Why we need to start embracing emotions rather than fiercely rejecting them
If emotions make you sensitive, passionate or compassionate toward others, congratulations, you’re an empath. Plenty of people are glad that the word ‘empath’ exists. And yes, I suppose it is needed. But only in relation to the super messed up society we live in, which tells us that feeling anything other than indifferent is gross.
Think about it: you can’t feel hungry anymore without also being body shamed. You can’t feel shy without also feeling like a loser. And God forbid you feel sad or concerned for someone else, because that sure is useless!
So this word is used to differentiate those who acknowledge emotions from those who pretend they don’t. And now, empaths are made to feel like they’re overemotional. If we get emotional at work, we’re deemed “unprofessional.” Among friends, we’re known as “the sensitive one.” In the dating world, showing emotional depth is equated with vulnerability. But what are we vulnerable to? Understanding? Acceptance? Connection?
Indeed, we empaths seldom look at ourselves (or each other) in a positive light, and that’s a real shame. Because being thoughtful and compassionate is the first step to true heroism. So no, I don’t think it’s fair that the word ‘emotion’ gets tethered to other words with negative connotations, like immature, fragile and, worst of all, weak.
But in a world that worships fake looks over real personality, it’s no wonder everyone is striving to feel as much as a cardboard cut-out. Social media, television and pop culture have done a fantastic job at fooling us into believing life is all about fronts. This hasn’t just propagated unrealistic standards of beauty, it has promoted unrealistic standards of what it means to be human.
Under the example of celebrities, political leaders and #influencers, feeling 100 per cent fierce 100 per cent of the time has become everyone’s main goal. You’re not supposed to feel heartbroken; you’re supposed to feel numbness toward romance, yet with an insatiable need to have sassy sex with strangers. You’re not allowed to feel nervous when speaking in front of a crowd; what you ought to feel is extreme assurance that you own the room. If you’re anything less than certain that your presence is a privilege unto all who cross your path, then you’re not strong, and that’s pathetic.
This is the lie we empaths have internalized, thanks to the sickening logic of self-absorbed capitalists who toy with our emotions to fill up their pocketbooks. And it makes sense for them to trick us; the more walls we build, the more we underestimate the value of immaterial pleasures like true friendship and romance. Indeed, equating emotion to weakness is just another clever marketing strategy used by public figures to keep the rest of us locked in a matrix of chronic insecurity. Feelings shouldn’t be talked about—they should be covered up with a brand-name poker face, right?
Wrong. So, so wrong. Behind even the most decked-out bulletproof vest beats the heart of a living, breathing, feeling human. To my fellow empaths, as you go about your daily lives, being made to feel inferior because of the intensity with which you perceive the world, please remember this: to the right person (i.e. another empath) your ability to be authentic will make you more attractive than even the most airbrushed Kardashian or thick-skinned Hercules.
One day, you’ll meet someone who will love and embrace you, not in spite of your feelings but precisely because of them. So don’t feel ashamed… just feel.
Graphic by @spooky_soda