17 unique (and powerful) characteristics of an empath

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Empathic people have an incredible ability to draw others toward them and tend to have really charismatic personalities.

They are the kind of people who can read a room, and read your thoughts. Not literally of course, but they can pick up on your body signals and tell how you are feeling.

Don’t try to hide who you are from an empathic person because they’ll be able to see right through you.

Empaths have some really unique personality characteristics that others don’t possess.

This can make it hard being an empath, but they also possess some characteristics that are beneficial to others.

Let’s take a look, so you know what you are dealing with the next time you encounter this kind of person.

1) They Are Pretty Sensitive

Good or bad, empathic people are very sensitive. They aren’t just sensitive regarding their feelings; they are also sensitive to certain sounds, lights, places, and people.

They take in all of the energy around them, and it can be exhausting for them to be in certain places with certain people at certain times. They are like sponges soaking up everything around them.

“Empaths are like sponges who absorb the thoughts, feelings and sensations around them,” licensed psychotherapist Lisa Hutchison, LMHC, tells Bustle. “If you are talking to someone [who is] depressed then you may notice you feel down afterwards.”

However, this also means that an empath has a great deal of empathy, and can lend a helping hand to those around them because they can feel what they’re going through.

Aletheia Luna says it best:

“The Empath is often said to have such a great degree of empathy that they can literally feel what others feel, and thus intuitively know many of the yearnings, sensitivities, tastes, and even thought patterns of the people they’re around.”

2) They Wear Their Heart on Their Sleeve

Empaths are good at a lot of things but keeping their feelings and emotions to themselves is not one of them. And that’s not a bad thing. You’ll always know what you are getting and where you stand with an empath.

According to Judith Orloff in Psychology Today M.D, “Empaths experience the world through their intuition. It is important for them to develop their intuition and listen to their gut feelings about people.”

They feel it like it is, and when they follow their intuition they express emotions openly and freely and don’t worry about what others think of that display of emotion.

They love hard, live hard, play hard, and then drop at the end of the day from exhaustion. They put it all out there, so there’s no question about what they are feeling.

3) Crowded Rooms Are Not For Them

Because empaths absorb so much energy from people, it can be hard for them to be in a crowded room or at a party. It might even be difficult for them to work for large organizations that employ hundreds of people.

According to licensed psychotherapist Lisa Hutchison, LMHC, “Empaths are easily over-stimulated by noise because their focus is often outward rather than inward.”

Empathic people feel a duty to listen and to engage with others to help them, but this drains them of their energy as well. It’s very interesting to think of someone who cares so much for other people being drained by their acts of giving and listening.

4) They Find Happiness Within

If an empath is feeling down or sad about something, they will spend a great deal of time on their own trying to get to the bottom of those feelings.

According to Judith Orloff in Psychology Today M.D, “They tend to be introverted and prefer one-to-one contact or small groups. Even if an empath is more extraverted they may prefer to limit how much time they spend in a crowd or at a party.”

They never blame others for how they are feeling; they take ownership of their wild emotions. They understand themselves enough to know that they just need some time to work on things, and they’ll be back in the saddle in no time. Spending time in their own heads and healing their hearts helps them be happier people.

5) Those Feelings Aren’t Going Away

If you know an empathic person, you have probably realized that they aren’t going to check those feelings anytime soon. Their thoughts, emotions, and feelings part of what makes them who they are, and they embrace that about themselves.

Davida Rappaport, a psychic and spiritual counselor tells Bustle, “If you are highly sensitive and cry easily, especially when someone hurts your feelings, you are definitely an emotional person. But you may also be an empath,”

Empaths know they can become exhausted from being around too many people or different types of people, but they also know that their characteristics can become exhausting to others as well. They are a lot to handle. Just know that they aren’t going to change. They happen to like the way they are, thank you very much.

6) They Give Great Advice

If you ever have the chance to ask an empathic person for some advice, do it. And take the advice. Because they are such great listeners and because they internalize conversations, they can easily put themselves in your shoes and offer you advice about what they would do.

“You may find that you’re in sync with some people from time to time,” Davida Rappaport, a psychic and spiritual counselor tells Bustle. “If both of you keep saying things like, ‘We are on the same page,’ ‘I was thinking (or feeling) the same thing,’ or ‘You took the words right out of my mouth,’ you are definitely connected to the other person.”

They can physically imagine themselves doing those things and can evoke emotions to go along with it.

Not only will you get some good ear time with an empath, but you might also walk away with some really great solutions to your problems.

7) They Become Distracted Quite Easily

One of the quirkiest things about empaths is that for how focused they are in life, they are actually easily distracted as well. They see all the bright and shiny things in life, and they see the dark corners too.

Davida Rappaport, a psychic and spiritual counselor tells Bustle, “You may discover that you are unable to think clearly if you have a lot of thoughts and feelings swirling around you.”

If they are working on a project that is important to them, they can find room in their life for another project of equal importance. While many people would crumble under such a squirrely personality trait, empaths know that those things caught their attention for a reason and must be attended to.

It’s part of their unique character traits that make them who they are, and they love that about themselves. Nothing gets missed, and nothing gets left behind.

8) They need alone time

There’s no getting around it. Empaths absolutely need their alone time to recharge their senses and replenish their energy. In fact, even brief alone time can prevent emotional overload.

Without alone time, an empath can become easily drained and exhausted. This is because empaths absorb energy from others. They feel what other people are feeling.

Even in an intimate relationship, empaths need their alone time. Judith Orloff, an expert on empaths and emotional freedom, says that empaths tend to absorb their partner’s energy and become overloaded, anxious, or exhausted when they don’t have time to “decompress” in their own space.

This is a common reason why empaths avoid relationships as deep down they are afraid of getting engulfed.

If you’re an empath embarking on a new romantic relationship, Judith says that it’s imperative that you assert your personal space needs.

Without scheduled alone time, it will be tough for an empath to experience complete emotional freedom.

9) Empaths may be targets for energy vampires

Because an empath is sensitive, emphatic, and caring of others, this kind-hearted nature can make them easy targets for narcissists.

The main problem?

Empaths are often drawn to each other. Opposites attract, right? But this isn’t a good match, because empaths tend to forgive everything a narcissist does.

A narcissist craves recognition for their inherent superiority, and they exploit an empath’s sensitive nature to fulfill their constant need for admiration and attention.

As a narcissist lacks complete empathy for others, this can not only leave an empath emotionally drained, but it can destroy their self-esteem as well.

This is why empath expert, Aletheia Luna, suggests that empaths spend time with emotionally intelligent people, rather than energy vampires:

“One of the easiest ways to discover if someone is compatible with you is to gauge their emotional intelligence. Are they a kind and sensitive person? Will they be respectful towards your sensitivities? Or, are they emotionally stunted? Remember, we tend to attract narcissistic types who lack empathy.”

10) Boundaries can be a struggle for an empath

The kind-hearted nature of an empath means that they always want to please others. They dislike disappointing people because they’re highly engaged with other people’s emotions.

When a co-worker asks for help, or a friend wants to organize a catch-up, it can be difficult for an empath to use the word “no”. They’re highly agreeable in nature.

This is why a manipulative person or a narcissist, can take advantage of an empath’s good-natured heart.

It’s important for an empath to learn the art of saying “no”. After all, it isn’t rude to protect yourself and your own need for personal space.

As Business Insider suggested, empaths can save a lot of heartaches if they learn that “no” is a complete sentence, and you don’t need to get into a big discussion about the fact that you’re saying no.

11) Empaths are highly attuned to their intuition

Einstein once said that “the only valuable thing is intuition” while Blaise Pascall said that “dull minds are never either intuitive or mathematical.”

What does this mean?

It means that intuition is a highly valuable trait.

if you’re an empath, then you’ve likely got intuition in spades.

So, what exactly is intuition, and why are empaths so attuned to it?

Intuition starts somewhere in the gut. It usually blossoms from there when there is a decision to make.

As an empath, you’re very attuned to your own feelings and others, and this helps you instantly recognize that gut feeling.

And because you understand your emotions so well, you immediately trust that feeling.

This makes it a lot easier for you to use your intuition to guide your decision making.

For example, maybe someone’s facial expression sparks an immediate judgment telling you to not trust this person.

Or perhaps you can just tell when something is “off” with someone you’re interacting with.

As Psychology Today explained on its site, “intuition is a mental matching game. The brain takes in a situation, does a very quick search of its files, and then finds its best analogue among the stored sprawl of memories and knowledge.” From there, you’re able to listen to your intuition and act from there.

Most people aren’t so lucky. They either can’t understand what their intuition is telling them, or they simply don’t trust themselves to believe it.

However, it’s important to realize that while empaths have a strong intuition, it doesn’t necessarily mean that always listen to it, or even understand it.

It takes an empath time to develop those skills, and when they do, psychology theory tends to call them “highly intuitive empath”.

Here are 2 quickfire signs of a highly intuitive empath:

1. You can tell the difference between your feelings and those of others:

Empaths are so in-tune with the inner self that they are able to differentiate between their own emotions and emotions that they have picked up from around them.

For well-controlled empaths, the emotions that come from those around is less impactful than their own.

2. You can see beyond feelings to the reasons for them:

While empaths can detect feelings and emotions easily, it isn’t always easy for an empath to understand why they’re feeling that way.

As an empath develops, grows and understands themselves better, they tend to fully get better at recognizing why they feel a particular way.

In other words, intuitive empaths spot things that normal empaths don’t, and they can generally understand why themselves or those around, are feeling a particular way.

12) Empaths need to sleep alone

Do you sleep a lot better when you’re alone? Then you might be an empath.

According to Judith Orloff, sleeping near another human might feel almost impossible if you’re an empath.

This is because empaths are highly attuned to other people’s emotional state, and if they’ve got another human right near them, then they’ll find it hard to switch off their highly attuned skills.

This is especially the case if the person next to them is going through a hard time or they’re emotionally hyped-up.

According to empath expert, Lilyana Morales, “mirroring the emotions if another person or simply being aware (hypervigilant) can encourage a sense of safety or feeling more in control”.

Unfortunately, this hypervigilance can also keep empaths awake, even when they know they need to sleep.

13) An empath is more at peace in nature than a big city

While many people in big cities get energized from being around other people, an empath can be easily overwhelmed.

This is because they can feel the collective stress of everyone. And stress is everywhere in a big city.

An empath can spend the whole day in the city and then get home and feel at the end of their tether.

They may not even notice that they’re absorbing the energy of others throughout the day.

This is why an empath tries to avoid crowds.

But when an empath is in beautiful nature, it’s almost as if they gain energy.

The beauty, the silence, the awe. It replenishes their senses and makes them feel alive.

People who live in a country environment also tend to be more laid-back and relaxed than those in the city, and these kinds of people rub off well on an empath.

This is why empaths will tend to enjoy hanging around relaxed people who don’t have an ulterior motive for the meeting (you tend to find a lot of opportunists in a big city).

They prefer relaxed, genuine, and quiet people to hang out with.

14) Empaths tend to also be introverts

Because empaths can get easily drained from being around others, they also tend to be introverts.

Basically, an introvert gets drained of energy when they spend time with others, whereas an extrovert gains energy.

In fact, studies have suggested that introverts tend to be highly sensitive to the neurotransmitter “dopamine”, which fires in the brain far too often with prolonged social exposure.

An empath needs to spend time alone in order to recharge their emotional sensitivities.

An empath can sometimes come across as rude or unsocial, but the truth is, they’re just trying to protect their energy levels.

So if an empath says “no” to any request to hang out, just remember that they don’t mean anything by it, and the next time you see they’ll be more recharged than ever.

Empath expert Donna G. Bourgeois explains why empaths need to be careful about giving away their energy too much:

“Empaths have to be careful not to internalize others’ feelings, as this can cause them to feel anxious, sad, or even depressed. It can leave the empath feeling drained or exhausted. They must learn to set boundaries so as not to let toxic people drain them dry.”

15) Empaths are highly observant

Empaths tend to take in more than they put out, meaning they talk less and observe more.

They fully engage the surroundings with their senses and tend to take in all the information before making an opinion or passing judgment.

Because they tend to take a step and observe everything around them they are not easily swayed by mainstream opinion.

In the end, when an empath makes a bold statement or comes to a conclusion, you can guarantee that conclusion has not been made lightly.

They’ve taken in their surroundings with their senses, and they’ve examined the situation from all angles.

This is why it can be so valuable to have an empath on your side or even working for you.

Anthon St. Maarten says it best:

“Never underestimate the empowered empath. Our kindness and compassion are too often mistaken for weakness or naivety, while we are in fact highly calibrated human lie detectors…and fearless warriors for truth and justice.”

Empaths tend to have a lot in common with hyper-observant people. If you think you might be a hyper-observant person, then you might relate to the below video:

16) They love to listen to others and learn about other people

Learning is what gets an empath’s juices flowing. And when they learn about someone else, it makes them feel like they’re entering a whole new beautiful and complex world.

This makes an empath a fantastic conversationalist because the other person feels like they’re the only person on the planet at the time.

This immediately puts others at ease and makes them comfortable.

They know that too many people’s egos drive conversations. But when an empath is in a conversation, egos are checked at the door.

17) They appreciate experiences more than the material things in life

When you have a deep soul as an empath does, it can take a lot of time and effort to feed it and give it what it needs.

Empaths don’t get a lot of pleasure out of material things, but a walk in the woods makes them feel alive and well.

People with deep souls need to look beyond the things they own to find comfort and to feel alive.

A new cell phone won’t do that for an empath. An empath prefers to spend time learning, getting outside, and going on adventures with those they love – that’s what a deep soul needs to thrive.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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