Do you find it hard to switch off from the emotions of those around you, and often adopt them as if they’re your own? You could be an empath.
Most people experience varying degrees of empathy – aka, the ability to share and understand the emotions of the people around you – but for empaths, this skill is on a whole other level.
In some ways, empaths experience the world completely differently from non-empaths.
Not only are they highly attuned to the emotions and energy of the people around them, but they also have a tendency to absorb other people’s feelings – something which can lead to feelings of overwhelm and burnout if not properly managed.
However, while empaths are often described by those around them as ‘sensitive’, an empath is not the same as a highly sensitive person (HSP). Because being affected by other people’s emotions is just one of the many signs of a highly sensitive person, it’s believed that most empaths are HSPs, but not all HSPs are empaths.
So, how can you tell whether you’re an empath? On top of feeling particularly in tune with other people’s emotions, here are seven key signs that you might be an empath.
1. You have a strong sense of ‘knowing’
One of the key traits often associated with empaths is a strong sense of intuition or ‘knowing’. For example, they might know not to trust someone before they show their true colours, or feel confident diving into a situation because they just ‘know’ they can trust the people involved. This is usually because empaths are able to read others pretty well.
2. You struggle with crowded places
Because empaths are able to connect with the emotions of others no matter how well they know them, being in a crowded place with lots of people (and therefore emotions) can feel particularly overwhelming.
3. You’re a good listener
People often come to empaths with their problems because they know they’ll be able to listen and understand what they’re going through. However, this can become a problem if empaths constantly find themselves being bombarded by other people’s experiences – especially if they struggle not to ‘adopt’ other people’s emotions as their own.
4. You struggle to watch violent or tragic events on TV
Similarly to HSPs, empaths may struggle to watch violent or tragic events unfold on TV, whether or not they’re fictional. This is again down to the fact that empaths tend to absorb the emotions of others, so the intense emotions portrayed on screen are likely to affect them more deeply.
5. You hate conflict
Empaths often struggle with conflict because the emotions involved are so intense, and can often leave them feeling overwhelmed and riddled with guilt. As such, they tend to avoid it at all costs – and can struggle to get what they want out of a resolution if forced to engage.
6. You enjoy spending time in nature
Because empaths tend to find being around lots of people overwhelming, spending time in nature away from the emotions of others can provide a much-needed break and chance to relax.
7. You can often tell when someone is lying
An empath’s ability to tune into the subtle emotional cues of those around them often makes them brilliant lie detectors. This can be a gift and a curse – while being able to know who not to trust is helpful, knowing that someone they love or admire is lying to them can bring about additional stress.
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