The Beauty of Empathy

"Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and passionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those are at times described as being a 'hot mess' or 'having too many issues' are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world." - Anthon St. Marteen

I am a true HSP (a highly sensitive person).  Those who have a personal relationship with me would probably say that I wear my heart on my sleeve, or that I'm a crybaby, or "too damn sensitive," but it's because this is actually an innate quality that I possess. I have been reading up on the traits of a HSP (another term for this is empath), and I can definitely admit to displaying pretty much most of the traits. I am not sure when I realized that this was more than just me being dramatic or overly emotional, but that I literally have a more heightened awareness towards everything - EVERYTHING - and in turn, all situations, good or bad, affect me more deeply than they do the average person. Now that I know that this is actually a real damn thing, I don't feel bad about it anymore. Not that I ever truly felt bad about it before, but I find myself always defending who I am, and why I feel the way I feel about certain situations. It becomes exhausting.

Dr. Elaine Aron actually began the research of this trait back in 1991, and it turns out that 15%-20% of the population are genetically prone to be more empathic and more aware. Who knew?

"Empaths feel positive, loving emotions deeply, and appreciate the subtleties of beauty, art, and music. They flourish in calm, loving, and peaceful environments. On the flip side, however, empaths feel all emotions keenly - even negative emotions. They are so in tune to other's negative feelings that they become angst-sucking sponges. Stressful situations and people overwhelm them." - Dr. Judith Orloff

I'm not able to watch violence in movies anymore. If there's a show or movie that I really want to watch, I usually always cover my eyes when someone is being physically harmed. I can't tune in to the news because there's always something negative being reported. I can't watch videos online of people being disrespected, physically assaulted, or worse, murdered (still not sure how people are able to look at crap like that).

It is true that I thrive when I am alone, in my own space, with my own thoughts. Being in the company of others for too long will drain me. I require solitude to restore and recharge. True introvert.

I am easily overwhelmed because I notice EVERYTHING, so when things get too intense and chaotic, I feel it x's 10. Part of me wishes that I wasn't this emotional being so that life's bullshit would be a little easier to deal with. But then, I have this moment where I stop and appreciate the beauty of sensitivity, and that being this way is a positive and unique quality that not many people have. Truthfully, the world needs more HSP's. We are compassionate, creative, great listeners, always aware of our surroundings, extremely self-reflective and self-aware, and we feel things on a deeper level. Being an extreme empath is nothing to be ashamed of. In a world dominated by less sensitive people, the positive aspects of the overly sensitive make being an emotional sponge worth the ride.

Image via Amira Ederra

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