What is an empath?
An empath is someone who absorbs the energy of the people around them. This is different than just being sensitive, as the empath tends to unnecessarily carry the worries and pains of the people around them, rather than just be aware of them. Some empathic people will physically feel the pain of others, such as literally feeling another’s headache. If a person with this trait doesn’t have a solid understanding of him/herself and how to work with that energy, he or she can be susceptible to anxiety, depression, and burnout. This can further take a toll on the body, resulting in digestive issues, as well as chronic fatigue and back pain. However, just by being aware, this person can begin to use this as a gift, which is what it is. Here are some of the traits of an empath, see if you can relate:
1. Public places can be overwhelming. Because these people pick up the energy around them, places like shopping malls, grocery stores, and stadiums can be highly agitating.
2. Others want to offload their problems on them. Because their presence is so welcoming, people feel safe unloading around them. This is where empaths feel like they are a dumping ground for others.
3. Highly intuitive. These individuals experience the world through their intuition, so it’s important for them to listen to their gut feelings about people. They will also just “know” things – things that they logically shouldn’t know, but just do.
4. Addictive personality. Sadly, empaths who don’t understand their gift will be drawn to alcohol, drugs, or any myriad of addictions, in a futile attempt to “protect” themselves from the onslaught of emotions that they feel from others.
5. Weight issues. Empaths are prone to carrying extra weight, no matter how much they exercise or how much they diet. It’s another means to protect their own energy – in this case by subconsciously “cushioning” themselves from the “blows” coming at them.
6. The need for solitude. This can sometimes be insatiable, as these sensitive souls need much time alone in order to get a feel for their own energy. It’s also how they unwind and recharge. Remember that crowds are draining to them, and if they don’t take care to take time out, burnout and fatigue will result.
7. Love of nature. Empaths love and need to be outdoors, as the slower rhythyms of nature are soothing and healing to the anxious soul. This is a must for them.
8. Excellent listeners. They don’t talk a lot about themselves, unless it is to someone they really trust. They are more apt to listen, which is a healing trait in and of itself to those around them.
9. Moody. They can appear shy, aloof, and experience mood swings. If they’ve taken on too much from others they can even be anti-social and miserable. They will have a hard time disguising this, and this is especially hard if they have a job where they must put on a happy face. Empaths can’t cover up what they feel.
10. Minimalist. Empaths like their space clutter-free, and can have a hard time concentrating or relaxing amidst clutter.
These really are just a few traits, as empaths also tend to avoid antiques, meat, and many other things that carry another’s energy. If you realize while reading this that the above is describing you, probably the hardest thing you’ve had to deal with is that you think all these things you feel are you, and all the negative feelings within are yours. They aren’t. This is where you can take heart, as you can take a deep breath and let all these things go. Put them down, they are not yours. Now that you know this, you can use this gift as it was intended – as a healing gift to others. It’s happening without your ever knowing it. Your very presence is healing to those around you, which is an empowering truth for you.
If you feel that you are en empath, know that all the above doesn’t have to define you. By knowing this is a gift, you can stop the negativity you’ve been experiencing, and enjoy it for the good it does. Some helpful habits to implement into your daily life: time alone, meditation, a creative outlet (art, dance, crafts, projects, etc), being outdoors, and a special someone to whom you can express yourself freely. Also, find a place where you can use your nurturing gift: teaching, volunteering at a shelter, working with animals or mentoring children or teens. An empath’s true calling no matter what their chosen profession is to heal those who are hurting. And just your being aware of this is healing to you as well. Just make sure any time you are feeling overwhelmed that you mentally set everyone down. This will help you regain your own sense of self and establish the boundary of not carrying everyone’s stuff.
One final note: being an empath and being empathetic are two different things. An empathetic person relates to another because they themselves have felt similar emotions from a similar situation. The empath unintentionally takes on the emotions of another. The more an empath understands and works with this gift, the more pronounced it becomes, even to the point of perceiving others’ thoughts. But one does not become an empath – one either is or isn’t. If you are reading this and sure you are NOT an empath, you may recognize some of these traits in a loved one or a dear friend. This awareness can help you support them with their gift, and they will love you for it.
Now that I’ve been reminded of what I need, I’m going to go take a walk. By myself.