If you display these 8 behaviors, you’re more empathetic than you realize

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I’ve noticed something about empathetic people: either you don’t realize you’re empathetic or you don’t realize just how much.

I get it, though. Empathy is one of those things that you feel like everyone has, so you go about your life thinking that everybody feels the same way.

That they love just as much, hurt just as much, and feel just as much; without realizing that no, not everyone does. At least not to the extent that you do. 

I can even argue that the breadth and depth of one person’s empathy are often the most unknown to that very same person.  

So, let’s discuss it. 

Whether you need confirmation that you’re an empathetic person or if you need the reminder that hey, maybe cut yourself some slack, okay? You’re doing more than enough. 

Then this article is for you. 

Here are 8 behaviors that show you’re more empathetic than you realize.

1) You give your undivided attention to anyone who interacts with you

If you’re empathetic, seeing this first point might have garnered an, “Of course! That’s a given!” from you.

But let me tell you, it *should* be a given, but it is not. 

Not everyone will give their undivided attention to everyone they interact with. That could be for a lot of reasons-–and not all of them malicious, mind you.

Other people just focus more on themselves. In a more extreme sense, people are more absorbed in their own lives than in paying attention to others. 

But why does giving your undivided attention show empathy? 

Well, it shows you’re paying attention and actively listening. It shows you’re not distracted and are actually interested in what the other person is saying or doing. 

You’re giving due respect to their efforts. 

2) You can read the room

You’re the type of person who can diffuse the tension in a room, mostly because you’re so keenly aware of the emotional shifts of everyone in it (this is #3, btw). 

You’re the type who knows which two people to never place side-by-side on a seating chart lest you want tension. 

You’re the type of person who is sensitive enough to know which topics not to bring up in conversation. 

You’re the type to learn the etiquette of a country you’re visiting for the first time.

You’re the type who likes making sure that everyone is having a good time at a party. 

You notice what needs to be noticed, and you do what needs to be done. 

3) You immediately notice when someone feels uncomfortable

And I mean immediately. At times, you’re even anticipatory. 

You notice people’s verbal and non-verbal cues and the changes within them. And not only that, you can glean on why the changes occur. 

So when someone is uncomfortable, even though they don’t loudly claim to be so, you still recognize the signs.

And you do what you can to ease their discomfort. 

4) You offer support easily

Even without being asked, you’re a ready hand. Generosity is a given for you. You freely share your resources, sometimes to a fault.

A broken heart, a friendship on the rocks, an anxious family member, work-related worries, and so on. These things, you know them, don’t need to live it to understand the weight they thrust upon one’s shoulder. 

There’s an unending kindness in you that just wants to ease the suffering of others.

So you do what you can, with whatever cards you are dealt with. Sometimes, you can only hope for the best.

But you do what you can, don’t you? You do what you can. 

And sometimes, that is enough. Although if you’re highly empathetic, it will never feel enough. 

5) You suspend judgment

None of us are without bias, we can’t help the way we grew up, after all. We have been conditioned to feel and think certain things even before we truly understood the world.

But what separates you apart is the willingness to change. The willingness to learn. To suspend judgment wherever possible. 

To give yourself a chance to change. 

To confront your own biases and truly understand what it means to be on the other end of that assumption.

And to not want to be the cause of someone else’s pain. 

After all, the axe forgets but the tree remembers. 

6) You’re non-confrontational

As much as possible, you avoid high-stress situations like confrontations. When tensions are high, that’s the easiest way to overwhelm you. 

This isn’t to say that you don’t stand up for what you believe in, of course you do, you have a heart that wishes to leave the world a more gentle place than when you first found it. 

But if you can avoid a confrontation, you avoid it. 

7) You love animals

Empathetic people, or even empaths, are animal lovers. Dogs, cats, birds, or even reptiles! Insects, too! 

You name any animal and there’s probably an empathetic person ready to love it. 

Dr. Judith Orloff, MD, author of The Empath’s Survival Guide said this about the subject:

“Though all people with loving hearts can feel their goodness, empaths are especially sensitive to absorbing the pure unconditional love that cats and dogs and other animal companions so generously bestow. It is very soothing for empaths to be around that love.”

It’s almost healing to be around animals, is it not? 

8) Watching the news hurts you

And finally, you’re more empathetic than you realize if watching the news hurts you. It emotionally takes a toll on you. 

You’re not desensitized to the chaos of the world. You care, you hurt, you wish to help. You pay attention. 

Which is tough. 

Whichever news station you happen to watch, you will be made to believe that the world is unraveling at the seams.

(And, quite frankly, it is. However, it’s best to remind ourselves that there still are many pockets of joy if we care to look.)

You might feel helpless. Or angry. You feel for other people. You wish to change the world. 

One last thing 

If this list resonated with you, then you have more empathy than you realize. If it didn’t, then treat it like a suggestion for what can be done.

Empathy is a skill and we are all able to learn it if we have the willingness to do so.

However, let me say this, learn to cut yourself some slack when it comes to empathy. It is, after all, both a blessing and a curse when left unmanaged.

You can exhaust yourself from trying to feel too much for other people. You’re not obligated to take in other people’s misery just because you can feel it. The world’s anguish is not yours to bear. 

And this might be an unpopular opinion, but I’ll end with this anyway: 

Empathy is great, but not when it costs you your peace. 

So, have boundaries. Protect your peace. Remember that you can only give your 100% if you’re at your 100%.

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