An empath is a highly sensitive person who feels and absorbs other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms.
These people have high levels of intuition. They feel what is happening in others in their own bodies.
They are able to sense subtle energy (called shakti or prana in Eastern healing traditions) and actually absorb it from other people.
As a result, empaths feel incredible levels of compassion for others. But it gets exhausting when you feel “too much”.
Being an empath has a lot of challenges.
When overwhelmed with the impact of stressful emotions, empaths may show negative physical symptoms.
It can include panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue, food, sex, and drug binges.
The science behind empaths
A paper published by researchers from the University of Parma states that empaths have a specialized group of brain cells called the mirror neuron system.
These cells are responsible for compassion. They enable everyone to “mirror” emotions and share another person’s emotions.
Judith Orloff MD said that empaths have hyper-responsive mirror neurons.
Because of this, empaths deeply resonate with other people’s feelings.
In contrast, people who have personality disorders (psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists) have “empathy deficient disorders.”
Simply speaking, they don’t feel empathy which is caused by an underactive mirror neuron system.
How do you know you’re an empath?
Empaths must make the most of their sensitivities.
It means accepting what they truly are rather than trying to be someone they’re not.
Here are 8 traits empathic people share:
1. Empaths are highly sensitive.
Because they feel the emotions around them, empaths are naturally good listeners.
They are nurturers who will be there for you through thick and thin,
However, they are also easily hurt. Most often, empaths are told that they are “too sensitive” and need to “toughen up.”
2. Empaths absorb other people’s emotions.
Because of their hypersensitive mirror neurons, empaths feel the world around them.
They are highly attuned to other people’s moods — whether it’s good or bad.
Sadly, when they are exposed to negative emotions, they get exhausted from “feeling too much”.
However, if they are around positive emotions like peace and love, they flourish.
3. Most empaths are introverted.
Because they feel people’s emotions, empaths become overwhelmed in crowds.
This often results in introversion. They prefer one-to-one contact or small groups.
Sometimes, empaths limit how much time they spend in a crowd or at a party.
4. Empaths are highly intuitive.
Empaths have a high level of intuition.
If there’s one person who needs to “listen to what your gut tells you”, it’s an empath.
5. Empaths need alone time.
Think of them as an emotional sponge.
They absorb the emotions that people project. This is why being around people can be draining.
As a result, they periodically need time alone to recharge.
6. Intimate relationships are sometimes overwhelming
Sad to say, too much togetherness can be difficult for an empath.
Due to this, they are either afraid of relationships or lost their identity if they are in one.
7. Empaths are in danger of energy vampires.
Energy vampires refer to people who are on the far end of the empathy spectrum.
They are the narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths and the like.
Because of the empath’s sensitivity, they become easy targets for energy vampires.
There is a danger that empaths will believe they’re unworthy and unlovable due to emotional trauma from these people.
8. Empaths have huge hearts but sometimes give too much.
Empaths feel other people’s pain. Then they try to make them feel better to relieve the pain of others.
It’s normal to want to reach out to these “hurt” people and ease their pain.
But empaths do more than that.
They absorb the burden, helplessness, and pain.
This will result in feeling drained or upset when they felt fine before.
If you are an empath, it is important to protect your sensitivities.
Set your boundaries against draining people, practice meditation to calm and recharge yourself in a quiet environment.
Because you have to take care of yourself, above all else.