Did you know empaths, or highly sensitive people, make up 15-20% of the population?

According to Dr. Elaine Aron, the psychologist who coined the phrase “highly sensitive person,” empaths have this trait from birth, and it can be found in over 100 species, including horses, birds, fruit flies, and primates. Dr. Aron pioneered research in the field of sensitivity and continues to research this area of psychology.

Now, if you identify as an empath, you probably feel quite misunderstood in this hectic, fast-paced world where no one seems to notice the subtleties you pick up on. You think that you absorb energies far too readily, and can get overwhelmed by modern society very quickly.

People might often tell you to “stop being so sensitive,” but you get tired of hearing it because you don’t know how to change your innate traits. And, you shouldn’t have to. However, you also shouldn’t allow people to treat you like a doormat, because that doesn’t serve your best interests, either.

Because we know the plight of the empath, we decided to craft a shortlist to help out those who feel they could use some assistance in becoming more outspoken and direct, without being rude.

Here are eight ways for empaths to be more assertive:

1. Don’t be afraid to say no

Many times, empaths feel they can’t maintain their sensitivity while also speaking up for themselves and possibly letting others down. Remember, though, when you say no to someone’s request, this doesn’t make you a bad person.

It merely means you have a lot on your plate, and can’t possibly make everyone happy. In life, we have a limited amount of time each day, and can’t always get everything done that we’d like to.

However, prioritizing things can help you knock off the critical tasks on your list, and saying no further aids you in managing your time wisely. If someone gets hurt because you said no, remember that they have the responsibility to choose how they want to feel, and your response shouldn’t dictate their emotions.

Here’s proof of why you should say no more often. According to a Mayo Clinic survey of interns, the result of saying yes to everything can result in feeling burned out and overworked. Saying no is vital in the workplace and in personal relationships to avoid feeling like a doormat.

2. Always follow your heart

Empaths can often get swept up in the idea that they have to do what others want them to do. This happens because they have a duty here to heal the planet and everyone on it. Empaths, in a way, have the qualities of a superhero. However, but often don’t take time to look after themselves properly.

Remember that even Superman had Kryptonite, and you must also stay strong by avoiding falling into this trap.

Never sacrifice your dreams to please others; this won’t lead to fulfillment in the long term. Following your heart means bravely stepping into the path of your dreams and not letting anyone stand in the way. Just focus on improving your own life and doing things that feel good to you, and this will help you become more assertive.

3. See others as your equals

Empaths can easily suffer from an inferiority complex or feeling less than others. They might feel they have a lower value or less to offer than other people, and therefore, it affects their jobs, relationships, and almost every aspect of life.

Remember that others have insecurities, too; they just might not show them. Everyone on this planet must fight the same battles, but their attitudes and relationships with themselves determine how they see life, and how it treats them. Never discount yourself by comparing yourself to others – focus on your view of yourself, and forget what others think about you.

Remember that your keen sense of empathy is a gift that distinguishes you from others. It’s not the negative that you sometimes feel it can be.

4. Don’t be a people pleaser

People-pleasing might seem harmless. But in reality, it can quickly become dangerous and self-destructive. When you try to bend over backward to please everyone, you push your needs to the back burner. By ignoring your own needs, you are on a fast-track to feeling exhausted.

If you have high self-esteem, you’ll realize that you need to meet your own needs first before you can take care of everyone else.

The person you most need to please is the beautiful human being who is looking back at you in your mirror.

5. Think about your own needs too

Just as we spoke about in the last point, you need to make time for self-care and self-love. You can’t always serve others and let your energy become depleted. Remember, one empty jug cannot fill another. That saying means that you can’t help others if you don’t first help yourself.

Take time for self-care. Some things you can try to include the following:

  • Indulge in a hot bubble bath or shower with your favorite essential oil.
  • Savor a nice hot cup of your favorite tea.
  • Spend time exercising outdoors in nature to feed your soul and care for your body.
  • Meditate or do yoga to stay connected and quiet your thoughts.
  • Take an impromptu nap if you feel overly tired.

Each of these small actions adds up to showing yourself a whole lot of love. This care is essential in times when you feel you need to grow stronger.

6. Speak up when you think others mistreat you

Don’t let others walk all over you and treat you however they see fit. This point is challenging for empaths, who are natural people-pleasers (as previously mentioned). You are so attuned to the feelings of others that you hesitate to take up for yourself.

Have enough self-respect to confront them if you feel that someone else has crossed their bounds. You can still have a civil discussion with someone even if the topic of conversation isn’t necessarily pleasant. When you sit down and talk with someone to let them know that they disrespected you, this will go a long way in increasing your assertiveness.

7. Take time to think about your responses

Don’t just say what you think people want to hear. Empaths are profoundly honest and sometimes brutally so.

If you don’t feel like getting dinner tonight with a friend, then say so. Slow down and think about your responses first before you blurt out something that will please others. So, before you speak, first ask yourself, “Is this really what I want to say or do?”

If not, then reformulate your answer inside your mind before you share it with others.

Highly Sensitive Person

8. If you don’t feel confident, act like it anyway

The old “fake it til you make it” saying applies here. If you start to move confidently, even if you don’t feel like it, you can trick your brain into making you think you have confidence. In fact, studies show that faking confidence can even help you get ahead in the workplace because it makes you seem competent, and bosses only go by what they see on the surface, anyhow.

In other aspects of your life, such as relationships, appearing confident can help empaths increase their self-esteem, and therefore, become more assertive.

empaths are highly sensitive people
Final Thoughts: Why Empaths Should Be Assertive

Empaths are so highly sensitive that they are keenly aware of the emotions and intentions of others around them. In fact, they become so attuned to others that don’t spend enough time caring for their own well-being. At least in part, this situation stems from the desire to avoid hurting the feelings of other people. The flip side? It exposes empaths to burnout and being taken advantage of.

Knowing that this tendency is a common denominator for many HSPs proves that you are not alone. Empaths are part of a select group of people who have unique gifts to share with the world. But first, you must be at your strongest. Be assertive, be you!