An Empath is a highly sensitive person – not necessarily sensitive as in water works all the time, or so caught up in their emotions that they are unable to get anything done, but sensitive to surroundings, to people, to subtleties that may go unnoticed by other people. Technically speaking, an empath is someone who has the ability to feel the emotions of others as their own.
Realizing you’re an empath is a milestone in anyone’s life – at least it certainly was for me.
It’s like suddenly you realize that how you’ve felt every single day in your life has a name, and even better, that there are more people out there just like you. This realization brings clarity and purpose to how you might live your life.
Being an empath isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely not a bad thing!
I’ve sort of always known I’m an empath on a certain level, but I guess I just brushed it off for many years. Many people who are close to me and really know me well have remarked on my “sixth sense” or even “creepy” intuition, and this is true (although I promise I really do try not to creep anyone out!!), but it goes deeper than that. It’s about being connected with everything around you, everything in the earth and in your life.
Like I said, I didn’t realize there was a name and definition for how I identified, I just went about my life and pretty recently became aware of the term. Knowing this was a fairly common thing brought me comfort and coherence and helped me get one step closer to actualizing who I really am, because we’re all on that journey and we really are all in it together.
So if you’re wondering whether or not you might be an Empath too, chances are you might be if you clicked on this article in the first place, but below are the some classic signs.
1. You frequently feel emotions that you can’t quite explain
Say you’re having a great day when all of the sudden you get hit with the yucks. Maybe you entered a place, somewhere small like a café, and you begin feeling things like sadness, anxiety, or aggression, without having the slightest clue why.
Well, the reason why is because you’ve stepped in what someone else has dragged in. You’ve picked up someone else’s energy and emotions and you’re processing them as if they’re your own.
Another example of this is when you can clearly read the emotions of someone you’re around, even without knowing them well, or even at all. When you meet someone for the first time, you can pretty much instantly tell whether or not they like you, whether they’re anxious, etc. Of course, many people can do this. It’s as simple as paying attention to your surroundings, but it can just come more naturally to some, and if it comes naturally to you, you might very well be an empath.
Wanna know something creepy? Some empaths can even feel other people’s pain in their own bodies. Real talk: the night before my cousin’s appendix burst, I actually had a terrible pain right where my own appendix is. It lasted for hours and caused enough pain that I even wanted to go to the doctor and get it checked out, but it passed before too long. We got the call that she was in the hospital the next day, and she recovered quickly after her surgery, but wow! I almost feel guilty I didn’t say anything…
2. You find yourself in challenging relationships
Going your whole life as an empath without knowing it can be hard. When life knocks, it doesn’t tend to knock gently.
I’ve always been a sensitive person. For some odd reason, the majority of the world thinks being a sensitive person = having no back bone. Where does this insane logic come from?! (Oh right, the patriarchy.)
Because of this asinine mentality that sensitivity is concomitant with being weak-minded, fragile, or incapable, the majority of empaths find themselves in a powerless position. Since they are deeply sensitive to the emotions of others, all too often this can lead to a dangerous kind of Savior complex – the desire to help or bend for others in a way that doesn’t serve you.
The calling to help others is definitely not inherently bad. It’s good, even, but when you as an empath try to help someone that doesn’t want your help, or is not ready for your help, you may find yourself in some violently negative relationships.
Abusive people, manipulative people, narcissists, or people who just want to feed off your energy without giving back (emotional vampires, as I like to call them), can all creep into your life if you’re not careful about it. This can happen in any kind of relationship: family, friends, romantic relationships, work, etc. You don’t have to put walls up, but it’s so important to recognize someone’s bad energy vs the energy that you yourself put out. Of course, it can be difficult to do this when you’re highly sensitive and so naturally attuned to what’s around you. Difficult, but not impossible.
Challenging relationships will follow you around over and over again if you don’t take charge and finally decide when it’s over. Yes, you have the power to determine when it’s over, because the minute you close off a toxic relationship is the same minute you make honoring yourself a priority. You can’t save the whole world, but you can save yourself.
3. You need to withdraw to recharge
Empaths that tend to feel powerless can quickly turn into a slave to their social lives: saying yes to drinks when really they just wanna curl up in bed with a book, or dreading the plans they made last week but feeling guilty for wanting to cancel in order to score some solo time. Hey, you’re not alone.
Constantly being present, even when you feel incapable of it, can do more harm than good. It’s okay to take some time for yourself, especially if you’re an empath – you probably really need it! Empaths need time alone to recharge. It’s when they get to lay their burdens down and relax.
When you’re so used to going against what you really feel you want, you’re coming from a place of powerlessness. And when you come from a place of powerlessness or start to feel more like an emotional sponge and less like a human being, you feel desperately in need of some re-connection with the self. You may feel that being vulnerable to all kinds of energy is out of your control, but it’s not. This is where the fun begins.
Your mindset changes when you begin to focus on you. When an empath realizes their power and potential, they’re coming from a place of being whole and grounded, not powerless and drained. Only then are you able to help others without losing yourself in the process.
As an empath, you will probably always highly value your alone time because that’s a time to recharge your batteries no matter what kind of situations you may find yourself in. This is true for introverted people as well. “Me time” is crucial – don’t put yourself on the backburner! Develop a self care ritual that is entirely your own. Carve out a good chunk of time when you know you won’t be bothered and do something you love! Start that book you’ve been meaning to read, or treat yourself to a face mask, meditate, create some art or journal, or just get in your old pajamas and binge-watch your favorite show.
4. You are highly intuitive
Empaths have more than just sensitivity to others and the ability to “feel” energy – more often than not, they also tend to have heightened intuition.
Using your intuition is major. Your gut is where the truth lies, don’t brush it off, don’t ignore it, don’t even think about tuning it out. Listen!
Your intuition is your #1 guiding system – it never fails. That’s not to say that choosing to follow the mind instead of the intuition will always steer you wrong, but if your gut feeling is saying “HELL NO” when your mind is saying “Well… maybe…” I sincerely hope you go with your gut. Especially for empaths, intuition and gut feelings can feel less like subtle hints and more like blaring car horns sometimes. You know what’s best for you. All you need to do is trust yourself.
Strengthening intuition is a life-long process, and something that’s extremely beneficial for anyone. In this case, empaths may already have a sharp instinct, but listening to it and trusting it is the challenge.
5. You sometimes have a hard time knowing how you really feel
Empaths have the tendency to openly feel what is around them, sometimes more so than what is within them. Since they may be so tuned into the external, focusing on the internal can be uncharted territory.
Empaths may sacrifice their own needs or even ignore them. They may withhold their emotions or thoughts, but doing so only results in frustration, blockages, resentment and even bouts of depression.
If you relate to this, don’t feel guilty! But do make it a personal mission to do some inner work in order to better distinguish between your own emotions and the emotions of others. Ground yourself often, if you have to. Whatever it takes to get in touch with yourself and become increasingly familiar with your own personal energy. You will become much more in tune with how you feel and your wellbeing will become a priority, as it should be.
You will learn to say no, you will learn to take your time when someone or something doesn’t “feel right”, you will learn to trust yourself over anybody else.
Your own emotions are the motor that runs your life. Only when you commit to feeling and recognizing your own energy can you begin manifesting a new reality that is perfectly aligned with your inner truth. Stop the cycle of giving yourself away to others! Think of yourself as being tied to a weightless but unflinching anchor – you can float and you can swim, but you’re still locked down in the sands of who you really are.
Many people, especially those who are rigid or insensitive or intuitively inexperienced, feel the need to deny empaths or write them off as if they have some kind of curse. People who are insensitive or unaware of their gifts are simply disconnected: disconnected from the world around them, from the people who love them, and most importantly who they truly are.
Being an empath is no curse. It’s all blessing.
It can be difficult to navigate through life and through emotions as an empath, sometimes it can be downright overwhelming, but it’s a beautiful gift that you’ve been given – one you should honor. I truly believe that being sensitive to others is our natural state, because everything and everyone is connected.
If any of this information resonated with you, I’m so pleased. Honor your growth and know you’re valid as an empath, and above all that you’re not alone! Enjoy your journey to empowerment and if you’re already there, you’ve done a hell of a good job.