Defining the Emotions an Empath Feels in Others

Learning to differentiate between emotions can be a challenge for the Empath. We all know we can feel them in those around us, but we don’t always grasp their meaning.

I often get asked questions like: ‘I don’t know how to define what I feel in another person,’ or ‘I can feel strong emotive sensations but I do not understand what they signify.’

Not understanding what others’ emotions represent is more common than you might think in the Empath world.

When I was younger, teens and twenties, I could not differentiate what emotion I was sensing in others. In fact, I didn’t realize I was feeling other people’s emotions/energy. I thought it was my own insecurity that made me uneasy with certain people. When someone had any hidden pain, negative energy, anger issues or inauthenticity, it all seemed much the same: uncomfortable. I felt the sensation of their emotions around the solar plexus area and the vibration was similar to a muted sense of dread or what a bad decision feels like. This energy would have a knock-on-effect on my body and mind; affecting my thoughts and the way I operated.

Before I knew or heard of the term “Empath” I was already working on myself: mind, body and spirit. When I started developing a spiritual practise and striving for balance, I began feeling other people’s energy/emotions more intensely. This became more unpleasant and all-consuming. It still hadn’t dawned on me that I was sensing the energy from those around me.

When I entered a public place, I immediately became aware of an overwhelming rush of emotional energy. Early on, I believed those emotions belonged to me, because they were so familiar. When you’ve felt other people’s emotions all your life, but not known it, it is normal to shape them to fit in with your fears and emotive responses.

Looking back to childhood I can now see I converted what I felt off others into fear. Fear was an emotion I was acquainted with as a child and this is how I unknowingly translated the emotional energy I picked up.

After much searching I eventually got my answers as to why I felt the way I did. Back then there was not much information available about Empaths. Luckily, I came across an interview with Judith Orloff, on the World Puja network. Instantly, I understood every aspect of myself that related to being an Empath; without her having to mention any more than feeling people’s emotions. But still, at this point I could not differentiate what I felt in others; I just identified the times it was happening.

blessing and curse

Fast forward some years and the more I developed my intuition and life skills, the more I came to understand what I felt in others. I came to recognize the energy of an untruth and inauthenticity, insecurity, angst and grief. But although I became more adept at differentiating the subtleties between emotions and energy, I could not lay claim to knowing the cause behind the emotions. That would require deeper contemplation and is something I would only do if I had to.

The point I am making is: just by being an Empath does not mean we will understand the energy we feel off others or be able to interpret its meaning. But by developing our intuition, quietening our mind and striving for balance, it will go a long way to opening our awareness for reading emotional energy. It is not an overnight process. We have to put the work in if we want to understand what we sense.

[I must add at this point that Empaths also pick up on good vibrational energy off others. But when the energy feels good we tend not to focus on it or its origins.]

Other people’s energy can leave the Empath scratching their head and frustrated. Not knowing why others’ vibes rouse such unpleasant sensations can be confusing.

When we pick up emotional energy off others we often interpret it into the emotion we chiefly experience or what we most dislike…

It is common for people’s energy to stoke up anger within the Empath, and the other does not have to be experiencing this emotion for it to happen.

If you are one who does not like people in your “personal bubble” you will not welcome their emotional energy either. Other’s energy suddenly showing up, uninvited, in your energy field can feel invasive and claustrophobic. The energy we experience does not have to be negative to stir up negativity; being unsolicited is enough to ignite a torrent of disagreeable feelings.

Also, another reason anger is a typical response is because every human has had this emotion at some point. It is powerfully consuming and commonly suffered. When we sense dark energy in another our brain may interpret it as anger because it is a familiar negative reaction. We have not consciously chosen this response but the part of the brain responsible for triggering emotion has chosen it for us.

We all react to anger differently. Some will have an anger flare-up that quickly comes and goes; others may tend to stew for a while. Whether it has been incited by another or not, the duration of energy-activated-emotion will depend on your nature and reactivity.

An Empath will always feel other people’s emotions at some level. Depending where we are on our Empath journey will determine how we, or our brain, interprets or accepts them. It is possible to get a better understanding of what we feel if that is what we want, by working on ourselves. But it is important to note we should not punish ourselves or be ashamed if another person’s energy sparks a negative reaction within. As already pointed out, these reactions are mostly determined by our brain and not by personal choice.

When we work on ourselves, build our Empath awareness and take steps to re-balance, the way other people’s energy affects us changes in a big way. We come to accept emotional energy and it no longer controls or weakens us the way it did. But no matter how far you come in your self development, we are still human and we will all still have those days when another person’s emotional energy will fry our circuits.

Hope this helps give you a better understanding of how we experience other people’s energy.

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Until next time


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24 thoughts on “Defining the Emotions an Empath Feels in Others

  1. I am thankful for your strategies
    and interpretations guidance🙂

    I challenge the ideology behind who we are. What if Empaths (once we know what we are) are the strongest people for receiving thing. I mean in reality it’s a gift , and we wouldn’t have the gift if we were not capable of receiving it.

    I had someone suggest that Empaths actually need MORE energy then most (nature has an abundant source) but also connecting on deep levels from others. This is similar to how you suggested getting into balance. What if it affects us (in an off manner) because we are in a DEFICIT of energy; therefore can’t use our gift to the full potential.

    Just a thought. I love your blog and super grateful for the conversations that are happening.

  2. I went on my daily walk and listening to some gospel songs and I just started crying uncontrollably. This is the second time Ive cried like this and Ive felt very detached from these feelings like there not mine! Ive always felt like Ive known things but unsure of how. I was on drugs for ab 10 yrs and now I’m in church and clean and sober and now God has told me that I’m a strong empath. He also gave me a vision of myself when I was very young and I was ab 4 watching little house on the paire and I was crying BC of the show. I had never heard of this before but ik I feel grief from others and its very overwhelming. Ive sobbed for hours and feeling no attachment to these feelings knowing deep down they weren’t my feelings but not knowing how or why either and that can make you feel crazy alone. But reading and learning ab empath is helping me! I pray alot asking God to guide me and use me for his glory!

  3. Hi Diane,

    I’m on my second go-through of your book, and with each read, I pick up more and more. Thank you!

    My question to you is how I feel when I go out in public. This often happens, but especially when I’m very tired or feeling a little a drift, going to the grocery store is brutal for me. It feels as if everyone is throwing yuck at me. It hits me, I flinch and dodge, but it finds me. By the time I’m to the cash, I’m so heavy and weighted down with all this yuck sticking to me, I’m running for the hills! I see all those smiling faces of the other shoppers, but underneath… I’m a strong, caring person and I thought for so long it was my insecurities and would get down on myself, but now I’m seeing that it might not be. Does this sound like I’m picking up other people’s emotions/energy?

    Thanks for taking the time to help me out,

    • Hi Tanya,

      I’m so glad my book has helped you understand more about your Empath ways.

      Yes, that is exactly how it feels when you pick up energy off others. Depending on how in balance we are will depend on how this energy affects us (good or bad).

      The reason I stress the importance of finding balance in the mind, body and spirit is because when one is out it will have a knock-on-effect on the others and prevent us from finding emotional and physical stability. Other people’s energy then causes something like an allergic reaction, which can last from hours to days. These reactions prevent us from fully participating in our own lives. By finding total balance it works something like an ‘energetic anti-histamine’ for the Empath.🙂

      Hope this helps and thanks for your question.🙂

  4. Wow…this article really hit home with me. I have a friend who is also an empath and I can really feel her thinking about me. I spent a lot of time being really angry with her last year and feeling as you say “claustrophobic”. Whenever she is going through any internal difficulties or turmoil I feel it and desperately try to shut her off. She really intrudes in my personal space and can ruin my peace. Love her to death, but don’t always want to feel every little thing she’s going through. Thank you so much for explaining the anger issue…

  5. So excited about your arrival of your book……still trying figure out why I feel so turned upside down after spending time around a
    certain person…..these crazy feelings dont surface in me until hours later from time I spent with them. It is pretty scary when this happens.

    • Thanks Joanie,

      It is very common to have physical and emotional reactions to show up hours, or even a day or two, after being in a certain person’s presence. The symptoms of which can last for days. There’s lots of info in the book on the different ways people affect the Empath and how best to deal with them.

      Thanks for sharing.🙂

  6. Hi Diane, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience, especially about becoming more sensitive after spending some time in self development. I worked on myself for a long time, mostly as a way to deal with anxiety and couldn’t work out how I could feel simultaneously better in myself yet twice as overwhelmed, especially around other people. I have only just discovered (or maybe accepted) that I am an empath and I feel greatly reassured by your post. Best of luck with your book, I look forward to reading it. Thanks again🙂

    • Hi Jessie,

      You’re more than welcome.

      I know how reassuring it is to have confirmation of what we are experiencing, as an Empath, and that is what I hope to do for others with my posts.

      Thanks for sharing.🙂

  7. I found this exact site except if had a ton of info in it. I’ve read it and it clicked. I finally know what’s really wrong now!!! Well, not wrong, just happinging.

  8. Desperate for more information about how to deal with negative energy from other people.Just one comment from someone, possibly not meant to hurt the way it did, leaves me anxious and in a high state of fear for weeks afterwards. I’ve spent my whole life like this, and its so exhausting and knocks my confidence completely.

    • Hi Anita,

      Sorry to hear you are feeling such pain. I’m planning on writing a post on this subject very soon. For now take a look at the following post:

      Hope you find something within them to help soothe your emotions.

      Thanks for sharing🙂


    • Hi Sweetsyl,

      I hear your frustration.😉

      As I’m not sure what you have or haven’t tried it is tricky to make suggestions.

      Some Empaths need more than just a protection method. I cover this subject in great detail in the book and give the reasons why this is the case.

      Thanks for sharing.🙂

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