The Difference Between Empathic and Empathetic
It’s incredibly refreshing that society, social media and schools are talking about, practicing and teaching empathy skills. The world is in great need of more compassion and empathy. Some could put forth that the two concepts above are, in fact, the same thing. I believe they are actually different aspects of the same thing.
The difference, in my opinion, is in ‘perceiving’ and ‘feeling.’ Empathy is generally considered being able to understand what another is experiencing by understanding their frame of mind. This is the ‘put yourself in another person’s shoes’ concept. Empathy is taught in homes and at schools. There is a distance between the experience and the experiencer in empathy—it is more of a mind understanding.
When you’re empathic, you actually feel another’s state, or you pick up energy from the world around you in a real and visceral manner, as if you were experiencing it yourself. There is no distance when you are empathic; you feel the experience in your heart, as if the experience were yours. Empathic ability is not taught, it’s often inherited, and rarely is anyone coached how to manage and live with this beautiful burden.
Empaths often feel stomachaches, anxiety, sleeplessness and headaches when they absorb or feel too much from a particular experience. One interesting aspect of this overwhelm is that when their systems are overloaded, empaths often shut off the mind aspect of empathy because the heart aspect consumes them. So they don’t show empathy because the pain they feel on the inside is too much.
The power of being empathic lies in the ability to understand and integrate the experience. Just knowing that what you’re feeling and why helps tremendously. Sometimes empaths are literally drawing energy to them like a magnet. Empaths can pick up or feel the energy of both good feelings and unpleasant experiences, sometimes becoming either more energized or exhausted depending on the situation. It is often overwhelming to the nervous system of the receiver. Many individuals in the healing arts and teaching professions are empathic. It’s a great tool in these types of professions, as long as you know how to wield it. The power comes in being able to distinguish what you feel that is yours and what you’re picking up from the world around you. Once you make the distinction, the added sensory feeling becomes information that you can make choices and decisions around.
Empaths are highly sensitive beings. In the wide, broad world, not everyone understands or believes in this phenomenon. But if you are one, you completely understand what I’m talking about. And if you look closely, I suspect you’ll notice it’s a more common trait than most realize.