Are you considered a highly sensitive person? Do you find that you intuitively know what other people are feeling and thinking? If so, these are traits of an “empath” – but it doesn’t reveal for sure if you’re what psychologists call a “true empath.”
Below are 10 specific traits – shared in greater detail – that will help you to know with more certainty that you indeed are an empath.
You don’t have to have all 10 out of 10 of these to be a true empath – but the more traits you have, the more likely you are one.
Being an empath can also be an emotionally stressful journey – because of your high levels of sensitivity.
Because I recognize that being an empath has its particular challenges, I’ve also included some tools below to help you to better harness your high levels of sensitivity.
For this reason, many empaths are often highly drawn to learn more about spirituality, metaphysics, religion and/or the paranormal – in a desire to better understand how and why they feel the energies of others so deeply.
When empaths are around someone who is angry, tired, depressed (etc) they can easily pick up these negatives feelings and absorb them into their own bodies – mirroring these negative emotions as if they are their own.
On the flip side, when empaths are around someone who is happy, loving, peaceful etc, they will similarly take on these positive energies and feel energized, delighted and inspired.
A lot of closeness, intimacy and exchange of shared emotions can feel very exhausting to an empath.
They might feel as if they are losing their identity – as if their “sense of self” is being absorbed into the other person and the relationship.
For this reason, empaths need to be sure to give themselves the right balance of closeness and alone time.
Unfortunately empaths are often sought out by narcissists, codependants, and the highly talkative – who crave constant attention and support.
Empaths should do their best to put up strong boundaries with these people – and avoid romantic entanglings with them.
Here’s a helpful article for how to put up boundaries with emotional vampires.
Empaths are often very loving people who are intuitively drawn to wanting to help release people’s suffering.
For example, if they see a homeless or injured person they will be eager to help.
Many empaths also choose professions which help people – because they’re so naturally wired to want to relieve other people’s pain.
For example, they often go on to become nurses, doctors, veterinarians, social workers, massage therapists, etc… because they feel an emotional tug to help others.
Reminder: Empaths who get involved in a healing profession should be extremely sure to create healthy boundaries so they don’t feel overwhelmed by the energy of others.
In fact, empaths will frequently find themselves being told that they should not allow the things that are said to them or done to them to affect them so deeply.
Plus because empaths easily take on the heartbreak of others – they might cry at a sad story when it is shared with them – which others might perceive as “too sensitive.”
Empaths often have a challenging time watching movies or videos which are highly emotional and/or violent because they feel the scenes on the screen so fully in their own minds and bodies.
Empaths are often overwhelmed in crowds of all kinds: subways, malls, conventions, parades, train stations, etc.
For this reason they often prefer to travel by car instead of public transportation and meet with people one-on-one or in limited groups.
They are also sensitive to too much noise and places with highly strong smells.
Plus empaths have a challenging time in settings which are particularly filled with people in pain: hospitals, funerals, group therapy, etc.
This constant absorption of emotionality can be taxing on their psyche.
Many studies report how interconnected our minds and stomachs are. So much so, some studies even call “the gut” a “second brain.”
Empaths feel things highly deeply – and so it makes sense that they might want to find a way to escape from the “emotional bombardment” they feel on a daily basis.
For this reason, many empaths will take on an addiction (aka: alcohol, or drugs, or binge eating, or shopping, or gambling, or sex addiction, etc…) in the hopes that their addiction will numb them and distract them from the overwhelm of their emotions.
Empaths often find themselves feeling emotional overload, so it’s important they give themselves lots of quiet time and alone time.
This can include: journaling, or taking a walk, or doing some yoga stretches, or doing some cycling, or enjoying a relaxing shower, or spending time in nature, or spending time with animals, or practicing meditation, and/or simply closing one’s eyes and breathing deeply for a few minutes.
If you’re an empath and you feel like someone is draining you, it’s essential you speak up and clearly define your boundaries.
Here’s a helpful article on how to create boundaries with difficult people.
Plus, if you know in advance that parties or events can be overwhelming, be sure to let your host know that you will attend – but only for a limited amount of time.
If you’re an empath and have an addiction or a mood disorder – it’s essential you get help.
If your problem is at an advanced level, be sure to see a professional who can give you the tools you need.
With that said, if your addiction and/or moodiness is not at an extreme level, then you can try to let go of your emotional challenges by creating a regular meditation practice.
Plus you can also try to swap out your negative addictions for highly “positive addictions” – like a new passion or hobby. For example: knitting, pottery, painting, beading, hula hooping, writing, yoga, tennis, martial arts, etc…
Need further support to think happier?
Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.