What Does It Mean to Be An Empath? Here's What to Know About This Personality Type

Welcome to the life of an empath: a world where we take "being emotional" to whole new level.

What is an empath? 

According to psychologist and empath Dr. Judith Orloff, an empath doesn’t just feel their own emotions strongly, but others’ emotions as well. Empaths "absorb the emotions, physical symptoms, and energy of others into their own bodies."

Basically, when an empath tells you they understand, they truly do. They have the ability to feel your emotions, even if it wasn’t their mood originally. They see multiple perspectives through clearer lenses. They’ll catch the parts of you that most people skim over. It’s easy for them to be so compassionate and nurturing, because they truly understand your pain. 

Signs you're an empath

Lucky for us, Dr. Orloff outlines these 10 traits of an empath in her book The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. You don’t have to have all of these traits to be an empath, but the more you have, the more along the empathic scale you are.

1. You’re sensitive

Empaths are givers by nature. They understand your feelings and want to do everything possible to ensure your happiness. They listen when you’re feeling low and will nurture you until you’re thriving and smiling once again. Yet, empaths can be easily hurt. Their feelings come in strong, making it harder for them to get out of their heads and back into high spirits. 

2. Others’ emotions become your own

Empaths can walk into a room and easily sense what vibes are trailing through. They’re highly sensitive to others’ moods and emotions. If they’re around tension, anger or anxiety, they’ll sense it and begin to feel it too. Surrounded by optimism, empaths will thrive.

3. You’re an introvert

Being in a crowd can easily become overwhelming, even draining, when you feel so many emotions. Empaths typically stick with smaller, more intimate groups. If you do enjoy the occasional party, you’ll definitely need your time to recharge after. 

4. Your gut always knows what’s up 

As an empath, you’re highly intuitive. If you’re sensing something, you’re most likely right. This helps empaths sort through the good and the bad in the world. They have an amplified need to be embraced in positivity and stray away from toxic relationships.

5. You need your space

As an empath, you probably use so much of your energy focusing on others. While this is beautiful, you also need to set out some time for yourself. Being able to recharge is essential and your independence is precious. If people get clingy, you’ll probably be forced to cut them out for your own sanity.

6. Relationships can be draining 

Empaths always give their all in any relationship they enter, platonic or romantic. When things get serious, they step through with caution. Empaths are aware of how intense their feelings can be. And getting into a serious relationship with someone gives them a lot of power of empath’s emotions. Ultimately, empaths fear becoming too consumed in a relationship and losing their own independence and individuality. If empaths can commit to a serious relationship, they’ll probably avoid the rules of a traditional couple. 

7. You can’t deal with toxic people

Negativity breeds negativity, especially for empaths. So, cutting out toxic people is important. From narcissists, drama queens, to the emotionally manipulative, snakes have no place in empaths lives in order to preserve their self-worth. It’s easy for empaths to become emotionally drained. Toxic people are the last thing empaths need. 

8. Nature is your Zen

The hustle-and-bustle of the big city may seem exciting, but it can be too overwhelming for empaths. Being in nature often replenishes their energies, clearing their mind of any emotional burdens. 

9. You have super-senses

Highly-attuned to everything around them, empaths can get easily distracted from any loud noises or strong smells. As patient as you may be, things can easily get on empaths’ nerves.

10. You give too much 

Empaths are just too good for this world. They give to the point that it becomes detrimental to their own well-being. They help take burdens off of others but in the process, they can take that burden on themselves. It’s draining and it’s frustrating, because they can easily be taken advantage of.

 

Empaths don’t have the luxury to pick and choose which emotions to feel. They feel them all, and they feel them all too deeply. Without acknowledging this and taking steps to preserve your own emotions, empaths can spiral into insomnia, anxiety or depression. Many empaths just want to do all that they can to help. But as they become invested in others, they’ll find others’ problems bleeding into their own. 

There’s also a sense of fulfillment in being an empath. With the ability to better understand someone, you’re better able to help him/her.  If you know any empaths in your life, tell them how much you appreciate them. Acknowledge their insight and thank them for being there and noticing things others may usually not. 

If you’re an empath, remember to take care of yourself. You can’t help everyone. It’s not always your problem to solve. There’s nothing selfish about putting yourself before others. In fact, it’s probably healthy. Define your boundaries. Establish your need for personal space. Take a you-day. Plug in those headphones, light some candles, and block out the world. 

Generally speaking for everyone: be kind to others, but also be kind to yourself.