Empath Traits: 13 Signs You're an Empath

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If you hear “empath” and think, Oh, you can read minds? you actually wouldn’t be too far off. While the trait isn’t exactly cinematic ESP, empaths are deeply attuned to what people around them are feeling. But before you declare yourself the Phoebe Halliwell of your friend group, here are 13 signs you’re an empath according to Judith Orloff M.D.'s The Empath's Survival Guide

So, what is an empath?

According to Psychology Today, an empath is someone who can quite literally feel what others are feeling, both emotionally and physically, and experience those sensations as if they were their own, often without needing to utter a word. The most sensitive of empaths can even experience panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue or binge eat when overwhelmed with emotion.

13 Signs You’re an Empath

1. You’ve been told you’re moody

Probably because…you are. One of the key characteristics of empaths is that they’re emotional sponges, so they tend to pick up on everyone else’s vibes. So, while you are an emotional being on your own, you may be moody because you’re picking up on everyone’s vibes too.

2. You’ve been known as the “peacemaker” among your friends and family

Bad energy is especially draining for you, because that means tension within your circle, so you will do what you can to keep the peace. And since you’re in tune with others’ emotions, you’re probably a pretty good mediator. You can deliver the facts without judgment, and you can certainly get things back on track should emotions run too high.

3. You’re not one for big, loud or busy public spaces

If you find places like malls or theme parks strangely exhausting, it might because you don’t know how to block all those mall rats’ emotions from seeping into your psyche. Odds are, you also need a lot of down time to center yourself and recoup after spending time in crowded places.

4. You feel physically ill when someone yells at or gets angry with you

Because you’re highly sensitive, the in-your-face intensity might just be too much. You’re probably more comfortable ironing things out over a nice cup of tea and really getting to the root of the issue as opposed to partaking in a screaming match.

5. You find watching violence or cruelty on TV unbearable

If, no matter how much you’ve tried, you could never get behind the whole Criminal Minds or true crime wave because you just found it too upsetting. and if Sarah McLachlan’s gotten you to tear up and donate, yeah, you miiiiight be an empath.

6. People feel inclined to offload their problems onto you

Empaths are known to be great, compassionate listeners. Pair that with their ability for soaking up others’ feelings and their problem with saying “no” and you have friends constantly calling you with any issue big or small.

7. You have very strong intuition

That sixth sense is a real thing, and you just kinda know things without being told. So when you make decisions, you lead with your gut because every time you’ve ignored it, you wished you hadn’t.

8. You feel super weird around “fake” people

Again, because you can kind of sense things before you can put them into words, being around “fake” and inauthentic people can make you feel like they’re hiding something, which in turn, makes you uncomfortable.

9. You’re drawn to holistic methods of healing

Reiki? Acupuncture? Tapping? You’re game. Could be because you feel a metaphysical presence that you’re trying to unpack and understand.

10. You’ve felt a deep connection to nature and animals

There’s a reason that Sara McLachlan’s commercial makes you feel some type of way.  Many empaths relay that being outdoors or with animals is remarkably grounding—especially because there’s an absence of negative energy from toxic friends or energy vampires. 

11. You need your alone time

Whether it’s in nature or cozying up in bed with some mindless TV—hello reruns of Schitt’s Creek, Friends and Seinfeld—you definitely need to get away from it all in order to recharge and feel like yourself again. 

12. You feel like you don’t fit in

Even though you’re always so full of emotions, explaining why certain things impact you so intensely can prove to difficult, especially when you’re doing so to people who don’t understand what an empath is. Additionally, fitting in can be hard simply because you don’t find joy in doing the same things that everyone else does. Your idea of a great night might be spending time in a quiet library and reading, while other people want to go to high-energy events such as concerts, sports games and the like.

13. You struggle to set boundaries

Though the weight of being an emotional touchstone for your loved ones can feel overwhelming, setting boundaries and being firm can be difficult for empaths. As we stated before, these beings have a hard time saying “no” and when they do, they’re often riddled with feelings of guilt.

If you still need more information, make sure you talk to a mental health professional. 

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