Do you often struggle to know where you fit in or wonder whether you are an Empath or not?
Over the years, I have often been asked the question: ‘How do I know for sure if I’m an Empath?’
My answer always tends to be the same: Generally, if you’re an Empath when you discover the term and the traits it encompasses you just know whether it applies to you or not. It is like a light bulb moment. You finally have an explanation for all that you feel and have experienced throughout your life… But, there are always exceptions.
In this post we will look at two traits that truly define an Empath.
What does it matter?
Although I don’t like to get too caught up in labels, I do think knowing and understanding who you are can help you on your journey. Also, knowing your defining traits can help you find balance in life. There is also the fact to consider that what might help an Empath, might not help the sensitive person. For example: dealing with emotional pain you are picking up from another is different to dealing with emotional pain caused by past trauma.
Ultimately, we all want to live the best life we can. We want to be happy and find stability and we want to leave these bodies in the hopes we did little harm. Knowing who we are and what strengthens or weakens us can help us achieve this.
The reason I think some sensitive people get confused over whether they are an Empath is because they feel things so strongly and share many of the Empath traits. But there are two traits that sets the Empath apart:
- An ability to feel/read the emotional energy of others.
- Heightened empathy.
Feeling emotions and the energy of other people
The chief trait of an Empath is feeling other people’s emotions, moods, buried pain and energy, but they also have incredible emotional intelligence and empathy for others, even if they don’t actually like spending time with people.
We will now look at how these traits work:
As already noted, when an Empath discovers the term, it is the moment their life makes sense. Everything they have experienced finally has a reason. But still, there are many more layers to uncover…
If you have spent a lifetime feeling the emotional energy of others, without realising, it may take a while to differentiate these emotions from your own.
As humans, we are very good at hiding our true feelings and just because someone has a smile on their face, does not mean they are not experiencing emotional pain. But an Empath will always feel what another doesn’t show.
There are a number of ways in which you may experience another’s emotional energy:
- You might suddenly feel insecure when in their presence (if they have low self-esteem, worry what others think or have social hang-ups).
- You may experience waves of sadness or you may want to burst into tears (if the other is grieving or emotionally low).
- You could suddenly fill with rage or annoyance or get stabbing pains around certain chakras (the other has hidden anger).
- You sense a heaviness around the pit of your stomach (they have buried issues they refuse to deal with).
- You might feel anxious or constricted around the chest, you could also experience palpitations (often happens when there is a clash of energy).
- You start to act differently or take on their personality traits, especially if they have a dominant personality. (Read more about this here).
There are many other ways an Empath will interpret the emotional energy of others. They can even pick up others’ emotions and thoughts when not in their presence (read more about this here), especially if they are directed at them.
This trait is a very obvious, but not much talked about, way of an Empath. But nevertheless, heightened empathy is a prominent trait and a very big part of Empath life, which goes hand in hand with emotional intelligence.
Because an Empath knows how it feels to be hurt by another’s words or actions, they will go out of their way not to do it to themselves (but Empaths are still humans. They can still suffer anger or may occasionally lash out when they are in pain).
Empaths often consider how their words or actions may be interpreted and will be careful not to cause offence. They are often so conscious of not intentionally hurting another—either through the written or verbal word (criticism, belittlement, etc.), or through their actions or behaviour—that they are wary of what they share so as not to offend or hurt others… Which has to be said, is near impossible in a world of varying opinions and beliefs.
Again, we are all human and we can still unintentionally do or say something that offends or upsets. But if an Empath realises they have done or said something which hurts another it will eat them up for days, weeks, months and even years.
An Empath experiences incredible pain if they see others (human or animal) suffer. Even seeing suffering from afar can leave the Empath near heartbroken.
They also hate to let others down. For example: they might go out, on a social event, even though they feel ill, overwhelmed or fatigued, so as not to risk hurting anyone’s feelings.
I am by no means suggesting that a sensitive person does not have empathy or emotional intelligence. What I am saying is, in an Empath it is incredibly heightened. So much so, it can take them a long time to understand why others don’t have the same level of consideration.
(If you know that you are an Empath but your empathy has all but gone out of the window, after a lifetime of let-downs, there’s a good chance you could be quite out of balance. You may find the following posts beneficial: here, here, here, and here.)
I was also going to add heightened intuition to the traits that truly define an Empath. But as someone can be intuitively savvy and have an ability to read someone, but not be an Empath, I decided against it. That said, it is still a defining trait, which most Empaths use to navigate through life.
All humans have intuitive senses, just as they also have the ability to sense energy in others and feel an atmosphere. In Empaths, however, these traits are incredibly heightened.
So, there you go. If you were not sure if being an Empath applies to you, I hope this helps you decide. Or if you are an Empath, helps you understand your traits a little better.