What It Means To Be Empathetic


Joon Echols, Senior Staff Writer


Anxiety is something, often, very hard to talk about. 

If you were to first introduce yourself as “anxious”, people would simply see it as just another passing feeling; nothing too extreme, or out of the ordinary of the human condition. However, changing a few syllables to spell out “anxiety” changes quite a few things.

Anxiety is a mental illness characterized by constant fear that goes beyond the realm of normalcy. 

Those that suffer from Anxiety often struggle at varying rates; from minor feelings of insecurity over an awkward phone call to constant bouts of uncontrollable and sporadic panic attacks. Oftentimes someone may not be aware of it themselves until they are diagnosed by a medical professional, or they may be aware of the condition but choose to hide it. Additionally, due to the chemical imbalances happening to cause anxiety, it may also cause other conditions to spring up; with depression as a common byproduct of it.

Whether you have anxiety, or perhaps a friend does, it’s a major problem within our society plaguing everyone within its reach.

However thanks to present day scientists we now know more about anxiety than ever before. 

Nowadays anyone feeling down can make an appointment to talk to a therapist; if needed, you could take medication to ease the pain.

Delving deeper into this enigma, one could argue this all stems from a person’s emotions being too big for them to handle and it wouldn’t be wrong. Those with anxiety have been recorded to have a more heightened sense of emotional awareness. Even though it sounds like pure fiction, many carriers of anxiety have such a great understanding of it that they can tune-in to the emotions of others.

These people are referred to/known as empaths.



Despite the general populace not knowing what an empath is, it’s quite the famous condition and worldwide at that.

Now you have to understand this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a world where constant movement is accepted while everything else is ostracized, it’s no wonder people now have a lower rate of empathy. Thankfully there are still a great many out there that actually have a decent level of empathy; yet, some exceed even that.

Anyone will argue that even the slightest bit of empathy can make you an empath; but that’s just not true.

The most common scale to determine at what level someone’s empathy can go, is by determining the cognitive, emotional, and/or compassionate status of one’s empathy.


Cognitive Empathy

Likewise the most common level of it, this allows a person to see things from someone else’s perspective; although not necessarily a bright and flashy trait, it’s still very useful. 

For example, if a person were to fall and scrape their knee, an empath wouldn’t necessarily feel their pain. However, they would feel an increase within their emotional response, such as the nurturing or compassionate urge to help. 

Thus we have general empathy, the drive to help others.


Emotional Empathy

Most notable in the population suffering from the mental illness anxiety, and others, is the physical reaction due to someone else’s emotional response; this kind of empathy bridges the gap from the perceived, to the tangible.

Following the previous example, is the sudden pain an empath would feel in their own knee. Now they hadn’t moved a step, and yet, their empathetic nature has put them in a situation where mental and physical designs intermingle.

Although typically considered an odd, or even over-dramatic reaction, it allows for a type of connection usually common in deep and intricate relationships. 


Compassionate Empathy

Perhaps the most admired form of empathy, the one in which everyone holds to such a high regard, is the willingness to help others.

Even if the person in question isn’t in imminent danger, that doesn’t mean helping others is any less useful or necessary. The empath that witnessed and felt this event will not hesitate for a second to rush to this person’s, a stranger’s, aid.

Considered the perfect balance between the Cognitive and Emotional response, the person in question won’t just be forced to act but allowed to stop and think if their assistance is genuinely required.



With such great capabilities, one might wonder why these people are so unheard of. 

Unfortunately what can be considered a gift to some, is only a fraction of what actually happens within the mind of an empath. 

Besides the risk of well-known mental complications, like empathy stemming from anxiety and depression, or being the cause of it, is a variety of life-altering complications. Below are just a few of the physically, mentally, and emotionally draining side effects that are brought about by being an empath



Different from the average case of exhaustion, which can easily be excused with a few days of rest, fatigue is worse.

Even after sleeping for a week straight or drinking enough caffeine to fill a swimming pool, the weight of the world still rests heavy on your back, making the most routine of things feel virtually impossible.

What might be a quick, and easily fixed, experience, in the average person’s lifespan, an empath may never wake up well rested.



Now veering from the realm of possibility, to the average person, is something both the same, and completely different from the aforementioned fatigue.

  From bad to far worse there will never be another moment in your life in which you aren’t plagued by the constant want, and need, for just the slightest bit of rest.

An empath’s attempt to dispel the waking nightmare manifests as nothing more than an individual lying in bed, awaiting, and begging for, the slightest notion of rest.


Physical Symptoms

Sleep deficiency is annoying, but at least it comes from a source that isn’t extensive to a small community; those that have an anxiety disorder know very well the toll emotions can take on one’s person.

From an uncomfortable feeling in the back of your mind to a shortness of breath that makes you wonder if an ambulance call should be necessary.

For once someone else, besides empaths, can feel terrifying restrictions from something beyond their immediate control; which in this instance, is not a good thing.


Crying Often

Emotions have and will always be a crucial part of what makes humanity run, but the overindulgence of them can lead to humiliating consequences.

Everything starts like it always does, waking up in the morning and preparing yourself a cup of coffee just for the cup to fall and shatter, suddenly you’re on the floor in just as bad of an emotional state.

The flood of emotions an empath feels is bound to overtake them; usually in the most inconvenient of ways.



Now any joyful experience ever had or will be, whether anticipated or treasured, will result in the null feeling of oneself from reality 

  It’s not the kind where you stare off and daydream but the drowning feeling of nothing; no joy or pleasure, just a void of absolute uncertainty.

Being in the now isn’t always fun but even an empath would rather experience something they hate then an endless limbo.



The hypersensitivity that was never a problem before, is now the most challenging thing to get through in the day.

The constant chatter of your friend, that you usually enjoy, is too loud and too much, every syllable and word is an unbearable overstimulation of the senses.

Empaths may feel the emotions of others, but that doesn’t mean their own body should betray them in such a way.


No Motivation

Schoolwork is already a challenge to the best of students, but the lack-of or no motivation whatsoever is even worse.

Eating, getting dressed, or, the easiest of all, getting out of bed is no longer worth the effort; so why should you even bother trying?

The difference between this mentality, and the average person’s laziness, is an empath could spiral into situations more dangerous than anything I’ve listed so far.



As with the lack of motivation, once hopelessness has dropped its anchor there’s not much else to do, in terms of simple solutions.

The world is ending, and while everyone is panicking, as they should, you have simply resigned yourself to this fate.

For this, and all the other reasons, is there anything an empath could possibly do to heal from this; anything at all that might change this?


Finding a Solution

  Now as much as I would love to say there’s a simple quick-fix that won’t take its toll on your savings account, that’s not quite true. 

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that can be found online, there are plenty of articles out there each tailored to the individual empath. Of course there’s different kinds of therapists and psychiatrists that specialize in treating this affliction and who knows, with all the kinds of medications out there, meant to treat all sorts of things, there must be something out there that will work.

No matter if you’re an empath, or you know someone who is, remember to always treat others with respect and to have empathy, but make sure it doesn’t overtake your own feelings.