Being an empathetic person can be a blessing and a curse.
Do you ever feel like you are too easily influenced by others emotions?
When your partner comes home in a bad mood, you feel put off and on edge the rest of the night?
Or the tantrums of your kids make you inordinately upset and irritable?
If so, I understand how frustrating it can be. I have been dealing with this for as long as I can remember. I’ve had to limit interactions with toxic people and get more self care built into my daily schedule.
Despite all that, I still wonder sometimes, Why do I feel so much?
In this post, I’m going to answer the question, “What’s an empath?” I’m also going to share some signs that this might be what’s going on with you, and how you can cope with being a highly sensitive person in a chaotic world.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
What’s an empath?
What does it actually mean to be an empath? According to Healthline, Dr Judith Orloff (author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People) suggests:
Empaths lack the filters most people use to protect themselves from excessive stimulation and can’t help but take in surrounding emotions and energies, whether they’re good, bad, or something in between.“15 Signs You Might Be An Empath,” Healthline
When you have been around a lot of people, or just around the same person for a long period of time, you find yourself feeling what they’re feeling.
Like in the example I listed above, you might be in a sudden bad mood when you’re partner comes home for work in a bad mood.
In my case, I’m particularly sensitive around my 3 year old. When she’s upset a lot or constantly throwing tantrums, it affects me on an emotional level.
Keep reading to find out 15 signs you might be an empath like me.
“Am I an empath?” Here are 15 things to look out for
Are you unsure about whether or not this applies to you? The Healthline article above shares 15 really helpful clues about whether or not you might be an empath. Check them out and let me know which ones resonate with you the most in the comments!
You feel a lot of empathy for others.
This might be something you can especially relate to now during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in the aftermath of Pride Month.
Is it easy for you to sense what others are feeling when they are struggling? That is called empathy, and it’s easier for some people to feel than it is for others.
Closeness and intimacy are challenging.
You get so overwhelmed by physical proximity that it can make intimacy in relationships a challenging thing.
It doesn’t at all reflect on how much you love the other person. You just have moments where the thought of being close to anyone is too much to bear.
You have good intuition.
Are you a naturally intuitive person?
Some people call this a sixth sense, and some call it gut feelings. Whatever the case, you find it easy to sense things that are still to happen. You might also be good at reading people and be a good judge of character.
Being in nature is relaxing.
Do long walks soothe you? Do you find it comforting to walk barefoot in the grass surrounded by nature?
Mother Earth is a very powerful entity, and many empaths turn to the great outdoors when they are burdened by over-stimulation. You sometimes hear of people practicing “grounding,” or “earthing” when they feel physically or emotionally unwell.
You don’t like crowds.
This is one that is very true for me. I feel uncomfortable at concerts, movie theaters, bars, and other large public places. It’s difficult for me to socialize and enjoy myself because being in crowds is so emotionally overwhelming.
Do you get panicky in crowds? You might be an empath!
Not caring is not in your vocabulary.
When people say, “Try not to care so much,” you can’t even process that. Your mind and heart are racing a million miles a minute with different feelings.
You’re very sensitive to criticism, and you take things very personally.
People tend to tell you their problems.
Do you find that you’re a magnet for people who want to complain? Are you the person in your friends group that acts as a therapist for everyone else?
This is a normal byproduct of being an empath. Other emotional people are drawn to you and are compelled to share their feelings.
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You have a high sensitivity to sounds, smells, or sensations.
I definitely experience auditory sensitivity. Especially in a house with a dog, a cat, a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and an extroverted husband. Sometimes, I have to take a deep breath, and say, “Whoa whoa whoa, one at a time.”
I also am extremely “touched out” by the end of the day. My kids are in a very snuggly phase, and while it’s so lovely to cuddle, when bed time rolls around I am very glad for some space.
You need time to recharge.
The past few months of being mainly social distancing, it’s been more necessary than ever for me to have time to myself at night. After a long day with the kids, I just need some time to be. I sit by myself in a quiet room and either watch TV, read, or enjoy the peace of my own thoughts.
You don’t like conflict.
Do the smallest arguments make you feel yucky and like you need a lot of time to recover?
Many times this is because you are having a hard time not only processing your feelings about the conflict, but taking on the different emotions of the person you are arguing with.
You often feel like you don’t fit in.
It’s hard to feel like you belong when your emotions feel larger than life and hard to process. It can be really hard to socialize when you’re spending the entire time warding yourself from the negative emotions of those around you.
You tend to isolate.
For this reason, many empaths tend to isolate themselves, and shy away from excess social time. It’s easier to be alone where you have less trouble controlling the emotional energy in the room. That’s when I feel the most at peace, when I can just be alone in a quiet room with nothing but my own thoughts.
You have a hard time setting boundaries.
When you are flooded with these different emotions, it can be really hard to shield yourself and set appropriate boundaries. Many empaths are natural people pleasers and helpers and want to do what they can to help others when they are emotionally troubled. But this can be problematic and lead to more emotional issues for the empath.
You see the world in unique ways.
You look around and see possibilities. Your mind is wide open to the emotions and experiences of others. This helps you have a kinder, more compassionate worldview that’s not limited by selfish beliefs.
You sometimes find it tough to cope with sensory and emotional overload.
This is me in a nutshell. By the end of the day, I need to isolate myself for some amount of time because all of the chatter and touching and drama from the day has me completely overwhelmed.
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The hard parts about being an empath
There are some hard parts of being this way, as you can imagine from the character traits listed above. Here are 7 that you might be able to relate to:
- It’s hard to be close to people
- You are super sensitive
- You get overwhelmed easily
- It can be hard to have fun at parties
- You need more self care than the average person
- You find yourself tired often
- The news feels like fresh trauma everyday
Now, the benefits
As hard as it is to be an empath, there are also so many wonderful things about it! Keep these in mind when you’re having a hard day.
- You are likely very kind
- It’s easy for you to be understanding of other’s needs
- You are a visionary and a lover of creative solutions
- You are desperate to change the world
Be proud of who you are. Embrace these traits that make you such an incredible person.
Coping with being an empath in an emotional world
Despite the challenges that being an empath can bring, there are ways you can cope without losing your sparkle. (Yes, I’m convinced empaths are amazing sparkling unicorns!) Try these out and see what works for you.
1- Daily self care
It is critical for anyone with mental health issues to get self care on a daily basis. It’s not just for wine chugging soccer moms. Self care is for everyone, and it really works.Set a reminder on your phone to get at least 15 minutes of quality self care each day. It can be something as simple as writing in a journal, or going for a walk. share on twitter
The important thing is that the activity is something specific to you and your emotional health journey.
If you need help, download this free PDF for some simple self care ideas you can practice on a daily basis.
2- Shielding techniques
This is something I do when the kids get overwhelming and I’ve hit sensory overload. It’s pretty simple and can be done anywhere with no supplies.
Just close your eyes and picture a warm field of light enveloping you and protecting you. You can imagine the light as whatever color soothes you the most.
Start at your toes, and let the light slow work its way up to the top of your head. As it does, tell yourself, “This chaos is not mine. It belongs to them, and I do not need to be affected.”
3- Shut off the news
This.I know that it's good to stay updated on the things going on in the world, but for an empath watching the news can be tantamount to running through a battlefield with only a rubber chicken for a weapon. Share on twitter
Just shut it off. It’s really important for your emotional health to unplug on a regular basis.
If you need some extra help unwinding after an overstimulating day, try a quick guided meditation. You can find a ton of free ones on Youtube. Plus they tell you what to do if you are terrible at meditating like I am.
Check this one out tonight for a quick dose of self care:
Don’t let your empathy be a source of stress
Being an empath can be hard at times. I know that from personal experience. It’s so incredibly draining, and it’s confusing trying to process the myriad emotions you feel.
There are some days where if one more person touches me, I feel like I’m going to scream into a pillow.
Or if my kids say, “Mom look at this!” again I will totally lose it.
Remember: That’s okay. I see you, and your feelings are valid. All feelings are valid in the moment that we’re feeling them.Being an empath is not a character flaw. It is who you were made to be, by whatever divine force glued together your particular genetic code. And you were made to shine. Share on twitter
Try your hardest to shield yourself from the emotions of others. Use the tips I gave you above and learn to love your caring nature. People like you are going to change the world for the better.