Empathy refers to the ability to relate to the feelings of another. Those of us who experience the thoughts and feelings of those around us are said to be “empathetic.” We are called “empaths.”
This ability to pick up on the feelings of others is something that we do automatically. We “catch” the thought/feeling “stream” of another and experience it in our own body/mind – often we don't even know we are doing it. We just assume the thoughts and feelings are our own.
Thoughts and feelings are like allergens, or germs, in the air, they are not personal, but are all around us all the time. Byron Katie says there are no new or original stressful thoughts. I've found that to be true. Every stressful thought has been thought many, many times before. When we move into an environment of a particular “thought stream” those thoughts will move through our minds… when we take them on as our own (i.e. believe them) we experience the vibrational frequency of those thoughts through our emotions and will react accordingly. Our feelings and behavior are triggered by the thoughts we are thinking and believing in that moment. If we don't like what we are feeling, the place to look is inside the mind to the thought behind that feeling. By questioning the thought, we can bring ourselves into a better feeling state. Try it for yourself and see.