There's Two Types Of Empaths In The World — Which One Are YOU?

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For many years, I saw a psychic on a regular basis. It didn't feel crazy; it felt like therapy. She was very perceptive about what I was feeling, and she helped me work through my negative emotions. The thing that made my psychic different from other spiritual advisers was that she didn't refer to herself as purely a psychic, but as an empath.

I find the differences between empaths, clairsentients, identifiers, and empathetic people confusing. All seem to deal with the feelings of what people outside themselves feel, but how does one distinguish between them? And if you're someone who seems to take on the feelings of others, which one might you be?

It turns out that there are two types of empaths:

1. An empath: someone who is able to process other people's emotions and energies to such an extent that they often actually feel other people's feelings, not just emotionally but physically. Many empaths experience chronic fatigue, allergies, unexplained illnesses and body aches from outside influences.

If you're empathetic, you're able to understand what other people are feeling, but you don't take on their emotions and their energies don't affect you physically.

2. An identifier: someone who's exhausted and wiped out after being around a lot of people, someone who feeds off emotion, especially tragedy and loss, and isn't able to distance themselves. This is according to writer and psychotherapist Janny Juddly.

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Juddly writes, "An empath is able to empathize with others because they know what belongs to them and what belongs to someone else."

She goes on to explain that before an identifier becomes an empath, they're very busy putting themselves in everyone else's shoes, feeling everything as if they're going through it themselves. It's exhausting to be an identifier since much of what they're feeling is fear.

My psychic was actually more of a clairsentient than an empath, as their gifts are more of the psychic intuition variety. Clairsentients have the ability to focus in on the energy of the spiritual world. They can sense when something important is about to happen or when someone is sick or has died.

They sense the positive and negative energies given off from other people even when those people are nowhere near them. Clairsentients are extremely sensitive — if there's a strong earthquake a long distance away, they'll still feel dizzy and as if their equilibrium is off.

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Juddly calls empaths who are able to distance themselves from another person's emotions, but still feel compassion, "empaths with muscle." She uses an example of a person drowning in a lake.

If you're an identifier, you're so overcome with what it would be like if you were drowning that without thinking, you'd throw yourself into the water, even though you can't swim, and suddenly two people are drowning.

If you're an empath with muscle, you don't jump in; you stay on the shore, talking them through it, calming them down, and reminding them that they can swim and survive. The empaths with muscle aren't so overcome that they sacrifice themselves in the process.

Being sensitive to what other people are going through and what they're feeling is good, as long as it doesn't affect you in negative ways. Compassion, caring, and being able to see something from someone else's point of view are important aspects of being a healthy and caring human being.

My psychic helped me make sense of my emotions during a troubling time, and she helped me to be more sympathetic to other people. Am I an empath or a clairsentient? No, but I'm more empathetic than I used to be.

RELATED: If You Have These 16 'Odd' Quirks, You Might Be An Empath

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and teacher who loves writing and performing personal narratives. She's had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Woman's Day, Purple Clover, Bustle, and is a regular contributor to Ravishly and YourTango. Check out her website or her Facebook page.