Let’s say your sister comes home, distraught because her boyfriend just terminated their relationship.
As she sobs, you start to feel a wash of sadness envelope your body—sadness so intense you feel as though you were the one who just had your heart obliterated.
If this sounds like you, you could be an empath.
How to know if you’re an empath for sure? Read on!
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Are you an empath or just a person who feels empathy?
First, we must distinguish the difference between empathy and being an empath. Most people in the world have some level of empathy, especially when it comes to our loved ones. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
For most of us, if our sister came home with a broken heart we would do everything in our power to comfort her, and soothe her. Why? Because we have been broken up with before…we know how to relate to what she is going through.
Being an empath is a bit more intense. If you are an empath and your sister comes barreling into the house, a heap of anger, depression and fear, you don’t just relate to her feelings—you feel them. Every emotion that courses through her body is coursing through yours at the exact same moment.
According to most recognized empaths, such as empath life coach Caroline, empath is another term for ‘clairsentient’, which means having the ability to feel the physical and emotional states of others, without relying on your physical senses.
How to tell if you are an empath
Being an empath goes far and beyond experiencing other people’s emotions. You have the ability to feel energy from other people and other beings around you at all times. You don’t have to guess at the desires and intentions of those around you, because you feel them yourself.
Being an empath is not a learned trait. It is something that is inside you when you are born, or it is not. But an untrained empath may not be certain at first if they have the ability, and they may not know the proper strategies to harness it correctly.
Published author and empath Diane Kathrine compiled a list of tell-tale signs that you are an empath. Listed are 30 of the most common traits, but the list is not all-inclusive. Here are some of the most obvious signs:
- Unusual Knowledge: empaths have a tendency of knowing things, things beyond an academic or even intuitive scope. This knowledge is absorbed from the knowledge base of those around the empath.
- Three’s a Crowd: being in a crowd or a large group of people can be really overwhelming. There are a ton of emotions flying at an empath from every direction and the experience can be exhausting.
- The Human Sponge: an empath feels the emotions of those around them and can’t help but experience them firsthand, as if they felt them directly. Adept empaths even have the ability to sense the emotions of others from far away.
- Cover Your Eyes: for an empath, witnessing a violent or cruel act is about as bad as experiencing it. The negative emotions that accompany these events are simply too much to bear.
- Tell the Truth: ever wish someone’s nose would grow if they told a lie, like Pinocchio? If you’re an empath, you don’t need to stare at anybody’s nostrils—you know if someone is lying to you, especially those who are close to you.
7 questions to ask yourself
Here are the 7 questions that you can ask yourself to help reflect on whether or not you're an empath. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. If you are answering these questions and trying to aim for the "right" answer, or the answer that you want to hear, then you are doing yourself a disservice.
Answer honestly, go with your gut feeling, and see where it takes you. This is a thought-exercise to help guide introspection, and it's not intended as a diagnosis of any kind.
- Have you ever felt yourself absorbing knowledge from those around you, without being told anything?
- Do you experience vivid or lucid dreams?
- Do you ever find yourself ignoring your own needs, and putting more energy into external feelings than your own?
- Do you have trouble focusing on the mundane, and find yourself day-dreaming, or distracted?
- Do you experience deja vu fairly regularly?
- Do you find yourself to be highly emotionally sensitive to movies, TV shows, videos, the news?
- Do you have a very easy time sharing and talking about your feelings, but prefer to keep your accomplishments and achievements quieter, passing the praise off to others instead?
Are there different types of empaths?
According to empath and public speaker Erin Kerti, there are five main types of empaths. She goes into detail about each type, and how they differ from each other in this YouTube video:
Here are the five types of empaths in a nutshell:
- Emotional Empath: these empaths experience the emotions of those around them, whether their company is familiar or not.
- Physical Empath: these empaths pick up on the physical well being of those around them, including various ailments.
- Animal Empath: these empaths best connect with the spiritual sense and/or energy of animals they come into contact with.
- Global Empath: empaths that experience energies and emotions of people on a global versus individual scale. These empaths are hyper attuned to the world around them.
- Earth Empath: these empaths feel a deep connection with the earth and nature, and are able to absorb the energy that comes off of natural things around them.
I am an empath - how do I deal?
Being an empath can be as stressful as it is rewarding. Even the most simple or joyous day can be exhausting, depending on the emotions and energies of those around you. It is imperative to learn coping techniques if you are an empath.
Bo Forbes, a certified yogi and psychologist, provides a helpful article on how to find peace and balance as an empath. The road isn’t always easy, but these techniques can help empaths not only learn to cope with their ability, but see it as the gift it truly is.
Unlike having brown hair, the empath trait is not something you can change or alter. Being an empath is an inherent trait some people are simply born with, and a box of hair dye isn't going to change that. The best way to enjoy life and experience it to the fullest is to hone your ability—let it compliment your life, not dictate it.