Are you an empath? Were you told you are too sensitive growing up? Let’s consider what does empathy even mean.
All humans have empathy- with few rare exceptions. Having no empathy at all would essentially make you a psychopath. Some people have such a developed ability that they face special challenges in their lives.
Empathy is defined as the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. It is not your feelings but you identify and understand them enough to feel them as if they are your own.
Empathic people tend to be able to experience a wide variety of emotions. Imagine emotions like colors- for an empath these colors are vivid and a wide combination of tones and textures is available. Some might call this emotional intelligence but I think that at times empathy can in fact hinder the ability to act in an emotionally intelligent manner.
If you are an empath you by nature don’t tend to separate yourself from other people. The boundaries between” I and other” are blurry.
For an empath the ability is most present when being in the same space as another person. In fact, the closer they are standing next to you and if they touch you and look into your eyes- the stronger the experience of emphasizing will be for you.
Empathy doesn’t have to be toward an actual living person in the room or a person at all- it can be a strong experience towards an event, a story someone tells you or an animal.
Like I mentioned before empathy means understanding how someone else is feeling- putting yourself in their shoes.
In order to do so- you would have to know the feeling- to have experienced it yourself. That’s why most empathic people have intense emotional responses; they feel things on a deep level. They felt things from an early age and are familiar with the different ways: love, anger, pain, anxiety and happiness can take.
Imagine talking to a friend and telling them of a problem you have or something that happened during the day. An empathic friend would not just listen to what you are saying- they would respond as if they understand how that event made you feel. They may say something that shows they understand or they may understand without you saying anything- what you need. If you need silence, a hug or advice they will be able to give it to you. Chances are they will show they are affected by what you said- they may start crying or shiver as if they feel your fear or if you are happy they will smile.
Most of us try and be good friends and family members and show we care. The difference between empaths and regular people is in their boundaries and level of detachment.
An empath has a very low level of detachment from your feelings and may even confuse them with their own emotions! Another difference is in their ability to move away from the emotions, they can’t simply forget what you told them or how you made them feel and will need a lot of time to detach. Most empaths also have physical symptoms of this experience: they can have nightmares, shiver, and feel cold and overwhelmed.
Because being an empath is not an easy experience and it can get overwhelming- many highly empathic people think there is something wrong with them. They may see how different their experience is to other people and feel they are “weak for letting the world get to them. Nothing is further from the truth, they are not weak but simply more attuned to the world- they are a radio attuned to the human experience with no off button.
Not being able to turn off empathy makes many empathic people shy away from human interaction. They may seem distant and cold which is ironic.
Empathy also has another side effect-an ability to put on a mask or play any role. Think about it- if you know emotions so well and you expressed and experienced them on a deep level- wouldn’t it be easy for you to pretend o feel something? This ability to become anything and anyone is an interesting aspect of empathy. It is almost like magic.
The challenge for empaths is to learn how to create boundaries that are strong enough to let them function in the world. The trick is in knowing that boundaries don’t mean they shut themselves away from helping people or from feelings- in fact boundaries allow them to be much more emphatic towards many more people, without getting tired.
Anyway…Let’s get back into what Astrology has to say about empathy.
Traditionally empathy is associated with the Moon, specifically with the Moon in a water sign. Additionally, empathy is associated with the planet Neptune.
In my experience the way empathy plays out for each Moon sign is different. Although I am talking specifically about moon signs these types can also relate to personality types and play out in other placements in your chart. If you recognize any of it- and don’t have a water Moon, that is probably the case.
1st type is the Moon in Pisces: This is the type of empathy where with the lowest level of boundaries. You feel you are the other person completely! The emotions are also very lacking I direction because you can’t always tell where they come from or what made you feel. It is almost as if how you feel is made out of fragments of other people and places. You tend to feel collective emotions! So you are a natural actor and performer. On the other hand you can’t describe or pin down what you feel- you just do.
2nd type is the Moon in Cancer: This is where you know you are feeling someone else’s emotions- but you can’t help but let them in. You also feel very nurturing and like you want to help the other person. The need to be of service and to give can make this empathy very exhausting. Take care of yourself first. You also tend to feel stronger empathy towards those who are weak: children, animals and the sick.
3rd type is the Moon in Scorpio: Here there are stronger boundaries and ability to tell what your own emotions are. You have the type of empathy that goes underneath the emotion of the person to the root cause. You tend to understand the reason for the emotion and are a natural psychologist. Here the empathy is directed towards the darker impulse of humanity- you understand pain and darkness and can see beneath evil to the pain at heart.