Empath ~ the Outlier in Your Midst

Empaths are outliers hiding in plain sight. You don’t know about us (usually), but you do know us. We are your friend who hears your secrets, your family member who sees all sides, your co-worker who’s a good listener. We are your intense lover. We are your truth teller. We are your hand holder. You invite us in and ask us to stay; you want us with you, but you may not know why.

Empaths are insiders who are outsiders. We are the observers in a group who feel what others are feeling. Because we can “read people,” we contribute much to group dynamics, discussions, and decisions. Our emotional instincts guide us and others well. I’ve read that empaths make up 2 to 3% of the population which makes us outliers. (I think this is a better term than outsiders.)  An outlier is a person who differs from the other members of a particular group. Outliers are on the extreme fringe of something. And empaths are on the extreme end of the emotional spectrum.

So what’s it like being an emotional outlier? For me, I struggled with it for a long time. I didn’t understand how to walk the line between who I was and what I experienced. How could I be part of a group and true to how I felt? I made a lot of mistakes, and I got hurt a lot. I was criticized for being too sensitive. (I have Jersey roots, and Jersey girls are supposed to be tough!) I was told to stop crying when I felt overwhelmed. I slammed doors and listened to very loud music for emotional release. Lost and broken people gravitated toward me and depleted much of my inner strength.

It’s true that with age comes wisdom. For empaths, it’s usually wisdom learned from hard experiences. You learn to step away from that which harms you, and especially that which harms your children. You learn to stop offering yourself as a perennial sponge for any passing tentacles, and the tentacled creatures go away looking for other hosts. You learn your limits, and that you actually have them! You learn to accept and not just to give. You learn to honor yourself and live as an empath ~ an emotional outlier.

As we are, so we see. ~ William Blake


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