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What is an empath?
For starters, let’s talk about what an empath actually is.
Maybe you’ve heard the term HSP, or Highly Sensitive Person. If so, you’re close to understanding what an empath is. The two overlap and are actually very similar.
A Highly Sensitive Person is someone who is just that, highly sensitive. My understanding of a HSP is that they’re people who have a low threshold for stimulation. Meaning things like crowds, other people, sounds, lights, smells and textures can overstimulate and overwhelm their system. That overstimulation can require lots of down time to recalibrate their balance.
Empaths share many qualities of Highly Sensitive People, but with empaths it goes just a bit deeper. That being said, they’re not exclusive to each other- you can be just one or you can be both simultaneously.
The special thing about empaths is- they can sense subtle energy, and even absorb it into their own bodies.
I’ll elaborate. Empaths can really sense, within themselves, what other people are feeling or experiencing as if it was their own feeling or experience.
In other words, they can feel other people’s feelings.
Have you ever experienced being around someone in physical pain, later to find yourself experiencing that same kind of pain? If so, you could be a physical empath- someone who absorbs physical symptoms of others.
Have you ever experienced elation or joy after being around someone who was really happy or excited about something? If so, you could be an emotional empath.
Often called “sponges,” empaths can absorb all kinds of emotions from others.
They’re constantly absorbing the subtle energies around them, too.
Always feeling what others feel, as if it were their own emotion.
It can get overwhelming, but if after reading this you feel a sense confirmation that you are indeed an empath, check out my Empath Energy Protection Strategies post. It may help to empower you to take control of your energetic boundaries and learn how to protect yourself from taking on unwanted emotions and experiences.
Signs You Are an Empath
The empath spectrum is really unique, and theres many different types of empaths. You might be a physical empath, an emotional empath, a physical empath or an intuitive empath. Maybe even all kinds.
Heres some common signs that you are an empath.
You clearly feel other people’s emotions or sensations.
As mentioned above, empaths are like sponges. Constantly absorbing other peoples emotions and feeling them as their own. This can be good emotions or negative emotions. You really feel it all!
You know how someone is really feeling without them having to say anything at all.
This can be telling of intuitive empaths, or just empaths in general. Since you’re always feeling other people’s stuff, you tend to know what’s up without them having to say anything. It can be a gift, but challenging at times too.
You often feel drained after being in a crowd or around other people.
Being an empath (one without boundaries or self empowerment techniques, at least) can be exhausting.
You may feel completely drained after being in a crowd, or after being around people for any period of time.
Empaths tend to pick up and absorb the feelings of others, so as you can imagine, being around other people could start to get heavy and cause you to feel really drained.
Learning energetic boundaries, self care, and self empowerment techniques can be really helpful for this one.
Random emotions suddenly overcome you without a real explanation.
Maybe you randomly feel the urge to cry or experience a rush of joy randomly and aren’t quite sure why. You might be an empath, experiencing the emotion of someone else! Learning how to distinguish whats yours and whats not is one of the most powerful things you can do as an empath.
You can strongly feel the “vibe” in a room or a place.
An empath can walk into a space and usually sense that there was just a fight or an argument. Or maybe you walk past a house and just pick up on a deep feeling of sadness. This is often a sign that you are an empath. We know how to read the vibe of a space without really thinking about it.
You’re extremely understanding.
Since empaths feel other people’s feelings, it makes us really understand. Even if it’s someone or something “negative” we can often empathize and understand why it is the way it is. Empaths also tend to be that friend who is the good listener, able to hold space for true understanding and connection.
Violence or fear-inducing events and media overwhelm you.
This is another strong sign you are an empath. If watching violent shows/movies, or watching negative fear-based news or media overwhelms you and throws off your peace- you’re probably an empath. I limit my news and media intake for this reason.
You can easily see things from another persons point of view- even if it differs from yours.
Most empaths are able to empathize with anyone. Even people we disagree with. We can feel their pain and understand why they view things a certain way or behave in a particular manner. It’s easy for us to see things from other people’s point of view. (With exceptions of course).
You’re often affected by or can sense things on a global, collective level.
State of the world got you down? This is common for a lot of people but empaths particularly. We can feel the weight of the collective. When significant things are happening astrologically or on a global, collective level- you can bet on the empath sensing that deeply. (Another great reason why empaths can benefit from clearing and shielding their energy).
You can usually tell when someone is lying.
One of my favorite empath superpowers. We have innate lie detectors. We know when someone is lying or fabricating their story.
Seeing other people suffer deeply affects you.
This is one of the heavier empath traits. Seeing other people suffer feels like we ourselves are suffering. There’s a deep draw to help or send loving energy to a person who is suffering or greatly struggling with something. Though this often can translate to humanitarian activism- its important for empaths to learn how to clear this energy after experiencing it.
Learning how to transmute and send light to those who are suffering is the best antidote for the pain that this trait can cause. And then, release.
People often tell you “you have such a calming energy.”
Do people tell you, “I always feel so calm when you’re around!” or “You have such a calming energy about you.” ….? If so, that’s definitely a sign that you’re an empath. We’re like little calming fairies spread out around the world to help people chill. Mighty important these days! 😉
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You often help other people heal by being a container or guide for them.
Empowered empaths (who know how to use their gifts) often make the best healers and guides. Maybe people come to you for advice or ask for your guidance on significant topics.
You’re deeply drawn to helping people who are in need.
Empaths are usually drawn to helping others in need. When a friend needs a ride, stranger needs a meal, or family member needs your assistance- an empath is deeply drawn to help.
Just make sure your cup is full first.
You might struggle with saying “yes” too much.
The people-pleaser symptom.
This is one that I see a lot of empaths struggle with and is one of my first suggestions when an empath asks me how to regain their power. Stop. saying. yes. to. everything and everyone! By all means, care about people, show up when you can, have compassion for others in need, but if you’re a person with people-pleaser tendencies- do yourself a favor and start saying “no.” Definite sign of an empath.
You’re a peacemaker or have been called a good mediator. Problem solver.
This is actually one of the first traits I recognized in myself that led me to discovering I am an empath. We tend to be called peacemakers or good mediators. Always there to balance the energy and absorb the disruption. Empaths love to solve the problem and help other mediate situations.
You understand why people do what they do- even if its negative.
You can see their reasoning or their pain that caused them to do that action.
Similar to being able to clearly see things from other people’s perspectives, empaths are able to understand why people do what they do. They’re able to identify the pain in others that leads them to perform actions that are seen as negative. Not in a justifying way- but in a pain identifying way.
You could be prone to addictions or escapism.
Seeking ways to numb the constant experience of feeling everything.
Another common sign of an empath is being prone to addictions or escapism. The reason why is that empaths feel A LOT, and without knowing how to clear and protect their energy, it can be really overwhelming. A coping mechanism is to numb with substances, drinking, food, or mindless activities. Keep in mind there are good, healthy ways to “escape” or relax, clear and de-stress. But if you’re an empath, it’s something to be mindful of! We don’t have to numb ourselves in order to manage or take care of ourselves.
You may also like: How to Ground Yourself for Balance, Protection &; Inner Peace
People trust you or are drawn to tell you personal things.
This one is a classic sign of an empath that I actually find kind of funny. People tend to be drawn to and quickly trusting of empaths. There’s been so many times where I’m either in a waiting room or standing in a line or something and someone comes up and shares all the business with me, LOL. I don’t mind it usually. Does that ever happen to you? If so, you’re probably an empath too.
You’re rarely shocked.
There is an ease in understanding why something happened.
Again, tied to the deep understanding of things, empaths are rarely shocked or surprised. This might be a unique trait but it’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of empaths. There’s this inner sense of knowing and understanding that makes it really hard for us to be shocked. We can still get blindsided of course.
You’re drawn to holistic healing or natural remedies.
My favorite! One of the reasons I started this blog, actually. Holistic healing and natural remedies are often the sweet language of empaths. Because of the unique experience of feeling and being connected to all that is, nature and holisticism are often very soothing and effective to sensitive people like empaths. Traditional approaches and pharmaceutical remedies are typically ineffective or far too strong for us.
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You’re drawn to the metaphysical or spirituality.
You understand things on a spiritual level and don’t need much “proof” to know if something is real or not.
Similar to holistic healing and natural remedies, empaths are often drawn to the metaphysical and spirituality. If not right away, they usually find their way into the spiritual world. Being an empath is a spiritual experience, afterall.
You can sense “oneness” and see the common thread in everything.
Another trait that I attribute to being an empath is the ability to see the “oneness” of all. The similarity of all religions, the connections across different cultures, and so on. Empaths can see the truth in things and know that we all want the same things at the core, which translates to that “oneness.”
Suggested reading: How to Practice Better Self-Love: Tangible Ways to Love Yourself
You often feel drawn or repelled to things, people or places.
I’ve heard so many stories from empaths who’ve been able to sense that things were not right for them. Whether it be a place, a person, or an item. If you’re very drawn to or repelled by something and understand those sensations in that way- you’re probably an empath.
You love nature.
I think every empath I know considers themselves a nature lover and sees the immense benefits of being in nature. Its where you go to recharge, to clear your energy, and to connect with peacefulness.
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Other people are drawn to you.
Empaths usually have a very intriguing aura or sense about them that other people find attractive. Not in a physical way, but in an energetic way. People want to be around you or seek you out for various reasons.
On a spiritual and subconscious level- people know that they can trust and find peace around empaths, and this is what draws them.
You often cry when watching tv shows or reading books. Maybe becoming super attached to the story or the characters.
If you find yourself crying or getting really connected to stories and characters- you’re probably an empath. It’s another part of that deep sensing, and when a show or a book creates a reality for us, we connect to that just how we would if it were real life.
You get overwhelmed by clutter.
This is one of my main pain-points. Clutter makes me feel so overwhelmed on an energetic level. There is nothing more peaceful than a clean, clear and organized space for an empath. Do I always have the energy to clean and organize my spaces? No. Do I feel a million times better when I do? Absolutely!
Feng shui, energetic flow and good, deep cleaning are great benefits for empaths. It really helps to lessen the stimulation that overwhelms.
You consider yourself an animal lover.
Animals are so healing, and most empaths consider themselves to be animal lovers. For those of us who get bombarded by energy maybe in our work or our daily life- having a pet can be so healing.
Personally, I’m a huge dog lover, and my dogs help me to filter some of the heavier energy I pick up as an empath. Animals in general are such a gift, and if you’re an empath, it’s likely you agree.
You can be a bit moody.
You often feel tired or drained.
Empaths need time to rest, release and recharge. If you find yourself often really tired or drained- it could be because you’re an empath.
Suggested reading: Why Better Sleep Needs to be a Self-Care Priority & How to Get Better Rest
You need time to decompress.
Piggybacking on the last one, if you’re someone who really needs that time to decompress, it could be because you’re an empath. Empaths process so much emotion and even physical experiences that decompressing and self care is really important.
You experience “monkey mind” or have trouble focusing.
This isn’t exclusive to being an empath of course, but many empaths do experience overactive minds or trouble focusing. This again is because of all the energy they absorb. Especially when surrounded by a lot of people (like in a classroom or at a conference), if you find it hard to focus it could be because you’re an empath who’s picking up on the energy of those around you.
…So? What do you think? Does this resonate? Are you an empath?
If so, take a look below at some of my favorite tools for empaths. It doesn’t always have to be so heavy, I promise!
How to become an empowered empath
I’ll go more into depth on this in other posts, but for now I want to share a few important tools that can help you to become an empowered empath.
It can be overwhelming and heavy to constantly absorb the feelings and experiences of others, but with these tools you may find it a bit easier to navigate life as an empath.
Learning boundaries is huge for becoming an empowered empath. Energetic boundaries in particular are very powerful- learning how to feel into your aura (the body of energy that surrounds your physical body) and call your energy back to you is a tool that can help you control what you are absorbing. From here you can practice shielding or protecting your energy. (See below.)
General boundaries in your relationships are super important too. Learning how to say “no” without explaining can be very empowering and help you as an empath to protect your energy and lessen your load. You do not have to answer to everyone or help everyone get through their life. Yours is the priority, trust that and claim it. Set as many boundaries as you need to. You will know where they are needed.
Learning how to clear energy and release that which is not yours is one of the most important tools for an empath to use.
The simplest way is through prayer or affirmation. Simply close your eyes and repeat “I release all energy that does not belong to me. I let go of all experiences that do not serve me. That which is not mine can be released into the earth.”
You can also pray to your deity of choice, I usually ask ArchAngel Michael for help with clearing (and shielding). “ArchAngel Michael, please help me to clear all energy that does not belong to me. I no longer wish to carry this, please take it and return it to where it belongs. Thank you so much for your assistance.”
I could do a whole book on clearing, but another way is through smoke cleansing. Burning sage (ethically and locally sourced of course), or other herbs can help to clear away that which does not belong to you. This is especially great for clearing energy from your home or room.
Lastly, a wonderful way to clear your energy and release is through talking salt baths. Soaking for 20-30 minutes can do wonders for your energy. Water and salt are great purifiers that can help you to clear your aura and your body from any energy that you may have absorbed from others.
Shielding is an energetic practice that you can use to protect your energy. One of my favorite ways (and easiest ways) is to envision a bubble of light surrounding me. Depending on the day, the bubble can be different colors. Usually I just do a “white light bubble” but some days I’ll choose green or purple or pink, whatever suits your mood!
It’s important you set the intention before shielding. I usually set the intention to be protected from any energy or experiences that are not for my highest good.
Meditation is powerful for so many different things and reasons. You can practice using grounding meditations or clearing meditations, whatever you need. Empaths benefit greatly from tuning into a quiet space where you just focus on the breath and the present moment.
I have a whole post on this. Check it out here.
Carefully choose who you’re around.
Are there people who you KNOW drain your energy? If yes, simply stay away from them. Set a boundary. Be mindful about who you let surround you. Empaths are sponges, and if we are not conscious we can be bombarded by those around us.
Carefully choose what media and entertainment you consume.
Similar to who you’re around, be mindful about what you’re around. What media are you consuming? What are you watching for entertainment? Do these things affect your energy in a positive way or a negative way? It can be so subtle and fly under the radar, yet affect us in a negative way. Be incredibly meticulous about what you consume. It affects us more than we realize. Tailor your content and entertainment to suit your best interest.
I have another post all about self-care here. It’s very important for everyone really, but especially empaths. We’re always taking care of others, we cant help it. So we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means asking for help. Hiring a coach or a therapist. Getting a massage or energy healing. Taking a bath. Going for a walk. Exercising. Napping.
Whatever your soul needs, listen.
Looking for a place to connect with other empowered empaths? Join the Bloom and Manifest Facebook Community Here.