No, Empathic People Aren’t Inherently Broken and Unhappy

By Rachel Puryear

There’s a popular conception of empathic/HSP people being sad, melancholy, depressive people; ultimately broken by the cruelty of the world.

Even some empathic people – especially those who have had a lot of trauma, and/or have not learned to separate other people’s energy from their own – may believe that there is no other possible way for them to be.

However, empathic people can in fact be as happy and well-adjusted as anyone else. Or at least, they’re no more broken and unhappy than anyone else.

At the same time, happy and well-adjusted might look a little different for empathic people than it does for most of the non-empathic population.

Young woman standing in a public outdoor space, wearing a brown coat and hat and a green scarf, and blowing lots of bubbles, while smiling. By Alex Alvarez.

In Dr. Elaine Aron’s seminal book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Aron makes an important point about empathic/HSP people. That is, empathic/HSP people can be as well-adjusted as everyone else, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with us.

According to Aron, empathic/HSP children who have relatively difficult childhoods often struggle more deeply emotionally than non-empathic/non-HSP children who are similarly situated.

However, empathic people can also be highly responsive to therapy, and to (proper) emotional healing. Therefore, all hope is not lost, even if someone has had a traumatic past.

Meanwhile, empathic children who have relatively stable childhoods tend to be more emotionally well-adjusted than even children who had similar backgrounds, but are non-empathic.

Furthermore, empathic/HSP people can be whatever they want to be. Being sensitive and gifted doesn’t mean you have to fit yourself into a certain stereotype – and highly intelligent and sensitive people often do feel out of step with most other people. That doesn’t mean we have to be poorly adjusted, though.

It has been my observation that empathic people struggle more in life emotionally than their non-empathic peers do, while they are still relatively young.

As people get older than early adulthood, though, the tendency seems to lessen; and then eventually reverse – by middle age, it seems that empathic people may tend to be more emotionally stable and more satisfied with their lives than their non-empathic peers.

This is probably largely due to empathic/HSP/highly gifted people wanting to choose their own path in life, rather than necessarily following the norm of what others are doing. This can make them feel alone, and like they don’t fit in.

However, that’s also a sign of an empathic/HSP person being happy and well-adjusted – living life on their own terms, exercising autonomy, and just being themselves.

Fitting in with everyone else, and becoming most other people’s idea of success and achievement, just won’t cut it for us.

Empathic/HSP people are happy to simply be who they are, whatever that may be.

That is our own version of being happy, and emotionally well-adjusted. And that’s more than okay.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to empathic/HSP people pursuing happiness and fulfillment.

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