What it Really Means to be an Empath

Empaths are highly sensitive people with limitless sense of empathy towards other people. 

From the time we were children, it’s likely that some of us have worshipped characters that can read minds and pre-empt thoughts, save the day by staying a mind-step ahead of the bad guy and so on.

We’ve read of magic pills, powerful potions and psychic powers, and we’ve been swayed. Now that we’re grown up and can settle for what’s closer to what we can understand and logically explain, the term “empath” may make more sense, even if it didn’t come with any magic or superhero powers.

But believe it or not, some of you reading this might already be empaths, with your share of gifts and sensitivities, for whether you know it or not, empaths often make the world a better place. 


Who is an Empath?

An empath is a highly sensitive human being who is prone to sensing and feeling more, even that which is experienced by other people.

Empaths are said to absorb the emotions that other people feel and in some examples, are cited as people who are able to tap into the the mood of a room, almost as soon as they walk into it.

From a more spiritual sense, the word is sometimes used to mean someone who is able to intuit more than the average person and may even exhibit certain psychic powers. Because of a more fine-tuned energetic make-up, empaths tend to become ridden with anxiety and stress. 


Are you an Empath?

As you may have already figured out, the term empath is a large one. It includes all kinds of people with the common trait of a highly sensitive temperament.

So what if you’re coming across this term for the first time and also trying to find out if you’re an empath yourself.


The following are feeling and behavioural traits that most empaths share. 

1- The need for “alone time”

The response mechanism empaths come with to the world is usually very refined, allowing them to “read” underlying themes in interactions and moods, compared to an average person.

But while this sounds like a boon that anyone would willingly invite to themselves, the fact is that it is as much a curse. The highly-sensitive nature of an empath predisposes them to feel drained and consumed, especially in the company of large crowds. Does this ring a bell?


2- The need to avoid “certain people”

If you by now, have a sense of how empaths function, you’ll know it’s a paradoxical state. While empaths, by definition, hold a reservoir of empathy, they’re also the same people who can easily fall under the mercy of energy vampires.

Like empaths, energy vampires are of many different kinds. The Oppressor, the Victim and the Drama Queen are just a few examples. If you’ve been an empath, it’s highly likely that you’ve felt the need to get away from certain people, while also feeling the need to interact with them and “help them out”.

This side to an empath’s behaviour typically continue until they become aware that they need to find ways to interact without giving up on their own well-being. 


3- The need to “stay away” from intimate relationships

We’re back to discussing the paradoxical nature of empaths that makes them want to stay and run away!

The reason why many empaths unconsciously choose to weave in and out of relationships, so that their personal space is not hacked away.

This relates back to empaths wanting “alone time”, which again is connected to people feeding on the energy of empaths. Be in in close friendships or intimate relationships, empaths tend to want space that is unquestioned and unhindered.

Traditional formats of friendships and partnerships may not work for these people, because they’re constantly trying to tread a fine line between togetherness and independence. If this cause-effect explanation sounds familiar to you, then you could well fall into the category of empaths. 


Apart from the above, here are a number of questions Dr. Judith Orloff, the author behind “The Empath’s Survival Guide”, says you could ask yourself if you think you could be an empath :

  • Have people called me “highly sensitive” in the past?
  • If a friend is overwhelmed, do I start feeling it too?
  • Do I often feel like my feelings are not respected?
  • Do I easily get stimulated by noise, smells or too much talk?
  • Would I rather take my car to places so that I can leave whenever I want?
  • Am I fearful intimate relationships will drown me with their intensity?
  • Do I eat more as a way of coping with stress?


How can you take care as an Empath? 

By this time, it must be amply clear to you, that being an empath can be taxing. The impacts it comes with are real and can contribute to stress, tiredness and in some cases, even depression.

So, whether you’re an empath or know a loved one who may be, self-care is an important investment. While self-care in itself is a really broad category of actions, for empaths, it may mean a set of to-dos that can allay the overwhelm and the consequent helplessness.

Sunanda Patihttps://gaiacomestothecity.blogspot.com/
Sunanda Pati is a certified expressive arts therapist and facilitator and a freelance creative writer. Having developed an early interest in psychology and later various forms of bodywork, she has actively worked in knowing her own inner world and processing various traumas. She believes every person is blessed with an endless reserve of inspiration, courage and wisdom. Sunanda lives, writes, practices and facilitates in Bangalore, India. More of her writings can be found at : http://gaiacomestothecity.blogspot.com. She also runs an expressive arts initiative of the same name (Gaia Comes to the City), which can be found on Facebook.
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