The definitions between an Empath and a highly sensitive person (HSP) are so similar that some may question as to which camp they fall in. Hopefully, after reading this you may have a better idea.
Here are some of the type of questions Elaine N. Aron uses in her book, ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’, to decide a HSP:
(The stronger you relate to the questions is an indication of your Sensitivity.)
- Are you aware of subtleties in your environment?
- Do other people’s moods affect you?
- Are you sensitive to pain?
- Do you need to withdraw if you are having a busy day?
- Are you sensitive to the effects of caffeine?
- Are you easily overwhelmed by strong smells, bright lights or loud noises?
- Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
- Are you conscientious?
- Do you startle easily?
- Are you aware how to make others feel more comfortable?
- Do you get frustrated if you are made to do too many things at once?
- Do you avoid watching violence on TV or in films?
- Do you become uncomfortable when a lot is going on around you?
- Do you avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
Here are 14 questions used to decide if you are an Empath:
- Do you become overwhelmed when you walk into busy places?
- Do some people make you feel inexplicably uncomfortable, finding you stumble over your words or have uneasy sensations in the pit of your stomach when with them?
- Did you experience any strange phenomena as a child?
- Do you have strong intuition?
- Do you sense different energies in objects, buildings, places or countries?
- Do you get easily drained when in social situations?
- Have you got an active or creative mind?
- Do you notice things others don’t?
- Can you easily read others and just know what type of person they are without spending much time with them?
- Are you a good listener and find others want to offload and open up to you?
- Are you highly sensitive?
- Would you say you have an addictive nature?
- Can you feel others emotions?
- Do you pick up physical symptoms off another?
So how did you do? Chances are if you identify with being a HSP or an Empath you will have answered yes to most of the questions on both of the lists.
The definition of an Empath is a person who is capable of feeling the emotions off others despite the fact that they are not going through the same situation.
The definition of a HSP is a person who processes sensory data much more deeply than others. They are oversensitive to sensory aspects of their environment/world. For instance, HSPs may dislike harsh bright lighting, get irritated by loud background noise or find they cannot wear certain materials.
Although the definitions above are brief, they could be misleading and suggest that a HSP has only heightened senses and an Empath feels only emotions off others, when in fact there is so very much more to their traits. For example both the Empath and HSP will experience the following:
- Sense other people’s emotions.
- Project their emotions, feelings and thoughts onto others.
- Experience profound synchronicities.
- Have heightened senses.
- Feel emotions and pain very deeply, their own and others.
- Get hurt easily.
- Get easily over-stimulated.
- Feel drained by being in social situations.
- Are aware of many subtleties around them that others aren’t.
Even though some will disagree, I believe Empaths and HSPs are the same. They may experience different levels of Sensitivity and have some traits stronger than others, but overall they share the same attributes, in that their senses are extremely heightened, especially their sixth sense, and they feel energetic vibrations off people, places and objects powerfully.
Those who veer more towards being Empath may be more open to metaphysical matters than HSPs and are more aware of their ESP abilities (even if they don’t engage them). That said, both HSPs and Empaths can be similarly receptive to the unseen world and are equally able to tap into the Universal Consciousness. It mostly depends on their background. How they were brought up and what beliefs they have has a major influence on their receptivity towards their traits.
At some point, both the Empath and HSP will find themselves thrust onto a ‘spiritual path’ by either a stream of mystical or synchronistic events, a need to better understand themselves and all that they feel or a desire to discover the meaning of life.
Those who may turn away from anything of a ‘woo-woo nature’ may do so out of a fear of judgement. Many of a Sensitive nature are very aware of when they are being judged and will understandably go out of their way to avoid it.
Hopefully this will help you better understand the labels of the Sensitive folk. I am not too keen on labels myself and believe they should only be used to assist us in understanding our traits, which in turn will help us navigate our way through life. I feel any label can dismiss our own individuality and anyone who is Sensitive is indeed profoundly unique and should always bear this in mind on their journey of life!
Until next time…
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©Diane Kathrine at Empaths Empowered
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