What Is An Empath and How Do You Know If You Are One?

I first realized I was an empath a few years ago. I was living with my significant other, his brother, and his brother’s girlfriend. I’ve always been someone who’s extremely sensitive to other people’s energy. I’d walk into a room and be overwhelmed by all the different energy I was picking up on. I can remember situations where I’d be talking to someone and I could feel their feelings as if I was going through whatever they were dealing with. Sometimes it’d be too much to take in and I’d feel sick to my stomach.

Living with my boyfriend and his family was draining. There was a constant stream of negativity flowing throughout the apartment. My boyfriend started noticing the shift within me so I expressed to him how I felt. This led to him telling me he believes I’m an empath. I started doing more research on it and realized it described exactly how I felt throughout the years.

Being an empath and living with others can be difficult. I moved back home a few months ago and at the time, my brother was still living here. My brother and I have no relationship and we haven’t spoken in years. There’s too much damage that has been done between us and I don’t care to repair the relationship.

Because of this, I hated living in a house with him. We walk right by each other pretending the other doesn’t exist. Over the last few months, there have been moments where I’ve picked up on his energy to the point where I again started feeling sick to my stomach. I brought this up to my therapist and she reiterated that she believes I’m an empath.

What Exactly Is An Empath?

You’re likely familiar with the term empathy which is the ability to understand the feelings someone else is experiencing.

Being an empath means you literally feel or take on other people’s feelings.

It’s like you’re a sponge, soaking up everything around you.

This goes for feeling both sad and happy. When you’re an empath, another person’s pain and happiness become yours. 

Some empaths, myself included, struggle with setting boundaries around absorbing other people’s feelings.

For me, I can’t turn it off. I haven’t yet figured out how to set boundaries or truly protect my energy.

There are times I can’t tell the difference between my own feelings and someone else’s.

If you’re wondering if you’re an empath, here are 10 signs that suggest you might be one. 

Signs You’re An Empath

You’re Extremely Sensitive

Empaths are highly sensitive people. We feel everything more intensely than the average person. A lot of the time empaths struggle with being in crowded places because we absorb both positive and negative energy. This makes us feel overly stimulated and can make us feel sick.

Empaths can also be sensitive to smells, sounds, and certain situations. 

Along with this, we’re also extremely sensitive to the things people say and do to us. If someone hurts our feelings, our reaction might seem like an overreaction to some, but for us empaths, we feel things more deeply.

You Struggle with Setting Boundaries

As I previously mentioned, it can be difficult for empaths to set boundaries. It’s hard for us to turn off our abilities even when our energy is drained.

We constantly feel the need to help and be there for others because of our caring hearts.

Boundaries are essential because they keep you from being negatively impacted by people’s emotions. 

If you can’t differentiate between your feelings and someone else’s, it’s time to set healthy boundaries. 

You’re Highly Intuitive

Most of us have heard of a woman’s intuition and how powerful it is. We get a strong feeling in our gut when something seems off and we’re usually right.

Empaths are highly intuitive. In a way, we have a deep sense of knowing. Our intuition speaks to us when something isn’t right.

You Care Deeply For Others

Empaths feel with others. We absorb other people’s feelings and usually want to help them because it’s difficult watching them suffer.

It’s hard for us not to care about something or someone.

You’re A Great Listener

Empaths possess the ability to really tune in when others are speaking. They make others feel understood. Because of this, people feel comfortable confiding in empaths when they have a problem.

You Feel Other People’s Emotions

As highly sensitive individuals, empaths feel other’s feelings. As I said before, there have been times where I took in someone else’s feelings and their energy, feeling them as though they were my own.

Empaths take their shoes off and step into the shoes of the other person.

This goes back to having self-awareness and needing to set clear boundaries so that we don’t become overwhelmed. 

You’re Sensitive to Things Like TV Shows, Movies, and the News

Watching the news is very depressing for me so I hardly tune in to it. It’s easy for me to be consumed by all the violence and cruelty happening around me. 

The same goes for TV shows and movies. Watching scenes with heavy violence or any type of abuse can be too much for empaths sometimes.

It can leave us feeling ill or make us extremely emotional.

You Love Nature and Animals

Empaths often feel drawn to nature because of the many healing benefits. Because of its calming effects, it feels like a safe space. Empaths also retreat to nature to reconnect after experiencing overstimulation.

As for animals, empaths enjoy giving and receiving love from animals.

You Need Time to Recharge

If you’re an empath, rest is essential.

Empaths can feel drained most days so we need time alone to recharge. This doesn’t mean empaths aren’t sociable, it means we need to be able to escape the busyness surrounding us.

For us, it’s about finding balance.

You Don’t Like Conflict

Most empaths do their best to avoid conflict, regardless of who it’s with. They’ll seek to find a peaceful solution to what’s happening or might even shut down during an argument or fight if it’s causing too much distress.

Conflict can be hard for empaths to cope with. 

Being An Empath

When it comes to being an empath, finding balance is important as you navigate life. I’m still learning how to set boundaries and protect myself and my energy. 

Being an empath definitely has both pros and cons. I have the ability to connect with people on a deeper level and it makes my relationships more meaningful. That being said, it’s also draining and I’m learning to be more cautious of who and what I give my energy to.

Photo by Joren Aranas on Unsplash

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