I still remember when I stared outside my window ten years ago, a heavy sadness weighing down on me as I realized just how much suffering there was in the world.
Or when I could tell that something was wrong in my relationship just by the shift of the emotional energy in my ex’s behavior.
Or when I soaked up all my friends’ grief like a sponge, drowning with them instead of leading them toward a fresh breath of air.
Thus the trials and tribulations of being an empath.
What about you? Are you so empathetic that you wish you could turn it off one day while appreciating the emotional richness of empathy the next?
Let’s find out. If someone does these 9 things, they’re probably a genuine empath.
1) They notice the slightest changes in someone’s energy
Some of the most perceptive people I’ve ever met were empaths.
Because reason and logic can only get you so far.
Sure, you can learn all the ins and outs of body language or the secret meanings of commonly used words, but when you also possess large levels of empathy, you automatically gain extra perception points because you’re better able to feel the emotional energy around you.
If someone’s withholding information from you, if they’re upset, if they’re trying to put on a brave face, or even if they’re slightly wounded by something you’ve just said…
If you’re an empath, you can tell. You have a sixth sense of sorts.
2) They soak up others’ emotions as if they were their own
And how are empaths able to guess how other people are feeling, pray tell?
One of the reasons is that they are so in tune with the emotional energy floating in the air that they unknowingly soak it up like a sponge, letting it affect their own feelings.
I used to be exactly like that.
Every time one of my friends got upset or irritated, I couldn’t help but feel on edge, too. I couldn’t watch nature documentaries because I empathized with the animals too much. If someone confided in me about their troubles, a sense of deep sadness stayed with me for days on end.
This ability to feel for others is both a curse and a blessing because it all depends on how you use it.
I, for one, learned to set some emotional boundaries, which has helped me a great deal.
And while we’re speaking about boundaries…
3) They struggle to set boundaries and end toxic relationships
When someone hurts you, your instinct might be to feel wronged, upset, and wounded.
In that instance, you don’t think about the motivations of the other person. You don’t think about the background that shaped them into who they are. You don’t try to understand where they are coming from.
There is just your pain. And it’s so loud you’re drowning in it.
Well, let’s just say that empaths experience these situations a bit differently.
While they do acknowledge their pain, they also automatically consider the motivations and feelings behind the other person’s actions, using them as explanations to “devillainize” the person in their eyes.
The issue is that there is an explanation for essentially every kind of behavior, and if you mix up explanations with excuses, you might easily forgive everyone, set very weak boundaries, and struggle to cut off people who aren’t good for you.
It’s a good thing to understand where people are coming from – even if they’ve hurt you. But that understanding doesn’t have to necessarily give way to forgiveness. At least not straight away.
Repeat after me: An explanation isn’t an excuse.
4) They are deeply sensitive
According to the psychiatrist and specialist on empathy, Judith Orloff M.D., empaths share a lot of the same traits that highly sensitive people (HSPs) have:
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- A need for alone time
- A low threshold for stimulation
She says: “Empaths take the experience of the highly sensitive person much further: We can sense subtle energy (called Shakti or Prana in Eastern traditions) and actually absorb it from other people and different environments into our own bodies.”
Therefore, it makes complete sense that empaths tend to be deeply sensitive individuals who experience their feelings strongly.
When a negative or a positive event occurs, most people will quickly move on, their emotions returning to their baseline, while empaths may carry that experience with them for days or weeks.
It sounds kind of awful, but if you’re an empath, I want you to remember that sensitivity isn’t inherently bad. On the contrary, it’s actually an amazing power because it allows you to experience the world in all its richness – both the good and the bad.
In fact, this is exactly what the shaman Rudá Iandê talks about in his free masterclass Free Your Mind. He says that the things we consider to be “bad” can actually be incredibly helpful and the things we perceive as “good” can cast shadows we aren’t aware of.
His masterclass has helped me reprogram my mindset when it comes to negativity and positivity, and thanks to his teachings, I no longer view sensitivity as a weakness.
I cherish it as a strength.
5) They are relationship-oriented
All the empaths I know share one trait: they place an immense value on relationships.
Since we are very emotion-based, we connect with others through shared experiences, feelings, and conversations.
Frankly, there is nothing an empath would enjoy more than having a deep conversation about one’s biggest dreams and fears at 2 AM in the morning.
We go mad for that kind of stuff.
And since research says that our relationships play the most major role in our lives when it comes to our physical and mental well-being, it’s kind of amazing that empaths have their priorities straight from the get-go.
We want deep and long-lasting connections. Quality above quantity. Always.
6) They have a strong connection with nature and animals
Speaking of building strong connections with others, another sign you’re a genuine empath is that you absolutely adore animals and nature.
Of course, most people are like that. It’s why there are so many videos of kittens on the internet.
However, empaths usually go the extra mile.
For example, I can’t imagine my life without pets. The simple idea of having a dog companion fills me with so much joy and peace that a life with no dogs seems incredibly empty to me.
An empath’s affection for animals makes sense when we consider the fact that human empathy can extend beyond its own species.
“Our empathy level is unrelated to species. Rather, it has to do with perceived helplessness and vulnerability. This can also relate to the human-animal bond many of us feel, as they require our attention, help, and concern. The natural affection we feel for animals can be compared to the affection we feel for our children.”
7) They like to decompress in quiet solitude
When you soak in others’ emotions day in and day out, feel everything you go through quite strongly, and are extremely perceptive to your emotional surroundings, it probably comes as no surprise that you simply need a break from time to time.
This is exactly why many empaths tend to enjoy spending time alone and interacting with no one but their own mind (and potentially a cat).
Alone time gives us the space to process everything, separate our own feelings from those of others, and reconnect with our sense of self.
Personally, I love to go solo hiking from time to time. No screens, no people, no work – just me, nature, and a quiet sense of peace.
I feel great just thinking about it.
8) They get overwhelmed by crowds
If you’re an empath, I’m sure you can relate to this.
Large groups are simply not our forte.
This isn’t to say that only introverts are empathetic, of course. There are plenty of extroverts out there who are genuine empaths.
But even if you’re extroverted, you might still struggle with emotional overwhelm if you spend too long in a crowd or at a party.
Add heightened sensitivity into the mix, and, well, let’s just say you may want to take a few days to yourself after a large event just to get all the emotions out of your system.
9) Their intuition is very loud
Ah, intuition. The quiet little voice that points you in the right direction if only you dare listen.
If someone is a genuine empath, there’s a high chance they are in tune with their gut feeling.
If they meet someone with malicious intentions, the uneasy feeling spreading through their body tells them that something’s off.
If they’re in the wrong relationship, their dreams and doubts will scream so loudly that they’ll eventually have to listen.
Our sense of intuition is often underestimated – even by ourselves.
Well, it’s about time we give credit where credit is due. Your intuition matters. And if you’re an empath, it’s probably stronger than you think.
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