How empaths are created? (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will answer the question ‘How empaths are created?’. We will do that by describing empaths in detail. We will then move on to explaining different sources of empathy. The focus will be on genetic, temperamental, childhood, parental, and learnable sources of empathy. In the end, we will explain why boundary setting is important for empaths.

How empaths are created? 

There are multiple factors that contribute to the creation of empaths. These include genetic, temperamental, social, and environmental sources that contribute to the level of empathy a person possesses and make them an empath. People can also learn empathy as a skill by undergoing formal training. So, we can say that empathy is mostly innate but it develops and grows over time with our experiences of the world. Furthermore, empathy is backed by scientific evidence and up to 10-20% of the population are empaths. 

Empaths

An empath is a person who is sensitive to the emotions of other people. This person can understand the perspective of people around them along with their emotions and their thoughts. They are also called ‘Highly sensitive people’. Generally, they can be described as compassionate and helpful to others around them.Their sensitivity to the pain of others enables them to process emotions with them and at times, they carry those emotions for them. Often, they confuse these feelings with their own. If they don’t set boundaries and engage in self-care activities, this can harm their mental health and exhaust them physically and emotionally.

Source of empathy and empaths

Many times, people wonder where empaths come from or how empaths are created. There can be multiple factors contributing to a person’s level of empathy. Possible factors that contribute to their sensitive nature include the following:

Temperament

The first reason is related to temperament. Some people are born with a temperament that includes being sensitive to emotions and other people around them. They are more responsive to sensory information including light, sound, touch, temperature, and movement. This explains why when these people grow up, they are able to detect small changes in the tone of someone’s voice or change in their expressions. It also explains how they get physically overwhelmed when they are exposed to a lot of sensory and emotional information.

Genetics

Apart from temperament, another possible factor contributing to empathy is genetics. Children whose fathers and mothers are empathic are more likely to be empathic when they grow up. Since childhood, these children are sensitive to the pain and emotions of others around them. They also express their own emotions quite easily. 

Research supports the idea of empathy having our biological basis. There are certain disorders in which individuals lack empathy or have trouble with certain components of empathy. This includes people with autistic disorder. Similarly, people with antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder also have reduced empathy which makes them insensitive to the pain of other people. Although they can learn components of empathy like cognitive empathy as a skill to determine the correct social behavior, yet they use it to manipulate others and get benefit from them. So, in a way, it is not true empathy but an imitation of it.

Early childhood abuse, neglect, trauma

Another possible source of empathy can be trauma. Childhood abuse or neglect can affect the empathy or sensitivity level of a person. Children who are raised by parents who were depressed, alcoholic, or suffering from some psychological disorder, are more sensitive to the emotions of others. 

People with borderline personality disorder usually have trouble with cognitive and emotional empathy. However, a subset of these people show borderline empathy paradox. These patients are highly empathic and sensitive to the emotions of people around them. This has been linked with earlier abuse, dysfunctional families, or childhood neglect. It enables these patients to detect minor changes in the emotions of other people. However, this needs more research in to how early childhood contributes to it. 

Positive parenting

Many empaths learn empathy from positive parenting. Parents who act as models of empathy teach their children to be sensitive to the emotions and needs of others. Before age 3, children think of the world from an idiosyncratic perspective. However, after age 3 they are able to understand that other people see the world differently from them. They observe people in their surroundings and learn to be empathic especially when their parents teach and guide them. If the parent is able to learn to process their emotions, they can teach their children as well. Regular guided exercises with children on strengthening their ability to identify connections between emotions and events, can help increase the child’s self-awareness. It can also help them develop the ability of self reflection from an early age.

Empathy as a learnable skill

Even if a person has reduced levels of empathy and wants to improve it, they can learn empathy as a form of skill. Studies show that going through formal training can improve cognitive, behavioral, and emotional empathy. This can be done by trying to identify the link between body language, and facial expressions linked with certain emotions. They can also try to imagine how they would feel by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. Asking for feedback in order to know whether they guessed correctly or not, can improve their skill.

Similarly, reading fiction and watching TV series or movies can also improve a person’s levels of empathy as it enables them to understand the world from the perspective of the characters. It helps them to connect with the characters and their emotions. 

In the same way, role-playing with a friend and getting feedback from an instructor about appropriate emotions and responses can help one to learn how to be empathic. Learning skills of active listening can be beneficial in daily life while interacting with other people. It gives a person a chance to be empathic in their socialization with others.

Importance of boundaries for empaths

No matter what the source of empathy is, whether it is temperamental, genetic, has roots in childhood trauma, learned from parents, or learned from the environment as a skill, it is essential that an empath learns to manage themselves. It is important that they learn to say no and set boundaries whenever they get overwhelmed by the emotions of others. They need to redefine what boundaries mean to them. Instead of seeing them as a means of pushing others away, they should see it as a personal choice that they exercise for their mental health and to conserve their energy. 

In addition to that, they should frequently engage in self-care activities to channel out any accumulated negative energy. Furthermore, they can practice self-reflection and self-awareness to distinguish between their emotions and the emotions of other people. Doing so can help them unload the extra emotions they carry with themself that belong to others.

FAQs: How empaths are created?

Is there any science behind empaths?

Yes, scientific evidence supports the existence of empaths. Empathy is an evolved form of intuition that helps an individual to detect the emotions, thoughts, and perspectives of others. It also enables them to read and foresee situations. So, wmpaths are not supernatural beings with supernatural powers.

Is it rare to be an empath?

No, empaths are often considered rare but they actually make 15 to 20% of our population. These people are natural healers and helpers who give to others rather than receiving from them.

What are empaths good at?

Empaths are good at understanding the emotions of other people. They can understand the ideas of people and make good therapists, writers, and even artists.

How do I know I am an empath?

There are multiple signs of an empath. These include having a high-level of empathy, being overwhelmed by intimacy, having good intuition, finding comfort in nature, being overly stimulated in crowded places, often being approached and exposed to problems of people, and having a hard time not caring about the pain of others.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question ‘How empaths are created?’. We found that there are multiple factors that contribute to the creation of empaths. These include genetic, temperamental, social, and environmental sources that contribute to the level of empathy a person possesses and make them an empath. People can also learn empathy as a skill by undergoing formal training. So, we can say that empathy is mostly innate but it develops and grows over time with our experiences of the world. Furthermore, empathy is backed by scientific evidence and up to 10-20% of the population are empaths. 

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://theconversation.com/children-learn-empathy-growing-up-but-can-we-train-adults-to-have-more-of-it-68153#:~:text=Adults%20can%20increase%20their%20empathy,say%20and%20their%20apparent%20situation.

https://www.wikihow.com/Teach-Empathy-to-Adults

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-empaths-survival-guide/201706/four-reasons-why-people-become-empaths-trauma-genetics#:~:text=Childhood%20neglect%20or%20abuse%20can,%2C%20depressed%2C%20or%20narcissistic%20parents.

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.