An Open Letter to Those Who Call Themselves Empaths.


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energy empath harness hold light woman

*Author’s note: this article is not aimed at those who suffer from a diagnosed medical or mental health condition.

I am an empath.


I am incredibly sensitive. I have permeable boundaries. I’m up and down. I reach out and feel everything everyone feels, and all too easily, I find myself lost at sea, often mixed up with the wrong type of people and ending up deeply hurt and confused.

However, more than once, I’ve found myself the person doing the hurting.

I have devastated my fair share of people, cheated on them because I was too soft to find the balls to leave them. I broke up with lovers and felt justified in doing so because they were the narcissists. And afterward I had a wonderful pity party for myself.

Of course, there have been times where I’ve genuinely been wronged and my softer nature has been taken advantage of. But wallowing in that only creates a holier than thou sense of entitlement that fuels a belief that I was somehow not responsible for anything.

At least, I wasn’t responsible for anything but being too giving. There was something I was looking for in all that giving and it’s taken a good few years of therapy to unravel my motives and face them truthfully.

We all just want to be loved and accepted.

But the ways we go about doing that vary according to our basic nature, our upbringing and many other factors.

I have a rudimentary understanding of the exact personality traits that both of these terms have assigned to them, but the general consensus seems to be that empaths are good, and narcissists are bad.

These are just some of many damaging labels out there that we apply to ourselves willy nilly. I find this absolutely outrageous and downright dangerous. Anyone who is feeling lost, confused and unsure where to place blame in a failed relationship may read these articles and assign themselves one of these personality traits without visiting a psychologist or a mental health professional. Alternatively, they may beat themselves up over being self-involved at some stage in their life, needing more healing or being the doormat—the one who gave too much.

Either one of these outcomes is damaging.

Here’s the thing—we all have both inside us. How could we not? We are both light and dark beings, it is the nature of the universe.

Nothing can ultimately be good or bad. It is a matter of perception. This is of course, aside from hard to forgive actions such as murder or abuse. I am talking about the relatively average human being with the usual or even more than usual hangups and baggage.

And speaking of baggage, who hasn’t got a skeleton or two in the closet? I certainly do, probably much more than most.

This has had a detrimental effect on my relationships and I have found myself stuck in situations that tore me down instead of building me up and vice versa. In this life we all get the chance to play the hurt lover or the one who does the hurting. How else do we learn, and get perspective?

I could definitely say with confidence, that I have been both the narcissist and the empath. I have dated both types and seen different sides of myself brought out by them. As someone with a very low self worth, when I read articles reviling narcissists I weep inside because I know what it feels like to be one.

This is the eternal battle of having both sides in all of us—and remember, whichever wolf we feed wins. If we feed the empath, we will keep building a victim mentality and placing the blame on the other. Instead why not explore
the darker side of ourselves that has been aroused. Why identify where are we refusing to take responsibility?

It is all too easy to become the empath.

Everyone wants to be them.

Who wants to walk away from a failed relationship carrying the heavy weight of blame? No one. Its much easier to be hurt than to be the one hurting others. We quickly jump into the empath boat and console one another, shaking our heads at the evil-doing of the narcissist. No one thinks for a minute that we may have been the one to display those qualities.

Are we not mirrors for those we love?

What about projection?

What you don’t like in others is almost certainly in yourself.

Of course, with repeated relationships with narcissists, we start displaying those qualities more and more ourselves as they come up to be healed. Both are two sides of the same coin—sensitive, unhealed issues displaying themselves in different ways.

Ultimately, it’s all about seeking love and approval.

We live in a society where some aspects of narcissism are valued—love yourself, think of yourself first. This isn’t entirely wrong, but it leaves no room for sometimes putting aside our own needs for the one we love and care for. Does this make us an empath and them narcissistic?

Have we taken a deep look inside ourselves and really questioned our motives or are we too eager to be the martyr, the one carrying the pain of the world?

We need to shape up our perception of these two much-used labels.

We need to realise that the potential for both live inside us, and that at certain times in our lives, by certain people, one or both types will be triggered. Sometimes one quality rears its head more than the other. At those times, we need to support the ones we love. Unless of course it has become abusive or unbearable, in which case we need to leave.

But, for the love of all that is right, we absolutely must stop making people who display narcissistic tendencies beat themselves up so badly.

Stop the labeling.

The problem with having both of these qualities is that it can become an endless cycle of guilt, despair, anger, helplessness and blame.

Own both. Celebrate all that we are. Know that all is balanced.

We should not give more than we have and we should not don’t take more than we should. Forgive ourselves. Stop blaming others. Take charge. We are not martyrs or victims, nor should we overpower other gentler than ourselves.

Be compassionate to all. No one is completely bad or completely good. We must know one to know the other.

As Osho says, “A certain darkness is needed to see the stars”.




The Introvert-Extrovert Myth, & How to Deal with being an Empath.


Author: Margarita Stoffberg

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Pixoto




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Margarita Stoffberg

Margarita Stoffberg’s freethinking parents named her after a heroine in a cult novel who learns witchcraft and loves to be invisible with the ability to fly. She aims to live up to her name, and is currently practicing Wicca with a special interest in learning how to fly her broomstick. However, her first love is Astrology which she has been interested in since she was a little girl, gazing up at the magical stars. Having graduated at the top of her class with a distinction in Traditional Astrology, she has blazed an Astrological path in the world and now takes her practice ( ​all around the globe with her. She is passionate about Yoga which she practices daily, Tarot, which she teaches, and Celtic Mythology, which she just reads about avidly​. Also, she is in love with the Moon, the ocean and cats, in no particular order.


45 Responses to “An Open Letter to Those Who Call Themselves Empaths.”

  1. Alex Myles says:

    It was interesting to read your viewpoints on narcissists and empaths, however, the way you have described them here in this piece is vastly different to the true nature of both types. I clicked the link to respond to you via Facebook, but notice you have blocked me so thought I'd comment here as I'm taking a guess this is in response to some of my recent articles as I have wrote about the connection of these two types and also, them both individually. If it is not a direct response, I still thought I'd offer my opinions and what I've learned as it is directed towards those who write about this subject.

    I have studied in depth both the narcissist and the empath. Neither is good/bad as, like you say, we all have elements of darkness and light. I don't think any empaths claim to be saints, an empath is very aware that they are triggered constantly and also, they are capable or causing harm to others, just as anyone is. I also don't think that empaths would call themselves saints. This is not something I have every found in descriptions of empaths, nor has anyone I've connected with put that over in any way shape or form.

    After much study, I don't believe we can be both narcissist and empath. Yes, we can all behave in ways that may mirror different personality types, however, the core traits of both types have one very significant difference – intention. The intention for an empath and the intention for a narcissist are pole ends of the spectrum. While we may swing temporarily across the scale, the inner desire for the outcome remains the same. Mostly because a narcissist does not have the ability to empathise with others and to see where they are coming from or how another person may be suffering. An empath is the direct opposite – they will not only see the emotions and suffering, they will feel these things too. These two are literally opposites. So, while an empath may cause harmful behaviour, they are very aware while they are doing that they are causing pain and suffering for other people – a narcissist will not. This is where these two types cannot swing into each others personalities as even if they do show signs of one or another, their inner selves will be feeling things very differently. This does not make one person 'good' and the other 'bad' it is just two very different types of people. Yes – it is a label, and as you say, 'stop the labelling' however, you have found it necessary to label your article to 'empaths' as labelling is one way of gaining the attention of those who align with certain things – whether we like this or not. Labelling can be powerful and it can be detrimental, however, until we all have a full understanding of everything, labels are a requirement so we can all be educated further and learn more about ourselves and others.

    I don't believe at all everyone wants to be an empath. Being an empath is a blessing, yes, but it is also a curse and a very painful existence. I have never come across anyone who has said they enjoy being an empath fully as it brings with it a myriad of problems and it is extremely difficult to slot straight into society and thrive while having such powerfully strong energetic vibrations. Empaths are generally absorbed with emotion. Not always great – and they definitely aren't always 'good' or 'saints.'

    Also, generally speaking empaths walk away with a whole heap of blame and guilt when leaving relationships. They hurt for themselves and they hurt for the other person too – they absolutely don't push all the blame to others – quite the opposite – they absorb it all and generally narcissists have the ability to walk away unharmed as they have very different perceptions and they would definitely not be taking on the blame for anything, as that is not part of the narcissist's characteristics.

    Also, a narcissist isn't about self love – again, the opposite- a narcissist has an impaired sense of who they are and they do not have self-love at all. True and genuine self love can never be expressed or felt by a true narcissist – this isn't my opinion – this is fact and part of the diagnosis. Therefore, when we truly love ourselves, we are not being narcissistic, it is essential that we do not see it this way.

    • Margot Mia says:

      Dear Alex ~
      After reading Margarita Stoffberg's article, An Open Letter To Those Who Call Themselves An Empath", it was restorative to read your response.
      I don't know if I was born an Empath or if this was a developmental response to having two narcissistic and abusive parents. What I do know is that, as you have stated, a narcissist has neither the instinctive nor the intentional ability to fathom the effect their behavioural choices have on others. Their only ~ and I do mean only ~ conscious experience is the subjective sense of anything/anyone and everything/everyone insofar as how it affects themselves. My intimate observation of this phenomenon, over many decades of life is, sadly, that even in their most powerfully significant relationships, love for another individual is insufficient to transform or alter their positional viewpoint: All is an extension of myself and therefore is either 'for' or against 'me'.
      While I do believe that human consciousness moves across rigid boundaries, i.e., defies dogmatic labels as their resultant descriptions (so confining!), and furthermore, that absolutely and – thank God! – we all simultaneously contain 'dark and light' aspects, as faithfully reflected in Nature itself, my direct and indirect experience remains fixed; narcissists see only through the filter of their own consciousness, the experience of the "Other" is denied them. Whether this is by natural design or by intention I think no one knows. More to the point, is a narcissist capable of initiating personal transformation to include an awareness of the "other?"
      Absolutely, is my guess. This is interpersonal relationship's entire raison d'être and, quite possibly the underpinnings to the purpose of physical incarnation itself: expansion of the One Consciousness via the journey of the "soul on the path."

    • Jan Erickson says:

      thank on..

    • Melina says:

      I agree with Alex. Though I am not a big fan of labels, I think they can help give us some guidelines to understand ourselves better. I think the person that wrote this article would benefit from doing more research on this subject. The idea that empaths don't take on blame is not what I have read either. They seem to take on responsibility for everything- even abuse at times. A lot of the qualities that are listed as being an empath are not necessarily even desirable, I would say. I loosely identify with the term, personally, and gather what can be helpful from what I read. By the way, being an empath is not something a psychiatrist will label you, just so you know (at least not standard ones). I say this since the author mentioned something about not going to a professional and labeling yourself.

    • Nicole says:


      Thank you for your comment. I had intended to write a similar post but you had already said everything I wanted to say.

      I can’t help but add that based on the article, I do not think the author has ever interacted with a true Narcissist. Each of us can be a narcissist to some degree, but if you’ve been entangled in the web of someone who truly has NPD, you know there is a big difference.

    • Jason says:

      A "good" narcissist (as in one who is good at being a narcissist) is VERY aware of the pain and suffering they cause, along with all the inner mechanics of all other emotions…how else would one manipulate energy so well?

    • Naked Guru says:

      Hello Alex, I can see the two of you have "issues" with each other, and that is for you to work through. However, and i haven't read the full version of either the article or your reply, cause frankly I'm getting bored with this subject. But, I must say i agree with the author here as (and i did read your original article and left a reply) I think you are being VERY harsh on the Narcissistic personality type. Obviously as with all "types" (including empaths) you get varying degree's and extremes. I have known of narcissistic types to begin to see their behaviour in the world and want to and begin to make changes all the way to those who will sh*t in a bucket and hide it to be found – just to get the attention they seek, and then say "it's MY house and it's MY bucket" (and the police agreed – there's nothing they can do!). My point being: people do not CHOOSE to be one or the other "type", it comes down to experience and upbringing. People are suffering, due to deep programming and conditioning, and whether they know it, or want to or what.. they can CHANGE. "They" (even socio paths and psycho paths) have the capability within them to begin to let go and release the sum of fear and un-balanced tension they hold in their bodyminds and make new tracks in their behaviour and in the world. You speak about "them" as if they are a lost cause and may as well be damned to hell. To which I say – as an empath – with, as you say "great empathy" – shame on you! It's not fair to tarnish people with the brush of damnation forever. There is such a thing as forgiveness, grace and L <3 V E. Over and Peace out! x

      • Alex Myles says:

        Hi, I don't have any issues at all with the author, I just wanted to put across that my article (which was originally tagged here) was not a reflection of 'narcissists bad/empaths good) as that is not something I believe or would say. When I write about both types I don't do just it from my own personal opinion, I do it from the credible research and study that has been done and base the traits on those – especially where the narcissist is concerned as that is mental health condition. As you say you haven't read the full articles, maybe it would help if you do as you might understand that I don't have a very harsh view on a narcissist – quite the opposite in fact. I have researched the subject intensely and absolutely understand what causes them to behave in the way they do, and of course, like everyone, they are capable of change. It isn't easy to change (for anyone) – but it most definitely can happen, I am very aware of this. And yes, I agree, this is not a conscious choice – I would never say that a narcissist or an empath chooses to be exactly as they are. I don't talk of them as a lost cause, I talk of them purely based on their actions which mirror those pointed out in the signs and symptoms classified by the DSMs that are used to diagnose a person. I have a huge amount of empathy for them, just as I do with all people. That being said, I would not choose to get in a relationship with one, but even while I was in a relationship with one who was a self admitted narcissist, I still had love, compassion, care and a great deal of understanding (and constant forgiveness for their actions along with blaming myself) and all these things are what caused me to stay in the relationship for so many years. I seen more than just their actions and I would never think they should be 'damned to hell' as you say. I have a family member who is diagnosed as a narcissist, who, I absolutely adore and totally understand what causes them to act the way they do. It's not that I tarnish with the same brush, I talk of the types which directly reflect the traits and characteristics that have been outlined by the professionals. Some of their behaviour is very damaging to others, and if I talk of this, it is purely a reflection of how they behave – not my own personal judgement of them – it is factual speak based on their actions. Thanks for your comment about it, however, it in no way reflects my opinion.

      • Margarita says:

        Wow Naked Guru. I loved what you have had to say – it is a subject talked very much about and I love your viewpoint!

        No issues with Alex at all 🙂 I think it was the tagged issue! Thanks for your comment 🙂

    • Britt says:

      Thank you for your comment here. Your comment calmed me down a bit! haha While i understand this article was the authors opinion I could not help but feel a little frustrated. I feel like this article is more about emotions and not about the "labels". Narcissist and Empaths (or in my case severe Co-dependency) is not something that you should attempt to make light of…The severity of a Narcissistic relationship is not taking into account in " An open letter…." I believe the individuals like myself who have gone through something this tumultuous cannot help but take it personally. My life, and who i was as a person were utterly destroyed…. It took YEARS of therapy to even begin to be okay. The self-sabotage that comes along with severe empathy almost took my life. there was nothing "good" or "saintly" about it. While I respect the authors own experience here, I cannot help but feel the lack of respect for those who did not self diagnose but actually had to live in this nightmare. This subject needs to be taken seriously… because in all reality it can permanently destroy someone or even take the life of someone….

    • kate says:

      I think the root cause of both behavior is the same. It's ingrained feeling of worthlessness. empath tend to have hard time healing their own pain. so they will feel into other's pain more acutely because whatever they have not sort out is being externalized. They are on the look to find someone to fix, this is usually unconscious. lot of them tend to end up being a victim and feeling bitter. A Narcissist externalize the worthlessness with abusive behavior. In their extreme sense of worthlessness, they completely shut down and take revenge. so these two tend to attract each other

  2. Alex Myles says:

    The articles that talk about narcissists aren't for those who have narcissistic tendencies – they are for those who align with narcissistic personality disorder. Like with all things, there will always be some who may identify slightly, however, this does not mean that we cannot raise awareness for serious topics just because some will only closely or even wrongly identify, as if that were the case, it would be impossible to write about most things – as we can all relate slightly with everything that is out there on some level.

    As you say, 'own both' however, there is such distinct differences between empaths and narcissists, it really is impossible to identify with one, and then, switch and identify with the other. These aren't things we can just touch on – narcissists and empaths are made up of core characteristics and traits. A narcissists gain is purely for themselves, an empath's is to heal/love others – that is not mean to one and nice to the other – that is just due to the basic nature and inner wirings that differentiate one from the other. Not good, bad or anything else – just different.

    It is an empaths darkness that sees the star in the narcissist, that is why they find them so attractive. They most certainly don't enter or leave the relationship thinking they are the star and the narcissist is the darkness. A true empath will see the darkness and light in both themselves and in others and that is why these attractions to narcissists occur so frequently.

    • Jason says:

      It's a spectrum of giving and taking love. There is no one or the other, simply shades of gray…where are you on the spectrum today? Rather than giving or taking love, we should just try to "be" in love.

  3. Margarita says:

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your comment – I'm not sure RE the blocking, I haven't blocked anyone that I recall.

    I have a differing point of view, having direct experience of both – hence this article. But again, appreciate and respect your viewpoint.



    • Alex Myles says:

      Hi Margarita,

      I absolutely respect and understand your viewpoint and I also resonated with some of it and found it mirrored a lot of my own viewpoints and things I have discussed previously, but overall I believe when discussing empaths and especially narcissists (due to them being subjected to DSM's) it's essential that we discuss them from a point of study and research so that we are putting out balanced and educated information so that we don't confuse and blur the subject lines any further.

      I totally get that we all think differently about everything and we are all entitled to opinions, but when writing directly to certain groups of people or speaking out publicly (in my opinion) it really is essential that those opinions are backed with depth of study so that we have a full and fair understanding.

      I also have direct experience of both, but have done vast amounts of studies into both too and when I write it isn't just my opinions I write about, I weigh my opinions against valid and trusted data that has been carried out by professionals.

      I only felt it necessary to respond as you tagged my article about the toxic relationship between narcissists and empaths and used the term, "empaths are good and narcissists are bad," which is definitely not at all what I was saying in my article. If you have read it that way, then I cannot change that, however, there was no desire in there to label or call one good or one bad – as I say – they are just different.

      Wishing you a lovely day and again, was insightful and interesting to read through your take on it all,


      • Margarita says:

        Thanks Alex for everything you wrote – I am very sorry about the reference, which which done without my knowledge – you'd have to chat to EJ about that 🙂 I think it has something to do with Google rankings. I liked your article very much and appreciate your research & insight.

        My article was aimed at the "usual" type of person – as mentioned at the beginning of my article and in the middle. I am most definitely not an expert at mental health conditions but I do know that many people have jumped on the Empath bandwagon just because they / we are more sensitive / more empathetic / have poorer boundaries etc etc. I aim to reach those. The labelling bothers me a lot.

        Wishing you a great day & from one writer to another – keep up the amazing work! Thanks again for all your comments 🙂


  4. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks for bringing up this balanced perspective, Margarita! I really think that we need to be careful about slapping labels on people…even (especially) ourselves. Most of us writers are sensitive souls who might consider ourselves empaths and that's all great, but I think that labelling can also create other sets of assumptions that can be inaccurate. This is a great reminder to step back and breathe and reassess/not judge. Cheers! – Renee P.

    • Kris says:

      I think this article is detrimental to newly awakened or discovered empaths.
      Most of the information in this article is opinion and a poor one at that.
      Fortunately, most of the empath articles on your site are accurate and tasteful.
      This one, however, breaks my heart and I hope that every empath who reads this article takes the time to read the comments. In particular Alex and yours.

      In my personal opinion, there is a difference between being a Highly Sensitive Person and being an empath. I think that this author might be a HSP rather than an empath and it's obvious that she has been hurt and confused. I'm hoping that time and experience will lead her to discover that expressing such negative emotions is bad not only for the readers but also for herself.

      I just wanted to thank you, Renee, for pointing out that this author is expressing an opinion, an opposite opinion of most, but an opinion none-the-less, and one that is an attempt to balance the positive perspectives by bringing in the negative.

      *huggles* and Blessings

      • Margarita says:

        Dear Kris,

        Thanks for your comment. Like I said – "apparently" I am an empath – in fact you are likely right but my article is aimed at those who are labelling themselves so hence I would rather not label myself as an HSP either. I'm just human.

        I have been hurt of course but this article has come from a much more balanced perspective than when the hurting was done – and I was as much to blame.

        Thanks anyway for your view & take care!

  5. Jordan says:

    I first want to say that I find this perspective enlightening and well written. I would have to agree with some comments and say that I don’t really agree with all you say. Mainly the level of emotion held by both the N and E.

    Everyone has both sides, yes. But not everyone hold them to such a degree. I have to totally disagree with the statement that an empath places the blame on the other person. Being empathetic by definition means the opposite. To emphasize with the other person regardless of there actions. Now I am certainly guilty of being unforgiving towards a narcissist who hurt me. Other then that one Incedent I would have to say that the fault was mine in every relationship I left. The dynamics didn’t work, but the other person is a beautiful human just like me. And if I’m the one that can’t settle differences then the fault is in me. That’s what it means to be a empath. I don’t think people grow wishing they were fundamentally different, however, the weight of feeling so deeply and having to empathize both sides of every story is exhausting on the mind and soul. It is a gift, yes. One that can do much good, but like any gift it comes with a price. I think what your saying is more about the two sides in everyone. They exist, it’s science, and with the recent discoveries regarding the brain. There are some very interesting articles about those sides. The definitions you speak of are mental conditions. They are not of the same breed that everyone experiences with that inner battle. Just like deppresion is not the same as truma or bi polar. narcissist and empaths are separate from selfishness and selflessness

    • Margarita says:

      Jordan, 100% – thank you, it is so much about our darker & lighter sides. Like I said to Kendra, this article is not for mental health conditions that are serious & have been diagnosed. I am trying to help people who are self diagnosing & need to stop. I did it and suffered for it!

      Thanks again 🙂 xxx

  6. Kendra says:

    I liked this article in that it discusses the fact that so many people read articles pertaining to being an empath and assume they are one. There are many articles that outline what a narcissist or empath are that frankly, aren’t very specific. It is then that we ‘self diagnose’ and fail to be accountable for our part in relationship. I have a friend who read an article on empaths and narcissists and decided (while going through a breakup) that she was an empath and that her ex displayed what the article described as narcissism. I’ve read the DSM V and I know her ex. He was suffering PTSD and was emotionally unavailable. NOT a narcissist. She is very sensitive and had issues with boundaries. NOT an empath. I know empaths and they struggle energetically with boundaries. I like this article for the fact that it highlights cases like that. I don’t like that it takes away from the struggles that empaths face as it isn’t victimisation or very fully understood. There also aren’t as many narcissists out there as other articles would have you believe. There are a LOT of people in pain who take their hurt out on others (often unknowingly) and those with weaker boundaries are often victims of that. Some are empaths, most are sensitive or dealing with pain of their own. At the core of everyone lies the fear of being alone and the desire for love. How we behave in order to avoid rejection and obtain love can be light or dark as the writer states. Does that mean we are all diagnosable? No. Do we project our fear, and pain onto others of course. I think the key is to understand ego, and empathy. Understand ourselves and not necessarily place labels but to become aware of self, the roles we take on and the boundaries we set.

    • Margarita says:

      Thanks Kendra, you have hit the nail on the head for what I was trying to get across. It seems as if we are very quick to self diagnose – and of course a REAL mental health issue is not something to be laughed about. But on many cases, we quickly label especially if we are hurting & angry.

      Thank you for your insight xxxx

  7. Margarita says:

    Thanks everyone for the great comments – this is exactly why I wrote this article – to offer a different perspective, the way I understand it. We all learn from one another! My article is intended to help in all ways, all kinds of people – if there is anyone I have personally offended, my deepest apologies. Again, just offering a different viewpoint 🙂

    Alex, I didn't reference your article in my submission – that was the Editor's decision! I hadn't read your article until then and found it great & well researched – thank you!

    Love & Light to everyone xxx

    • michelle says:

      You did good Margarita. I enjoyed reading your article and I understand the editing process at elephant journal. It can seem contradictory to the reader, but their job is to provide all perspectives on a subject. What aligns will align.

  8. John says:

    To me this article is about honesty and self awareness. It feels like most people wear the empath badge like it makes them special. Almost as if the narcissist and the empath are born from the same place. Great job of the author of this article to be honest with herself and take responsibility for her own contributions in relationships.

  9. Margarita says:

    Thank you, John 🙂 I really appreciate that! You got exactly what I was trying to put across 🙂

  10. Ingebird says:

    I am an empath and I do not suffer from any of the problems you write about. This is what you call an "An open letter to all empaths'? Your post sounds like a rant by someone who is unhappy with her life. Maybe you are still processing "your shit" and that's good…but I saw what you wrote as an attack on those of us who are empaths. Yes, there are plenty of wannabes, but true empaths don't behave like you say we do. I don't take what you wrote seriously because it is your opinion and we all have them.

    And no we are not all narcissists but yes we can be selfish at times, but there is a huge difference between the two behaviors. I do think our society is becoming more selfish and rude and I think social media has played a part.

    If your plan was to stir people up (empaths) then maybe it worked but this empath doesn't care what others think about her and that includes you.

  11. John says:

    “This empath doesn’t care what others think about her and that includes you”

    Oh dear lord… That is rich. If you truly feel that way can you now consider yourself a recovering empath?

  12. Kelly says:

    Can we not say that in reference to this article that the term Empath is really the term Co-Dependent. Empath is merely a label in which references how intuitive receive information. One can be both an “Empath and a Co-Dependent. Likewise, they can be both “Empath” and narcissist. Also, it is my understanding that Co-Dependency and Narssisim are in the same spectrum steming from similar core wounds of either shame or feeling unworthy. Basically they are the same thing, but opposite sides of the spectrum or of the coin. In therapy, co-dependents and narcissist go through the exact same therapy treatment and inner child healing. Not all Empths are Co-Dependent or narcissistic. There are people who are whole and healthy that are also very empathetic. I just wanted to make some clarifications. I would reccomend that someone who is very emotionally reactive have the courage to find out of they are in need of help with Co-Dependency or Narssisim. If you are an Empath and you are differeniated–you will know how to take care of yourself and your emotions. Self-care is vital. One cannot serve from an empty vessel. With respect. ❤️

    • Dee says:

      The serious problem here is that "empath" is NOT a synonym for being emotionally reactive, co dependent, or narcissistic.
      The term is being wildly misused.

  13. Gina Straw says:

    Dear Elephant journal,

    I can not understand why you chose to publish an article like this one. Even the editor, Renee P questioned it. I don't understand, your logic and criteria on choosing certain authors, when other authors keep getting their articles rejected, like mine!

    Well done Alex Myles, on providing proper insightful feedback regarding this piece. Great fan, keep it up girl!
    Gina straw.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Hi there – I didn't question this article. I was applauding it in it's capacity to mindfully question this label that we all are throwing around…a lot. Whether I personally disagree or not, I am pretty sure that this type of inquiry is super important, which is why we chose to publish it. That said, we are all entitled to our opinion! 🙂 – Renee P. (Ed.)

  14. Shannon Brandt says:

    This piece is so fundamentally wrong with what it is saying about empaths, I am shocked. Do empaths have the personality qualities you mentioned and struggle with being overly sensitive? Yes they do- but that is not the sum total of an empath…. Actually it is a response to what an empath is.

    I will say very clearly that I AM AN EMPATH. What does that mean exactly? It means that I can feel what other people are feeling. Really think about what that means, please. I can walk into a room and really FEEL what other people feel. It sometimes hits me like a freight train….. And I can barely move. When a global tragedy occurs, the empath community is almost crippled. When there are major celestial events, even ones that cause euphoria, we suffer. Why? Because a true empath feels energy. That’s the long and short of it. Some people have perfect pitch,

    Some people understand math in a way very few do, some people are gifted at languages, some people are super tasters (yep it’s a thing, look it up). Empaths feel energy….. Emotional energy specifically. Can you imagine living life like that? It’s hard. A curse and a blessing….. But hard. We are always trying to untangle what we are really feeling and what we are picking up from others. A lot of us struggle in crowds. Some of us truffle with depression. There is so much more that being an empath encompasses…. And true empaths usually find support groups so we can talk and feel safe. It’s obvious to me that you are not an empath…. And that is fine. (Believe me- it’s not something I would wish on someone…. My son is one too- it’s hereditary, and it’s so hard to watch him have to struggle with it). You are highly sensitive, and that’s great. I like the article from that perspective. But please don’t write about a community that already struggles enough as it is- and is misunderstood by most. You really need to apologize to the empath community at large.

  15. Dee says:

    I think both "narcissist" AND "empath" are used much too loosely, and much too often.
    These terms are not meant to address the flavor of your choices from phase to phase.
    Narcissism is considered a personality disorder involving a lack of apathy.
    "Empath" is a term used to describe a spiritual gift. All true empaths are also Highly Sensitive People (science) but not all HSPs are Empaths (spirit).
    This article reads as a "letter to the editor" describing a gut reaction to something not clearly understood.
    Did you do any research at all? And if you did, what are your credentials that make your opinion outweigh the opinions of experts and scientific data?

  16. wolfshadesblog says:

    Frankly (and this is more of a comment of my ability to absorb understanding than it is a critique of Margarita's article), I'm not sure I'm enlightened after reading this.

    I've discovered, over the years, that I'm an empath. I don't want to be, although to be fair, I'm not sure I *don't* want to be, either. It, like my ADHD, is just part of who I am. And for the most part I'm happy about it.

    Here's the thing though: because it's so easy to absorb the pain of others – and given how humans generally do what they do either to avoid pain or to pursue pleasure – the prime motivation eventually is to move away from people and situations where pain is present.

    I find it much easier to offer comfort from behind the keyboard than when in someone's actual presence. The pain they feel can be overwhelming, and it becomes hard to think through it.

    The first time you realize your empathic abilities is when you walk into a room joyfully, and suddenly find yourself in the depths of despair. I recall hanging out with a couple of buddies one night eating pizza. One of them left the room and I turned to my other friend and, point blank, repeated everything he was thinking. I instinctively knew he was in a depressed state, and I articulated what it was all about. At the time, it didn't feel abnormal to have that knowledge….I only realized it was so when I saw his eyes bug out in amazement. The neat thing is that it pulled him right out of his negative emotions. So that's a plus, I guess. I never knew then what it was called though, nor did it really matter.

    Through the years since then I discovered that a lot of people latched onto me, without understanding why, and wanted to lay their burdens onto me. So….I began to develop a defense from that, and chose to stay as far away as possible from many of them.

    This empath thing can be good when it's deliberately used to help others; not so great when you find you can't turn it off, and when it becomes a tool for others to take advantage. I mean who wouldn't want there to be someone next to them who truly understood their pain, right?

    I have no idea where I'm going with this. The article provoked a lot of though. So for that, thank you Margarita!

  17. Michelle Taylor says:

    I can relate to this perspective. In fact, I appreciate the acknowledgement of it. I have to acknowledge that both sides exist within my soul as well. For me to continue on I have made a of pact of peace within. Having gone down both paths and understood what it takes to project energy in each way, I find myself better attuned to my true nature. The truth is, there are no sides, there is no all dark or all light, one cannot exist without the other. I have to know both or I am hiding in fear.

  18. Margarita says:

    Shew sorry all, been caught up and haven't had a chance to read through all of these.

    Just to clarify a few points –

    1. I am not questioning a mental health diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with NPD. all the best of luck for healing. I am merely throwing light on the labelling that's going around like wildfire. People who have been in unbalanced relationships are suddenly pointing fingers and assigning labels. Very dangerous indeed.

    2. I don't like labels – this is an opinion piece. All welcome to comment and I am glad it has made some think!

    3. I am not saying ALL Empaths (using that term most lightly) are victims – not at all – as someone who IS very sensitive, I understand the huge burden / gift of feeling everything everyone feels, all the time. My heart goes out to you, but please don't think I am judging / hurting / pointing a finger. I AM saying that many "empaths" use the label as an excuse for getting out of trouble. Not all, but some, most certainly. And some, without consciousness.

    4. My piece has come out of life experience. If pushed, I would say that I dated someone with extreme NPD. I had to forgive her. I had to acknowledge that I lost myself in that and became "Narcissistic". I am trying to make sure that others don't beat themselves up when this quality is discovered, deep down.

    All in all, my piece is meant to HELP others who may be reading through all of these articles on the net and freaking out that they are the "bad" guys because people have labelled them. It's not nice and not compassionate at all. Everyone needs a chance to be healed, and really, that has been the point of the article. To any Empaths I may have offended, trust me, that was not my intent. Please read between the lines, as the message really is about compassion.



  19. For me, I believe in dishing out love–period, and instead of labeling most of these "narcissicist" types, I think "they have goodness and tend to just allow themselves to have those "diva-esque" tendencies just as I have become wonderfully sensitive. Balancing is something that I learned in martial arts, and some of it can be done as self-talk. I'm gonna keep living love and become even more powerful by doing self-powerful things and hanging out with people who lift me up and vice versa.

    The more we live life, the more we pay attention to feedback like Via's, and grow through building ourselves and working on what needs to be improved.

    Empaths are that, and can use their sensitive qualities on ourselves and enable ourselves to be ready for the end of those kind of relationships. It's helped me a lot more strong and good to myself over the past few years.

  20. Christine says:

    There is a big difference between healthy narcissism and unhealthy narcissism.. Most people have healthy narcissism which is normal.. A full blown NPD is totally something different.. not to be confused. Also being an Empath doesn't mean the person is an angel. Also I know from experience that there are evil narcissistic Empaths.. A narcissistic Empath is very dangerous to other Empaths! These are full blown narcissistic Empaths..

  21. Amy says:

    You cannot be a narcissist with NPD and be an empath. Narcissists lack empathy. Maybe you could have some narcissistic traits and some empathic traits but most of us have these. If you had been in a relationship with a true narcissist , you will see that they only exhibit “fake empathy” to get their own needs met or garner narcissistic supply. They are overtly or covertly dangerous to others and the label should not be used lightly.

  22. Pandora says:

    There is a big difference between having narcissistic tendencies and being a true narcissist.
    I don't think this article was well thought-out or written.

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