NEW: A crash course for empaths, healers, and spiritual seekers ready to wake up the world with your words…and work. Join us below!
Q: Are empaths real? I read that “empaths” are really a mythical or fictional personality type. How can I tell if i’m just overly sensitive, or a genuine empath?
A: The answer to this is both easy, and complex. While empaths are definitely “real” in the sense that we are people who feel things differently than the vast majority of the population there is also MUCH myth and self aggrandizing misinformation out there about what makes an empath.(note – a recent scientific study suggests that about 1% of the population are able to “Feel the interior experiences of others” and have super strong empathic “powers” – you can read that study here)
The problem with lots of “empath” articles and insights? They tend to err on the side of self aggrandizement. They tend to offer up ego inflation and elevating advice that may make you feel “special” or like a superhero, they are rarely helpful in terms of offering up advice you can actually use in your life.
(no – empaths don’t “know everything” and aren’t super special magical beings like some articles would like to have us believe. WE DO, however, have access to deeper levels of emotional connection to people, places and things and quite often, these deeper levels of sensitivity can lead to profound spiritually transformative experiences as well)
Some NOT so great side effects of being an empath?
- You may be more sensitive to what people think about you. (you may be a bit of a pleaser….as you don’t want to feel the depth of the disappointment that others may feel if you don’t conform to their wishes, which can lead many empaths to toxic relationships)
- You may find yourself overthinking EVERYTHING and being lost in thought, and loops of rumination.
- You may find it harder to heal from traumas, and forgive slights or conflicts that others have moved past already.
- You LOVE fiercely, quickly and passionately. This means you may find yourself getting emotionally attached very early in a relationship, and as many empaths are also givers, you may find yourself feeling taken advantage of or easily hurt, especially in new relationships.
- You may find current events overwhelming. The news makes you more than sad – it hurts your heart in ways that others may find odd or offputting.
- You are an activist – EVEN if it’s just in your head and heart. Nothing offends you more than injustice and even if you are an introvert, your spirit speaks up for those who have less, or who are oppressed. (and in 2020 – with the world being such a friggin MESS, it’s no surprise that so many NEW empaths are raising their hands and being counted in our community)
What about you? Do you find that being spiritually sensitive is a liability? With so many “empaths” touting the advantage of having spiritual “superpowers” or the ability to hone in on the emotional energies of others, there needs to be a fair hearing for what many of us find to be challenging about our unique “gifts” as well. Yes, it’s true…..there is much to love about living in our HEARTS rather in our heads (like most folks do) but hearts hurt, too 🙁 If this resonates with you, share your thoughts in the community comments below.
NEW: A crash course for empaths, healers, and spiritual seekers ready to wake up the world with your words…and work. Join us below!
Annelize Swart Sabben
I HATE HATE HATE being an empath, its the worse curse ever. Even tried to commit suicide because i cant handle all the lies, deception and hurt around me. The falseness directly in your face (the worst from closest family and friends)
Especially the sadness and fear in animals.
Went on anti depressants (but am NOT depressed…..)
I don’t want to know how people feel (even about me) and don’t want to know my bosses lustful ideas……urgh !!!!
Ignorance is bliss, i tell you………
There is a way to learn to close people off and not hear or see those things! I do know what you are saying, I have felt this way many of years. I have learned to keep my circle of friends/family small and have even distanced myself from family for the same reason. Learn yourself and love yourself, best thing you can do for yourself.
Absolutely true. I have just few sentences to say to all the beautiful people here. Being an empath is draining hurting and understanding loving. All together. We are kinda aliens. Going through everything in my personal experiences I learnt to harness my emotions focus on myself and some very very close people around me. My children and my love.
And trust me this is an everyday struggle. Meditations activating my chakras daily yogas and talking to my four dogs. 😍
Love to all. Please embrace this awesome universe. Live in your awesomeness.🤞
It’s like you read my mind….you are not alone…
It’s not a curse ,may feel like it because the world is full of wicjed people and lost souls 🤷♂️
I have those times, too. We have to be our own support system sometimes. Or I find that my support system has to be a little varied. I mean, one friend may be my support for my feelings of injustice in the world. A different friend may be my support for relationship issues. Etc. does that make sense? I don’t always need support because I like BEING the support, but we need to take care of ourselves, too. Do things that make YOU feel good, loved, cared for. I’ve found freedom in admitting that I LIKE to be alone more than outgoing people. Society may tell us that’s “weird,” but it’s ok! We have to be as accepting of ourselves as we are of others! 🙂
I love this article and others that are based toward fact and things empaths have in common! I grew up in a very very small town and was out cast because I was the one who stuck up for the kids being bullied. I would insert myself into the arguments that had nothing to do with me because I could not stand back and watch others being hurt so badly. My thought process at the time was simply that the person being bullied is in so much pain and I didn’t want them to feel this way anymore. I have thick skin and can take it for them. I didn’t realize until I was a lot older that the hurt and anger inside during those times were not all my own but the one being bullied and my need to make it stop for them was driven by their feelings that I took in as my own and the basic need to make it stop. Most of these times were in grade school and middle school. By high school I had taken so much backlash for others that I didn’t have to step in for them anymore, I was the go to for the jerks. Growing up I have always been able to walk in a room and know right away how most of the people I am passing feels. I did not realize until I was a lot older that it is not something everyone feels. Feelings were not something talked much about in my house so I never knew it was different for other people and I grew up so confused as to why other people could be so mean when not only are they causing pain to another but in turn also to themselves. I now understand more and am still learning how to seperate the negative feelings of others from myself and just more about being an empath in general! But yea, I just love this article and all the comments and support! It’s beautiful!!!
Ima just a kid right now, I can only really feel strong emotions like sadness, anger, and depression, which is hard sometimes at school because I’m surrounded by teenagers. Do you think there is a way to push you emotions into others . basically make them feel good or bad.
YOU CAN USE EFT = EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUES ! MUCH LOVE XXX
I often feel I can pass a street and feel the emotions of each house I pass the happiness, the sadness, the energy just jumps out at me, I don’t know what exactly it is but it can at times make or break my day. I pass homeless people and I can feel the pain they are in and the disappointment of life they are feeling. I feel at times my spirit needs a break from taking in energy of others but at the same time I am compassionate to the ills of it all.
Thanks so much for sharing, Shirley! Very interesting – and a very common challenge for spiritually sensitive people (empaths, intuitive personality types, etc) – Compassion is really the most important quality in a human being i’m finding these days – and it sounds like it drains you – but you have more than enough to share with the rest of us! Keep at it – we need it! (we also have a community you may want to check out – http://goodkarma.link/empaths – we’d love for you (and everyone else who feels similarly) to join us!)
Hello!I feel all those effects!Is is not easy to deal with all that,especially with energies that keep putting you on your knees.Anyway let’s do what we can for ourselves and for others.God bless all!
I have been overwhelmed by this since I can remember. 42 and still trying to find a way not to be affected by EVERYTHING!!!!!!!
I totally understand how you feel for years well all my life I never had a title for what I was or how I was feeling or could I explain what I was feeling or going through I mean who would understand me? Without sounding like a freak.
I’m definitely an empath. I’m just finding this out but it all makes sense and I think I’m a heyoka. My life isn’t going so well I’m heart hurts and I see things differently and lost everyone in my life I thought I had or loved me but I’m not ok.😞
I know some time has posted since you last posted. I’m sending lots of love your way. Hope you overcome this extremely challenging time of your life.
I hate being a empath. Everything hurts me so much, esp the pain of animals. i have a hard time going on the internet because stories about animals being hurt pop up. I can’t watch the news, and people are always upset at me for being so emotional. Life really hurts when you feel to too much.
This may sound cliche but you never lose God. That’s what gets me through times I don’t feel ok. That’s when empaths become so helpful to others. You know true pain. You are able to help others in pain. Sometimes just by being there for someone brings a good feeling to your heart. I hope you find better days.
I have known since i was young that i was different. I didnt have to compare myself to others. I knew not everyone could feel the generalized and individual(s) feeling(s) upon walking into a room. Almost down to reading their minds, if i concentrated. Now, some 25+ yrs later, “Life”, meaning people, have had a tremendous effect of me. I, generally speaking, do not like people. They are horrible. And, generally speaking, mankind, as a whole, is an absolute disgusting and pathetic show of creation. I am apologizing to God as i write this, btw. I think, that we, at least MYSELF, are here to change the world, yes. One person at a time. I, however, am very outspoken….no filter. I will not tolerate certain things….disrespect, lying, stealing..narcissism. So….WHO does that leave for ME to help…?? 😒 hmm……uh oh
It sounds to me like you need a bit more compassion in your arsenal of empathic “attributes”, Mel 🙂 If your version of “who can i help” starts with an assumption that people are “disgusting and pathetic” and you feel the need to apologize to “god” for his/her/it’s creation – it doesn’t sound to me like your path is one of a helper/healer – but rather, someone who is a bit angrier on the inside than you’d like to admit. Maybe start by trying to understand why – if you believe in God – and believe that you are here to help – but dont’, generally speaking like people and think they are terrible – how all of that jives – or makes sense – or how those ideas work together. Isn’t the point of being a healer to transmute and transform others? Or, is it to only help those who already okay in your book? (which sounds like not a lot of people, based on your words above) I generally find there is a lot of anger, confusion, self aggrandizement and narcissism amongst folks who believe they are healers – but it’s everyone elses’ fault their lives aren’t actualized – in my amateur opinion, this may be a good idea to explore.
I think it’s fair to say it can be challenging to feel things on a deeper or confusing level. Not quite knowing what to trust. However then I’m thankful I get to feel the good so much deeper – at least I believe that to be the case. I try to remember every person has a gift, every person a piece in someone else’s puzzle – search and you will find your pieces 🙂
When I watch people in a group I luv watching their strengths and how the interplay and dialogue makes each person better.
Thank you both for sharing I appreciated the sharing/ venting of frustration we all have moments like that. Then I appreciated the thoughtful reflection and sharing of really well thought out ideas.
Mel Nunya, Im sorry you had to deal with many negative people in your life….I too have said many times “I don’t like people” and being an introvert it’s in our nature to be drained by people, especially negative. goodkarma, take a min to see beyond her words, maybe she has tried to help others only to be knocked down so to speak, I think it’s a matter of her hanging out with the “wrong” people. Some people (narcissist) take advantage of empaths….you can only help someone if they want help. Some like I said have bad intentions….maybe you should try being more compassionate yourself goodkarma
Good advice, Sheila! (there is a bit more to this particular comment than you see on the site relative to my response – but in principle, I agree with you 100% – and I’d re-word my response differently next time – even though there is a bit more to the story!) Thanks again for sharing – much appreciated!
goodkarma, thank you for your reply…and i agree bc I think most comments have more to the story!!!! Mel’s comment also struck a personal nerve with me, I sensed similarities with myself. So there again, more to my story as well!!! It’s exciting to know how many people relate to qualities of Empath… Also I can “read” people very well (usually) and I’m more than willing to help them but sometimes it’s difficult for me to verbalize my thoughts….and some get upset/don’t like what I’m saying…. If I’m uncertain/feeling blocked about what I’m picking up/sensing, I don’t say anything at all…anyway I’m rambling.
Hugs and Prayers
All so very true, Sheila – one of the things I find so empowering, is that no matter how we internalize our own “stuff” (and think we’re the only ones who may have difficulties with ourselves, or others) the world is full of people who share the same inner experiences, the same challenges, obstacles, as well as unique gifts and sources of inspiration – and connecting with others on a path, is often a great step to breaking through (and breaking with) previous patterns, and into something more exciting and new. I appreciate you and appreciate your wise words (including your original comment, which helped me go back and look at an earlier response, and recognize it could have been communicated much more skillfully than it was) Thanks 🙂
After reading your reply and then again you comment, Im now picking up on an underlying back story..🤗🤷🙏🤦🧐
Felt like I was reading from myself lool 🌌😊🌏
Wow…Bitter…much? Sounds like you need some help as well! Personally I can’t see you can be much help to anyone as bitter and the NEGATIVITY your spewing!!! Sorry if this seems harsh but….I’m just being honest 🤗 wish you all the best 😊
Maybe your God should be apologizing to “mankind” 🤔
This is me.. to a…. T!
Wow good to know I’m not alone✌
I am an empath, a natural witch, and a healer and Autistic. Yes, being an empath has its pitfalls and our nature attracts the wrong people more often than not, but it’s only a curse if we let it be. Being an empath is neither a gift nor a curse, no more than my brown skin, or his green eyes, or her brunette hair can be
It is simply a characteristic of who you are. And much like my brown skin and afro hair, my empathic nature requires some serious self care. So I do guided meditations to clear other people’s energy from attaching to me, I create my energy shield to protect me from negative energies and I am judicious in who I allow around me.
I have known since I was a little girl I could sense what people are feeling, so I have always leaned into my empathic abilities, not necessarily always for good. At 40, I have developed my abilities and I no longer just feel what another person feels.
I am a converter empath, meaning I will take another’s energy and change that energy into different emotional energy that I then send it back to the person. I am also an amplifier empath, in which I can turn up the volume of the energy and fill an entire room with it.
This is part of the evolution of an empath. You begin by sensing other’s feelings. Then, we seek to help the person who is hurting because we cannot stomach their pain. To be a converter is to be a masochist. I have to accept that pain will come, but it is not my pain. And I do not have to keep it. Nor do I have to give of my energy those who would seek to abuse it.
To be an empath is neither good or bad, gift or curse. It is simply a part of being human. It is no different than your height, or eye color. How you choose to weild your ability is up to you.
Wong Pu Ei
I’m still trying to figure out if I am an empath. This article is a strong description of who I am. I’ve always felt like I don’t belong to this world and that no one understands me. Being an empath feels more like a curse to me than anything else. Thank you for your article.
Yes I agree with this article it’s exactly what I experience in the field of being an emphath, I am a healer, at times l feel like taking peoples problems to be mine, that’s an emphath.
For so long, even from childhood, I did not understand why I could feel the emotions of others in such a deep way. I have always been introverted, an observer, intuitive about situations that I could feel but not understand. It has made me vulnerable in personal relationships, a victim sometimes and I have finally realized I believe I have PTSD because I have put others before myself and experienced abuse, physical, emotional and mental, as a result. This article was helpful for me in so many ways. Thank you.
I disagree with #2… I feel as a strongly empathetic person that I can easily set aside my own misgivings. I can feel and experience why the person that mistreated me or wronged me in any way would have done it. I tend to feel bad for them and seek understanding for why they make bad choices. I don’t always agree but I get it and hold no grudges.
I can relate…same here!
I have known aboit being an empath for well over 20 years. However. I am still discovering new things that I sometimes struggle to understand. I recently did exercises with my third eye, opening myself up more. I stayed negative and distant, as well as irritable and occasionally even angry for several days after. And today I started experiencing physical pain in my abdomen. I’m not certain how normal this is for an empath.
This is called “the dark night of the soul”. It is a transition period that makes one feel depressed, angry, hopeless, and disconnected from who they are, because you are shedding those negative energies as your frequency is being elevated. As an empath you must–and I mean absolutely MUST– do is energy clearing meditations along with meditations to build your protective energy bubble. Without the energy clearing or protection, an empath with hold on to those residual emotions and attract those who would harm you. Tend to your empathic nature. Work to learn from it and how to employ it at the proper times. To be an empath in this world is to be a healer, but we must be judicious in who we give our empathy and energy too. Not everyone is deserving of our healing light, but many will try to take it and maki it their own. Beware the covert narcissist
This is so spot on for me personally. Living in todays reality is very difficult but if you feel it on every layer…., it’s an entirely different hurt.
Is it normal for a empath to have chronic migraines. Also how can I block out all the different negativity . Do empaths also have the ability to heal?
To be an empath is to be a healer. I tell every empath I meet the same thing. You MUST do energy clearing rituals or meditations to release the residual energies that you have absorbed. Use energy clearing guided meditation, or take a bath with a cup of salt. If you shower, use a salt scrub, it is super easy to make your own. Salt and olive oil or any oil for that matter. And as you clense your body, set the intention of washing away all energies that do not serve you. Imagine that energy going down the drain with the salt.
And once you are cleared, build you protection shield to deflect others emotions. Guided meditations can do this as well. As for chronic migraines I would suggest seeing a physician about them, but if your headaches are linked to your empathic nature, the two exercises I mentioned could alleviate some of the issue, but as I am not doctor it is mere speculation.
Is it normal that I get physically and emotionally exhausted when I go out in public?
It sure is. Being overwhelmed by other people’s energy is a thing. Meditate to clear residual energy and learn to create your energy protection shield
I have the chills, because everything you just stated in this article is me to the t . Thank you so much for the reality of what it’s like to be an empath. I never knew I was for a long time. I was a scared child and felt strong emotions. Especially in school since 4th grade I felt the judgement of others hated the front row and felt there stairs. And more…..
I’ve known for a very long time , I was different from others. I’m like a open wound that when I’m around ANYONE I feel there energies like air to my wound,…I can tell if there confused, happy, sad, I can tell if there holding anything inside even though there smile’s.. I be been hurt a 100 times over for being a pleaser and I juat want everyone to be happy and at peace,which alot of times causes me grief n pain…but I’m learning and loving the same as I did yesterday an will continue to do so..thanks for your article I’ll definitely be reading more..thanks. Angela Hixon
thanks so much for sharing your experience as an empath, Angela – you captured the essence of how many feel so eloquently – we appreciate it!
Oh. My. Goodness.. This blog.. Hit me straight through to my soul!!
Overthinking.. Is a soul damaging. Scary. Very real. BATTLE for lack of a better word.. Every single day I worry about EVERYTHING. In past relationships. I worried if the person did not call me. Answer my calls. Etc. To the point where I quit jobs because I felt like I had to be with the person 24/7..
Nowadays.. Its worrying constantly about my kids. You are probably thinking.. “Well DUH!!” But when I say overthinking.. I mean to the point where I overthink what they say. How they say it. They have told me they hated me. I know they dont. BUT because of my overthinking.. I flip out.. I let them walk all over me.. My 7 year old talks to me like shit and I hate it. So, the “people pleasing/getting taken advantage of..” Definitely another bad aspect that I live with.. Literally, every one of those.. I live with daily.. Its EXHAUSTING.. Not to mention.. My sister was murdered last September.. It has completely changed my life.. My heart is devestated.. My overthinking has been at an all time high because Im CONSTANTLY trying to figure out who the hell took her from us and why.. So, the “emotional trauma” shit.. Is very true.. I grieved for 16 years over my grandma..
My eyes have opened wider since my sister was killed. I have even realized my special gift. 😉
Anyways. THANK you for posting this and letting me know that everything Ive felt my whole life.. IS real..
Hi Andy is my name can we be friends