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So many empaths don’t even know they are empathic. An empath is a person who senses or feels the emotions or sensations of others by experiencing them in their own body. They don't just know what another person is feeling, they can feel the sensations inside their own skin, as though they were their own.
It took me until I was almost 30 to come to realize that I was one. Some time later I discovered there was a word for people built like me: empath. By then I was well on my way to learning how to manage my perception and ability. I didn’t want to walk around downloading every emotion or thought I came across– no sane person does! So I learned how to create natural boundaries for myself so that I could control my perception, instead of it controlling me.
But more than that, I wanted to access to ME. I wanted to know WHO I WAS. When you go about your whole life having other people’s experience filter through your own skin, it brings a lot into question when you discover that. One of my first thoughts upon realizing I was built this way was, “Who am I then? If I’ve gone about my whole life having other people’s experiences move through my own body, what is really me? What thoughts or feelings have actually been my own?” It took me a while to get a strong grasp on who I was without everyone else’s input. And a bit longer to learn to tell the difference between a sensation that belonged to me and something that originated elsewhere.
Today, years later, I’ve founded something called Empath Intuition University. It’s a four or six month program (alternately) that I offer twice per year where I teach other empaths the very same techniques that I mastered for myself all those years ago, and more. And as one student recently exclaimed, “This is life changing stuff!” For an empath, it is. My students go from feeling completely overwhelmed and not in control of their empathic ability and struggling to deal with the large amounts of emotion they experience, to being able to manage their abilities effortlessly and to understanding how their empathic ability can help them serve and uplift this world.
It’s one thing to hear a definition of the word empath or empathic, it’s another to recognize yourself as one. So in an effort to shed some light for all those empaths out there– whether you already know you are one and just experience a large sigh of relief at reading this list, or whether you are just beginning to suspect that you are– if you are empathic this list will sing to you.
1. You have a very clear sense of another person’s emotional state and energy even without ever having spoken to the person at all. If you are in conversation with someone and that other person is crying or laughing, you can bet you will be doing so right along with them!
2. Without knowing how to create natural boundaries for yourself you will sense what the other person is feeling in your own skin, as though it was you. For example, if you are with someone who is feeling awkward or insecure about something, you will suddenly feel awkward when you are with them– even if you were feeling quite fine just one moment ago.
3. Without the ability to control your gift you often feel drained by crowds.
4. You have a very strong sense of either being naturally repelled or drawn to someone.
5. You can be easily confused, especially when you are in proximity to others who don’t share your same opinion. It takes very little for you to “believe” another’s point of view, because you can also feel it in your skin while being exposed to it. This can make it hard for you to discern your own thoughts and feelings on a subject.
6. Similarly, other people’s emotions (especially intense ones) can throw you off kilter and make you lose access to your own thoughts and feelings.
7. You may experience extreme swings in moods related to the shifting of what those around you are feeling.
8. You can also sense and experience large emotional shifts that are happening on a global level. Even if you are standing in your kitchen with no one else, you can have internal experiences of the general emotional state of the populace as a whole; especially when BIG things are happening: elections, stock market crashes, trauma etc.
9. You are a deep feeler. When you experience even your own emotions, it’s a no-holds-barred situation. You don’t just feel sad over something, you may bawl about it for hours. And truthfully it is best for you to process emotion on a deep and whole body level. It is important to your health and well-being. It’s how you keep things moving through your body and prevent emotional debris from getting stuck and weighing you down psychically.
10. Typically, for an empath there is no hiding from your own feelings. You probably aren’t able to suppress emotion easily; in fact doing so may be nearly impossible for you. Strong feelings are likely a regular part of your existence. When it belongs to you, especially if it is particularly intense, you probably can’t put it on hold or pretend it is not happening. You may not be able to move it out of your countenance until you have given it its due.
11. A sad, horrific, or devastating story can stay with you for a LONG time. Hours, or even days later the story will still be in your mind and effecting (likely depleting) your energy.
12. You feel the suffering of others in a very profound way. And not necessarily just people: animals, trees, the land, or environment. You can sense these things and the suffering or disquiet runs through your own skin. It’s especially acute for people or things that you perceive can’t help themselves– the suffering is twinged with a sense of powerlessness that can disturb you to your core.
13. Something that may be very subtle for someone else can be very loud for you. If a person in the room is having a hard time you will feel it, especially when you get close to them. You don’t just notice it, like a non-empathic person might. Depending on the intensity of emotion being experienced for that person, for you it can feel like someone has a megaphone and is broadcasting the dark vibes.
14. You usually want to help and will do so! For the same reason mentioned above; and because you feel the suffering of others (even animals) in such a profound way you are naturally committed to helping ease it.
15. Your innate sensitivities may also compel you to champion underdogs or those who can’t help themselves.
16. Because of your innate perception of the feelings of others you may have the tendency to over give or be what I call a “Yes”er: a person who always says yes to others. You may give to others sometimes to the point of completely draining or exhausting yourself. You think because you can feel it, it is your place to help it. But honestly, this is not always the case. Discerning the difference between something you can feel, and something you can genuinely help is one of the more advanced empathic discernment skills.
17. You may experience anxiety. Of course this in not universal to empaths, but I’ve seen it frequently enough in the empathic community that it warrants mentioning. When you are experiencing everyone else’s sensations in your own skin (and especially when you don’t even know it) you are picking up and innately broadcasting back out whatever it is that you are sensing. Before you know how to tune into your own self, and the techniques that help you connect with your own inner knowing, this absorbing and broadcasting others energy can absolutely cause an sense of anxiety that is pervasive and not localized to a particular discernable event or situation.
18. Empaths are frequently the peacemakers. You are the “soother-over”er, or the person that can and does settle multiple sets of ruffled feathers with ease and grace. You can easily sense the needs and desires of others, and if it is within your power, you will usually start settling everyone before you even recognize what you are doing. It also makes you feel better to do so—because you feel the discomfort of others in your own body.
19. You may experience confusion or jealousy when you are around people who are similar to you in some way. (Of course this doesn’t only apply to empaths, but for the empathic person it does have a different tone.) You get confused, you think you are or should be having the experiences of the other person, because for a second, while hearing about them you are having their experience in your own skin.
20. You have the ability to know when someone is lying and usually also understand the reason behind the lie.
21. Frequently, but not always, empaths are gifted healers in their own way. Your ability shows you instinctively what is needed to heal or harmonize a situation– whether that is smoothing ruffled feathers between friends or the actual physical healing others– you are a natural antidote maker. Empathic healers need to be especially diligent about learning to (and practicing) NOT taking on the energy of others while they heal them; that can have the opposite effect– of making the healer sick.
22. Not always, but it does happen that some empaths are prone to addictions. They use substances as coping mechanism to deal with the large amount of feelings they experience, or as a way to block out the onslaught of perception that they are exposed to all the time.
23. You may be hyper sensitive to the energy in food. I know an empath who can virtually sense how long a vegetable has been away from the ground. While you may or may not be this sensitive, you may have a very innate and strong sense of attraction and repulsion to the energy in food.
24. Some empaths pick-up/experience the physical sensations of others. If your husband is having low back pain for example it may take you a bit to notice that your sudden low back pain is just a mirror of his.
25. You can be extremely affected by images or movies. Watching violence, cruelty, or tragedy feels unbearable to you.
26. People tell you things. Even perfect strangers sometimes reveal intimate and personal details to you. They sense a natural safe harbor in you.
27. Similarly, you are likely very naturally a good listener. You are interested in the experiences of others and genuinely want to know about them.
28. You have a need for solitude. It gives you a much needed absolute silence. The background noise of another person’s energy is always palpable to you, even if no one is talking or making noise, which makes occasional (or regular) solitude vital to your clearing and recharging your own energy.
29. It can be hard for you to do things that you don’t enjoy. It feels like a lie.
30. You may be intolerant to narcissism. It’s almost painful to be around others who are so self-centered that they can’t see anyone else’s point of view. It can feel like talking to a wall.
31. You crave authenticity and truth in others. Since you know it when you hear it, the truth is always more comfortable to you than a lie. Therefore you are infinitely more comfortable with people who are living their own truth (whatever that is) than with anyone who is posturing or pretending.
32. Because of your ability to sense authenticity– you are not easily shocked or surprised.
33. You can appear moody. Before you know how to control your ability you are frequently at the whim and mercy of all of the energies that you come across. This can be totally overwhelming and sometimes depending on what you are exposed to has multiple divergent emotions running through your body. Sometimes your moodiness has to do with the sensations you are picking up outside of yourself. If you walk by someone in a dark mood, you might suddenly start broadcasting that station or feel that way yourself! Sometimes also, just the number of different energies you experience in your own skin can be overwhelming, contradictory, and stress making.
34. You may be drawn to healing and holistic therapies. For an empath less is often more– because you are so sensitive, subtle healing forms like Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, acupuncture, and others can be more profound for you (and feel healthier and more in balance for you) than other Western or more chemical approaches.
35. You may be drawn to the metaphysical. Because of your innate ability to sense the unseen– spiritual or metaphysical topics are natural interesting to you. It doesn’t really feel “woo woo” to you– because your internal radar picks up on many things that other people cannot see.
36. When you know things, you know them. Sometimes you don’t know how you know them– (and that part may happen to you more often than it does to others) but you can tell that unmistakable feeling of certainty in your own being– and when you trust it, you notice you are right.
37. Some empaths can feel time. If this is you, you may always have a keen and innate sense of the day of the week or what time it is during the day. Time periods have a “feeling” to you.
38. You may have a sensitivity to physical objects– especially second-hand or used objects. You can feel the energy in an object, or the heaviness of emotional or other energetic imprints on an item. You may choose not to buy second hand because of this– or like I do, to use sage to “clean” any objects you do get second hand.
39. Likewise you can be really affected by clutter. A lot of clutter is just more objects you are sensing – having a lot of it around can feel like it makes it hard for you to think.
40. You are very sensitive to spaces– you can feel the energy in a place, so just like with people, you are naturally drawn or repelled to certain spaces. You may not be able to explain it with a lot of facts to others but some places just feel crowded with energy, or clogged, or just plain “yucky” to you. (Just like some feel great!)
41. Some empaths have digestion issues. In my experience with some students this is one of the ways that their body deals with excess amounts of energy that doesn’t belong to them. The body uses the digestion or stomach as a receptacle or an indication that they are holding that which does not belong to them, and then tries to eject it.
42. You may be prone to carry weight without necessarily overeating. For some it is a “self-imposed” method to store or deal with all of the excess energy they pick up.
43. You love nature. It’s a very effective relaxant for an empath. Tuning into the natural world, which you do by default by being in it, is an easy way to clear your own energy out and reset yourself. Because of your natural attunement with things around you, nature is very palpable to you.
44. You often appear very sparkly. I don’t truly mean you have sparkles coming off of you—but there is a manner in which you just accidentally and naturally catch the attention of others. People notice you—especially when you are not depleted.
Aimée Cartier is a psychic guide, author, and the founder of Empath Intuition University. Through her program, offered twice per year, she teaches other empaths how to manage their own empathic ability, access their own innate knowing, and transform their empathic ability from a burden to a gift. She teaches other empaths to access the goodness of being empathic and how it can help them serve and positively affect the world.