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Are You An Empath?

There is a certain type of person in this world known as an empath. These people possess the extraordinary ability to feel other people’s feelings, thoughts, mental state, and physical symptoms as if they are their own.

It is a term that is not widely or even commonly known, but like the empaths themselves, it is shyly gaining more grounding among mainstream society.

Empaths are highly sensitive souls who have a tremendous degree of compassion. Due to the fact that they are able to perceive other’s emotions as if they are their own, they are also able to feel another’s suffering. This compels them to take action to stop the suffering or put an end to it.

Many empaths engage in sometimes difficult and challenging work or lifestyle choices to help put an end to suffering one way or another. They can be found working in charitable causes for humans, animals, and the environment, or working in the care sector where they are able to help others on a more physical level.

Many will feel drawn towards social justice campaigns where others are downtrodden or being treated unfairly, and many more still are simply that amazing friend who would drop everything in a heartbeat to help you out.

In short, empaths are pretty awesome people! So are you, or someone you know, an empath? Read on to find out.

Empaths & Sensitivity

Being an empath means being highly sensitive. The two go hand in hand. This is because to feel another’s emotions, thoughts or physical state you have to be sensitive enough to pick up on them.

This means your senses are heightened more than others - you hear things others don’t, your sense of smell, touch and taste is stronger and you have a powerful sixth sense. You are able to feel the emotions of others, so if someone around you is angry or upset, you’ll feel angry and upset too, even if they look fine on the surface.

In your more advanced state, you are able to feel other people’s emotions from a distance just by thinking about them. You are able to feel whether the land you’re on is positive or negative and you can feel if the building you walk into is ‘happy’ or not.

You may be able to do all or some of these things, depending on how advanced your empathic nature is.

Words cut much deeper so when someone says something negative to you/about you, it can be devastating and the effects can last for days. You cannot handle being around crowds because you are absorbing everyone’s energy, so you much prefer one-on-one.

Read this next: 7 Reasons Why Self-Care is Essential For Your Mental Health

Empaths Are Strong!

Being highly sensitive is simply being finely-tuned to the energy around you. Newer research suggests that 1-2% of the population feel other people’s emotions as though they are their own and even struggle to differentiate them from their own. Advanced empaths who are able to make the distinction are even rarer, but they have usually had years of practice to master their ability.

Many empaths come across as very gentle and kind-hearted, and they often run from conflict because the emotions involved are too overwhelming.

The test of an empath is to find a way to face the horrors of the world while being strong enough to withstand them. This quote by Andrew Boyd sums it up nicely:

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

Dive deeper into this topic: Why is Empathy so Important?

Empaths Need to Know

There are two things an empath must ultimately learn which present the greatest challenges for them.

1) Growing strong enough to withstand the challenges of life while still maintaining their empathy and compassion.

2) Learning not to be an emotional sponge and to take care of themselves.

Many empaths will struggle with both at some point or throughout much of their lives. This is why empaths may turn to alcohol, drugs or another form of escapism. Sometimes, this is the only way they feel they can deal with the overwhelming emotions and thoughts they are being bombarded with.

Learning coping techniques while embracing their gifts is the way forward for empaths to function at their best.

Narcissists & Empaths

Empaths and narcissists are also a common dynamic. An empath can be described as a narcissist’s opposite. Where an empath feels others, the narcissist does not. An empath’s natural functioning mode is to give, whereas the narcissist takes.

A narcissist has a chameleon-like ability to become whatever he/she thinks the other person wants them to be; as such, a narcissist can mimic an empath and make them believe they, too, are an empath, and it is only when the relationship deepens that the empath realizes things are not exactly as they seem.

This is why narcissists and empaths are often drawn to one another, which can result in extremely destructive and draining relationships.

The challenge of the empath is to learn to say no, to recognize when their sensitive emotional state is being manipulated, and grow strong enough to walk away.

Signs of an Empath

The main signs of being an empath are…

  • You feel others’ emotions as if they are your own.
  • You find crowds and places where there are lots of people overwhelming or draining.
  • The energy of a place is important to you - for example, you may reject eating in what seems like a perfectly nice restaurant because the ‘vibe’ feels off.
  • You understand what a person is trying to say, even if they have trouble getting the words out.
  • People look to you for advice, even complete strangers.
  • Upsetting stories in the papers or TV can devastate you.
  • You love animals - and they love you!
  • You are able to feel the physical sickness of others.
  • Your home is your sanctuary - you need your personal space and more time than most to recharge your batteries.
  • You instinctively know when someone is lying.
  • You have the power to heal others with your words and energy.
  • You have great compassion - if you see someone in pain, your first instinct is to help them.

Possessing most, or all, of these qualities is a sure sign you are among the special warriors known as empaths!

Think you might be an empath? Take the quiz!

Being an Empath is a Strength, Not a Weakness

Being an empath isn’t a weakness - it is a strength. It means that you have the ability to feel the pain and suffering of others as if it is your own, and you feel compelled to end their suffering because you can feel it too. You get hurt more easily than others, but you also have a higher tolerance to pain than others do (you have to because every little thing is always threatening to bring you down!) It usually means you can handle the dark side of life better than others and go into places they cannot.

Burying or crushing emotions can manifest in some kind of sickness, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Modern society goes at a relatively slow place when it comes to nurturing and placing emphasis on feelings and emotions. Hearing things like, “You’re too sensitive!” or “Get over it!” can be extremely hurtful and these attitudes are what drive people to bury or dismiss their emotions, which can be very damaging in the long-term.

Often, people who say these things were conditioned at some point to believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness and in order to gain respect, one had to bury their feelings or pretend they weren’t there.

But sensitivity and empathy are a superpower and a gift, not something to be ashamed of. Through empathy comes compassion, and compassion leads to greater harmony, love, and understanding in the world.

Nurturing and embracing feelings and emotions means nurturing the soul itself. We are all vessels of emotion and the challenge for mankind, in general, is to learn to embrace these emotions, not reject them.

Empaths Are Here to Help Us Find Compassion

An empath is someone with an advanced emotional state. Yes, it can be difficult living in a world or society where emotions are mocked, jeered, or disregarded.

But empaths must remember that they are here to help mankind progress towards a greater state of compassion and love; they have an innate knowledge and understanding of emotions that drives them to do this and, therefore, there will always be a part of them that feels responsible for humanity.

Finding the balance between taking care of themselves and taking care of others is the greatest challenge for them, but by doing so they can use their gifts to help others and bring greater compassion and awareness to the world.

Related article: Are You an Indigo Child?

Sarah Brownlee

Sarah Brownlee

Having worked as a teacher, a bartender, and even a private investigator, writing was something Sarah Brownlee just fell into, even though it had been her passion since she was a little girl. To date, she has written and published 3 Children and Young Adult fiction novels, ghostwritten for others, and... Read More

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