Are Empaths rare? (Or can anyone be empathetic?)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Are Empaths rare or can anyone be considered and empath? We will give you 11 cues to find if you are an empath and tips on how you can become one.

Are Empaths rare?

Empaths are rare, as only 2% of the population can experience this kind of sensitivity towards other people. What is also rare is people realizing that they are more sensitive to those around them that most people are. What is also rare is our understanding and appreciation of empaths. 

Empathy can seem like a difficult sentimental idea to define, and it’s fair to say that most of us don’t spend our days wondering if we’re empathic. However, psychologists recognize that a world without empathy is a world we would not want to live in.

Imagine that humans did not have the ability to empathize. What would happen if we never cared about what happened to other people? That is an almost inconceivable world.

Empathy is such a basic ingredient in the human experience that even infants display it, crying when other children cry or reacting to the facial expressions of adults and parents. 

In the same way people question if empaths are rare, they also question if empaths are even real.

However, the word itself is relatively new in our lexicon, and psychologists who study empathy cannot agree on how it should be defined: Is it feeling for others? Feel how others feel? Understand how others feel? Or a combination of all of them? 

Basically, many agree with the idea that empathy is some kind of emotional response to the pain, predicament, situation, or suffering of another person.It’s not just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” said Aaron L. Pincus, a professor of psychology at Penn State University. “It’s really grasping what others are experiencing … Your emotional state will move in a very similar direction to the person you are empathizing with.

In small ways and in different ways, psychologists say, empathy is constantly driving our daily lives, each time before taking action we take into consideration how others will feel. Some suggest that empathy is the foundation of social norms, even the basic standard of etiquette. 

Empathy is not just a way to push the limits of your moral universe. According to new research, it is a habit we can cultivate to improve our quality of life.

The great impetus for empathy comes from a revolutionary change in the science of how we understand human nature. The old idea that we are essentially selfish creatures is being pushed aside. This shows that we are also Empathicus homo, aimed at empathy, social cooperation, and mutual help.

Over the past decade, neuroscientists have identified a 10-section “empathy circuit” in our brains, which, if damaged, can restrict our ability to understand what other people are feeling. Psychologists revealed that we are prepared for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.

However, empathy does not stop developing in childhood. We can cultivate its growth throughout our lives, and we can use it as a radical force for social transformation. Research in sociology, psychology. and the story reveals how empathy can be done. It is part of our daily life and therefore improves the lives of everyone around us. 

Here are 11 habits of highly empathetic people

Empaths cultivate their curiosity for strangers – Empathic people are curious about the unknown. Anytime and anywhere is good for making new connections, just out of curiosity. They are endowed with an insatiable curiosity for strangers.

Curiosity broadens our empathy when we speak to people outside of our usual social circle. Curiosity is good for us, too – happiness guru Martin Seligman identifies it as a strength of character that can enhance life satisfaction.

Cultivating curiosity requires more than just having a short talk about the weather. Crucially, an empathic individual tries to understand the world inside the other person’s head. Every day we are faced with strangers, such as the heavily tattooed woman who delivers her mail or the new employee who always eats lunch alone. How about setting the challenge of talking to a stranger every week? The only attitude required is courage.

Empaths get out of your usual environment – Take trips, especially to new places and cultures. This gives you a better appreciation for others. Go on challenging experiences that take you out of your comfort zone. Learn a new skill, for example, as a musical instrument, hobby, or foreign language. 

Develop a new professional competence. Doing things like this will increase your resilience and humility. The latter is a key element of empathy.

Empaths request feedback – Ask for feedback on your relationship skills (for example, listening) with family friends and colleagues, and then check in regularly with them to see how you are evolving.

Explore the heart, not just the head – Read books that explore personal relationships and emotions. This has been shown to improve the empathy of young doctors, for example.

Walk in the shoes of others – Talk to others about your problems, concerns, dilemmas, challenges, and try to understand how they perceive the experiences you have shared. 

Examine your prejudices – We all hide (and sometimes not so hidden) some prejudices that interfere with our ability to listen and sympathize. These often focus on visible factors like age, race, and gender. Don’t think you have any prejudice? Think again!

Cultivate your sense of curiosity – What can you learn from a very young “inexperienced” colleague? What can you learn from a customer that you see as “correct”? Curious people ask a lot of questions, leading them to develop a better understanding of the people around them.

To be an empathetic person ask better questions – Always try to ask three or four open-ended, even provocative questions for every conversation you have with clients or colleagues.

Experience someone else’s life- So, do you think climbing or hang gliding are extreme sports? Therefore, you must try experiential empathy, the most challenging and potentially rewarding of all. Some people expand their empathy by gaining direct experience in other people’s lives.

Listen carefully and be open – The only way to be present for what is really going on within your feelings is to master the art of radical listening. Whether you are a troublesome friend or a family member suffering from some kind of behavior, highly empathetic people will always be attentive to what others are saying, doing their best to understand their needs and emotional state.

Still, listening is never enough. Sometimes becoming vulnerable becomes indispensable. Dropping the masks and revealing feelings for someone who is injured can become a strong bond of empathy. Empathy is a two-way street that, at best, relies on mutual understanding, sharing beliefs and important experiences.

Inspire Mass Action and Social Change – Normally, we assume that empathy occurs at the level of individuals, but empathic people understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that produces fundamental social change. Empathy will likely flourish on a collective scale if seeds are planted in our children. 

A big challenge is figuring out how social media can harness the power of empathy to create massive political action, spreading not just information but an empathic connection.

Are you really an empathetic person?

We all consider ourselves to be empathic even though we may not be so … Putting yourself in the shoes of others, being sensitive to feelings of sadness, joy or pain is not as simple or as intuitive as we usually believe. In fact, we often mistake it for sympathy or compassion. However, empathy is something different, and it constitutes one of the most powerful social tools of the human being.

Nor does it exactly consist of putting oneself “in the other’s shoes”, since we do not all have the same foot size or use the same footwear, to continue with the metaphor. When we interact with someone, we approach with our own experience and experiences, so putting ourselves exactly in the shoes of the other is almost impossible.

Furthermore, it encompasses so many things that in reality, as we shall see, we would not be truly empathetic either.

Therefore, it is important to know the differences between what is and what is not empathy, because otherwise, we can end up doing strange things without being empathetic, which is what we really want.

Compassion, for example, is one of the feelings that we sometimes mistake for empathy. Compassion involves feeling with the other and only attends to one dimension of empathy, which is emotional. This certainly helps, because you accompany the other when they feel lonely, but they are not fulfilling the social function of exchange and reciprocity that empathy has.

Another of those feelings is sympathy: when you sympathize with someone, or with an idea, it ultimately means that you agree with it, there is a component of approval in what you are saying. To be empathetic, on the other hand, you don’t have to support him or agree with him, you just have to understand him, even if you don’t agree.

In that sense, you can empathize with anyone, even with people who are not pleasant to you, since it is about understanding them without leaving your own position. However, it is evident that you cannot sympathize with everyone.

Final thoughts

 Empathy means looking through the person’s universe, appreciating it without judging it, feeling its feelings, and communicating understanding. It is as difficult as it is satisfying, it is the basis of all successful relationships.

Most importantly, empathy can be learned! Through exercise and meditation, your life can turn from fear and paranoia into a warm world, where you surround yourself with people who really care about you, with whom you build deep relationships that last a lifetime. A rich life!

Empaths are people who take time out of the hustle and bustle of the day, who dedicate their lives to their loved ones. Because they make this difficult and special, they deserve it and will have a special life.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Are empaths real?

What percentage of the population are Empaths?

Only 2 percent of the population are empaths. Empathy means looking through the person’s universe, appreciating it without judging it, feeling its feelings, and communicating understanding. It is as difficult as it is satisfying, it is the basis of all successful relationships.

Is an empath a real thing?

Yes, an empath is a real thing, it does exist. An empathetic person can easily identify the emotions of others and here I am obviously referring to latent emotions, which are not expressed. Anyone can get an idea of how a crying man feels, but few manage to identify the fact that a person suffers when that person does his best not to show it, hiding behind a mask. 

Is being an empath a personality disorder?

No, being an empath is not a personality disorder. In fact, empathy is an advantage, as it helps to have better relationships and connect with others. 

Can Empaths be toxic?

Empaths are not toxic to other people, but being an empath can have its drawbacks. Most people do not realize, but Empaths are consumed faster than ordinary people and often function as a sponge: they absorb from the emotions of others what helps them to understand and put themselves in the place of those people but when the interaction is over.

References

Boston.com

Dailygood.org

Positivepsychology.com

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.