10 Different Ways of Empathing

Bevin Niemann
Jul 25, 2018 · 5 min read

Lately, I’ve taken a deep dive to uncover scientific research, past or current, that might shed light on the root cause of being an empath. Not because I need ‘proof’, I trust and believe in my lived experiences. However, perhaps empaths will be more supported by their loved ones, their environments and our society if we have something concrete to point to.

After all, 74% of humans score higher on the Sensory aspect of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. Life for most, comprises what can be accessed with the five senses. Show me, is the motto of the societal majority.

Of interest is a current theory of empathy divided into three categories: cognitive empathy, somatic empathy and associative/emotive empathy.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to intellectually understand what another is experiencing, some have argued this is actually sympathy instead, but let’s roll with it anyway. Most humans have cognitive empathy, it’s the mindset practice we’ve been taught — take a moment to step into someone else’s shoes. Imagine what they are experiencing and what if you were going through it?

There is also somatic empathy, solidified by the infamous mirror neuron experiments with ape populations. One ape does an action, the other watches and mimics. It’s how we learned as an infant, by watching and mirroring our caregivers. Have you ever been standing face to face with someone and catch yourself mimicking their body posture or accent? Mirroring helps us to connect and feel comfortable with others.

Associative or emotive empathy is the ability to feel what others are feeling. Science seems to stop short of actually explaining how this is possible. Not surprising, as recreating empath experiences in a laboratory would likely be difficult. These types of intense energetic messages arise for us in varied and often unexpected circumstances.

For example, years ago I attended a staff meeting where my supervisor, who sat beside me, became very agitated. I didn’t care at all about the topic being discussed, nevertheless, as he grew more upset, I began to feel a ball of rage rising inside my belly. Having learned to pay attention to cues like this, I stated inside my own mind, ‘This is not my energy or emotion, I ask it to be released from my body immediately!’

And then, as suddenly as it appeared, it went away.

Clients I work with have repeatedly expressed similar experiences with emotive empathy. Yet, in my own and shared empath experiences, there are many other ways we express our perceptive gifts:

  1. Environmental empathy — the space around you, the objects within it, the temperature, lighting, history of the place, all contribute to creating, for lack of a better term, an environmental energy field. If all is aligned, an empath will likely feel great. If there is dissonance, you may become drained, feel very uncomfortable and want to leave…
  2. Animal empathy — many empaths report being able to connect deeply with animals and communicate at a level that transcends words or chirps or growls. We sense that animals hold great wisdom.
  3. Nature empathy — so many empaths I know are connected to the cycles of nature, the seasons, the phases of the moon, the tides or the rise and fall of air pressure. We feel these shifts inside our bodies and in our energetic field.
  4. Large-scale empathy — I’ve noticed some believe that empaths only connect deeply with whoever’s in the room. This is not true for everyone, some sense into larger societal patterns, conflicts, disasters, the vibration of a whole city or state or country. Many empaths do not even watch the news because of the disturbing negativity and content, yet can easily tell when ‘something is going on.’
  5. Psychometry — some empaths are able to touch inanimate objects and sense the history or the energy of the people who used them before. Some are unable to own anything used because they pick up too many details, while others can conduct a ‘clearing’ of the energy of an object.
  6. Electromagnetic empathy — this might sound exciting, but for the empaths I’ve met with this tendency, it’s actually incredibly draining. Particularly with the large number of electromagnetic fields we’re creating with technology, some empaths become physically ill with too much exposure.
  7. Physical empathy — the ability to feel within yourself the pain that others are experiencing within their body. This can be quite confusing and debilitating until you learn to ask, what’s the source? Some with this ability become excellent healers provided they maintain healthy boundaries.
  8. Potential empathy — no, I don’t mean you might be an empath, this is what I call a Holder of Potential. A person who can sense the energy arising around a situation, project or person and who aligns with this potential to allow everything to fall into place as it will. This requires a release of attachment, you are not determining the outcome, you are simply empathing with the potential.
  9. Group empathy — this describes the ability to pick up on the energy of a group. Whether at work, with your family or at a concert, group energy can be a strong vibration, sometimes positive, other times detrimental. Often, empaths will enter a room and pause to sense the group energy before deciding whether to stay, where to sit, who to interact with…
  10. Spiritual empathy — wow, so much could be written here. This is a recognition that we are multi-dimensional, life is not only what we see before us, there is a greater harmonious energetic force at work. We are one of the players and yet at the same time, a manifestation of the source.

I could go on about the myriad of ways that perceptive souls interact with our world and the realms of possibility. I deliberately use the word ‘empathing’ as a verb, denoting our active connection with Oneness.

I cordially invite you to receive my weekly newsletter with practical tools to help empathic, intuitive, visionary and creative leaders, thrive while you serve.


Bevin Niemann

Written by

Life Purpose Coach for Empaths, Lightworkers & Conscious Leaders, Host of Shift Network’s Evolved Empath Summit {https://www.PerceptiveSouls.com}

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