Over the years doing intuitive readings, I work with many clients that feel burdened by the feelings of those around them. Often times, they confuse those feelings with their own but have no idea that this is happening. These are classic signs of being an “empath.”
So, What exactly is an empath? An empath is someone that has a higher than average sensitivity to the feelings and emotions of other people and animals. These feelings are so strong that there is often confusion between their own emotions and the emotions of others. This can cause empaths to often feel emotionally burdened, physically stressed, fatigued or overly responsible.
While only a small percentage of people are complete empaths, there are varying degrees of being empathic, most of us have at least some empathic abilities.
There are ways to strengthen your empathy skills so that you can control what you feel, when you feel it, and how to use it to help others. This can be beneficial in all walks of life: relationships, career, health/wellness, spirituality and more.
What Does It Mean To Be An Empath?
There are two groups that refer to people being empaths: psychologists and spiritualists.
The psychological meaning of an empath is someone who has a lot of empathy for others. This is usually in reference to the parts of the brain that light up the pain-sensitive areas when seeing others go through pain. It brings the term “I feel your pain” to a literal sense. [Source]
Feeling other people’s pain can cause an emotional and physical burden to the empath, causing them to feel mentally and emotionally imbalanced.
The spiritualist meaning of being an empath is referencing a deeper energetic exchange that goes on when someone is “taking on other people’s pain.” Empaths have the energetic make-up of healers, so their energy centers light up more when someone needs healing. They often find themselves surrounded by people who have physical illnesses or have a lot of trauma that needs to be healed.
People who need healing will naturally gravitate towards empaths, and because of an empath’s natural ability to want to heal, they have a hard time saying no. Empaths usually have a hard time setting boundaries with others, which often causes them to want to isolate themselves from the world.
Regardless of what term you prefer to use, both meanings lead to the same end result of the empath: they are usually burdened by the energetic imbalances and unstable emotions of the environment they are in.
Empaths Are Highly Intuitive
In terms of energy, empaths usually have an over-active 2nd chakra, which is the energy center that processes emotions. Because this energy center is so over-active, it is highly sensitive to other emotions outside of itself. It also acts as a sponge that absorbs a lot of other people’s emotions to fill the extra space.
Because this energy center sits around the lower abdomen, empaths usually have a “gut feeling” about when things feel right or wrong. This is why empaths are said to be very intuitive.
Empaths are often praised as being psychic or highly intuitive; however, the intuitive and psychic information they receive is a huge burden on their bodies. This information comes in at a lower frequency, through the lower chakras, and in a way that makes it hard to discern what is their energy and what is the energy of others.
They often feel as though they have to solve everyone’s problems, which takes a lot of energy away from them solving their own problems. Because of this, they often emotionally shut down, become reclusive, are fatigued, and are often cynical, jaded or carry harsh judgments about people. And because the 2nd chakra sits near the stomach area, they often have poor digestion.
When empaths are able to balance out their 2nd chakra by opening up their upper chakras, they are extremely intuitive without it being too exerting on their physical body. This is ideal for an empath.
Empaths can balance out their 2nd and upper chakras by meditating, eating a diet with high vibrational foods, staying hydrated, and keeping their body moving with activities such as yoga or qi gong.
Empaths Are Telepathic
While it seems more paranormal than empathy, telepathy is another sign of being an empath.
It can be argued that empathy, charisma, and telepathy are actually all interlinked. According to one study, empathy is another form of telepathy.
Telepathy is commonly thought to be understanding what other people are thinking. Often times empathy does just that. Empathy is a form of telepathy which involves being tuned into the vibrational changes of others and using this to know what others are feeling. Expressing feelings is another way to communicate.
Empaths commonly claim that they “know what others are thinking,” which can often be a huge burden on them. Sometimes other people’s thoughts should remain a mystery.
Empaths Are Healers
I often work with empaths that ask the questions “why am I this way?” They have a hard time understanding why they subconsciously take on other people’s feelings and emotions.
At the core of their energetic make-up, they do this because they are healers. They want so desperately to heal the world around them, that they sacrifice their own well-being to lift up those in pain. This happens on such a subconscious level that the empath usually doesn’t even know it’s happening.
When I worked at a healing clinic, one of the massage therapists had a client that would always book a massage with her when she would get migraines. The client claimed that the only remedy for her migraines was to see this specific therapist. But, after every massage with this client, the therapist had to leave work sick because she had a migraine headache.
This is a classic example of an empath that is a healer. Many empaths end up in careers where they are helping others, knowing that it is what they love to do, but always struggling with the physical burden of what it means to heal others.
There are ways for empaths to fully express their true giftings, without giving up their own energetic seniority in the process.
This requires the empath to begin to see how much power they give away to people who will take as much as they will give, and begin the wise practice of saying “no.”
It also requires the empath to see that taking on other people’s pain for them actually hurts them in the long run. They are not able to learn their own lessons, and usually, people go through tremendous growth when they have to fight their own battles.
It seems uncomfortable to see people go through pain, but letting them learn and grow in the process is true compassion. Empaths can learn to be cheerleaders, not tackle dummies.
Is It Rare To Be An Empath?
There is mixed information about the true number of empaths walking amongst us.
Some sources claim that only 1-2% of the population are true empaths. Meaning that they cannot feel any separation between themselves and their environment.
Other sources refer to empaths as Highly Sensitive People (HSP), which consist of 15-20% of the population.
From my own experience working with people, about 5 out of 10 people I work with have some degree of unmanageable empathy. Based on these numbers, I tend to believe that about 50% of the population has varying degrees of empathy that becomes an emotional burden in their lives.
How this looks is different for everyone. Some people have empathy towards people, but I have worked with many people who have empathy towards animals, plants or the planet at large.
It is common to hear about people that suffer from empathic burn out when they walk into a crowded room. It is not very common to hear that others feel that way when they visit a zoo or watch nature documentaries. Some people feel the pain of trees when they take a hike. Others feel deeply disturbed before a natural disaster destroys a region of the world.
Being empathic is not as rare as we may think; however, the type of empathy that is experienced can be rare and one-of-a-kind. We are all different, and therefore have different ways we experience empathy.
How Do I Know If I Am an Empath?
There are some common experiences that most empaths share, so look through the list below to see if you may be an empath:
1. You feel a sense of isolation, even when you are in a crowded room or with a romantic partner.
There can be a sense of identity loss when you are around others. Many empaths experience social anxiety during an event, or severe anxiety the morning after a large social event. This causes them to feel alone or wanting to be alone, feeling as though they hurt people’s feelings or said something stupid.
2. There is confusion around your life’s purpose.
It may feel as though you want something one day, and something else the next day. This is taking on other people’s desires and manifestations as your own, without them being your original design.
3. You can feel happy one moment, then deeply depressed after walking into a new room.
This is picking up on emotions left behind by others. Even after people leave a room, you are still sensitive to their energy.
4. Food affects your physical body more than most.
Empaths tend to be very physically sensitive, so what they put in their bodies is extra important. They can have intolerances to food, digestive issues, fatigue after certain foods, sensitivity to stimulants like caffeine and sugar, and will be affected by alcohol more than most.
Hydration is also very important for empaths because they tend to run dehydrated.
5. You need more relaxation time than most.
Because empaths experience emotional burn-out, their relaxation routine is very important. This includes warm baths, soft music, a strict meditation routine, and alone time to find themselves again. Journaling is also something empaths like to do, as writing in the first person can help re-solidify their identity.
6. You are very caring at your core but have a hard way of showing it.
Empaths are healers, so their energetic sensitivities are rooted in their capacity to care very deeply. However, because they have experienced energetic imbalances for so long, they begin to feel numb to this. Over time they can become cynical, jaded, judgemental, negative and create invisible walls between them and the rest of the world.
On the outside, people may view them as being cold and uncaring. But deep inside they carry seeds of compassion which they have had to protect from the world.
Feeling shut off to the world can create feelings of depression because their true nature is to show compassion.
How Do I Stop Being an Empath?
If you were born into this world being an empath, you cannot simply turn it off. However, you can manage your empathy by exercising the muscle so that you can have more control over this ability.
It is important to realize that being empathic, while unmanaged can be a burden, is actually an amazing gift. Empaths are extraordinary healers, compassionate to their core, and they have the capacity to positively impact the masses.
I once heard a Buddhist monk say that “empathy is compassion muscles not exercised.” This has always stuck with me because, in order to manage my own empathy, I have had to learn the art of compassion.
In my own journey navigating life being an empath, my greatest tool was to learn the art of compassion. I have strengthened this muscle by developing a regular meditation practice that helps me strengthen the love I feel for myself and for the world around me. This type of meditation is called “metta” meditation, and is very healing for empaths.
Crystals For Empaths
Along with lifestyle changes that can help turn unbalanced empathy into compassion, crystals can help transmute some of that extra energy and send it back to its original source. Here are some crystals that are helpful for empaths:
- Black Tourmaline: It offers protection from other people’s emotions and negative energy.
- Shungite: Especially helpful for empaths when used in the shape of a pyramid. This stone helps balance out overstimulated lower chakras and allows empaths to feel intuition through their psychic third eye instead of their 2nd chakra.
- Danburite: This chakra heals blocked emotions as a result of being empathic. It helps increase the acceptance of one’s self and of others.
- Smokey Quartz: This crystal helps you work through fear, stress, anger resentment, as well as lifts depression and fatigue. It teaches one how to let go of other people’s emotions.
- Chrysocolla: Helps empaths identify with their own energy and find their inner balance which imparts confidence and enhances personal power.
Being empathic is a gift if you can learn to manage your empathic abilities. Having this gift means that you are a healer, highly intuitive, and are compassionate to your core. When you are able to set boundaries with others and begin to strengthen your highest sense of self, you are able to manifest a higher reality on this earth.
Empaths are truly the balancers of this earth, thank goodness for you.