How to Know if You are an Empath

An empath is a person who can feel or read others' emotions and physical symptoms, often to the point that they experience those feelings as if they were their own. Empaths can sense things about other people even when there is very little observable information.

Suppose you are a highly sensitive individual but have struggled to understand why; the following characteristics can help you identify whether you are an empathic person and also provide a sense of reassurance in knowing you are not alone:

You can empathize with someone's pain - "empath" comes from the term empathy, the ability to perceive and experience feelings outside of your perspective. In other words, it is like you're absorbing another person's moods - good or bad. 

Intimate relationships can be challenging for you - despite wanting to connect with others, you might avoid close relationships because you worry you will lose your identity.

You are highly attuned to your surroundings - external stimuli like loud noises, excessive talking, smells, or crowds of people can cause you emotional strain.

It can be exhausting for you to feel everything, especially when it's another's anger, sadness, or anxiety. When empaths become overwhelmed, they may experience:

  • Panic attacks
  • Chronic (compassion) fatigue and burnout
  • Depression

If you identify as an empath, you need to establish healthy boundaries and self-care practices. Be sure you take time alone to recharge. When emotional overload starts to take over, get out in nature and find peace and rejuvenation there. Bodies of water are particularly helpful for empathic people.

If you need assistance setting boundaries with people who are particularly draining or learning how to center yourself, therapy is a great resource for this. Your empathy is a gift; you just need to learn to balance it before you give too much of it.

Diane K. Schmidt Counseling Services | 8575 W. 110th Street, Suite 304 Overland Park, KS 66210 | Phone: 913.730.6778 | Email: