At the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, there was an ongoing TikTok trend about empaths — or, I should say, people who think they are empaths. If you haven’t seen the trend, watch one of the most popular videos here.
These videos were meant to point out and make light of people who are clearly not in tune with other people’s emotions and energy, but continue to insist that they are extremely empathetic for self-serving reasons such as gaining attention, making themselves feel special, or recognition from others. We found these videos so interesting, as they really sparked the discussion of what an empath really is.
Oftentimes, narcissists and empaths will attract each other. As polar opposites, the empath will pour everything they have into the relationship with the narcissist, and the narcissist will enjoy every moment without actually reciprocating any of that energy. Being attached to an empath also makes it easy for a narcissistic person to fly under the radar.
The narcissist uses the empath as a buffer between themselves and others, leaving it up to the empath to clean up the messes they create with other people or mirroring the empath’s behavior as a means of playing the victim. Much like the situations described in the TikToks, narcissists will refer to themselves as empathetic when, in truth, they are perceiving other people’s most basic and obvious feelings or needs and only mirroring the empath.
Empaths can have a difficult time disconnecting from narcissistic partners, friends, and family, and letting go of their need to care for others, as they absorb the energy around them and dislike conflict. So many of our clients are deeply empathetic, and it takes an understanding of how empaths work to know how to break toxic cycles and create a life made just for them.
Here are 5 signs you are an empath:
You are deeply sensitive to other people’s emotions and energy.
If you are an empathetic person, you have most likely been described as overly sensitive or emotional. Empaths feel the energy of those around them on a deeper level than most, and can be overwhelmed by big personalities, large groups of people, or high-stress situations.
This can be a weakness in that some people will not be able to understand how the emotions and energy of other people can weigh down on you so much. You may need more time alone, as being around people can be draining and you’re more prone to sensory overload.
Ultimately, though, your sensitivity is your strength. Empaths are great listeners, reliable friends, and kind people. You feel other people’s pain, and seek to help them. You just have to learn to set boundaries to keep yourself from being overwhelmed.
You set poor boundaries.
We get it, you hate to hurt other people’s feelings, but you can’t let people walk all over you for the sake of avoiding conflict. Repeat after me:
I don’t have to help everyone all of the time.
It’s okay to put myself first.
When you’re feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, or like you need a break, it’s okay to prioritize your own needs and set boundaries with others. It’s okay to tell people no. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself absorbing the hurt feelings of the person you’re trying to communicate with, but it’s vital to find a way to release other people’s energy and focus on replenishing your own.
You need to know yourself before you can set boundaries, and for many of our clients who have a hard time setting boundaries, uncovering who they are is the first step. Learn how with our signature PRIDE Method™ Framework.
You chose a profession where you help people.
We love this about you! Empaths make the most amazing nurses, counselors, social workers, teachers, and more, but you need to learn how to release other people’s energy when you get home from work. Empathetic people are not good at establishing a work/life balance, and will go out of their way for their coworkers, students, patients, etc. You deserve time to rest outside of work.
When you get home for the day, stand outside your front door, take a deep breath, and say,
"As I enter this space, I call back the energy that belongs to me and release the energy that is not mine back to the universe.”
Repeat that phrase as many times as you need to recenter yourself and release the tension from the day. Focus on letting go of what is not yours, and embracing the return of your inner peace. Be kind to yourself, and remember that you deserve the kindness you extend to everyone else.
You’re highly intuitive, and people can sense it.
Have you ever gotten a gut feeling that turned out to be true? Can you tell when someone is lying? Do people joke that you may be psychic? It all comes down to your connection to the world around you.
For you, this can manifest in strong intuition. You know when something just feels right, and you use that ability to navigate through life. Your intuition can help you make important decisions and see things in others that they may not even see in themselves. For people on the outside, your deep connection to emotions and energy acts as a magnet.
Empaths see the truth. Their intuition and sensitivity cuts through the façade that others try to put up, and the people who need them can see that and want to tap into the wisdom. Friends and relatives will often share things with you that they wouldn’t share with others. You may have deep conversations with strangers who you never see again. When you get to know someone, you can tell them things about themselves that they either didn’t see or try very hard to hide.
While this is something special when you are in the headspace to do that emotional labor, it can be extremely draining over time. It’s important to create a protective “bubble” around you…this is something Keely does with all of our empathetic clients!
You feel deeply connected to nature.
Because empaths are highly sensitive to noise, people, and stress, nature can act as the perfect escape for you. The serene setting of a forest, river, canyon, beach, or mountain is the exact opposite of most modern people’s day-to-day life, and can be so healing for an empath experiencing burnout.
This goes back to the empath’s need for time alone. Getting out into nature is the perfect way to experience the peace that you need to recharge your batteries and be the best version of yourself possible. Most of the time, empaths are also extremely drawn to animals, as animals do not project their emotions or energy onto them. Being out in nature, surrounded by animals, is the perfect way to be alone without really being alone.
If you’re still not sure that you’re an empath, check out this empath self-assessment from Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist that focuses on the power of empathy.
Dani & Keely
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