9 signs you’re a genuine empath, according to psychology

Are you highly sensitive to the emotions and energy of others?

Do you have an innate ability to pick up on subtle cues that others might not notice?

Are you the go-to for advice and a pick-me-up?

If you’ve answered yes, the people in your life probably see you as an empath.

But are you really one?

These signs definitely point to that…

And for most people, that’s enough.

If you’re reading this, you’re not like most people, though. Knowing if you’re genuinely an empath according to psychology is what you’re interested in. 

So here’s the deal:

Psychologists don’t specifically label people who are attuned to others’ feelings as empaths. But they do acknowledge and study empathic abilities. 

These are divided into two categories: cognitive and emotional empathy. 

If you’re a true empath, you’ll have traits from both. 

Ready to find out?

First off…

1) You understand other people’s motivations.

If you truly get what makes people tick, you probably have an exceptional ability to understand underlying intentions and motivations. 

According to psychology, this is a sign of cognitive empathy. 

You see, most people look at what others do and never give it a second thought. But empaths grasp why they do it. 

They pick up on subtle cues, read between the lines, and understand the unwritten stories behind someone’s actions. 

Here’s an example:

Let’s say one friend shares exciting news with the group that calls for celebration. 

If you’re a genuine empath, you won’t just celebrate with them – you’ll understand the joy behind it. 

You’ll know why your friend worked so hard to achieve what they did. And it’ll be amazing to see them happy. 

Being able to dive into the depths of someone’s mind makes you a great person to be around

It also helps you navigate the complexities of human behavior like a pro and is the reason why…

2) You can predict how others will behave. 

Ever find yourself thinking, “I bet they’re going to do this next,” and end up being right more often than not?

Well, psychology suggests that people with this incredible ability to predict behavior are cognitive empaths. 

Having a deeper understanding of other people gives you insight into their thought processes. 

Sure, some people are simply predictable. 

But if you’re a genuine empath, you’ll be able to predict when they’ll deviate from their regular behavior, too. 

This ability is about more than just understanding human patterns. It’s about seeing the unspoken reasons that lead to what someone says or does.  

3) You have a genuine interest in diverse perspectives. 

If you’re genuinely an empath, you’ll be curious about different perspectives and be willing to engage with ideas that challenge your own beliefs. 

This means that while you stand firmly behind your opinions and thoughts, you’ll enjoy understanding where other people come from. 

Genuine empaths aren’t afraid to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their angle. 

Whether it’s a friend who grew up totally different from you or a colleague with unique ideas that challenge how the company’s been doing things for years….

You’ll want to know more. You’ll want to get where they’re coming from. 

True empaths do more than tolerate diversity – they embrace what makes people unique.  

So, if you find yourself saying, “I never thought about it that way. Tell me more,” and you’re genuinely curious about what the person has to say, you might really be a cognitive empath. 

If you do any of the following, you’re also an emotional empath:

4) You absorb energy.

True emotional empaths do more than simply feel the vibe – they literally absorb the emotional atmosphere of a room or group of people. 

If you’re one, it’ll often feel like external energy seeps into you.


Let me explain:

Imagine a room where everyone is excited and happy. 

Most people would walk into it and see that everyone is smiling. They’ll hear laughter and get the idea that whatever’s going on in that room is good. 

But, it would make little difference to their mood. If they’re a neutral person, they might get a little happier, but that’s it. 

A genuine empath has a different experience. 

If you’re one, you’ll become part of the emotions in the room. You’ll absorb that energy, understanding where it’s coming from and why. 

The joy others experience will feel like your own. 

The same is true if you’re in a space where people are tense or upset. 

Genuine emotional empaths have an extra layer of receptivity. And while it will make you deeply attuned to the emotional vibe of others, it could also be the reason…

5) You experience physical sensations in response to people’s emotions. 

cruel ways a narcissist will play with your emotions 1 9 signs you're a genuine empath, according to psychology

Ever notice that your body seems to react to other people’s emotions in a way that goes beyond feelings in your heart and mind? 

It might be a heaviness in your chest when someone is sad. Or an unexplained lightness when someone else is happy. You might even feel a sudden tingling sensation when your friend shares exciting news. 

Thought this was common?

It’s not!

Only people with genuine empathetic abilities experience physical responses to emotions. 

6) You help others heal emotionally.

Opening up about feelings isn’t easy for everyone. Most people have been hurt before or believe no one will truly understand what they’re going through. 

So, if people tend to run to you with their problems, it means you’re creating a safe space for them. 

Somehow, your presence and understanding nature make a difference. The people in your life might feel relieved just by talking to you about what’s on their minds. 

It’s not about being a trained therapist or having all the answers. 

If you’re a true emotional empath, you’ll just have the ability to listen, understand, and offer support in a way that can be incredibly healing. 

And it’s not luck.

The reason why you’re probably able to do this is because…

7) Your emotions synchronize with those of others. 

Genuine emotional empaths experience a deep emotional connection with others. It goes beyond knowing what they feel.

Emotional synchrony allows them to read emotional signals and respond in a way that provides the best outcome.  It’s like they lose their sense of self momentarily and become one with the person they’re helping. 

This strong emotional connection is what helps empaths truly understand what the other person is experiencing, allowing them to give advice as though they’re helping themselves. 

So, if you notice that your feelings often mirror the emotions of the group or person you’re with, it’s a sign that you’re an emotional empath. 

8) Your dreams are influenced by the emotions of others. 

Ever met someone going through a tough time and had a dream that felt somber that same night?

Or spent the day with a friend who was really happy and end up dreaming of scenes that echo those emotions? 

According to psychology, being a real empath doesn’t stop when you close your eyes – it extends into the dream realms. 

You see, while most people simply rush through everyday moments, empaths truly experience them. And the emotions of people they interact with leave subconscious imprints.

9) You have an instinctive desire to help. 

Another major sign that you’re a genuine emotional empath is a strong pull to help others, even when it’s something you didn’t plan on doing.

You might be drawn to a particular profession or hobby that involves supporting and assisting people in need…

It could be that you constantly find yourself in the middle of situations where you’re lending a hand or listening ear…

This isn’t just about being a kind person who likes to help. It’s more about having a built-in response to the needs of others. 

Your heart is wired for compassion, and you have an innate desire to make someone’s life better. 

And get this: you’ll often give people or situations a pass. You know, let others help them.

Because if you’re the best person for a specific job, your gut will tell you. And then you won’t think twice before being all in. 

This pull towards a need is also what makes someone a genuine emotional empath vs. simply helping others because you want to do good deeds. 

Empaths experience feelings they can’t escape until they help. More often than not, to a point where it’s draining. 

Being a genuine empath can feel overwhelming. If you’re one, you’ll be deeply affected by the stress or struggles of others, and your desire to help can sometimes result in difficulty setting boundaries. 

But, despite these challenges, you’ll also find fulfillment in the deep connections you form and the support you give. 

Picture of Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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