Do you consider yourself someone who is in tune with your emotions and the emotions of those around you? Would your friends call you a sensitive person? Would you prefer to be in a small group setting than in a crowd? If you answered "yes" to all three of those questions, there's a good chance you're an empath. Hello, and welcome.
As you may have guessed, the term "empath" comes from the word "empathy," or the ability to understand someone's feelings even if you haven't necessarily been in their shoes. In short, feeling sympathy for someone means you feel bad for them. Feeling empathy for someone means you feel bad with them, even though the feeling is removed from you personally. To be an empath means to take that one step further: not only do you feel bad with that person, but you also absorb some of those emotions as if you lived it, too.
In her book "The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People," Dr. Judith Orloff describes empaths as "emotional sponges." At their core, empaths simply don't have the emotional barriers that most people set up to protect themselves from overstimulation. That means they truly can't help but take in all of the emotions and energy that surrounds them -- the good, the bad and the ugly.
Below are just a few signs that you could be an empath, as Dr. Orloff outlined for Psychology Today.
1. Empaths are highly sensitive.
Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually open and good listeners. That said, they can also be told that they're too sensitive or need to "toughen up." Above all, though, empaths are the friends that you could call at any time of day or night and they'd be there in a heartbeat because they'll almost always put your needs above their own.
2. Empaths absorb other people’s emotions.
Empaths feel ~*~everything~*~ no matter if it's good or bad. For example, an empath could be having the best morning ever, and if their coworker comes to work in a bad mood, it can ruin their entire day. It can be exhausting, because they tend to experience the emotional rollercoaster of many different people in their lives all at once.
3. Many empaths are introverted.
Ever heard of an "extroverted introvert"? If you consider yourself one of these, there's a good chance you're an empath. As in, you can go out in big crowds and have a good time if you're with the right people, but you would much prefer a smaller crowd or one-on-one time with friends.
4. Empaths are highly intuitive.
You know those people who you can talk to about anything and when they say, "I totally get it," you actually believe them? Those are empaths at work because more often than not, they do get it.
5. Empaths need alone time.
See also: empaths are introverted. Being around people can be draining, so many empaths need plenty of solo time to recharge and spend time with their own feelings outside of everyone else's. A great example from Dr. Orloff? Empaths like to take their own cars when they go places so they can leave when they please.
6. Empaths can become overwhelmed in intimate relationships.
Togetherness can be hard for empaths to handle in large quantities. There are many reasons for this, but in a nutshell, deep down they're afraid of losing their own identity in a relationship. Therefore, a relationship with an empath tends to need the stereotypical outlines of a "couple" redefined.
7. Empaths are targets for energy vampires.
"An empath’s sensitivity makes them particularly easy marks for energy vampires, whose fear or rage can sap their energy and peace of mind," Dr. Orloff explains. "Especially dangerous ones such as narcissists (who lack empathy and are only concerned with themselves) can make empaths believe they’re unworthy and unlovable. Other vampires include The Victim, The Chronic Talker, The Drama Queen and more."
In short, empaths choose their friends carefully, because the wrong ones can drain them of everything.
8. Empaths become replenished in nature.
Want to recharge an empath in your life? Take them on a hike or to the ocean -- anywhere where they can be away from the business of normal life for a bit.
9. Empaths have highly-tuned senses.
An empath can be triggered by even the smallest sensory things, like lots of noise, smells or even excessive talking. If they hear/see/smell it, they won't be able to un-focus on it.
10. Empaths have huge hearts, but sometimes give too much.
Empaths always mean well. But sometimes, they take on others' feelings so often that they end up being more drained or upset than the other person was to begin with. They have huge hearts, but can get lost when trying to relieve everyone else's pain besides their own.
Empaths are great, but if you are one, it can get really, really exhausting really, really fast. If you think you might be an empath, don't forget to keep your own emotions and needs in mind sometimes. And if you have a friend who's an empath, check in on them every once in a while -- they might not even realize they need it.