July 3, 2015

An Open Letter to Empaths: Don’t Lose Yourself in the Label.


Dear Empath,

Ever since I discovered the word “empath,” I’ve devoured every article about it. Simply put, it explains me. I never had anything before that could fully explain me and my quirks.

Introvert” came close, but there was still something missing from that description and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read about empaths and their abilities to absorb other people’s feelings and the energies around them.

When other people seemed to know who they were and where they belonged in society, I floated around wondering what was wrong with me. I never fully fit into any labels, I never had a clear understanding of myself and why I am the way I am.

People have told me that I’m too sensitive. And by people, I mean everyone.

So my whole life, I tried not to be. I tried to be tougher, put up my Star Trek cloaking device so nothing could penetrate my emotions and I did everything in my power not to feel. I shamed myself into believing being sensitive was wrong.

Oh, what a relief to finally have a definition for me, a name that explains it all, other people who feel the same way and understand me and a box that I can naturally fit into without having to be a contortionist or have an arm awkwardly dangling out.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s true. I reveled in being labeled. As much as I say I hate being put into a box or categorized, I was secretly relieved to find that there is a box for me.

It means I’m not crazy. It means I belong somewhere. It means all those years of wondering if I was an alien and why I was so different than everyone else have closure now.

I’m not an alien. I’m an Empath.

When I talk to other empaths, I can say, “I felt her energy and I just wanted to run away, it was exhausting,” and they’ll nod their heads emphatically in absolute understanding. I don’t have to explain what “energy” means, I don’t get weird looks, I don’t get someone circling their index finger in the air, rolling their eyes and saying “woo woo” as if I had just called for my mother ship to come down from some galactic fantasy world.

Suddenly, I belong.

There are others like me.

I’m not alone.

And now what?

After searching my entire life for a sense of belonging, now that I’ve found a place where I belong, I feel boxed in. How ironic.

True to my empathic nature, I absorb the constraining energy of the walls of the empath box around me and I feel suffocated.

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do to an empath, it’s constrain them.

It’s the reason we don’t want to be labeled to begin with. It’s the reason we struggled our whole lives to fit in externally but died a little inside every day. It’s the reason we’ve lost sight of ourselves and turned our backs on our sensitive traits. Others have tried to constrain us and label us with titles that didn’t fit so we tried to fit into their box.

But deep inside, we rebelled, we kicked and screamed for our own identities. At some point we declared that we cannot fit into their labels anymore, we fought back and stood up for our uniqueness. We tasted the sweet smell of freedom from labels and boxes, we felt strong and confident.

And alone.

And then we discovered the empath box. And it felt so good, so warm and cozy. We wrapped ourselves up in the label as if it were a big, soft security blanket. We found others in the box who related to us, who accepted us exactly as we are. And the world made sense again.

But what we really did was replace one ill-fitting box for a better-fitting box. A box is still a box and its sole purpose is to contain. We are not to be contained, constrained or boxed in. We are not to be narrowed down into one mere label.

We are so much more than empaths. I am an introvert, an empath, a highly sensitive person. I’m also a soul, a lover, a writer. The truth is it doesn’t matter what label I, or others, give me.

I am.

And that’s all that matters.

Knowing my empathic nature helps me deal with people and life on a daily basis, but I cannot use it to box myself in. It’s a big scary world out there, with lots of different emotions, energy and vibrations all around me.

Knowing and understanding my labels helps me navigate through it. But knowing who I truly am, free of labels, helps me thrive in it.

When I let go of my labels, I soar. I become more. I expand. I reach out of the boxes that once held me safe and I find that I’m not only the box that contained me but I am the world that contained the box.

I am beyond that too.

I am everything.

I am.

As are you.

Free yourself from labels and discover who you really are.


Author: Tree Franklyn

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Roy Blumenthal/Flickr

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Lindsay Carricarte Jul 5, 2015 7:11pm

Thank you so much for this article!! As a newly realized Empath, I felt everything you said in your writing! Haha obviously. You helped me understand so much more about me. Thank you.

Khara-Jade Jul 4, 2015 4:08pm

Great article! I am a deeply empathetic but also outgoing and pretty tough person. I'm a lot of other things too, and definitely not your typical 'empath'. So when asked the question recently, 'Are you an empath?', I just didn't know what to say. Somehow the label that is being thrown around a lot lately doesn't quite go far enough to describe the complexity of a person as a whole. Love your advice on not getting hung up on labels. Thanks!

Jade Inspiration Jul 4, 2015 3:28pm

What an amazing, heartfelt article! I truly admire you Tree for sharing your story because I can totally relate to how I sometimes have held tight to my labels…. It's confirmed, I don't need to anymore…. ! Thank Tree. Hugs.. Jade

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Tree Franklyn

Tree Franklyn is an author and creator of the popular, whimsical TreeDoodle art starring unapologetic and incessantly happy Stick Girl. She teaches soul-centered empathic women how to understand their sensitivity and deal with their deep emotions so they can reconnect with their authentic selves and lead their lives fully integrated with their deepest values and core purpose. Her unique, actionable strategies close the gap between physical and spiritual, blending and integrating real world actions with spiritual tools to create lasting life-changing results. To download her free survival kit for Empaths, visit her website here or connect with her on Facebook.