Authors & Thought Leaders

The Top 10 Traits of an Empath

Published on May 12, 2018

Article by Judith Orloff, MD for Bodhi Tree

The Empath’s Survival Guide book cover

In my new book The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People, I emphasize that the trademark of an empath is that they feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms. They filter the world through their intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing their feelings.

As a psychiatrist and empath myself, I know the challenges of being a highly sensitive person. When overwhelmed with the impact of stressful emotions, empaths can have panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue, food, sex and drug binges, and many physical symptoms that defy traditional medical diagnosis.

But an empath doesn’t have to feel too much and be overloaded once they learn how to center and ground themselves. The first step is to acknowledge that you are an empath.

Here, I outline the top 10 traits of an empath from the book. See if you can relate to them.

Top 10 Traits of an Empath

1. Empaths are highly sensitive.

Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually open and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers. But they can easily have their feelings hurt. Empaths are often told that they are “too sensitive” and need to toughen up.

Tip: Change your thought programming. Say to yourself, “I have a gift. I am not ‘too sensitive.’”

2. Empaths absorb other people’s emotions.

Empaths are highly attuned to other people’s moods—good and bad. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme. They take on negativity such as anger or anxiety, which can be exhausting. When empaths are around peace and love, their bodies take these on and flourish.

Tip: Breathe out negative emotions or physical symptoms where you feel you have absorbed them from others. This will help to release them.

3. Many empaths are introverted.

Empaths become overwhelmed in crowds, which can amplify their empathy. They tend to be introverted and prefer one-to-one contact or small groups. Even if an empath is more extroverted, they prefer limiting how much time they can be in a crowd or at a party.

Tip: Set a compassionate limit for how much time you socialize and set that loving limit with yourself.

4. Empaths are highly intuitive.

Empaths experience the world through their intuition. It is important for them to develop their intuition and listen to their gut feelings about people. This will help empaths find positive relationships and avoid energy vampires.

Tip: Take a few quiet moments to tune into your gut each day and honor those feelings.

5. Empaths need alone time.

As super-responders, being around people can drain an empath, so they periodically need alone time to recharge their batteries. Even a brief escape prevents emotional overload.

Tip: Take your own car when you go places so you can leave when you please.

6. Empaths can become overwhelmed in intimate relationships.

Too much togetherness can be difficult for an empath, so they may avoid intimate relationships. Deep down they are afraid of being engulfed and losing their identity. For empaths to be at ease in a relationship, the traditional paradigm for being a couple must be redefined.

Tip: For strategies, see my article Relationship Tips for Sensitive People.

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. Vampires do more than drain an empath’s physical energy. The 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.

Tip: Identify the energy vampires in your life and begin to set healthy boundaries with them. As I say in The Empath’s Survival Guide, “No” is a complete sentence.

8. Empaths are replenished by nature.

The busyness of everyday life can be too much for an empath. The natural world nourishes and restores them. It helps them to release their burdens and they take refuge in the presence of green wild things, the ocean or other bodies of water.

Tip: Spend regular time in nature to replenish yourself.

9. Empaths have highly tuned senses.

An empath’s nerves can get frayed by noise, smells or excessive talking.

Tip: Honor this in yourself and avoid loud noise or unpleasant smells whenever possible.

10. Empaths have huge hearts but sometimes give too much.

Empaths are big-hearted people who try to relieve the pain of others. A homeless person holding an “I’m hungry” sign at a busy intersection, a hurt child or a distraught friend. It’s natural to want to reach out to them and ease their pain. But empaths don’t stop there. Instead, they take it on. Suddenly, they’re the one feeling drained or upset when they felt fine before.

Tip: Practice self-care and don’t overgive compulsively.

As an empath myself, I use many strategies to protect my sensitivities, such as fierce time management, setting limits and boundaries with draining people, meditation to calm and center myself and being in nature. Being an empath is a gift in my life, but I have had to learn to take care of myself. Empaths have special needs. It’s important to honor yours and communicate them to loved ones. It is then that your sensitivities can flourish and you can have all the happiness you deserve.

Published on: May 12, 2018

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