21 Empath Common Traits (Shared Characteristics Of Highly Sensitive People)

Do you wonder if you might be an empath? Do you know the difference between an empath and those who are simply empathic people? In this post we will discuss the different types of empaths and how they experience the world.  You will discover the 21 Empath Common Traits, the challenges of being an empath, and the shared attributes of empaths and highly sensitive people. 

First however, we need to understand that being an empath and having empathy for others is different. Even if you are highly empathic and connect well with others, it may not mean you are an empath. This post will discuss the characteristics that would indicate you’re likely an empath. You can take our Am I An Empath quiz.

empath common traits

Empaths are highly sensitive and have the innate ability to read, understand and resonate with other people’s emotions and feelings.  The constant picking up on other people’s feelings can be overwhelming for an empath and is why they will often isolate and take alone time to recharge.

We know that empaths are highly attuned and sensitive to their environment, and they have a great deal of understanding when it comes to the emotional wellbeing of others.

This emotional sensitivity enables empaths to actually “feel” the exact emotions of those around them.

1) The 3 Different Types Of Empaths.

There are three main, yet distinct, types which are determined by similar characteristics and shared traits

The Physical Empaths

Physical empaths don’t necessarily absorb others emotions, they actually feel sensations and experience others physical symptoms. These highly sensitive people can feel the pain and physical sensations being experienced by others and may even develop the symptoms. For example if someone in close proximity was suffering from migraine, the physical empath may develop migraine symptoms.

The Emotional Empaths

Those with emotional empathy possess a heightened sensitivity towards the emotions of others and effortlessly soak up those emotions. They start to feel, and begin to experience, the emotions of another individual as if they were their own. This particular type of empathy is commonly associated with the term “emotional empath”. 

The Intuitive Empath

The Intuitive shares the traits of both the physical and emotional as well as possessing highly developed intuition. They are extremely perceptive to others’ emotions.

They often absorb the feelings of others, and may even take on their suffering. They are highly compassionate, but like all empaths, they need to ensure a balance between caring for others and caring for themselves. Intuitive empaths are very sensitive to their environment so may also feel overwhelmed by noise and aroma.

Intuitive empaths approach the world through their intuition and “listen to their gut”  far more than their head.

2) Empaths May Struggle In Public Places

Public venues such as shopping malls, supermarkets, or places where there are large crowds of people can be difficult for empaths.

Because they absorb emotion, they can feel totally overwhelmed by this avalanche of feeling. This is why they usually dislike these types of places. They may actively avoid public places, and may not even understand why. This does not make them are antisocial. 

21 common empathic traits

3) Absorption Of Emotion Is One Of The Shared Traits Of An Empath

One of the signs you’re an empath is absorbing and reflecting someone else’s emotional state. Out of all the shared traits of empaths, this is the one that many struggle to cope with.

Empaths don’t just pick up on or identify with others’ feelings, they “absorb” them. They experience them as if they were their own.

While they all share this trait, some are more impacted by it than others. 

Some understand that the feelings are not their own, some sense only the emotions of people in close proximity, while others feel all the emotions regardless of the physical distance. Some claim that they know and sense if someone is thinking negative thoughts, or is saying negative things about them.

4) Empaths Tend To Abhor Cruelty And Violence

Watching, viewing, listening or reading about cruelty and violence is unbearable to an empath.

Empathic people tend to stop watching the television, listening to the radio and, in some cases, even reading the newspaper.  This is due to the level of emotion they experience when viewing scenes of cruelty and violence. 

Viewing or reading about violence and cruelty can lead them to actually feel the pain, or trauma, of those in the articles or on the news and become overwhelmed.

21 empath traits

5) Perception Of Honesty Is One Of The Empath Common Traits

Because empaths feel others emotions constantly they can recognize when something is real and when it is not, meaning they easily sense when someone is not being honest. If friends, family or loved ones are being dishonest they know it.

Often they will not make others aware that they have caught their lie. Instead they usually opt to save the person from embarrassment or hurt. 

When you’re highly sensitive you become finely tuned to the emotional state of others.  Therefore you easily identify and recognize when someone is saying one thing but thinking or feeling another.  If the emotion doesn’t feel right with the words being spoken you sense it clearly.

6) Solar Plexus Chakra Problems Of Highly Sensitive People.

Manipura, the Solar Plexus Chakra is the home of our emotional energy.

It is this energy center which enables the sensing of others feelings and emotions.

If an empath is unaware of this relationship their Solar Plexus Chakra can become weakened, unbalanced or blocked. This often leads to poor digestion, IBS or stomach ulcers. 

Imbalance within the Solar Plexus Chakra energy often manifests as physical ailments of the gut and lower back.

Therefore the empath must be aware that any lower back pain or any problems in this area being experienced is likely linked to this chakra, and due to them storing other peoples feeling, while also blocking their own.

This blockage of energy can lead to them not being properly “grounded”. If they experience symptoms such as dizziness, light headedness, or an inability to focus, alongside ailments of the lower back, stomach and gut areas it indicates the need for them to take time to balance the chakras and ground themselves.

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7) Empathic People Tend To Take On The Role of Protector

Because the empath is always looking for ways to relieve the pain of others they often take on the role of protector.  They hate to see others in emotional distress. It does not matter who the other person is, or their relationship to them, they will always be the first to offer compassion, love and caring attention to anyone suffering trauma, pain or upheaval.

8) A Need To Set Boundaries And Not Be A Baggage Handler

Empaths are often the first person others will go to when they feel upset or need reassurance. Because they are highly empathetic, the empath is constantly sought out by others who are experiencing emotional anguish.  Even perfect strangers feel comfortable confiding and discussing complex emotions with an empath.

However this constant giving is draining and can lead to exhaustion. The empath needs to balance feeling a sense of responsibility with the responsibility for their own self care. They need to set boundaries and take time out. This will help make sure they don’t unwittingly absorb and take on the emotional baggage of others.

9) Tiredness And Exhaustion Are Key Challenges Of Being An Empath

Because they constantly feel the emotions of others most empaths experience what is known as “energy exchange overload”. Simply put this means they are continually absorbing negative emotional energy and giving back their own positive energy. It is like being a human sized battery and so eventually they can feel drained.

They also need to be aware of those people around them and identify any toxic people or “energy vampires”. These types of people are easily recognized once they spend time thinking on the matter.

They are the people that continually seek comfort and support. They can be recognized if their need for support happens too regularly. What is actually occurring is the vampire, or narcissist, is using this time to drain the empath of their positive energy and then, when they are topped up with all of the positive emotion, they disappear into the night. Only to reappear when they want more.

Life as an empath requires them to develop self awareness of those around them and understand their own limits. They must recognize when it is necessary to remove themselves from a situation.  This helps to prevent them becoming other peoples emotional dumping grounds.

It is also important that they learn how to release the energy and emotion they have taken from others.  This needs to be done consciously and regularly, with either meditation or chakra balancing visualization exercises.  Once they become overloaded with others emotional energies they can find they are unable to recognize or deal with their own. 

10) Overload Of Emotions and Feelings Can Lead To An Addictive Personality

Alcohol, drug and sex addiction is sadly very common. This is often associated with their heightened sensitivity. For those unaware of their empathic nature, or who are struggling to cope with it, the desire to find something to make the feelings stop can become consuming.

What starts as a form of self protection, in an attempt to block out unwanted and unrecognized emotions becomes addiction. Being unable to understand where these feelings of hurt come from, and not knowing how to release this stockpile of emotion can lead them to seek alternative methods of relief and develop self destructive behaviors.

common traits of the empath

11) Energy Healing And Holistic Therapy

Empaths are naturally drawn to the metaphysical. They have a natural talent for healing and can become excellent healers, often choosing crystals as their choice of modality

Sadly many empaths can feel hesitant about becoming involved in healing practices, especially if they are still unsure about what it means to be an empath.

This is understandable, and stems from an anxiety that by taking part in healing they will end up taking on too much toxicity or negativity from the people they come in contact with.  They worry that this interaction may lead them to become ill or even more exhausted.

Once the empath comes to terms with their nature they often feel more confident and less concerned.  Therefore they can follow the natural attraction they have to the metaphysical, such as holistic healing methodologies and the supernatural. Due to their intuition they are also more able to accept the possibility of psychic phenomena and divine universal knowledge.

When they understand that being an empath is a gift they can become extremely powerful healers and develop very accurate clairvoyance, clairsentience and clairaudience.

12) Empaths Are Highly Creativity.

The creative empath has a vivid imagination.  Any field that allows them to use their creativity and imagination is the perfect job for an empath, and is why so many of them become outstanding actors, dancers, musicians and writers.

13) A Love Of Nature.

They have a deep connection with animals and nature. They love their pets, often having many, and they have an almost urgent need to spend a lot of time outdoors.  When they take time out and allow themselves to become immersed in nature they find a space where they can actually feel their own emotions. This brings them joy and from this they develop a profound sense of peace.

14) They Need Alone Time To Recharge.

All empaths need alone time.  While other people may seek lots of attention and crave the stimuli of others, the empath are introverts, and so need and enjoy times of solitude.

The empath is someone who happily, and necessarily, seeks solitude. This is the time when the empath’s batteries can recharge and re-energize.

15) The Easily Distracted Introvert

Life needs to be kept interesting for an empath.  If they become bored, or do not feel intellectually stimulated, they often become distracted and end up lost in daydreams. While this may not sound serious it can become an issue as their daydreams can span a significant time and may lead to them choosing to remain longer and longer in their own world.

16) The Necessity For Enjoyable Activities.

If they are engaged in activities they enjoy the empath will thrive and be highly successful. They are unable, and find it almost impossible, to take part in activities or do things they don’t enjoy.

The term empath resonates with openness and honesty.  They take a similar stance with expressing their dislikes and can become very unhappy if they feel pressurized, or guilt tripped, into doing something they dislike.

This doesn’t mean they are idle, lazy or lack empathy for the organizer. They just can’t force themselves to do something they don’t enjoy.

common traits of the empath personality

17) Life As An Empath Makes Them A Seeker of Truth.

Empaths know when they are being told the truth and when they are not. If they feel deceived, or pick up on inconsistencies,  the empath will be driven to seek the truth of the situation.  This often is done regardless of the hurt it may cause to themselves.

Anything that is untrue simply “feels wrong” and this means empaths will not rest until they discover the truth.  While they may not let on that they are aware of the dishonesty of others it does not mean they will let it pass.  They will actively seek to find the truth and will not rest until they do!.

Why This Need For Truth And Answers?

Empaths do not like unfinished business.  They are uncomfortable when they do not understand a situation, and more often they are uncomfortable when they sense an answer or statement does not match the emotion they felt.  This mismatch causes them confusion. The necessity to seek truth is in essence a personal need to understand the feeling and why it has them confused.

This means they are constantly seeking knowledge that allows them to resolve confusion by providing an answer.  Unanswered questions or unfinished business is highly frustrating to them, and they will strive to find the explanation for any mismatch between what they are told and what they feel.

If they think their traits will help they use them. For example if their intuition is sparked, or they sense “feelings of knowing” about something that seems to be hidden and not in the open they will seek the truth.

Likewise when they sense they are being deceived, or not being told the full truth, they are unable to let it go or forget it and will seek to confirm that their intuition is correct.

The downside of this truth seeking behavior is it often alienates others who don’t understand why they can’t just let the matter go. If the behavior continues, which we know it will, people often end up viewing the empath as pushy or overbearing.

18) The Highly Attuned Empath Spirit

Well adjusted and self aware empaths have a naturally curious, open and adventurous spirit.  They love excitement, travel and the sense of freedom. They do not enjoy being forced into decisions, being tied down by expectation, or being made to feel restricted. Because if this they can become impulsive decision makers.

They seriously dislike routine, rules and being controlled. One of their life lessons is to be able to strike a balance between their independent, nonconformist spirit and societal expectation.

empath common traits

19) Intimate Relationship and Self Protection.

Because the empath is an “emotional sponge,” and absorb the feelings from other people very easily they become very attractive to narcissists. The narcissist view the empath as someone who will fulfill all their needs, and will do it in a selfless way even to their own detriment.

The empath is not someone keen on small talk, however if in a close relationship they place great value on deep communication and can often become very intense. This may cause their partner confusion as one moment the relationship is communicative and intense, and the next moment the empath requires space, timeout and independence.  The solution is to be as open and honest with them as they will be with you. but do this in a calm manner.

Empaths often unaware, seek methods of self protection. This is why many will have issues with gaining weight and often this happens without them overeating

Subconsciously they see the added weight as a form of additional protection.  Protection against the constant incoming emotional energies and the impact these emotions have on them personally.

Unfortunately weight offers no protection against emotion.  In fact the feelings are often compounded as the excess weight  causes the Empath to develop negative thoughts of themself.

20) Empathy Builds Excellent Listeners.

Empaths do not often speak about themselves unless it is to a very close loved one or friend.

However they will listen actively, attentively and compassionately to anyone.  They love to learn about others. Not for any gratuitous reasons but because they genuinely care and they desperately want to help others to heal.

21) Intolerance Of Ego.

Empaths are kind, generous and tolerant.

However they cannot stand be in the company of people with huge egos.  Similarly they are uncomfortable in the presence of those that show a disrespect or lack of care towards others.

Empaths who are not attuned to other peoples emotional state, or are still unaware of being an empath, must be particularly careful.

Their sense of compassion, and their unwillingness to abandon others in need, can often lead to them becoming involved with the narcissistic personality type. This sadly is all too common and can lead to disastrous personal emotional states for Empaths.

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Conclusion : Unable To Put On A Public Face.

Empaths display and reflect their absorbed feelings. If they are surrounded by positive happy people they will take on these characteristics.

If they have absorbed too much negative emotion they can appear to be quiet, unsociable and even unhappy.

The Empath has no “Public Face”.  They are unable and unwilling to pretend to be happy when they are not.

Likewise empaths are unable to hide their delight and happiness.

If Empaths feel others are uncomfortable with their display of emotion they will try to “fix the problem” and attempt to hide their true feelings.

Because they have no public face the only way they have to hide their feelings is to hide themselves.  Thereby isolating themselves and becoming withdrawn.  This is often misunderstood by others who may consider them to be aloof or shy.

Empaths are “What you see is what you get” when it comes to emotions matching the moment.

Please share this post if you enjoyed it. If you wish to know more about the energy of the empath or ask further questions please leave me a comment below.  I will respond asap. Alternatively feel free to contact me directly by clicking here.

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Educator and International Leadership Consultant with over 20 years experience, and still loving it! Qualified and Licensed Reiki Master Teacher, Hypnotherapist and Chakra Energy Health Body Worker. A traveler, a foodie and a knowledge seeker with a passion for all things healthy, herbal and energy holistic!

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