Have you ever been told you’re too sensitive or overly emotional?
Do you ever feel like you understand people on a deeper level more than anyone else does?
If you answered at least one “yes,” you could be an empathetic individual – someone who has a solid ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
Contrary to popular belief, empathy is not always about being teary-eyed at every sad news story or becoming a shoulder to cry on for everyone.
There’s more to it, and I will share some of them with you.
Here are 20 traits of empathetic individuals that can be overlooked by others:
1) They feel other people’s emotions, not just understand them
The most common misconception about empathetic people is that they understand how others feel.
But there’s more to it:
Empathetic individuals actually feel what others are feeling. When someone around them is excited, they share the happiness.
When someone around them is upset, the empath can’t help but feel their pain.
Like a sponge, they soak up the emotions of people around them. Whether it’s happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, resentment, fear, or frustration – I guarantee you, they feel it.
This is why some view being empathetic as a blessing, while some see it as a curse.
2) They’re often told they are “too sensitive”
In terms of feelings, you will find that empathetic people are often labeled as overly sensitive.
But here’s what people don’t understand:
Empathetic individuals feel emotions on a deeper level compared to others.
If you’re an empath and have been mistakenly tagged as insensitive, keep this in mind:
Your sensitivity is not a flaw. In fact, it’s a gift. It’s all about how you perceive it – like the glass half or glass full sort of thing.
3) They sense subtle emotional shifts
A skill unique to empathic individuals is their ability to sense even the slightest change in someone’s mood.
They’re the type of people who notice subtle hints that most people will otherwise miss.
You can fool most friends that you’re happy with your career change. But not your empath friend. Because your empathetic friend just noticed the slight fade in your smile the moment you talked about your new job.
You can try, but it’s hard to fool an empathetic individual.
4) They’re often overwhelmed by large crowds
No, they’re not snobs and are not necessarily introverts or anti-socials either.
There’s a good reason why empathetic individuals avoid crowds:
It overwhelms them!
It’s because empathetic people quickly pick up on the emotions and energies of those around them.
Imagine yourself feeling 100 different emotions all at the same time.
It’s emotion and energy overload! I’m exhausted just thinking about it – what more the empath, right?
5) They struggle with boundaries
Apart from being bombarded with various emotions, empaths also have trouble setting boundaries.
What does this mean?
Because they easily feel the pain of others, they tend to go out of their way to help alleviate it – sometimes at the expense of their own well-being.
6) They often feel exhausted
Whether they’re strict with their boundaries or not, emotional fatigue is a common experience for empathetic individuals.
Like we said earlier, feeling others’ emotions can be really tiring. It gets even more emotionally draining thanks to empaths spending the day being there for others.
7) They express emotions through creativity
We all have our different ways of coping with emotional stress. The empath version of this is creativity.
Whether it’s painting, writing, music, crafting, dance or any other art form, expressing their creativity is the empathetic individual’s way of emotional release.
8) They’re often affected by art, music, or literature
An easy-to-spot but often overlooked trait of an empathetic individual is their emotional response to various art forms.
Here’s what I mean:
They’re the type who are easily moved to tears by a touching movie, a tragic novel, or a melancholic song.
No, they’re not being too dramatic.
It’s just that they can sense and resonate with the emotions conveyed by these art forms, making the experience intensely personal and emotional for them.
9) Animals and babies are drawn to them
Have you ever noticed how babies seem to calm down in the presence of specific individuals other than their immediate family? Chances are, these calming individuals are empaths.
Babies seem to sense the genuineness of empathetic individuals, making them feel safe – hence, they stop crying.
And it doesn’t stop there:
Empathetic people also attract other non-verbal beings, such as animals.
Animals are known for their sensitivity to energy and intention. They can perceive the sincerity and kindness in an empathetic person’s spirit.
Because of this, empaths often have a tight bond with animals – much like Dr Dolittle.
10) They have a calming presence
They’re excellent at calming babies, but they can make young kids and adults often feel calm and understood in their presence, too.
A person’s empathetic nature and genuine understanding instantly create a soothing environment – one that makes people feel more relaxed.
You know you’re in an empath’s presence when you feel a sense of tranquillity around them.
11) They can’t handle inauthentic people
As much as animals and babies are drawn to genuine empathy, empathetic individuals cannot stand insincerity, hidden intentions, and fake emotions.
Empathetic individuals want genuine connections – anything less than that is just a no-no for them.
12) They’re an excellent judge of character
On that note, let’s talk about empathic individuals being one of the best judges of character.
They can sense people’s true intentions and emotions. No matter how hard they try, people can’t hide their true selves from an empathic individual.
Empaths are very perceptive and can see beyond the masks people wear.
So think twice about deceiving an empathetic individual.
You’ve been warned:
They can suss you out in a heartbeat.
13) They have a strong moral compass
The empathetic person’s sense of right and wrong is as strong as their utter dislike for fake smiles, deception and malicious intentions.
Because they value fairness and have strong justice principles, the empaths are usually the first to stand up against any form of injustice.
14) They find solace in nature
You know they’re an empath when:
- The serene beauty of nature helps them recharge and reset.
- They find that being outdoors, whether walking through a forest or just sitting in a park, can provide their empathetic soul its much-needed respite.
They’re often comforting others, but the undeniable reality is:
Empaths need comfort too.
15) They’re more sensitive to stimulants and medications
An empathetic individual’s physical body often mirrors their emotional sensitivity.
Just as they’re sensitive to emotions, they might also be sensitive to physical things.
What does this mean?
Whether it’s caffeine, alcohol, or medications, they may find that these substances have a stronger effect on them than it does others.
No one really knows why this happens, but there are certainly a lot of empaths out there who can attest to this.
16) They can sense the energy in a room
Empathetic individuals are good at picking up the mood of a particular space.
They’re experts at sensing the general mood in a room as soon as they enter it.
Whether it’s excitement at an engagement party or tension in a board meeting room, it doesn’t take much for the empath to feel this – even if everyone is in their best poker faces.
17) They’re the peacemaker in the group
When there’s conflict, it’s the empathetic individual that’s usually the first to be called into the room.
Empathetic people understand every individual’s point of view and emotion. Because of this, by default, they’re the best person to bring peace and promote understanding between group members whenever conflict arises.
Stepping into the role of peacemaker is second nature to an empath.
18) They’re natural at team-building
Another innate nature of an empath is their knack for team building.
Let’s look into it:
Empathetic individuals can sense each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to encourage a balance where everyone can contribute effectively.
19) They can’t stand watching violence or cruelty
Whether it’s a real life scenario or something reported in the news, or depicted in movies, empathetic individuals will not last more than a few seconds watching anything that has to do with violence.
Because they absorb pain and fear, seeing cruelty or violence can be too much for the empathetic person’s soul to bear. This unpleasant feeling can also manifest physically – making the empath gag and retch.
20) They’re patient listeners
Empathetic people are the epitome of active listening.
Let me tell you why:
They offer a safe space for people to express their feelings without fear of judgment or interruption.
They don’t just hear words. They understand and absorb their meaning – a valuable trait that makes people feel seen, heard, and validated.
Empathic individuals are all around us
Empaths are everywhere.
Hopefully, this list of 20 often overlooked traits will help you spot them better and clear any misconceptions about them.
“Many people confuse empaths for weak people who are nothing but scared. The opposite is true. When surrounded by positive energy, they flourish into lovely creatures that are so much fun to hang around.”
– Katya Ki