?
    Make art dammit!

    Make some damn art with the dirt of the world!!!!
     
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  19. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As a youngster I had some of that, but life and living kind of beat it out of me until I'm pretty sure it's all gone. I used to get doses of it when a friend had a wing down, I never actually helped anyone during the time I would be feeling very strongly for their situation, in fact I usually made it worse. Thankfully for the world, and my piece of mind it's pretty much left me entirely now. If I get a dose of it, I firmly ignore it until it passes. I'm not making light of the OP, I have actually experienced what he's talking about early on in my life, but I found I never was able to put it to good use, and am glad it kind of just faded away.
     
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  20. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    As an afterthought. I once told my wife I was a good judge of character, she said no you're not, you figure everyone you meet is out to get to you in some way or another. After thinking it over, I decided I was right, I AM a good judge of character.
     
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