I know I have Empathy, But Am I An Empath?
Being an empath typically refers to those who have a very high level of empathy. They are like emotional sponges, taking on the feelings of others’ and often feeling them viscerally within themselves. This is called somatic empathy. (You can find more about other types of empathy here.)
Here are some signs that you are an empath – and some of the challenges of being one.
Do you recognise any?
1. You take on the emotions of others’ and often cannot differentiate yours from theirs. At first you might not even realise this is what you’re doing. In fact, you probably don’t even question why you’re having a tearful moment, or are feeling sad about nothing.
2. You experience somatic empathy; the physical sensations of emotions, pain and sometimes symptoms if a person close to you is unwell. You’ll particularly notice this if you do any kind of therapy like massage or reflexology (it was a little bit weird the first time this happened to me!).
3. You experience very sudden shifts in moods or emotions when you’re in contact with others. Even just standing next to someone in a supermarket queue can make you cry because they’re so lonely (or maybe that was just me once upon a time).
4. Your environment affects your mood. You pick up on the vibe of place – good or bad. You might walk in to a room and just not want to be there, or feel angry, frustrated, or whatever anyone else has ever felt in that room!
5. You totally understand where others are coming from. So much so, that you sometimes forget what you thought or felt in the first place. This means you play devil’s advocate really well. But you also can be seen as being on someone’s side when you’re not, or not taking a stance on a subject. You also find it very difficult to come down one side of an argument.
6. People bring their problems to you because you’re a great listener, and they feel so much better after they’ve spoken to you. You, on the other hand, can feel exhausted and stressed. Plus, you now have to worry about that problem as well as all the others you’re currently worrying about!
7. You can’t bear to see bullying or watch acts of violence, real or otherwise. Certain films are just unbearable for you.
8. You can lose your sense of self in relationships. Even with friends you become more like them and perhaps forget who you are and what your likes and dislikes were.
9. You can spot a liar a mile off. BUT you probably won’t confront the person because you can literally feel how awful they will feel if you do. And ‘what if’ you’re wrong, that would feel even worse! And what about the people who believe them, they are going to have some feeling about this too…. So it’s best just not to go there. I mean, you’ll regret it later, but let’s avoid the whole thing for now. ‘Worrying about it I can handle, I’m used to that. But the pain of the confrontation would be terrible’.
10. You have great intuition. BUT you don’t always follow it. Why? Because you might be wrong, or it might be too challenging for those involved. Much like the previous point about lies, it easier to manage your own feelings of regret than that of causing pain to another.
11. You have a strong desire to help others, but you don’t always know where to start. There’s so many people to help, so many injustices in the world. So you often don’t do anything. You’re probably helping so many individuals out anyway, that you don’t really have the energy or time to help effect social change, even if you could choose which to focus on.
12. You’re frequently overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. You do too much (see point 18), you worry too much, the world is full of awful things, is there enough nutrition in tonight’s dinner? and ‘ I should I call my parents’ and, and, and…
13. You need regular alone time to take a break from all the feelings emanating from other people. Just to stop feeling it all for a while. Even if you’re an extrovert (hands up ✋🏻) you might need to escape people for a while.
14. Nature is your friend. Let’s face it, everyone feels better when they’re outside in nature, but for an empath it’s cleansing and energising. You absorb natural, non-emotional vibes from the natural world which helps to soothe you and reconnect you with yourself (she’s in there somewhere, I promise).
15. You’re a deep thinker and seek wisdom on anything and everything! You want to know what makes people tick. You’re probably unconsciously looking for a cure for being an empath (don’t worry I can help with that).
16. You have a vivid imagination and can conjure different scenarios easily in your mind. Especially the ones where you have the perfect reply to someone, or the strength to confront someone about a situation without feeling bad about it.
17. You hate conflict. It hurts. And if you stand up for yourself, you’ll feel the pain and disappointment of the other person too. That will make you feel worse, so you might as well stick with the pain you‘ve got already, right? Also, you can really see their perspective, and who’s to say they’re wrong anyway…. Best just avoid it altogether.
18. You’re terrible at boundaries! Again – the pain of others, they don’t like it when you say no. This is a huge topic but means you end up taking on too much doing stuff you don’t want to, and quite frankly, don’t need to do.
19. You’re a worrier, and you can’t not care and worry about others. You could be making up a whole story about how they’re suffering to justify worrying about them, while they’re off enjoying themselves without a care in the world (this is often the case by the way – she says from bitter experience). But how will you know, you’ll be too busy worrying about them to notice!
20. You’re insightful and perceptive and you have a beautiful heart that puts others before yourself. 💜 I love this about you and don’t want to change that – okay, maybe I do a little, but only to help you be more you and find yourself again. You’re amazing.
Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios? What do you think – are you an empath?
Do let me know in the comments below. And don’t worry (I know you will), I’ll be sharing some ways you can recover from being an empath soon. Although I think It’s a bit like alcohol, you’re never really over it. But you can get better at coping with it.
Transformational Women's Coach, Trainer, Speaker & Author
Combining a spiritual outlook, a pragmatic approach, and a sense of humour I want to help you remember who YOU are and reveal YOUR path so you can step on to it empowered, energised, inspired and guided.
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