If you want to unlock your true potential and embrace your authentic self, it’s important to determine if you’re an empath or not. It’ll help you thrive in your personal and interpersonal relationships and harness the unique gifts that come with being an empath.
Throughout most of my life, I’ve been labeled as overly sensitive, anxious, and high-strung, both by others and myself. Activities that others found enjoyable or effortless, like navigating through crowded spaces or multitasking, have always overwhelmed me.
Seeking solace in nature helped me but only to a certain extent. I couldn’t escape the effects of energy vampires and the overwhelming emotions that surrounded me in environments and events that wouldn’t affect a “normal” person.
What was even more mystifying and sometimes debilitating was the fact that I seemed to absorb the emotions of those around me. If my friends were upset, I instantly sensed it. And in public, whether it was someone’s anger or sadness in a grocery store, I could feel their tension or grief.
As you read this article, it’s likely that you, too, have experienced similar situations and are now questioning whether you possess an empathic nature. While each person’s journey is unique, many empaths share similar stories and empathetic tendencies.
My intention is for this comprehensive guide to help you gain a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be an empath. I hope that it’ll help you define and refine your gift and harness its power to improve and empower your daily existence.
With clarity and purpose, you can embrace your empathic nature and unlock its full potential.
What Does it Mean to be an Empath?
The term ’empath’ is the derivation of the word empathy. So, in simple words, an empath is a person who has a higher degree of empathy than most people and is extremely sensitive to both other people’s energy and emotions.
People often confuse empathy with the term sympathy, but these words have two very different meanings (discussed below).
Do you often find yourself deeply attuned to the emotions of those around you? Do large crowds make you feel uncomfortable? Have you been described as a sensitive person by yourself or by those close to you? If these resonate with you, it’s possible that you are an empath.
Dr. Judith Orloff, a renowned board-certified psychiatrist, describes empaths as emotional sponges. She says that they absorb both the joys and stresses of the world.
According to Kim Egel, a therapist based in San Diego, empaths possess a heightened sensitivity to external stimuli such as chaotic environments, strong personalities, and sounds.
They bring compassion and care to the world and experience emotions on a profound level. If these descriptions sound familiar to you, it’s worth exploring the possibility that you are an empath.
The Different Types of Empaths
There are different types of empaths and each type represents unique abilities. These types show how empaths perceive and interact with the world around them.
Understanding these different types can help you recognize and embrace your empathic nature so that you can build a deeper understanding of yourself and the impact you can have on others.
Emotional empaths possess a heightened sensitivity to everyone else’s emotions. They can easily absorb and feel the emotional states of people around them to empathize with others and understand their emotional experiences.
Physical empaths are intensely sensitive to the physical feelings and ailments of others. It means that they can detect bodily pain and distress in others, even to the point of feeling it within their own bodies.
So, the empathic diseases and/or physical problems that are unrelated to the empath’s own health might be the result of having this ability.
Claircognizant empaths combine elements of clairaudience power and clairvoyance ability, which grant them a strong sense of clear knowing.
They possess innate wisdom and understanding and often receive insights and intuitive knowledge that can be both enlightening and inspiring to others.
Fauna empaths have a unique connection with animals. They possess a deep understanding of the mental and emotional states of animals and they can empathize and communicate with them on a profound level.
These empaths often exhibit a strong affinity for animals and prioritize their well-being and conservation.
Earth empaths have a profound connection with the Earth and nature. They literally feel a strong connection with the energy of the planet’s life and experience a sense of oneness with them.
They’re also highly sensitive to environmental changes, experiencing emotional and physical responses to climate shifts, natural disasters, and ecological harm.
Precognitive empaths possess a strong intuitive sense and often receive visions or insights about future events. They can also have dreams or intuitive flashes that provide glimpses into upcoming occurrences.
Precognitive empaths possess a strong intuitive sense and often receive visions or insights about future events. They can also have dreams or intuitive flashes that provide glimpses into upcoming occurrences.Precognitive empaths possess a strong intuitive sense and often receive visions or insights about future events. They can also have dreams or intuitive flashes that provide glimpses into upcoming occurrences.
Medium empaths establish a deep connection with the spiritual realm or the deceased. They possess the ability to sense and communicate with spiritual forces that aren’t visible to others. It allows them to provide comfort and guidance to those who are seeking spiritual guidance.
These empaths have telepathic powers and they can read and decipher the mental states and thoughts of others. They can tune into the unspoken messages, emotions, and intentions that individuals may not express verbally.
What’s the Opposite of Empaths?
As mentioned already, empathy means showing compassion and understanding others. So, the opposite of an empath will be a sociopath, psychopath, or narcissist.
These individuals lack empathy and view others as mere objects to fulfill their own desires and needs. Their focus is solely on personal gain and pleasure, disregarding the emotional worlds of others.
Unlike empaths, they lack self-awareness and show little concern for how their actions impact others. They can display entitlement, exploitation, and manipulation, using people as a means to achieve their goals without considering the potential harm caused.
Narcissistic personality disorder, although relatively rare, is marked by a fundamental absence or minimal presence of empathy.
Empathy vs Sympathy
Empathy is the ability to connect with a person in a way that allows you to understand what they are thinking or feeling. Showing empathy is putting yourself in another’s shoes.
It allows you to place yourself inside another’s emotional reality. This is something that empaths can do on a much grander scale than a regular person.
With sympathy, you are not experiencing another’s emotions, but relating certain feelings toward them. For example, if a friend has cancer, you might feel pity or sorrow, even if they are in a place of acceptance.
Example of Being an Empath
Here’s a good way to remember the difference between the two. Imagine that it is your friend Megan’s birthday, and she invites you and your other friend Claire to dinner.
After ordering appetizers, Claire asks the birthday girl if she is excited about her recent engagement. Megan turns red and lowers her head.
She sheepishly admits that she called the wedding off because she found out her fiancé was cheating on her.
Instantly, you get a gut-wrenching feeling in your stomach. While Claire expresses her sympathy, you try to think of words to say to comfort your friend. This task seems impossible since you’re so caught up in the raw and overwhelming emotion that Megan, and now you, are feeling.
You excuse yourself to the restroom so that you can stop the tears that are welling up in the corners of your eyes. Claire seems a bit puzzled as she is the only one at the table who isn’t in tears.
Humans are actually just vibrations of energy, and we are always in exchange with the environment around us. Like a sponge, empaths take on the weight of the world in the form of other people’s emotional energy.
Guided by intuition, empaths feel their way through the world, absorbing both the negative and positive energies of others as they go. This can be both fulfilling and dangerous.
How to Determine If You’re an Empath: Important Signs
Many empaths falsely assume that all people can do the same what they can do, but this isn’t the case. There are other traits and signs that suggest that a person is extra-sensitive to the energies of others.
Having one or more doesn’t make you an empath just as the absence of a certain trait doesn’t mean you’re not highly sensitive. Here are some of the most notable traits of those who are considered empaths.
1. You Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
In Medieval times, knights wore a piece of armor called a sleeve as a way to protect the arm. A lady’s token was often wrapped around these sleeves as a symbol of favor.
Empaths are known to be highly sensitive or overly emotional, and we tend to ‘wear our feelings’ as well, just like the lady’s token. If you have the tendency to show your genuine emotions in an open and vulnerable way, you might be an empath.
2. You’re a Nature or Animal Lover
Empathic people are especially good with animals because of their compassionate hearts. Something interesting that happens as some empaths increase awareness of their gifts is an aversion to eating meat because they can ‘feel’ the emotions/vibrations of the food being consumed.
Empaths are also drawn to nature as being outside can increase the ability to ‘recharge.’ Insensitive people use the term ‘tree-hugger’ as a way to insult those who are especially connected to nature.
What they don’t realize is that tree-hugging has been studied and proven as a way to reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Empaths Just ‘Know’ Things
An empath functions using intuition more than conscious reasoning. This means that you might know something instantly without any physical proof or evidence.
However, it’s important to note that some people can have very strong intuition but it’s not necessary that they’re also empaths.
Those of us who possess something called “intuitive empathy.” This allows us to sense and absorb information from the bodies of others. Most of the time, this is done naturally and without effort.
4. Your Mood Fluctuates a Lot
Empaths are sometimes misdiagnosed as having a mood disorder because of ups and downs that come along with taking on tons of energy and, often negativity, from others.
If you find yourself suddenly in a bad mood, you’ve likely picked up this energy from someone (or somewhere) else.
Note: At the end of this post, I’ll outline some ways to fix this common empath issue.
5. You’re highly Sensitive to Sensations, Smells, and Sounds
In addition to being emotionally sensitive, empaths often exhibit heightened sensitivity to the world around them. This sensitivity goes beyond emotions and encompasses multiple sensations and stimuli, including the following:
- You may notice that you’re highly affected by odors and fragrances, experiencing them more intensely than others.
- Physical sensations and jarring sounds can have a stronger impact on you compared to those who are not as sensitive.
- You might also prefer to consume digital media at lower volumes or opt for reading to gather information, as loud or overwhelming auditory input may be unsettling for you.
- Certain sounds can evoke strong emotional responses within you.
It’s important to note that while empaths share these sensitivities, it’s possible for individuals with covert narcissism to exhibit high sensitivity as well.
However, they utilize this sensitivity as a manipulation tactic rather than a genuine empathetic trait.
6. You Can Sense Both Good and Bad Energies
Empaths possess a remarkable ability to perceive and discern energies in their surroundings. This extraordinary power enables them to deeply analyze someone’s true nature beyond the mask they wear or the image they project.
Unlike being swayed by external appearances, empaths focus on the aura emitted by individuals. This exceptional sensitivity allows them to make informed decisions about whether to continue relationships with others.
This gift becomes a blessing as empaths can avoid negative situations and protect their loved ones. If you possess this unique quality, it is a significant indication that you are an empath.
7. You Frequently Need Time to Recharge
Empaths often find themselves in need of regular recharging because of their heightened sensitivity to other people’s pain. It can lead to both physical and emotional exhaustion.
If you’re easily overwhelmed due to the intense emotions you absorb from others, you’ll need time to recharge yourself. If you fail to rest and restore your senses, you’ll experience burnout and it can negatively impact your overall well-being.
8. You Have a Low Threshold for Pain, Violence, and Noise
Minor injuries, immunizations, and otherwise physically painful experiences can be really difficult for a highly empathetic person to handle. This is related to the fact that many empaths have a low tolerance for stimulation in general.
Loud noises, strong smells, and even physical touch can trigger overwhelming emotions as well. Empaths also find violent images and videos difficult to watch and tend to avoid social media and news airings that show such acts.
9. You Stay Sick and Tired (Literally)
There are many people who believe that all physical illness starts with negative emotions in the body. If this is true, it explains why so many empaths stay sick or struggle with chronic fatigue.
The harmful effect that the negative emotions of others can have on an empath’s health is one of the main reasons all highly sensitive people must learn to protect themselves through absorption blocking.
10. You Try to Avoid Conflicts
As an empath, you have a natural tendency to shy away from conflicts. Your heightened sensitivity makes it easier for others to hurt your feelings, and even casual remarks can have a deep impact on you.
You can also take normal criticism personally, which further intensifies your emotional toll. Engaging in arguments or fights can be particularly distressing because you not only contend with your own emotions and reactions but also absorb the emotions of those involved.
The desire to address and heal everyone’s hurt can make even minor disagreements more challenging to handle.
11. People Dump Their Problems on You
If you’re an empath, you’ll often find yourself in situations where people unload their problems onto you. It happens because of your caring nature and the positive energy that empaths naturally emit. These personality traits make you a beacon of emotional support.
Those who are struggling or in need of a listening ear sense your untold willingness to lend an understanding ear. As a result, you’ll frequently need to play the role of an unpaid therapist.
It’s one of the fundamental traits of empaths that make them invaluable listeners for those who have difficulty expressing their innermost feelings.
Their intuitive understanding and empathic nature create a safe space for individuals to be heard and understood, even in the absence of explicit communication.
12. You Understand People Even When They’re Not Being Expressive
Empaths possess a unique ability to comprehend and connect with others, even when they struggle to articulate their emotions. While some individuals may find it challenging to understand unspoken messages, empaths have an innate sense of deciphering the underlying sentiments.
However, you must establish healthy boundaries and safeguard your emotional well-being before venturing out. It’ll also help you ward off energy vampires seeking to drain your resources.
13. You Have a Strong Moral Compass
Empaths possess a strong moral compass that guides their actions and beliefs. They place great importance on truthfulness and integrity in all aspects of life.
When faced with dishonesty, you’ll experience profound emotional pain, disappointment, and a sense of disillusionment. It’s because of your deep sensitivity towards acts of injustice and moral ambiguity, which can significantly affect them.
Additionally, it’s also challenging for many empaths to disregard the fact that people can be dishonest, and it can disrupt their emotional equilibrium. This unwavering commitment to truth and morality shapes their interactions with others and their worldview.
14. You Need a ‘People Detox’
One of the ways empaths deal with the effects of absorbing others’ emotions is to disconnect from people altogether. It’s a myth that all empaths are introverts who prefer to be alone all of the time.
Many are outgoing extroverts who enjoy socializing but avoid it because of the heaviness that is felt afterward. This makes the tendency to withdraw from interaction with people with a common empathic trait.
15. Your Mind Feels Very Busy or Distracted
It is not uncommon for an empath to be diagnosed as having ADHD or some other disorder that is marked by impulsivity or the inability to focus. Often described as a ‘monkey mind,’ it can be hard to focus on things you love and enjoy when a lot of sensory information is being brought inside.
Becoming aware of just how many thoughts run through your mind every day is a good place to start. You’ll notice that many (if not most) of these thoughts are unneeded or unwanted.
I like to describe this as a ‘hoarders’ situation in which one’s home (mind) is being filled with tons of junk that you didn’t request. Thankfully, meditation and other mindfulness techniques can stop this ‘drop off’ from continuing.
16. You Don’t Like Selfish and Arrogant People (But you don’t hate them either)
Empaths have a natural inclination toward helping others and prioritizing their needs. This strong sense of empathy makes you particularly averse to individuals who exhibit selfish and arrogant behavior.
It’s difficult for you to connect with people who lack consideration for others and place themselves above everyone else. You also tend to steer clear of those who boast and have an inflated sense of superiority.
While you excel at understanding and relating to others, you’ll struggle to comprehend how someone can possess and display such self-centered traits.
It means that instead of harboring hatred towards these individuals, you simply choose to distance yourself from them to maintain your own emotional well-being.
17. You Can’t Not Care
As discussed already, empaths connect deeply with the emotions of those around them, feeling their pain and struggle as if they were their own.
This strong sense of empathy compels you to want to make a positive difference and alleviate the suffering they witness. However, this level of caring can be overwhelming and disappointing when they can’t always help or solve every problem.
You’ll feel pain if you witness someone’s struggles without taking on the burden themselves. While this compassion is admirable, you need to prioritize self-care and ensure they have enough energy to support themselves as well.
This balance is crucial to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout
18. Clutter Is Your Enemy
This is a sign that is less known than some of the others mentioned in this list. To really understand how being overwhelmed by clutter is related to highly sensitive people, you have to think about what an object is made of at its core.
If you ever took a high school or college science class, you probably learned about potential energy. This means that even when an object is perfectly still, it contains the energy needed to move.
Just like an empath can absorb the energy of a person, they can also soak up the vibrations of objects. For this reason, it is super important to make sure that you declutter your home (especially your bedroom) often. It’ll also help you fill your home with positive energy.
19. You Struggle with Addictions or Obesity
Not all empathic traits are positive. Thinking that being an empath is all ‘rainbows and sunshine’ is what makes the abilities difficult for those with true empathic natures.
It might be surprising, but addictions to alcohol, food, work, and drugs are common among empaths because those things serve as distractions that take the focus away from negative emotions and mental disturbances.
This isn’t something that a person chooses consciously, and most are unaware of the true reasons for their overeating, excessive drinking, etc. Empaths also tend to put on a lot of weight around their middle as a physical way to ‘pad themselves’ against absorbing energy.
20. You Can’t Set Boundaries Easily
As an empath, it can be challenging for you to establish and maintain boundaries, as you have a natural inclination to absorb and give energy to others. However, it’s important to recognize that boundaries are not a sign of indifference but a way to protect yourself.
Your empathic nature makes you deeply affected by the experiences of others, which highlights the need for boundaries. These boundaries enable you to define limits around words and actions that could negatively impact your emotions.
At times, it may be difficult for you to distinguish between your own emotions and those of others, leading to overwhelming feelings. Seeking guidance from an expert therapist or a mental health professional can help you develop effective boundary-setting techniques.
With their support, you can strike a balance between your empathic abilities and your personal well-being. It’ll help you navigate relationships with clarity and take care of yourself.
21. Empaths and Relationships
You might think that the ability to understand people very well would make those of us with empathetic gifts skilled in friendship and love. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Although quick to fall in love and connect, empaths find relationships challenging because of what they are at their core: an energy flow between two people.
This is why it is so important to only be in connection with people whose energies are in alignment with your own.
22. Empaths and Narcissists
Narcissists target Empaths. It might seem hard to keep yourself aligned with only positive people, especially when it seems that energetic opposites are constantly drawn to each other. The takers are naturally attracted to the givers and vice versa.
Earlier I mentioned that empathy is a trait that you can have none, some, or a lot of. Empaths are on the high end of this scale while narcissists, sociopaths, and other types of ‘Cluster B’ personalities can be found on the other end of the spectrum.
These people are often labeled energy vampires because of their tendency to suck up all of a person’s positivity and leave toxic emotional waste behind.
Empaths who are unaware of how to protect themselves emotionally will naturally attract these vultures — an empath narcissist marriage isn’t uncommon.
This is especially true for those who were raised by addicts, have a narcissistic parent, or have a past full of trauma or pain.
23. Empaths Have Low Self-Esteem or Are Overly Critical (Of Themself)
While narcissists and other energy vampires tend to project onto everyone else, empaths take the blame inward. Empaths are especially prone to low self-esteem because of the emotional turmoil many feel.
The same is true of depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, but most can be undone by figuring out how to guard oneself.
24. You Can Get Hurt Easily
Being an Empath means that you have a heart that is easily exposed, which makes you susceptible to getting hurt. Your vulnerability attracts those who can take advantage of you, leading to relationships and friendships where you feel exploited.
Past experiences of being hurt in such connections can make it difficult for you to open yourself up to new relationships.
Despite your capacity for deep love and selflessness, there can be moments when you question if you will ever find someone who truly comprehends the depths of your being.
25. Closeness and Intimacy Can Overwhelm You
Empaths usually find it difficult to maintain a balance between closeness and intimacy. While you desire meaningful connections and long-lasting relationships, excessive proximity can trigger stress and anxiety.
The fear of losing your sense of self within the relationship may arise. In addition, excessive talking or physical contact can also result in sensory overload or a sense of frazzled nerves.
You’re prone to absorbing your partner’s hurt feelings, which makes it difficult for you to communicate your need for personal space. As a result, you end up amplifying your own distress.
26. You Always Give More Than You Receive
In the world of an empath, the giving nature knows no bounds. You pour your heart and soul into supporting others, often exceeding your awareness of how much you give.
However, it can be disheartening when you realize that those closest to you don’t reciprocate the same level of love and support.
When you find yourself in need of assistance, you may turn inward, suppressing your emotions because it feels like those around you don’t care enough.
27. You Realize When People Lie
As empaths have a keen sense of intuition, they can pick up on subtle cues and energies during conversations. This heightened awareness enables them to detect when someone is being dishonest.
Unfortunately, this realization can be disheartening, as people often deny their lies and may even attempt to shift the blame onto the empath.
In such situations, you should create distance from these individuals, as they are likely to drain your energy and not have your best interests at heart.
28. Negativity Overwhelms You
As an empath, you’re highly sensitive to the energy around you, and negativity can quickly deplete your own energy reserves. It becomes daunting to maintain a sense of well-being and balance when exposed to constant negativity.
The accumulation of negative energy can leave you feeling empty and unable to function at your best. To protect yourself, you must cleanse and clear your energy to make sure that you create a positive and uplifting environment for yourself.
29. You Can Find Meaning in Everything
Finding meaning in everything is a characteristic often seen in empaths. It means that you have a natural inclination to delve into the depths of experiences and uncover their significance.
Even in seemingly ordinary encounters or moments in nature, your power of positivity allows you to extract profound life lessons. Your belief is rooted in the idea that everything happens for a reason, and there are no random experiences.
When it comes to relationships, you approach them with deep sincerity and invest abundant love and care. Whether it’s a romantic connection, a close friendship, or even an interaction with a stranger that deeply moves you, you take every experience seriously.
Regardless of how challenging a situation may be, you possess the inherent ability to find the positive aspects within it. You have a keen eye for uncovering hidden meanings and discovering the silver linings, even in the most difficult circumstances.
If you consistently find yourself seeking the underlying significance behind the wonders of both the small and grand aspects of nature, it indicates that you are an empath with an inquisitive nature.
30. You Are Not Reactive
Empaths understand the power of words. You recognize that once spoken, words cannot be taken back or undone. You are aware of the potential for certain statements to cause profound emotional harm.
This awareness fuels your mastery of self-awareness and self-discipline, particularly in moments of conflict or challenging situations. You’re deliberate in choosing your words, taking the time to carefully consider the impact they may have on others.
Your intention is always to prevent causing pain, sadness, or misunderstanding to fellow human beings. However, it is important to note that the weight of this responsibility can sometimes lead to internal struggles, resulting in occasional breakdowns or mood swings.
31. Music Fascinates You
You have a profound fascination with music as an empath, as science backs this claim as well. It captivates you, and every song holds a special place in your heart, creating lasting impressions and cherished memories.
Music stimulates multiple regions of your brain, triggering a heightened emotional and sensory experience. As a result, you find immense pleasure and satisfaction in listening to music, often on a more intense level than others.
It’s like a transcendent journey that uplifts your spirits and activates the reward centers in your brain, releasing a surge of dopamine. Exploring different genres of music, especially instrumental pieces, brings you solace and offers companionship during solitary moments.
32. You Don’t Usually Share Your Emotions
Most empaths tend to hold back and keep their emotions to themselves. While you excel at being a supportive listener for others, you hesitate to burden them with your own struggles.
As a result, you carry your own wounds silently, wearing a smile even when you’re hurting inside. This tendency to conceal your emotions is a distinctive trait of empaths.
It leads you to adopt a stoic demeanor, offering unwavering support to those around you during their difficult times, without seeking anything in return.
33. You Value Antiques
When you come into contact with antique items like ornaments, jewelry, rings, and clothing, or when you touch door handles of old buildings or explore historical homes, you sense a strong connection to the past.
These objects carry the energy and stories of their previous owners, and for some, this can be overwhelming and unsettling.
However, if you have developed a level of control over their sensitivity, you’ll feel comfortable and drawn to these experiences. They provide you with a sense of ease and a unique connection to history.
34. You’re Interested in Knowing More About Your Ancestral Lineage
Empaths possess a genuine curiosity about their ancestral lineage. If you’re an empath, you’ll remember listening eagerly to the stories about the origins of your family and the lives and accomplishments of your ancestors.
It also suggests that you can take the role of the family historian, collecting photo albums and heirlooms that hold sentimental value. Understanding your roots and feeling connected to your ancestors holds great significance to you.
This knowledge is something you cherish and will pass on to future generations, ensuring that the legacy of your family continues to be preserved.
35. People Say that You Live in Your Head
Most empaths often find themselves immersed in deep contemplation and reflection. Your heightened sensitivity to the world around you keeps your mind constantly engaged.
It’s not uncommon for you to ponder over the challenges and struggles faced by others, as well as seek solace through daydreaming. This introspective nature often leads people to claim that you live in your head.
However, the truth is that your nature compels you to understand and connect with others on a profound level. Retreating into your inner world allows you to find balance, relaxation, and emotional harmony amidst the overwhelming influx of external emotions.
36. You Are Forgiving
Empathetic individuals exhibit a remarkable inclination toward forgiveness. Your deep emotional understanding and ability to connect with others enable you to empathize with their perspectives, making you less likely to hold grudges.
Instead of dwelling on past transgressions, you genuinely try to comprehend the motivations and circumstances behind someone’s actions.
However, you need to be mindful of the potential for others to exploit your forgiving nature, as this can lead to toxic relationships and friendships.
37. You’re Grateful for What You Have
As an empath, you have a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings in your life. You radiate with energy and appreciate the richness of every experience and opportunity that comes your way.
You approach life with unwavering enthusiasm, fully immersing yourself in each moment. However, this unwavering energy can sometimes lead to exhaustion, prompting you to prioritize self-care and recharge.
Your wholehearted approach to life can leave you longing for others to share the same zest and appreciation. Your gratitude extends far beyond material possessions, encompassing the beauty of relationships, meaningful experiences, and the simple joys of everyday existence.
After reading about the signs above, you might be even more convinced that you have higher-than-average empathic abilities.
Like some personality traits, empathy can present itself as a sliding scale, with some being very compassionate and some being very closed off to the feelings of others.
The empath test below will give you an even better idea of where you fall on the pendulum.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel different or as if you don’t fit in with others?
- Are you able to feel the pain of people or animals?
- Do these feelings tend to manifest physically?
- Do you know what others are feeling, even if they are trying to hide it?
- Are there times when you (or others) feel you are too emotional or sensitive?
- Do you struggle with chronic anxiety or depression that isn’t situational?
- Does noise, lots of movement, or certain smells make you feel anxious?
- Do you avoid public places because they make you feel overwhelmed?
- Do you feel drained after being around large groups?
- Is your mood affected by the emotional state of others?
- Are interpersonal relationships with others hard for you to manage?
- Do art, literature, and music move you emotionally?
- Do you avoid conflict with others because of the way it makes you feel?
- Are there times when you mimic the accents or mannerisms of others without meaning to?
- Does multitasking seem overly difficult for you?
- Are you more connected with nature and animals than the average person?
- Do people tend to come to you for help with their problems?
- Are you affected physically or emotionally by violent images or videos?
- Do you overeat, drink, smoke, or engage in other unhealthy habits to deal with strong emotions?
- Do certain medications or caffeine have a strong effect on your physical or mental state?
If you answered ‘yes’ to 8 or more of these questions, you have greater empathic abilities than the average person. 12 or more suggests that you are hyper-empathetic (an empath).
How to Deal with Being an Empath?
Like all gifts, being empathic comes with both opportunities and obstacles. Seen by some as a gift and others as a curse, lots of effort and patience are required when learning how to deal with being an empath.
The information below will help you learn to protect yourself from absorbing unwanted energy and find balance.
Balance Your Energy Centers
Although there is much debate on how or why some people are more empathetic than others, many believe that the absorption of others’ negative energy has to do with overactive chakras.
These seven spiritual energy centers are located in a line starting just above the head and ending at the very base of the spine. One’s chakras should be open, but not in overdrive. Otherwise, you can end up with the following effects of overactive chakras:
- Experiencing a lack of inspiration, mental fogginess, depression, and emotional detachment (overactive crown chakra)
- Feeling overwhelmed, experiencing headaches or delusions, and experiencing nightmares (overactive third-eye chakra)
- Over-talking, gossiping, and being critical and judgmental of yourself or others (overactive throat chakra)
- Struggling with codependency, tolerating too much from others, losing one’s own identity, and saying yes when you mean no (overactive heart chakra)
- Fighting against a desire to control, perfectionism, stubbornness, and eating disorders (overactive solar plexus)
- Being overly emotional, struggling with addictions, or feeling unable to let go of attachments (overactive sacral chakra)
- Feeling angry, greedy, impatient, or stuck (overactive root chakra)
Chakra experts claim that not fixing this problem can also lead to blocked chakras. So, to fix this problem, you must balance your energy centers. Read our article about the chakra system for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.
Use Visualization Techniques
To prevent blocked and overactive chakras in the first place, empaths can use shield visualization. Although this might seem complicated, it’s actually very simple to do.
When you start to feel uncomfortable (with a person, place, or situation,) take a moment to imagine a beautiful shield or bubble of white light surrounding you. It should completely surround your body and extend out a few inches.
Remind yourself that your shield is protecting you from toxicity, bringing in unwanted energy, and stress. It also stops your own energy from being sucked up by emotional vampires.
As silly as this might seem, science has proven that the body and mind have trouble distinguishing what we imagine from reality.
This is why thinking of an unpleasant experience like your spouse cheating or a loved one dying can bring on such strong physical and emotional reactions.
When you visualize this shield blocking unwanted vibrations, your own body will do the work.
Set Energetic Boundaries for Yourself
Even the most shielded person can have trouble keeping all negative energy out. This is why it is crucial to disconnect from those who are toxic and set energetic boundaries at work and home. You can do this by:
- Being aware of how you feel and what is causing these feelings. Take notice of your inner world and what things cause your energy to shift. When a feeling comes up, ask yourself, “Is this mine or someone else’s emotion?” This will help you not to react to every feeling that presents itself.
- Limit draining interactions by detaching from people who make you feel overwhelmed or drained. A lot of empaths struggle with this because we feel that disengaging is selfish. However, protecting your energy is necessary, not mean or egotistical. If you work or live with people who make you feel
- Use physical objects such as crystals, plants, and even noise-canceling headphones to help you set energetic boundaries. One thing that I have found helpful is using a weighted blanket that serves as a ‘shield’ while protecting my energy and reducing my anxiety when I sleep.
- Figure out what boosts your energy and focus on those things. Exercising, getting outside, eating good foods, watching your thoughts, and practicing meditation and/or yoga are all places to start. If you’re a complete newbie, read this guide with the best yoga books for beginners.
- Another practice to employ is grounding. This involves connecting to both yourself and the earth. You can do this by placing your feet firmly on the ground and then sending any negative energy out of your body and into the field.
Meditation is important for anyone who wants to become his or her best self, not just empaths. However, embracing this practice is especially important for those who struggle with the negative effects of being highly sensitive. Some of the benefits include:
- Lowered stress and anxiety
- Better control of one’s thoughts and attention span
- Stronger memory and self-awareness
- Improved immune system and energy levels
- Regulation of mood and sleep
A lot of people are put off by meditation because they don’t understand the purpose, think it is linked to religion, or just don’t know how to get started.
The truth is, you don’t need to pay for some expensive app or do anything special to meditate. Simply find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down and relax your body.
Then, begin to focus on your breathing, taking in slow, deep breaths as you count or repeat a mantra of some kind. Doing so will allow you to go beyond your conscious mind and connect with your (higher) inner self.
Although this might feel a little strange at first, just 20 minutes a day will allow the bulleted benefits above to start to manifest. You can find more tips on how to meditate in my detailed guide on meditation.
Empaths and Relationships
My final suggestion for empaths learning to make the best of their extra-sensory abilities is to detach from anyone who drains their energy or affects them negatively on a daily basis.
I’ve mentioned this vaguely throughout the article, but I think it is really important to devote at least a paragraph that explains it.
Limit Toxic Interactions
Imagine this scene: You are allergic to seaweed, and anytime you come in contact with it, your skin breaks out, your eyes swell, and you develop skin sores. You love swimming in the ocean, but when you do, you usually touch some seaweed and end up sick.
You try to avoid this problem by wearing protective swim gear and only swimming in places where seaweed isn’t prevalent. Still, you know there is a risk of having an allergic reaction, and often, this is what occurs.
This is similar to the exchange between empaths and negative family members, partners, and friends. We call these people toxic because of the harmful effects of being around them.
Empath and Narcissist Relationship
If you are in a relationship with an energy vampire or narcissist, the only way to fully escape from their grasp is to ‘stop swimming’ with them. If you can, this means no contact. However, I realize that this isn’t possible in all cases. This is especially true if you have children with a person or they are a parent.
If this is the case for you, you can still protect your energy centers by using something called the ‘gray rock method’. This technique works in two ways. For one, it limits your contact with energy vampires, and two; it encourages them to lose interest in you. Unbalanced people tend to be attracted to drama and chaos.
Psychopaths enjoy the push and pull and need your energy to feel fulfilled. By being emotionally detached and acting like a dull ‘rock,’ you undermine toxic people’s ability to lure you into an energy exchange. The result? You are protected and able to control your empathic skills better.
Common Questions About Empaths
Is It Rare to Be an Empath?
Opinions on the rarity of empaths vary. Some believe real empaths are rare, while others think many people are empaths without being aware of it. Some even believe anyone can become an empath with conscious practice and self-work. The perception of rarity depends on the qualities one associates with being an empath, such as absorbing emotions or possessing additional abilities like intuition and healing.
What are the Main Things that Empaths Avoid?
Empaths should avoid exposure to violent news, being around critical or narcissistic individuals, crowded places, and negative people. These situations can leave empaths feeling anxious, drained, and depleted.
Are Empaths Born or Made?
Genetics and mirror neurons may indicate if someone is born an empath. Traumatic experiences during childhood or adolescence can also contribute to developing empathic abilities. Empaths possess high sensitivity and intuition, often stemming from deep feelings and awareness of their surroundings.
What Are the Characteristics of an Empath?
Empaths are highly sensitive beings who absorb others’ emotions. They possess intuition and introversion, requiring time alone for rejuvenation. Romantic relationships can be overwhelming due to intense emotions. Empaths often attract energy vampires, draining their own energy.
What Is a Dark Empath?
A dark empath is emotionally dangerous, potentially more so than a narcissist. They understand others’ emotional states but lack the willingness to help. Dark empaths exhibit dark humor and can be malicious, conniving, and adept at guilt-tripping others.
Who Are Empaths Attracted To?
Empaths are often attracted to narcissists due to their empathy and compassion, seeking to help and heal them. However, this can be a harmful match, as narcissists tend to hurt empaths, who forgive them repeatedly, leading to ongoing drama and betrayal.
Why Do Empaths Attract Narcissists?
Narcissists are attracted to empaths’ giving and loving nature. They want someone who idolizes and worships them. When empaths deviate from the narcissist’s expectations, the narcissist becomes cold and distant. Empaths’ desire to fix and heal narcissists often exacerbates the narcissist’s mistreatment.
Do Narcissists Think They Are Empaths?
Covert narcissists, aware of their insecurities and childhood trauma, can present themselves as intuitive, generous, and compassionate. They may claim psychic or spiritual superiority. However, the problem lies in others believing their facade. Differentiating true empaths from covert narcissists can be challenging, requiring careful observation and analysis.
Becoming the Empath, You’re Supposed to Be
Because we are so intuitive, any empath who has read this far into the article has probably determined ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ when it comes to having empathic abilities.
If you think for the slightest bit that you might possess empathic abilities, it is worth exploring empowering those abilities as soon as you can.
You have so much untapped potential and massive abundance waiting for you once you have a system in place to help you achieve your empowerment.
Many people told me about enlightenment once you’re finally free of burdens and can step into the light to see the blessings of being an empowered empath.
I am glad my article is helping you!
Completely agree with your thoughts on spiritual gifts. They are beautiful but can be so intense!