How To Tell If You’re A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Or An Empath

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woman determining if she is empath or highly sensitive person HSP
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Are you an highly sensitive person (HSP) or an empath? Have you wondered what that means or how to tell the difference?

Let’s start with the description of an HSP or a highly sensitive person. According to Dr. Elaine Aron, an HSP is someone that processes things more deeply.

RELATED: 8 Key Characteristics Of Empaths That Set Them Apart

I like to describe it like the volume has been turned up on your nervous system and senses. Interestingly, this trait is innate and is found across species.

Here are 5 characteristics of a highly sensitive person (HSP).

1. You experience feeling overwhelmed easily.

You can experience physical or emotional overwhelm easily.

How this manifests for you can differ. You may be a person who feels tired, or irritable or just feels like you are depressed. If you are an HSP, then it is vital for your well-being to recognize how your body communicates physical overwhelm.

On the other hand, emotional overwhelm comes from our thoughts and mindset, which is something that can take time to work on and improve. Recognizing the overwhelm is the first step.

2. You're aware of subtleties.

You are aware of the subtle things in your environment. There is a variation on what HSPs are more aware of. It can be visual, auditory, physical, or sensory.

3. You feel more deeply. 

You have a depth of feeling. Which means you feel the ups and downs of life more intensely. 

4. You are intuitive. 

Some HSPs have finely-tuned intuition. Some have strong intuition, but are not sure how to access it or even how to trust the guidance they receive.

Sometimes, HSPs are told that they are “too sensitive” or may even just be ignored by those closest to them. If you know your intuition speaks to you, it is time to learn to trust it.

5. You're spiritual.

HSPs tend to be spiritual by nature. When you're grounded in your spirituality, you're able to thrive.

These are just some traits of HSPs. But what about empaths?

If you are an empath, then you are an HSP, and all of the above applies to you. But you can be an HSP and not be an empath. So, what is the difference?

What is an empath?

RELATED: The Most Important Self-Care Practice For Highly-Sensitive People

According to Dr. Judith Orloff's site, here are some questions you can ask to determine if you're an empath:

  • Have I been labeled as “too emotional” or overly sensitive?
  • If a friend is distraught, do I start feeling it, too?
  • Are my feelings easily hurt?
  • Am I emotionally drained by crowds and require time alone to revive?
  • Do my nerves get jarred by noise, smells, or excessive talk?
  • Do I prefer taking my own car places, so that I can leave when I please?
  • Do I overeat to cope with emotional stress?
  • Am I afraid of becoming engulfed by intimate relationships?

Empaths take all the things that are traits of an HSP and emphasize them even more. In addition, spiritual and intuitive tendencies can be even stronger.

There are actually different types of empaths. An empath usually has a high sensation of feeling others’ emotions, some can feel other’s physical pain, some can even see other’s dreams, spirits or mediums, and can sense future events.

Here are 4 challenges you may feel as an empath or an HSP.

1. Overstimulation.

Your nervous system is feeling taxed and you are unable to function

2. Emotional and physical burnout.

You feel so done with everything. You lack the motivation to complete tasks, reach out to people, or engage in self-care.

3. Isolation and loneliness.

It may feel like no one understands you or experiences the world in the same way.

4. Absorb the negativity of others.

You may leave a gathering, a store, or even a phone call feeling angry or upset, even though when you look at what is happening in your life, it doesn't make sense.

You may have taken on the anger, frustration, or other negative energy of another.

As an empath, you can attract energy vampires. They unconsciously sense that you can help relieve some of their energetic burdens.

How do you tell the difference between an HSP and an empath?

All empaths are HSPs, but not all HSPs are empaths. Empaths take being an HSP to a deeper level. One is not better than the other — just a little different.

Empaths take all the HSP traits and can also feel the energy. The energy that an empath can feel differs from physical, emotional, pre-cognitive, or even connection to spirits as a medium.

If you are an HSP, know that you are much needed in the world. Know you were designed this way on purpose, and learning to use your trait as a strength is a key to thriving in the world.

RELATED: 8 Signs Of An Empath + How To Use Your Empathic Abilities As 'Superpowers'

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Kavita Melwani is a certified empowerment coach, hypnotherapist, past-life regressionist, certified money marketing and soul coach, and a Reiki master. To schedule a clarity session, visit her website.