Empathy is such a major part of life. Everyone needs to have it in order to live life as a good human being. Without it, you’ll end up being a douchebag who’s only concerned with yourself. But having empathy isn’t the same as being an empath. Knowing what is an empath and the real signs of an empath can help you figure out the difference.
For sure, empaths have empathy in buckets, but you can have empathy and not be an empath.
Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings and situation. You’re putting yourself in their shoes and understanding where they’re coming from. That helps you to help them, to listen to them, and to make them feel better. An empath is something much deeper.
[Read: How to be more empathetic and 16 steps to make anyone feel heard and understood]
Now you know what empathy is, what does it mean to be an empath? The words are so similar that they’re often confused for the same thing, but an empath goes through a much stronger reaction than someone who simply has empathy.
An empath is a person who has the ability to tenfold empathize and feel what others feel. Instead of putting themselves in the other person’s shoes, they become that person, in a sense.
They actually feel what the other person feels. If someone is heartbroken over a family member passing, an empath will feel those emotions right with them. It’s a deeper level of empathy that not everyone has.
If an empath stands next to someone at the queue for the bus and that person is feeling angry about something that happened to them, the empath will suddenly start to feel angry for no particular reason!
It’s also possible to be quite sensitive to people’s emotions, i.e. you can sense when they change or what they’re feeling, but you don’t necessarily take those emotions on as your own. That means you’re not an empath, you’re just quite emotionally sensitive.
An empath often needs to spend time alone to recharge their batteries. They can become quite overwhelmed when they spend time in groups of people, as there are countless emotions flying at them, all at once. They tend to feel at their calmest when they’re surrounded by nature, as this grounds them. [Read: Dating a highly sensitive person and what you must know about their personality]
Being an empath can be really lonely and isolating at first. You don’t know why you feel things so deeply and although you can connect with how people are feeling, it’s hard to get your true self out there.
Not to mention the fact that most empaths have no idea what they are.
It’s confusing and a little scary sometimes. That’s why knowing the signs of an empath can be so helpful to recognize the empath in you. Here’s how to know if you fall under this rare category of feeling so deeply.
This is just in general. You feel your own feelings on a deeper level and you’re a bit more sensitive. The more you avoid certain situations and even shows or movies because you know they’ll hit your emotions hard, the clearer it is that you’re an empath.
If you feel happy, you feel really happy. If you feel sad, you feel really sad. You just tend to feel things much stronger and more deeply than most other people. [Read: Emotional stability and 11 factors that control life’s highs and lows]
People would probably describe you as a fiercely passionate person. You feel very strongly about causes that have to do with giving back or equality.
And that’s because you can easily feel what oppressed people are feeling. Pay attention to the causes you feel most strongly about and it’ll show you how much of an empath you are.
It’s also likely that when you see suffering, it hits you hard. You feel extremely tearful and emotional. This is one of the strong signs of an empath.
This has to do with empathy completely. But, those who help others purely because they want to give back are usually empaths.
They feel strongly about making sure people have what they need because they can feel how it is to be without. If you volunteer at shelters of any kind or often donate to charity, you may fall under the category of an empath.
It doesn’t mean that every single volunteer out there is an empath, most are simply very good people with a high degree of empathy, but you’ll also find empaths tend to do this too. [Read: Empathy fatigue – The guilt-free guide to recognize and overcome it]
This is probably one of the most frustrating parts of being an empath. You feel things that don’t make sense in your situation or even with the mood you were just in.
It’s like you actually “catch” how other people are feeling. Even if you have a great day, you could end up feeling like crap if your partner or friend is down. Even reading something can make your emotions go crazy. [Read: 5 lessons to deal with judgmental people who lack empathy]
This is simply because you’re an empath. You care so deeply about how others feel because you don’t want to feel their pain. So you listen well. You want to know about their struggles so you can help them.
It also has a lot to do with knowing how it feels to be ignored. One of the strong signs of an empath is that you never want to make anyone feel upset, and so you listen intently so you can offer aid when needed.
For some reason, empaths have a stronger gut feeling. Perhaps it’s not necessarily stronger, but they are more likely to listen to it and it often proves them right.
This is usually because they’re more in tune with how they feel. They can look at the end result of something and feel how many different people would react. That prompts them to make a decision based on that outcome. [Read: How to follow your gut instinct – The best methods to tune in and understand your deeper thoughts]
As an empath, emotions are very taxing on your mind. Even though you’re not doing anything physically overwhelming, being in a crowd and around large groups of people still zaps your energy.
You pick up on so many different emotions. Your mind is going a hundred miles a minute and that’ll leave you aching for your bed and some quiet. [Read: Why being an empath in a relationship is both a blessing and a curse]
Just as emotions in general leach your energy, negativity does too. Except, in this case, it’s even worse.
Being around negative people or in a toxic mindset for too long is very tiring. You’re struggling to keep yourself in a positive mood and so you get exhausted easily.
Your significant other or a really close friend will affect you more than a stranger. That’s because you know them the best.
If you find that you get just as angry as your partner does over something that normally wouldn’t irritate you, you might be an empath. Of course, this needs to happen more than once to point to this outcome.
Empaths struggle with bad news. They feel what the victims feel in tragedies – they can easily put themselves in the shoes of someone else, and that’s very hard to deal with daily.
If you tend to avoid negative news stories to protect your emotions, you’re probably an empath. Of course, we all feel sad when we hear bad news, but for an empath, this is an extremely emotional thing. [Read: How to master positive self-talk and banish negativity]
This will happen a lot. You’ll get into arguments or just discussions with people and end up being called sensitive. That’s just how normal people see empaths.
They think that you getting upset over someone else feeling down is odd. A lot of people can look at a person who’s upset and not really think much of it, but it means more to you. Therefore, if you cry during sad movies or when reading a sad book, you’ll be called too sensitive. That could mean you’re an empath. [Read: How to stop being so sensitive about everything all the time]
This is one of the top signs of an empath. Since you can feel so many different things, you’re very creative. Writers, actors, and artists are usually highly empathetic people.
Because of feeling so many emotions, they can easily pick one they need and show it in whichever way they can. Empaths often feel a need to have an outlet for their emotions and this almost always manifests in something creative.
If you feel that you are an empath, it’s important to manage it carefully. Here are a few things you must do, for yourself and the sake of your sanity.
Setting boundaries is probably one of the most important parts of learning how to manage being an empath. If you’re nodding along to the signs of being an empath, boundaries are necessary!
That means learning how to say “no” to things that you really don’t want to do, or to people you don’t really want to spend time with. If you can’t help having to spend time around people who affect you badly, then manage how long you spend with them.
If people don’t respect your boundaries, pull back and spend less time. Sometimes you need to focus on yourself to get by and in this case, it’s vital. [Read: How to set boundaries with friends and loved ones without hurting or insulting them]
Many empaths find that when they spend time in natural surroundings, they feel much better.
So, get out as much as you can and spend time in Mother Nature’s arms. You could also add a few houseplants to your space or a water feature, to bring that sense of calm to your home.
When you’re outside, simply sit and absorb the calming vibes. You’ll notice that the sense of being overwhelmed starts to dissipate.
Empaths need regular alone time. It’s simply a given when you absorb the emotions of others so easily. Never feel guilty for saying “no” and being alone for a while.
However, do make sure that you don’t become so isolated that you never go out and spend time with friends and family. Simply measure how you feel and find ways that suit you. [Read: How to get a life and live it – 20 things you must do to feel alive again]
Sometimes, it can be hard for an empath to separate how they feel compared to how those around them feel. Journaling can help you keep these things separate and focus on your own feelings.
It can also help you to identify triggers of situations and people who you’re particularly sensitive to.
Mindfulness is a great tool for managing emotions and keeping you in the here and now. All too often we worry about the past or panic about the future.
Mindfulness keeps you in the present and helps to ground you. That’s perfect for an empath. Mindfulness can also be very useful for dealing with rising emotions and situations as it gives you the tools to simply observe, rather than feel the need to act. [Read: How to stop overthinking – The big secrets to go from overthinker to relaxer]
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be difficult – simply focusing on your breath can help to anchor you in the present moment.
[Read: How to detach yourself when you feel too empathetic]
Although recognizing the signs of an empath can be tricky, knowing you are one is super valuable. Not many people have this ability and once you realize what it is, you can use it to your advantage.
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