It's comforting to hear you still get confused having been doing it for a while. Being aware now, there are some situations in which it's obvious to me that I'm sensing someone else's energy/emotion. However there are many situations in which I don't have a clue. I'm trying to focus attention inward to get a sense and that often helps (having just seen a 'sparkle' exactly when I typed that I suspect a guiding force agrees). I'm finding the challenge lies in stepping back and feeling centered, especially in any kind of charged situation. Also, I had to deal with an ex-colleague who emanated extremely powerful anxiety for extended periods, and I did not possess the skills/tools or ability to do much about being practically engulfed. Hopefully one day I will. Fortunately I realised it wasn't me and also I had the knowledge and skills to get avoid working with the person and effectively have nothing to do with him now.
Very difficult with a family member with whom you have a long history and connection, huh? My mother is highly anxious and I think I got tendencies toward anxiety from her. Basically, she'd get anxious in association with various things, I'd pick up on the anxiety and I suspect the anxiety took on a life of its own within me to some extent. Learning about being an empath really puts a different perspective on your life!
How do you know your dad has animosity toward you? If he has self-loathing and hostility toward others, might you not just be picking up on that which has little to do with you? Or do his actions suggest animosity specifically toward you.
Yes I agree on finding and learning ways of using our abilities and nature and minimising the hard parts, particularly when they're unproductive.