The answer to the above question is yes. An Empath really can feel the emotions of others.
The problem is we don’t always know how it makes us react.
What I mean by this is, the emotional energy of those we come into contact with can have a huge impact; not only on how we feel but on how we behave. It can push us towards being more introverted than what is natural, it can trigger insecurities or even make us feel unwell.
How Does an Empath Know How to Interpret Emotional Energy?
Interpreting emotional energy is a tricky area. We can so easily misconstrue what we feel. I know I certainly have with different people over the years.
In my teen years I had a friend who, for the purpose of this post, I will call Sarah. I met Sarah at high school. She came from a broken home. But nothing in her outward persona gave off insecurities about her parents’ divorce. She was a bright vivacious girl. Sarah was popular, good at sport and academically minded. And although she did not seem affected by the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, the way she felt to me told another story (I just didn’t know it at the time).
I didn’t know Sarah when her parents split, so I cannot attest to how she was prior to the breakup. But, whenever I was with her, I felt insecure and unstable. At the time I assumed it was ‘just me’ and my own teenage insecurities that made me feel awful when in her presence.
I continued to hang out with Sarah, along with my other friends, after school and into my late teens. But I never enjoyed spending time alone with her. In fact, she used to comment on how quiet I was when it was just the two of us. But I couldn’t help it, I felt myself freeze up when with her.
In her late teens, Sarah ended up getting into the ‘rave/drug scene,’ which was so popular in the late eighties and early nighties here in Manchester. From there she very quickly went downhill. Her childhood trauma evidently caught up with her, which was quickly heightened by her drug use. I would get early morning phone calls off her, telling me that she was frightened and needed to talk immediately. When I turned up at her home, she would not acknowledge the phone call or admit there being a problem. If I tried to talk to her about it, she would quickly change the subject.
Because of her lifestyle choice, Sarah drifted from me and my group of friends. Within a couple of years, Sarah’s mind was no longer her own. She became mentally unstable and was in and out of mental health units.
I lost touch with Sarah many years ago. I have heard through the grapevine that she is still a troubled soul and a shadow of her former ‘happy-go-lucky’ teenage self.
At the time, I may not have understood what I felt in Sarah, but I can still remember how it impacted me. She may have hidden from her pain, but it was loud and clear for me to feel. It gave me a sense of feeling insecure and awkward.
Another example of my sensing hidden pain which I didn’t understand in another is with someone who I will refer to as Mrs Smith. I was probably in my twenties, with no real understanding of my Empath ways, when I first encountered Mrs Smith. I remember feeling particularly uncomfortable with her, but in a different way than I had felt with Sarah. The memory of which has also stayed with me for many years.
I have attended the same gym, on and off, since my twenties. It is the type of gym, like many others, where you know people’s faces but don’t know their names or their backstories, and it was here where I first encountered Mrs Smith, when we were paired up in a yoga class:
The best way I could describe Mrs Smith’s energy, on my first encounter with her, was as a self-absorbed vibe. I wasn’t sure why but I did not enjoy being in her presence. I remember back then that she was sometimes arrogant and acted like she was the only person in the room worthy of the teacher’s attention. I felt naturally repelled by her. Over the years, as I came and went from the gym, our paths rarely crossed, until I started doing classes regularly again.
On my first re-encounter, I remember being stood in the studio, waiting for the class to start, when Mrs Smith came behind me. I immediately reacted. All I can say is I felt rage inside. I wanted to get away from her because the feelings I experienced were so unbearable (which also made me feel guilt for wanting to escape her). I didn’t remember feeling ‘this bad’ with her before.
The thing is, Mrs Smith looked happy. She chatted to others in the class and made her presence known. From the outside you would never think anything untoward was going on. But every time I came close to her, if only in passing, I was engulfed with a sense of dread or rage. By this point I knew I was an Empath and I recognised that I was feeling her energy. It was so potent that it was hard for me to block it or distract myself.
I didn’t even have to see Mrs Smith to feel her energy, it would wash over me like a dark gloom, even when she was out of eyeline.
When I don’t know them personally, I sometimes find that by making eye contact with people, who trigger emotional reactions within me, it has the effect of lessening the impact. But as Mrs Smith never looked my way, often breezing by me like I was invisible(this is common when those in pain come near an Empath see this post to learn more), all I could do was quietly inch myself away.
Sadly, a couple of years ago, Mrs Smith committed suicide.
Everyone who knew Mrs Smith at the gym were shocked by how she could do such a thing. They had no idea that she was in such a dark place. But facts emerged about her life after her passing, that she had not shared with others, which explained her story. It also explained why I felt such rage in her presence. It was a very sad ending to a life of pain.
When an Image Does Not Reflect the Truth
I could go on with examples of how people have affected me emotionally, and how an ‘image’ does not always reflect the truth. A smile can hide deep pain. Arrogance can hide an incredible lack of self-worth.
Humans are good at concealing insecurities and their inner turmoil, but an Empath will always feel them.
When engulfed by negative emotions, after being around a certain person, it doesn’t mean the other is a bad person. We are often just picking up on what the person feels about themselves or about life.
Is there a Solution?
So, the question is what we should do when we feel toxic emotions in another. Should we intervene or avoid?
When people hide from themselves, or are in denial of their past, there is not a lot we can do to help them. If they are not ready or willing to confront their insecurities or ‘shadow,’ they will unlikely want others to acknowledge them either.
A Few Kind Words
Self-protection is important. Sometimes staying away from those who trigger uncomfortable feelings is the best and only option. However, there are ways we can make a difference to those in hidden emotional pain, without doing too much damage to our own emotional health, by offering a few kind words.
Words of self-encouragement or just simple friendliness can go a long way. Not only in changing the way the other feels to us, but also in how they feel about themselves (if only briefly).
We can be inclined to avoid those who make us feel bad, but sometimes briefly making contact actually helps them and us. It can have the effect of ‘breaking the emotional connection,’ and distracts us from what we feel.
Some might find it better to mentally send ‘positive vibes’ instead. It really depends on how the energy of another affects you and your mind.
Of course, this is a broad subject with many different scenarios. But it is always good to have different approaches to survive in different situations.
Please feel free to share examples of how you cope when around people who carry ‘uncomfortable energy’ in the comments below.
Hope this helps on your journey.
Until next time…
10 thoughts on “Can An Empath Really Feel Other People’s Emotions?”
Thank you so much for this. I am on a bit of a journey right now, trying to understand my gift that is being an empath. This blog post helped sooo much because i still didn’t understand the crux of it because up until very recently, i had been absorbing other peoples energies and emotions and thinking they were my own emotions and acting on them..and not knowing why! now i understand that they aren’t always necessarily mine. The very fact that i spoke to a Reiki healer just last night who gave me some invaluable advice and also confirmed that i am a strong empath. Coupled with coming across this blog today, by chance, after a google search for books on grounding myself…im thankful for finding this. Blessings to you
Thanks for sharing, Victoria.
I’m so glad you found my blog and that it has helped in offering insights into your Empath traits.
Wishing you all the best on your journey. 🙂
Thank you for sharing your story. This really helps me to better understand the last 37 years of my life. I’ve had a particularly difficult year. My closest spiritual family member and only person who I think truly understood me passed away recently. Up until this point I have no other people who I can have a real non-judgement conversation with. Do you know of an online support group for empaths? Or how to get in touch with a community who can help or mentor?
Hi Peaceful Nova,
Sorry to hear of your loss.
Having never been part of one, I cannot recommend any support groups. Hopefully, someone reading the comments might have a good recommendation.
If you are on Facebook there are many Empath groups, which might help. Perhaps, you could join a few and see how you get on?
I truly hope you find a ‘safe space’ where you will feel understood and accepted.
Thanks for sharing
People often are devastating me (and I don’t know why) and sometimes I feel empty after communicating even with close relatives, so this blog is really helpful 🙂 I still dont know if I’m an Empath, but my bounderies are really week, so I’m working on all this and I’m happy to know that I’m not alone. Thank you 🙂
I’m glad the blog helps you, Ema. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Great read. Thank you, Very helpful in understanding that what we feel can be the emotions of another and not our own per se. I too sometimes have a great dislike for someone, or just feel super uncomfortable in their presence and then struggle with feeling guilty for having mean thoughts and not wanting to be in their company. You article has helped me realise, that sometimes… it is genuinely the other person and not me! And it is ok for me to back off and seek my own peace of mind. Thank you Diane. Your posts are so reassuring and always so timely.
You are very welcome, and thanks for sharing. 🙂
I avoid people and especially crowds. I only came to know I was an Empath, just 2 years ago. It explained everything to me. I do not have friends anymore, as they were all toxic. So is best to be by myself. My relatives are toxic at least to me, so I avoid them also. Sad, but my own peace of mind and also being bi-polar, I have to do this.
Thank you for sharing, Marla. 🙂