Empath VS Trauma Response?

Have you seen one of these meme’s floating around social media (the black part, not the red part)? Well, I’m here to discuss the untruth of it.

In the past several years there’s been new light shone on Trauma Responses. In the past several years there’s also been new light shone on being an empath. New light on anything is always a good thing, but like many good things, people can take it too far.

Most recently there has been much discussion that being an empath is actually a trauma response.

I did not discover the label ’empath’ until I was 47 years old. Up until then I just considered myself ‘sensitive and knowing’. I seemed to feel what others felt and I seemed to have knowledge of things I couldn’t explain logically.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I began working on holistic ways to heal myself, that I discovered this empath label. During a self-healing meditation, I asked my highest self why I still had all this pain. The answer was simple, ‘the pain is not yours’. I heard it as loud and clear as any of the other messages from Spirit I’ve gotten.

I quickly googled, ‘feeling pain that belongs to others”. This is when the term ’empath’ first crossed my path. Just acknowledging this relieved some of the daily pain I experienced but not all. Which is perplexing to me, because correct answers/awareness always brings me relief. And while it helped a great deal, I was still in daily pain. (That pain would eventually go away many years later when I discovered that eggs were the contributing factor to the majority of the pain.)

I did a lot of research on empaths and spend some time in empath groups on social media. What I inherently learned is not all who claim to be empaths are, in fact, empaths. In actuality, the majority of people I come across who describe themselves as empaths are actually describing co-dependency. Which by its very definition is trauma, right? So when people started suggesting that being an empath was really a trauma response, I listened. Until they went too far to say there is no such thing as ‘being an empath’, that it is all trauma response.

I can only say that is not my experience.


In a recent session with a client I described it this way: “Co-dependence is a reaction. Empathicness is insight.” Being an empath is not overwhelming. It is not burdensome. It is a gift.

Statements like “his moods dictate my day” describe co-dependency. This is indeed a trauma response. It is a result of having to be finely tuned to the smallest inclinations in order to prepare (or even try to prevent) when shit might hit the fan. It is a survival skill. It often goes hand in hand with people pleasing. We feel bad when someone else feels bad because our programming from the trauma experience has us believing we are responsible for how others feel. Our programming tells us it is our fault they feel bad or that it is our responsibility to make them feel better. This is NOT being an empath.

If you look up codependency you won’t find it defined the same exact way twice. It is a slippery little bugger, so here are a few warning signals for codependence:

  • feeling like you are walking on eggshells
  • trying to anticipate someone’s reaction
  • feeling fear and anxiety at another person’s anger or ‘bad mood’
  • not expressing your feelings because someone else’s feelings are bigger
  • denying your pain or trauma because another’s is greater
  • putting other’s wants ahead of your needs
  • making excuses for someone’s poor behavior
  • feeling something is wrong even though they say everything is ‘fine’ and they get angry when pressed
  • using phrases like “I feel too much” or “I feel too deeply”

If you feeling bad, makes me feel bad, I’m codependent. If I cry when you cry I am empathetic, but not an empath. Being an empath means I SENSE your sadness, I FEEL the sadness, but I do not BECOME sad.

An empath does not call themselves an empath accompanied by a long deep sigh and consider it a curse. An empath is not an empath simply because large gatherings overwhelm them. Being an empath does not make you super special and part of an elite club.

What is an empath?

An empath is a human being who has developed their connection to Life so they can sense information that is not readily available to others. If everyone worked on connecting to Life then everyone would develop this empath skill. We as human beings are wired to be empathic. You know that ‘gut feeling’ you get that you shouldn’t go down that path? That’s the same connection!

Being empathic is not the same as being empathetic. These words are often used interchangeably but they are not the same at all. Being empathetic is the ability to show concern and care for someone who is in some sort of pain or suffering. It is a step past sympathy. (Sympathy = “I think it is sad that happened to you.” Empathy = “I feel sadness for the sadness this has caused you and I will sit with you in that.”) Being empathic is not either of those things. Sympathy and empathy are situational. Being an empath is experiential. It is a way of being and a way of walking in the world.

We have all the wiring to be empathic, just like seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, and hearing. However, the majority of the population has not developed the connections to engage this power. The majority of the population has fallen prey to the diversions, distractions and deliberate manipulation by society to disengage this power. It doesn’t fit their agenda because it is hard to be fooled by advertising, political speeches, government mandates and shady solicitors when you are connected to all of Life. In others words it is hard to control an empath.

My thoughts are that this new tact of blanketly dismissing empaths by explaining it as a trauma response is yet another attempt to distract and divert people from developing their empathic skill.

Read that again.

Now, the fact that I have encountered more codependents than empaths, tells you our focus is needed elsewhere. While it is true that all these ‘false empaths’ are in fact suffering the effects of codependence or other traumas, it doesn’t mean real empaths don’t exist. Which then means we have a lot of connecting to do, doesn’t it?!

I do have a history of codependence and other traumas, and I can tell the difference between them and my empath skills. I can tell when I am being sucked into the codependent vortex and when I am simply receiving information from the matrix (Life). (Full disclosure I don’t always know the EXACT moment it is happening, but soon enough!)

I think many of the people who are searching for the label ’empath’ are actually suffering from what we once called empathy overload. This is part of a codependent upbringing. It is the result of being hyper attuned to other people’s feelings, taking on the responsibility for other’s feelings and it becomes overwhelming…aka lack of healthy boundaries.

It is NOT our job to make people feel better. It’s their job. I use my empath skills to this end. I am able to feel what they are not saying, or what they don’t know how to say and I put words to it while holding space for them. I reflect their feelings back to them in words they couldn’t quite express and then they can begin to truly unravel what it is that they are feeling.

It isn’t a super power in the sense that “only special people” can develop it. But it IS a super power in the sense it is a magical part of life that we are entitled to but social conditioning stripped from the population. If we are not careful, human beings will lose this ability completely in future generations.

Some people who call themselves empaths now, but truly are codependent could indeed work on their issues and develop their empathic connections and can learn how to manage that. It takes a LOT of work, but you can learn to distinguish between codependence and being an empath. You can’t develop it by just slapping that label on yourself and living life ‘as if’. No. You have to do the human being work of unbecoming codependent…or at least becoming a non-practicing codependent!

If you meet someone who claims to be an empath and speaks of it like a debilitating disease, that is a sign of codependence. The pain and suffering they experience is a result of unhealthy boundaries. Of not saying YES to oneself by saying NO to others when necessary for the sake of one’s overall mental, emotional, and psychological health. Being a martyr is not noble…it is self-sabotage.

Being an empath is not all fun and games. It is a responsibility. You will know things people aren’t always ready to want you to know. This is unnerving to them and many react violently to it (emotional violence, not usually physical). That is hard, but what is exhausting being an empath, is circular conversations with people who have made their pain and suffering a sort of badge of honor. They are comfortable being in this state because it is familiar. Yet these are the people inherently drawn to empaths. I think because while their ego holds onto pain and suffering as its identity, their Soul recognizes an empath as a Guide outta that marshy swampland to a far better experience of Earth Life. A lot of ‘yes, but…’ people are in this category. They seek me out and then resist me.

Enough Gaslighting

I enjoy being an empath. In fact, it is one of the many things I cherish about myself. I refuse to let anyone tell me it is a result of trauma. That’s gaslighting 101, right? Telling me that what I believe isn’t real. Being an empath is something I value. It is purposeful, important and Divine. No one gets to tell me it isn’t.

Society at large is suspect. Appealing to the masses is almost always at a cost to individuals. So while social media can spread good information it can also spread not so good information and ideas like the meme I pulled (and altered to protect the identity of the author).

I can give grace to those coaches who are doing the best they know how to do to help others. I see their goal to get people to acknowledge the trauma that has been minimized. Those in helping professions want to stop people from fooling themselves by referring to their codependence as empathicness. In short they are attempting to undue the gaslighting that occurred during the traumatic period.

The distinction is valid and warranted. However, let’s not give out false information that stops people from endeavoring to evolve into the Divine Humans they were created as!!!

Your Ever Loving Empath,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: