As an empathic person, I only know how my own life is, and I have nothing to compare it with in order to say "Yes, I feel more pain than others" or to say, "No, I don't."
I knew at only 4 or 5 years old that I was picking up on the thoughts, emotions and physical ailments of others, but I didn't know that wasn't normal for a long time. I grew up in a rather atheistic family and we didn't discuss such things.
I have learned over the years, protective exercises, that can keep me from picking up "everything", especially in crowds. And I do avoid hospitals and nursing homes unless absolutely necessary because there is a lot of pain, suffering, grief and emotion there. Joy at recovery too, yes, but the negative outweighs the positive in such places.
If I am one-on-one with someone, I do often know what they are thinking and what type of emotions are going on with him or her. If we're in close proximity there is no avoiding it and I have learned to live with that. If he or she is in emotional or physical pain, then so am I, but just for a little while.
The hardest thing for me---by far--- funerals. A room full of grieving, crying people is very difficult.
But otherwise, I like to think my life is pretty normal. I manage it as best I can.
As an aside, if I may, I once had a co-worker who believed empathic people are not truly "empathic" in the sense of having any special emotional perception, but rather that some people are just very good at reading facial expression, body language, voice stress and so forth. This might be true, I am not sure!
answered 12 Mar '10, 14:09
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