If you’re like me, you feel the weight of the world in your being.
If you’re like me, you tend to feel other people’s emotions.
If you’re like me, you’re an empath.
What is an empath?
In a general nutshell, an empath is a person who has the ability to sense or feel other people’s energy.
You can walk into a friend’s (or stranger’s) home and sense that there was a fight just moments before. While everyone’s smiling politely and appears happy, the feelings of anger and discord still linger in the air, heavy and dense, though no one else seems to notice.
You can look someone in the eyes and know that what they’re telling you isn’t true, even if they’re convincing to everyone else.
You can sit with a friend who just lost a mother and feel her grief as if it were your own.
So, what does it mean to be an empath?
Basically, you have the ability to, in a sense, take on the suffering of the world.
But you also have the ability to feel the world’s joy, beauty and grace.
As an empath, I’ve always felt different than everyone else. I felt like I was living in an upside down world.
What the world told me was important seemed trivial to me. What was important to me, the world told me I should shrug off, not take personally and let go.
I would see a tree get cut down in the forest and cry for days over the death of the tree and the displacement of all the animals and critters that lived inside it. It felt like someone boring a hole in my heart while others told me it happens all the time and “try not to think about it too much, there’s nothing you can do.”
I would see someone being mean to another and feel the pain of hurt, injustice and cruelty. It felt wrong and unfathomable to me how others can be so disconnected from themselves and each other. But everyone else would shrug it off as if it’s normal and “that’s just how people are sometimes.” To me, a slight comment, said off-the-cuff by someone I love, used to devastate me for days.
If this resonates with you, or if you’re still unsure what it means to be an empath, here are 6 signs and traits that you’re an empath.
1. You feel other people’s feelings, often as if they’re your own. This is why sometimes you might be in a great mood and suddenly you feel annoyed or agitated for no apparent reason. It could be that someone who was feeling annoyed walked by and you unwittingly picked up their emotion.
2. You pick up on subtle clues and sense what’s really going on inside people. This is why sometimes you meet someone who appears happy, talks happy and smiles all the time but you sense a raw, gnawing sadness deep within them. Sometimes you want to shake them and yell, “stop the facade!”
3. You’re on empathy overload. This is why sometimes people can overwhelm you and you feel drained and exhausted after being around others for too long. Your heightened empathy is also why people tend to confide in you and tell you all their problems, even strangers you meet at the grocery store. At the end of the day, you sometimes want to turn off the lights, close the door and shut out the world. Or do this…
4. You’re highly intuitive. This is why sometimes you know what’s going to happen before it happens, you know who’s calling before you look at your phone, and you can tell when someone’s lying. This is also why you often make decisions that don’t make sense to others and seem to defy ration and logic. And you can’t explain why you’ve decided a certain way other than, “it feels right.”
5. Nature is your sanctuary. This is why you feel comforted when surrounded by trees, flowers, mountains, oceans or open sky. Nature makes you feel peaceful and relaxed and you’d rather be alone surrounded by birds and trees than at a party surrounded by people and technology.
6. People don’t get you. This is why you often feel alone, different and misunderstood, as if you’re an alien from another planet. You don’t really fit in with everyone else, and even though you desperately want to at times (because it seems easier and a sense of belonging is an innate, fundamental desire), you also desperately want the freedom to simply be who you are, exactly as you are, without judgment, criticism or condemnation from others who don’t understand you.
If you happen to be a Highly Sensitive Person and you resonate with all of these traits, you may be wondering what’s the difference between an empath and an HSP. Here’s an article I wrote about the fundamental difference between a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and an empath. They’re not the same. A Highly Sensitive Person is someone who has the neurological trait of sensory processing sensitivity, as defined by Dr. Elaine Aron, the scientist who discovered the trait. You can learn more about HSP’s on Dr. Aron’s website.
There’s also a difference between having empathy and being an empath. This article in Psychology Today makes the distinction that while many people have empathy for others, an empath takes it to a completely deeper level by energetically absorbing the feelings of others, not just empathizing with them.
Whether you’re an empathizer, an HSP or not, if you’re still wondering how to know if you’re an empath, chances are, you probably are, you just don’t want to admit it. The fact that you’re questioning it means something’s lurking inside you.
If you’ve read these traits of an empath and fell asleep out of boredom or you think the author is crazy, chances are, you’re not. The fact that it didn’t resonate with you or you didn’t get it means that it’s just not your thing.
On the other hand, if all these signs point to you and you found yourself crying as you read this article, welcome home.
I wrote a love letter here, just for you.
If you’re just discovering that you’re an empath or if you’re struggling to survive in this seemingly insensitive world, you can download my free Ultimate Emotional Survival Guide for Empaths and Sensitive Souls.
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