It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I came to understand that I was both an HSP and an empath. I can’t actually recall the first time I encountered the definitions of each term, but I knew immediately they referred to me. When I read articles (like the ones I linked to above) but more recently when I read The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD, that my soul let out a prolonged sigh as if to say, “Finally, there is a reason you feel this way.”
A Few Notes About Empaths
Empaths are often very creative and organized. I’ve always known that I was a creative. At about age 9 I knew that I was a writer and have been drawn to the writing professions since that time. In each chapter of my mosaic career, I gravitated toward the functions in each position that required the most writing. I make my living even today as a technical proposal writer and write books and missives like this one. I do this because it’s the work I can’t-not-do. As a minimalist, my need for organization doesn’t border on the obsessives like those affected by OCD, but I do feel a good deal more relaxed in orderly environments.
It can be exhausting to be an empath because we feel before we think. Empaths have an antenna of sorts that’s kind of like a big satellite dish on our heads. We continually, via no conscience choice of our own, receive emotions, sound, scent, crowd energy, and other types of stimulation and funnel it within, feeling every bit of it. As an empath, I feel things first, then process them intellectually. That’s why directives like “Get over it,” and “Don’t be so sensitive” never helped and only served the perpetuate the differences between myself and others. There are times when I don’t realize why I feel so crappy, then I remember that it’s the result of various stimuli my antenna is receiving and downloading into my psyche. Sometimes I might start feeling overstimulated at a party or during a movie and I have to take a walk in order to deal with it. Recently, I had to hibernate like a hermit for a day following a bad reaction to a day full of negative and overwhelming stimuli.
Narcissists are toxic to empaths. As the figure below illustrates, empaths are the polar opposites of narcissists. Whereas empaths, especially INFJs, are mainly protectors and givers, narcissists are almost always takers. A narcissist will rob me of my energy in a split second. If, as in my case, an empath is raised by a narcissist parent, they usually don’t grow up with much self-esteem, often reach adulthood with a marked deficit of self-worth, and must work on their own to achieve healthy amounts of both. Narcissists won’t ever understand the needs of their empathic children and that’s truly sad.
Being a highly sensitive male is no picnic in the business world. As a man in the 21st century, I think it’s probably easier than it used to be to ‘come out’ as highly sensitive and empathic. These aren’t foreign terms to the literate among us and many employers and corporations have become more sensitive when it comes to recognizing differences in personality types on the job. That doesn’t mean life in the business world is easier; if anything, it’s more challenging. When I’m around Type-A personalities, I cringe inside because of the way I’m affected by their aggression and competitive natures. They don’t mean any harm, but it still affects me negatively. I tend to get along with women more easily unless they’re of a Type-A nature. When that occurs, it’s never a good mix. I had a female Type-A boss once that scared the crap out of me each and every time I was around her. 😯
My current relationship is the best of my life, largely due to my girlfriend’s sensitivity toward my highly-sensitive and empathic nature. She’s neither an introvert nor an empath, yet she amazes me with her insight into my personality. She has taken the time to educate herself about my empathic nature and how best to relate to me. She’s also learned that there are others in her circle of friends that are also empathic and this helps us both relate as a couple.
If what I’ve written about on this page sounds weird or crazy, you’re probably neither an empath or a highly-sensitive person. That’s cool, and actually, you’re probably better off.
But if what I’ve written about has your Spidey-senses tingling and has left you wanting more because you see yourself in my description, then you might also be an HSP or an empath, or both. I’ll be writing more about my empathic journey as I develop this site further.
Thanks for reading,