Empaths are highly sensitive souls who are easily misunderstood. They are sensitive, giving, loving, and at times, extremely anxious. An empath craves love but also needs alone time. They cry on the drop of a dime, see things that no one else can see or sense, and a few other quirks.
What is an Empath?
The word empath, a shortened version of empathy, is modeled after the word telepath. An empath is a person who has the psychological ability to identify with others’ feelings. Originally, the term was used in science-fiction literature, but it’s used today to describe individuals with deep emotional sensitivity. Human empathy is the ability to feeling what others are feeling, to put yourself in their place. Depending on your personality and experiences, you may feel empathy more intensely. Those people that are high up on the empathy spectrum are considered empaths. Studies show that although empaths are compassionate people, they get exhausted from their feelings of empathy to the point of experiencing physical side effects from feeling what others are feeling in their own bodies.
Empaths and post-trauma
Individuals who are empaths are prone to feeling things very deeply. As kids, they may not have known how to handle damaging situations they experienced, like being bullied or chaotic family life. Some empaths have suffered physical or verbal abuse or neglect. Perhaps their parents didn’t realize their child was an empath and pushed them to toughen up. These experiences all contribute to the empath’s view of themselves. Empaths who bring their post-trauma from childhood into adulthood need to find healing for the past.
What are the traits of an Empath?
There are several common traits of empaths. These look different depending upon your personality, but overall these are the most common characteristics of those who are considered empaths.
1. Empaths are sensitive people
These individuals feel things deeply. They’re good listeners and generous. They are loyal friends who will stand with you through good and bad times. Empaths are nurturers, but they can easily get their feelings hurt. Others may tell them they are overly sensitive and need to develop a thicker skin to cope.
2. Empaths feel more in tune with other people’s emotions
Empaths pick up on other’s moods and feelings. They’re sensitive to anger and anxiety, becoming exhausted from being in a tense situation. Empaths may suffer from panic attacks, chronic fatigue, and depression because of this. They need peace and calm and feel the most physically healthy and happy when they’re in these atmospheres.
3.Most empaths are introverts
Crowds may feel exhausting to an empath because it overloads their empathy sensitivity levels. They prefer smaller groups or talking to an individual rather than large groups. Even those empaths that are more extroverted need time alone to recharge and unwind. Empaths often need to sleep more and prefer to sleep alone, which may be difficult for their spouses to understand.
4. Empaths are more intuitive
These individuals live by their intuition. Scientists define intuition as the ability to understand a situation without reasoning or thought. It’s a sense of what’s right or wrong in a situation, about a person, or an object. Empaths rely on gut feelings more than other people. They sense things and have a hard time disassociating how they feel when in certain situations.
5. Time alone is important to empaths
Empaths become easily emotionally and physically exhausted. They need to get away from people to decompress. For example, an empath may leave a party quickly or go for long drives to be alone. They enjoy time by themselves, where they can reorient their minds and hearts. Because of this, empaths are often misunderstood as antisocial or unpredictable. Because an empath’s partner may not understand their desire to be alone, they need to communicate their needs early on in their relationship.
6. Empaths get overwhelmed in a close relationship
Empaths can’t handle too much togetherness. Because of this, they often avoid getting into an intimate relationship. They feel smothered by these relationships to the point of feeling like they are losing their identity. A partner of an empath must learn how they think and what triggers their feelings of being smothered. Empaths can live in a loving, intimate relationship if their partner understands their unique needs and temptations.
7. Empaths are easy targets
These highly sensitive individuals hate to disappoint others. Because they don’t want to let anyone down, they struggle to set boundaries. They’re often taken advantage of by people because they’re so willing to help out. They are the people at the office who get asked to do jobs other people refuse to do. They feel obligated to be there for others, to fix situations. Empaths must learn to say no, so they don’t get drawn into situations. They can learn to establish boundaries, but it’s counter-intuitive for them.
Being outside in nature is a rejuvenating experience for an empath. They relax and feel especially renewed while outside. Walks in the woods, swimming in the ocean, or just sitting in the sun on a warm summer day can help them release anxiety and tension from life. Because empaths are so sensitive, they find nature a safe zone where they can let their guard down without fear.
9. Empaths need communication
Not all empaths are introverts, but they hate small talk. They love deep, meaningful conversations rather than surface conversations about the weather. They seek deeper meaning to life and are often spiritual people. Because of this, empaths like to feel like they’re contributing to the world around them through meaningful discussions.
10. Empaths are givers, not takers
These kind-hearted individuals want to relieve suffering. They reach out in their community, help the homeless, care for stray animals, and volunteer at local charity drives. They are generous to a fault, often depriving themselves for the sake of others. Empaths get drained emotionally, seeing all the needs around them sometimes to the point of depression and exhaustion.
How to Know if You Are an Empath?
You’re sensitive to other’s feelings.
You pick up on other’s feelings, whether they’re sad or discouraged. You draw them out with meaningful questions. That’s because you feel a deep concern about their struggle. Later, you’ll follow up with them with texts or phone calls, feeling burdened over what they’re going through.
You take on others’ feelings.
You may read a story about someone’s loss and struggle with it all day, actually feeling ill physically as you think about the situation. Because of this, being an empath can be overwhelming. When you hear of a sad situation, it may take you a day or a week to feel normal again.
You have a hard time saying no.
You can’t say no when asked to oversee your church’s vacation Bible school for the fifth year in a row. You’re the person that your boss seeks out to finish a project that your co-worker didn’t complete. You feel obligated to help others. Occasionally, you overlook your own needs to help others because you don’t want to make anyone feel bad or to be hurt.
You dislike loud noises.
Do you often feel like you can’t think straight when it’s too noisy at work or school? Do loud and repetitive noises drive you crazy? Good chance you’re an empath. Empaths need quiet and calm to think clearly. They’re easily distracted by noise and grow irritated from it.
You live by your gut feelings.
If you’re an empath, you walk into a room and can sense something is wrong. Your gut tells you that your co-worker has a hard time even before they acknowledge it to you. You sense tension, sadness, anger, and fear in people around you on your bus ride home from work or at a party. While some people may get creeped out by your ability to know what they’re feeling, others will find it comforting that you what to help them.
Self-care for Empaths
Being an empath can be tiring because you are so sensitive to those around you. You must take care of yourself. Here are some suggestions for your self-care.
- Set boundaries: Learn to say no when you’re tempted to overcommit yourself to help others.
- Get outside: Take time every day to go outside and enjoy nature. It’s your therapy and relaxation.
- Talk to trusted friends: Find one or two close friends who understand you. They will know how to encourage you or remind you to take time for yourself.
- Accept yourself: Be yourself and accept your sensitivity to other’s feelings. It’s the way God made you. You can have a normal life and be successful because you’re not a victim of your personality.
- Journal about your trauma
- Many empaths who have had a traumatic experience in their life find that journaling is helpful. Journal about your trauma and how you’re feeling about certain situations. Seek out a good counselor to help you walk through your past and find healing.
- Find faith
- Because they’re spiritual people, many empaths find healing as they press into their faith. Experiencing peace with God and accepting yourself brings healing and wholeness into your life. You can stop finding your identity in what you do and find your identity in trusting God.
Empaths’ intuitiveness gives them a unique ability to sense how others feel. It’s a unique gift, but it can be difficult to carry the burdens of others. Empaths who learn how to care for themselves and others find a great sense of satisfaction without sacrificing themselves in an unhealthy way. Enjoy your unique gift and relax, knowing God created you to enjoy being you.
Here are 5 things you need to know about loving an empath:
These people have high sensory levels and can sense things that most cannot. If they feel you are hiding something, they will call you out on it. They can feel what is not being said. They can read body language and energies.
When in a relationship with an empath, you always need to be truthful. They don’t tolerate lies. An empath cannot explain how they know what they know. You must know that if you cannot be honest with your feelings, you will not survive being with them. They are extremely emotional and will pick up on your own issues.
2. An empath’s heart has been broken many times.
They have a deep sense of the emotional world. They can feel other people’s pain and will try to fix it. In return, they find themselves with a broken heart. They wear their heart on their sleeve. It isn’t easy to stand back and rationally understand why they can get so self-absorbed with someone else’s drama.
But, an empath loves with depth and complete adoration. They feel from the heart, and eventually, the mind lets them know it is causing pain. To love an empath is to enter an emotional roller coaster of complexities. However, they are also straightforward in knowing when something is over and they can move on. They will love you forever but do not necessarily stick around to show you.