Empaths aren’t monoliths, but many tend to share similar personality traits.
Remember, everyone is different. You can be an empath without having any of these traits or may exhibit all seven but lack the sensitivity required to be considered an empath.
What is an Empath?
An empath is a person with the innate ability to feel the emotions of others. They pick up on subtle cues and energies which communicate feelings non-verbally.
Trisha Wolfe, LPCC and owner of CBUS Therapy, describes empaths as highly intuitive and connected to the feelings of others.
However, they can’t turn it off. Wolfe says, “True empaths take on the emotions of others. They don’t just put themselves in someone else’s shoes, they put themselves in those shoes and feel like they can’t take them off.”
What is an empath without empathy?
Dr. Estevez reminds us that a critical trait empaths share is increased empathy. She says that by recognizing the needs of others, empaths can remain attentive to signs of suffering and have the natural ability to ease the pain.
Empaths vs People with Empathy
Being an empath isn’t the same as having empathy. Remington describes an empath as someone who has an innate ability to understand the emotions of someone around them. Empathy is a conscious effort to understand a person’s feelings.
Displaying empathy takes active effort, while empaths naturally feel what others feel.
Is Empathy Innate or Learned?
The good news for those without natural ability is that people can learn empathy, a critical skill in social interactions and leadership. Wolfe says that learning active listening skills and practicing mindfulness can help most people become more empathic.
Sensitive to Environmental Stimuli
Ogbonda says that empaths may have heightened sensitivity to everything, not just emotions. She explains that as highly perceptive people, empaths can pick up on subtle nuances in their environment.
Empaths may have increased sensitivity to sounds, smells, tastes, and other environmental sensations.
Many empaths are emotionally sensitive. According to Dr. Estevez, they may get their feelings hurt more easily. Non-empaths may accuse them of being too sensitive or unable to let things go.
Dr. Estevez says, “An empath may want to talk about the issue at length and express their feelings about a conflict with a friend or romantic partner, which is a good thing but can be overwhelming for non-empaths.”
She added that empaths might remain hurt about a conflict for longer than someone without this increased sensitivity.
A lot of empaths are exceptionally compassionate people. Ogbonda explains, “Some empaths make it their mission to ensure that other people are provided with the resources they require to feel safe, secure, and happy.”
She adds that empaths may be driven toward this desire because they can relate to the struggles that others face.
Strong Social Skills
Even introverted empaths have strong social skills. Kotkin-De Carvalho says empaths tend to have high emotional intelligence, which they use to navigate interpersonal relationships.
Empathy is an essential social skill in that it allows us to connect with others on an emotional level. Because empathy comes naturally to empaths, they tend to have excellent interpersonal skills.
Because empaths intuitively understand how others are feeling, they make great listeners. Dr. Estevez explains that many empaths excel at listening without judgment. They provide a safe environment for friends and family to discuss their feelings while feeling accepted and respected.
A final defining trait of an empath is the tendency towards selflessness. According to Dr. Estevez, many empaths put their own needs aside for the sake of those around them.
Unfortunately, selflessness isn’t always positive. Too much selflessness may ultimately hurt the empath in the long run, as it’s not healthy to constantly elevate other people’s needs to the detriment of your own.
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