If You Have These 30 Traits, Consider Yourself An Empath

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What is an empath? An empath is someone who is able to experience the emotions of others, including pain and joy. Empaths also feel more empathy for others and can recognize emotions from facial expressions.

Empaths aren’t to be confused with highly sensitive people (HSPs), as all empaths are HSPs, but not the other way around. Think of an empath as a highly sensitive person, but taken to another level.

What does it mean to be an empath?

If you are an empath, you are emotionally connected to others. You are able to really read into situations and are a good listener.

It may seem like a burden at first, just because empaths feel things so deeply. Emotions can run high and sometimes cause inward anxieties and moodiness, but all those feelings are used as greater insights into life.

Being a highly empathetic person means you see the world differently than others. And it’s quite special.

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Is it rare to be an empath?

Research has found that only 1 to 2 percent of the population are empaths, so they are a real thing, and there’s a small chance that you might be an empath yourself. While many people claim to be empaths, they may just feel empathy at a higher level or are hypersensitive.

Dr. Michael Banissy, who performed the study, explored synesthesia, when two senses are blurred (“hearing” colors or “tasting” sounds, for example), as well as empathy levels. Passers-by were asked questions about their empathy levels, and while they answered, were tapped on the cheek while being shown another person being tapped on the opposite side.

What are the characteristics of an empath?

According to Dr. Judith Orloff, author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” not only are there different types of empaths, but certain characteristics as well. The types of empaths include emotional empath, intuitive empath, physical empath, medium empath, earth empath, and more.

The qualities of an empath include feeling the emotions of others, being introverted, having a strong sense of intuition, feeling emotionally drained by negative emotions and energy, and needing alone time to recharge after they absorb emotions. Intimate relationships may be hard to form as well.

Do empaths cry a lot? Empaths do tend to cry quite a bit if they see others experiencing injustice, abuse, negative or sad experiences, or even natural disasters. However, this doesn't mean all the emotions they experience will do this.

What is a good job for an empath?

Good careers and jobs for empaths are those that aren’t too emotionally taxing. For example, being a caretaker or nurse may negatively affect highly sensitive empaths.

The perfect job for an empath is something that allows them to express their creativity without feeling overwhelmed by emotions around them. Jobs like a writer, artist, or musician are a good fit, as empaths can channel their feelings in this way.

How do I know if I'm an empath? If you are an empath, sometimes you will just know; other times, it will take a bit of digging and understanding to realize this. You will always be aware of the emotions around you, especially when around a group of people. Empaths are capable of feeling all kinds of emotions, intentions, thoughts, interactions, relational behaviors, and body language, after all.

You or someone you know may be an empath. If you are, you will forever be the person that many people run to for advice, consoling, and just a friendly presence. That’s an amazing power to have.

30 Signs You’re An Empath

1. Knowing

Empaths have a deep sense of knowing that’s unwavering and unquestionable, which comes with pinpoint accuracy in its description. They are capable of reading others without obvious cues and can describe what’s really going on beneath the surface.

They know if someone is being dishonest or not speaking their truths. The more attuned they are to their empathy, the stronger and more frequent the knowing and reading abilities will be.

2. Effective listeners and communicators

They have a natural ability to listen with all their senses acutely attuned, allowing the person to feel as though they are being heard and understood. They can intuitively guide a conversation with sincere compassion, enabling even the most reserved person to respond and express their deepest and even most painful thoughts and feelings they wouldn’t ordinarily share.

In most cases, it’s carried out in unspoken confidence and trust, yet if a situation potentially calls for outside intervention (i.e., self-harm) they will weigh up the need to act in the best interest of that person, not self, even if it means risking ongoing relations.

3. Overwhelmed in public places

Shopping malls, supermarkets, or stadiums where masses of people gather can be overwhelming and even lead to panic attacks or anxiety due to the myriad of emotions being sensed. And until this is contained and manageable, they will steer clear of being around large groups of people.

4. Feeling others' emotions, pains, illnesses, and stresses

Due to heightened sensitivities to emotional and physical energy, it’s a very common occurrence to take on the emotions of others and not even realize they are doing so, directly mirroring it as though it was their own.

It can make it very difficult to distinguish what’s belonging to oneself or another, and life can become extremely overwhelming. Self-awareness brings a greater degree of control and the ability to determine whose emotions are whose, and not get caught up in it.

5. Mood swings, unpredictable and needy

Empaths can experience extreme highs and lows, which makes them unpredictable in behavior at the best of times. One minute they can be happy, and the next minute feel sad and withdrawn, which is not always the result of how they actually feel, but what they have picked up on in others. This can be confusing, let alone depressing.

They can also be very demanding of attention, be it for good reasons or not. If they feel they are not being heard, they will act out and come across as needy, even narcissistic, although they would seriously question and oppose the latter.

Just because one may have strong empathy at some point in time does not mean they are not akin to being so overwhelmed with it that they fall heavily towards narcissism.

RELATED: 8 Signs You're A Psychic Empath & The Unique Power Of Being One

6. Sensitive to TV, radio, movies, and real-life chaos

Violence, cruelty, shocking scenes of physical or emotional pain or abuse can bring an empath to tears. They may even feel physically ill, bewildered, and struggle to comprehend such acts as being justified. One sure way of dealing with this is to turn off the TV or radio or disassociate yourself from the chaos.

7. Prone to illness, death, and physical pain

Because of the onslaught of emotional energy, empaths are highly sensitive and, in most cases, they don’t know how to deal with this. It can become problematic and manifest into varying forms of physical illnesses or diseases.

It’s vital to learn about emotional energy, distinguish its origin, and apply the tools that will allow the person to move forward with balanced wellness. Existing illnesses and diseases can potentially be laid to rest once and for all in doing so.

8. Magnetic pull of trust

Others, including strangers, are drawn to an empath like a magnet, and find it easy to express themselves and resonate with them on a deep, meaningful level. They will often feel like they have known each other for many years even though they may have just met.

People have this innate sense of trust and feel comfortable and relaxed in their presence, yet are conscious they would not normally feel this way.

9. Constant fatigue

They are drawn to helping others, and in doing so take on more than their fair share to personally cope with mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically, and will experience constant fatigue. They may need to take daily catnaps or retreats just to replenish their energy and feel revitalized.

10. Addictive behavior

This can be caused by wanting to escape from what they are bombarded with or a desperate need to feel connected. Their heightened sensitivities more than often don’t come with an awareness of how to deal with it (the energies they pick up on like sponges), let alone what’s happening.

They will adopt addictive tendencies to drown out, numb, and distract them, such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs, binge-eating, or gambling. Unfortunately for some, doing so (i.e., taking drugs) can heighten their sensitivities even more and create greater issues.

11. Healing, holistic health, and wellness

Whether it’s a career as a nurse, doctor, physiotherapist, neurosurgeon, psychologist or massage therapist, homeopath, naturopath, Chinese medicine practitioner, and social workers, or a veterinarian, those who have strong empathy from a young age are often drawn to these fields due to a pull to helping heal people and/or animals.

Strict and long-term education and work protocols, however, are known to stifle one’s innate empathy and remarkably deter them from what drew them to the field in the first place. Once in the field, there’s a great need to be aware of one's empathy and not become overwhelmed in taking on others’ energy, as it can become a catalyst in burning out and walking away altogether.

12. Curiosity and seekers of the truth

Driven by curiosity to understand the intricacies of life, and an intense desire to seek the truth and question much of everything until they feel a resonance to any given answer, if it doesn’t sit well with them, their curiosity will grow. They will continue to seek answers even if it takes a lifetime.

13. Interests in spirituality and metaphysical

They can be drawn to the unexplainable, paranormal, metaphysics, and have a deep sense of spirituality (not necessarily religion, even though they may lean towards such in order to find a sense of belonging). They will dabble in many areas until they find their niche, and they will actively pursue it throughout their lifetime.

14. Cultural and indigenous

Empaths are drawn to ancient cultures that adhere to long-held traditions cloaked in universal laws as they embody innate logic, common sense, and practical uncomplicated ways in which to do all manner of things. They will often shake their head in disbelief when others do and act in a way that opposes universal laws.

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15. Ancestral lineage

From a young age, they are the child that listens to the stories of old that are passed down throughout the generations. They have a genuine interest in wanting to know where they came from, who their ancestors were, and what they did in their lifetime.

They will grow up to be keepers of the family tree and possess a collection of photo albums and heirlooms. Feeling a sense of connectedness holds great importance and, as they learn this, they will be the ones to pass this knowledge on to their children.

16. Quiet achievers and strong leaders

Although they are quiet achievers who prefer to do the hard work behind the scenes, they will often be found in positions of leadership due to their ability to be focused, organized, and supportive, quick thinking, and capable of inspiring, and motivating others with magnificent poise.

They are more comfortable in giving sincere praise to others rather than accepting it and are often found meditating to maintain a balance of harmony.

17. Creative talents

A great love for expressing their creativity as artists, musicians, singers, dancers, performing artists, acting, poets, and designers, empaths love to tell a story and can captivate an audience through a vivid imagination.

There's an ease in which they can take you directly into the picture, as though you were actually experiencing it firsthand.

18. Love of nature and animals

They are inclined to have a pet as they love to give and receive the unconditional love that comes from dogs, cats, rabbits, and living creatures. They are often advocates or supporters in the prevention of cruelty to animals.

They enjoy being outdoors, amongst the forest or high in the mountains and are content being connected to the land. They will often escape from the busy world to rejuvenate their senses.

19. Cleansing water

Be it swimming in the sea, floating in the pool, walking in the rain, a long soak in the tub, or a hot shower to cleanse and wash away the troubles of the day, they sense the healing properties of water. It’s a reconnection to the womb for the safety and comfort it held and can be recaptured at that moment.

20. Need for solitude

Although they can be very sociable, they also like to escape from the hustle and bustle, and are content with their own company, enjoying the tranquillity that comes with being in a quiet space.

That means reading a book, watching a movie, drawing a picture, or pursuing a hobby — they love to just relax. They will display this tendency from childhood and throughout life.

21. Boredom, distracted and daydreaming

They have a need to be stimulated and focused on one project or another and will give all their energy to any given task, whether it’s at school, work, or home life. If the task fails to stimulate their senses, they become bored, distracted, and will either begin to fidget or doodle or be off in their minds daydreaming.

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22. Adventure seekers; travel and spontaneous

They enjoy spontaneity in their life by exploring all that life has to offer and will seek out adventures, travel to far-off places, or find enjoyable activities nearby. They enjoy being free-spirited, leaving the constraints of the world behind them, and if they don’t get to do this as often as they would like, they will become quite restless and agitated.

23. Clutter, energy, and flow

An awareness of energy comes naturally, and they will feel weighed down by clutter and chaos. Although they may collect things, everything has a place and order, and they will constantly do clutter-clearing to allow the balance of energy (flow) in their environment. They have the ability to place furniture or even plant gardens in a way that energy flows in and around everything.

RELATED: How To Use Your Empathic Abilities As 'Superpowers'

24. Rule breakers

Routine, repetition, and rules can become mundane for the creative empath who continuously seek ways in which to express their loves, the things they enjoy in life. If they are told they cannot do something within reason, they will find a way that they can; the willingness to challenge themselves goes hand in hand with being spontaneous.

25. Enthusiasm and appreciation of life

Bursting with energy and an appreciation towards life, and living it as fully as they can, empaths are filled with enthusiasm. However, the downside is they can exert so much energy that they will burn out and need to take time to recuperate. When they do, they will bounce back and give themselves fully.

They don’t do anything in halves; it’s all or nothing, and they tend to feel disappointed if others around them don’t share the same zest for life as they do.

26. Humanitarians, peacemakers, and mediators

Conflict is extremely unsettling, regardless if it’s with family, friends, colleagues, or even complete strangers, or if it’s direct or indirect, locally or internationally. They will voice their feelings towards such, and endeavor to find a peaceful resolution even if it means being a mediator.

They have a love and respect for all people and cultures, and vehemently oppose wars, political unrest, cruelty, racism, hatred, and separatism, as they believe deeply that we can all live together in harmony. They will advocate this in one way or another, if not by being pivotal to the establishment of humanitarian organizations or in support of.

27. Sensitive to antiques, vintage or second-hand

Holding objects such as rings, jewelry, clothing, ornaments, or touching door handles to old buildings, or entering historical homes, can bring through very vivid and accurate accounts of the owner(s) history and life experiences.

This can be extremely daunting and off-putting to those sensitive to picking up energies, whereas those who are more aware and in control of their empathy will feel at ease, and be drawn to such.

28. Lucid dreamers

The dream realm is not just a meaningless place where one goes when they are asleep. An empath often has vivid dreams from a very young age and will have lucid dreams where they are awake in their dreams and have an ability to control certain aspects by willful thought alone.

They are capable of describing in graphic detail the dream content. They also have a strong desire to interpret the dream, knowing that it has direct relevance to their physically awake life. In doing so, they can find answers to guide them well.

It’s not unusual for an empath to at some point in time in their lives to have experienced an out-of-body experience or astral travel, be it voluntarily or not.

29. Lovers, not fighters

Empaths love to love others and be loved in return and will seek meaningful relationships throughout their entire lives, though they are not always adept at self-love as they are inclined to give of themselves freely to others. They can grow up thinking (by what they learn from society) that it’s selfish to love yourself, and that it’s narcissistic in behavior.

They do not like to be caught up in fights, be it verbal or physical, as communication comes easily to them; however, they will not be passive, but they will aim for a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible. They will get extremely frustrated if the other person is not willing to resolve the conflict fully, as they don’t see the logic in dragging things on.

30. Visionaries, entrepreneurial and problem-solvers

Intense visionaries blended with their adventurous love of life streak and enthusiasm, empaths will dabble in many ventures and business opportunities, and find ways in which to expand their potential, feed their creative minds, and do the things they love to do.

They have this instinct, knowing they are capable of achieving greater things, and will constantly think outside the box and push through any and all boundaries (often against the odds), with focused energy. Where there is a problem, there immediately lies an answer, and they won’t stop until they find it — even if that means inventing it themselves.

What are triggers for empaths?

Empaths have the risk of being triggered by reading someone new who shares the same sort of previous traumatic or sensitive event previously felt from others.

Other things that trigger empaths can include negative news, intense stories, sarcasm, people who complain, large groups of people, people who are highly critical, and narcissists. 

For empaths to keep their energy balanced and positive, there are a few ways to prevent emotional drain.

1. Set boundaries.

When empaths set boundaries, they know what sorts of triggers affect them the worst. Boundaries make it possible to stay away from these triggers on a daily basis, whether it's a toxic person in their life, a stressful job, or big social events.

2. Practice mindfulness.

Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion means tuning into and reconnecting with yourself, and focusing on your mental health rather than dedicating your energy to others. Sometimes it's best just to ignore your inner critic; why be so hard on yourself for no reason when you know it's a trigger?

3. Go out in nature.

Spending time in nature by yourself is a must for empaths who feel so drained they can't hear or process their own thoughts and feelings. The key to understanding your empathic nature is learning how to take better care of yourself emotionally, therefore you'll become stronger by immersing yourself in the natural world.

RELATED: 3 Ways Empaths Can Cope If Social Injustices Are Draining Your Energy

Christel Broederlow is a researcher, writer, author, and teacher of innate empathy. Find out more on her website or follow her on Facebook.

This article was originally published at Thought Catalog. Reprinted with permission from the author.