When it comes to the topic of empathy, most people struggle to define the central character traits of empaths. They are left wondering what an empathic person actually is and whether or not they themselves classify as an empath. Most people also have great difficulties in answering the essential question on the subject: what is an empath? In the following, we will present you the central character traits of empathic people and give you interesting insights into the psyche of empaths. If you are wondering whether or not you are an empath, the following will help you to find a definite answer. (You may also be interested in the article Develop Empathy by Walking a Mile in Someone’s Shoes).
A large proportion of humanity is – to a greater or lesser extent – able to empathize (in one form or the other) with others. However, only few can be considered true empaths. Consequently, it’s relatively easy to figure out whether or not you are an empath. Once you read through the following list of character traits that define empathic people, you can quickly tell if you classify as an empath. Even more so, someone is either a full empath, a person that can empathize (to a higher or lower degree) or a psychopath/narcissist (unable to empathize at all). There is almost no in-between these three personality types.
This makes it all the easier for you to discover if you are an empath.
“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
Daniel H. Pink
Let’s have a quick look at what an empath is and what it means to be empathic.
What is an empath?
An empathic person is highly affected by other people’s feelings, emotions, and energies but also their actions and thoughts. Empaths have the innate ability to deeply understand the people they are confronted with. They perceive the underlying motivations of other people’s actions, their intentions, and their desires. In a sense, they are – consciously or unconsciously – able to tune into other people and to deeply understand them on an emotional level. At the same time, empathic people unknowingly adopt the emotions and feelings of others.
It’s this ability to deeply resonate with other people and to take on their energetic state that can cause empaths many great difficulties. This is especially true when the empathic person is not at all aware of their innate ability and/or is surrounded by highly toxic and manipulative people.
For instance, people that can be considered empaths struggle enormously with unexplainable physical, psychological, and emotional pain. They may be suffering from chronic fatigue, high levels of stress, and are overwhelmed by their high levels of sensitivity.
Before we have a look at the main character traits of empaths, let’s define what empathy means and what an empathic person is.
Definition of empathy
Empathy is the ability of a person to place themselves in another’s position. Consequently, an empathic person is someone who is able to empathize with others.
To summarize, empathic people are highly sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions. For this reason, they (often unconsciously) accumulate the energy of others and struggle greatly with these external influences.
Let’s have a look at the traits of empathic people.
40 Character Traits of an Empath
The following list of character traits will help you to find out whether or not you are an empath. This list will also come in handy when trying to figure out if a person you know is an empath.
1. Highly sensitive
People who are naturally empathic are very sensitive to their environment and quickly pick up even the slightest changes in others. Their sensitivity is not just limited to physical sensations – it especially includes interpersonal aspects. They can “feel into” other people and are able to deeply understand their emotions, motivations, and feelings.
2. Highly intuitive
In many instances, empaths are deeply in touch with their own feelings and emotions. They have a much better understanding of their own emotional landscape than many others. Consequently, empathic people have learned to take note of their gut instincts and are very intuitive. They can sense things long before others take note. At the same time, their intuition helps them to avoid people that are highly toxic and manipulative.
3. Very introverted (in many cases)
Just because someone is introverted does not necessarily imply they are an empath and vice versa. Not all empathic people are necessarily introverts. However, many empaths prefer to limit their social interactions to good-spirited, kind, and well-known friends or family members. They quickly feel overwhelmed when having to interact with big groups of people. As a result, they often prefer to spend time alone, as social interactions tend to amplify their innate abilities.
4. Very selfless
Whereas egotists only think about themselves, empaths often tend to completely ignore their own needs. In many cases, they are so concerned with the well-being of others
that they totally forget to take care of themselves. Sometimes, empaths may even become so immersed in a humanitarian project that they completely disregard anything else, even if it causes them great difficulties.
5. Connects with others (too) quickly
An empathic person is very skillful at connecting with others. At the same time, it can happen that they connect way too quickly with others without noticing. In a sense, they connect with other people on such an intimate and deep level in such a short time that others may not be able to follow their pace. For this reason, these people may feel as if the empath is too quickly bonding with them, which simply feels unnatural to them.
6. Sometimes too forgiving
Empaths often see themselves in others. For this reason, they deeply understand the problems and challenges other people are confronted with. Even more so, they are quite aware how the emotional baggage that some people carry on their shoulders influences their behavior. For this reason, they are sometimes too forgiving of other people’s unacceptable and rude behavior. Instead of not allowing others to treat them disrespectfully, empaths are very likely to make excuses for other people’s behavior.
7. Tendency to put others before themselves
People that are very empathic are not only very selfless, as mentioned in the above. But they also have the tendency to put others before themselves. They are naturally inclined to believe that the needs of others are far more important than their very own needs.
8. Discovers lies and deceptions astonishingly quick
In many ways, empaths appear to have the unique ability to quickly see through other people’s lies and manipulations. They may be highly suspicious of untruthful people, while many of their friends haven’t noticed a thing.
9. Innate desire to better the world
Many of the actions of highly empathic people are driven by their wish to make the world a better place. They spend a lot more time with activities of a humanitarian or charitable nature than on more self-centered projects.
10. Inquisitive in nature
Another character trait of empaths is their inquisitiveness. They seldom are satisfied with the evidence that is to be found on the surface. For this reason, they continuously try to see what is hidden behind the curtain. Similarly, they repeatedly inquire about the nature of reality. Not only are they always seeking for answers but they also love to pose themselves thought-provoking questions that make them philosophize.
Empaths are often perceived to be absent-minded, forgetful, or inattentive. In almost all instances, empathic people are so overwhelmed by the sea of emotions they are swimming in, that they totally lose focus. They are swayed away by the chaotic emotions they are surrounded with, which often leads them to become fully immersed in these thoughts and emotions.
12. Willingness to accept full responsibility
Numerous people are confronted with the problem that they always blame others for their own faults. An empathic person is quite the opposite. Instead of routinely seeking the fault in their environment or external circumstances, empaths take full responsibility for their own actions. In many instances, this tremendously helps them to effect beneficial changes in their lives. However, it can also happen that they accept responsibility for things they are not at all responsible for.
13. Highly creative
An empathic person is (more often than not) very creative. They love to spend their time with activities that allow them to use their imagination and creativity. Empaths are more likely to be artists, writers, musicians, painters, and designers than accountants, lawyers, and engineers.
14. Easily distracted, tendency to daydream
Empaths struggle to maintain focus, especially when interacting with many people or when having to perform tasks they don’t enjoy. These two situations often lead them to become fully immersed in their own thoughts.
15. Ability to absorb other’s feelings and emotions
Another trait of empaths is their ability to deeply tune into other people. Consequently, they are able to thoroughly understand others on an emotional level. Even more so, empathic people are exceptionally attuned to how other people feel. As a result of this intense connection with other people, empaths are very likely to absorb the mood and emotions of those they interact with. This innate ability can cause them to unconsciously take on a great deal of negativity from others.
16. Difficulty to relax when others are around
An empathic person specifically seeks time alone because it helps them to refresh their batteries. One reason for this is that they are unable to fully relax in the presence of other people. They cannot fully let themselves go in these situations, which makes it incredibly difficult to fully feel at ease and comfortable when others are around.
17. Dislike of selfish, dull, and mean people
Another character trait of an empath is that they simply cannot stand it to be around toxic and egotistical people. They do not only dislike the behavior of these people but are also disgusted by the way they treat others.
18. Highly compassionate
Empathic people are very compassionate with others. They are tolerant of other people’s insecurities, weaknesses, and mistakes. They are often able to see themselves in others, which is why they treat others very kindly – even if they don’t really deserve it.
19. Tendency to spend much time alone
To an empathic person, interacting with people can be – both mentally and physically – draining. This is especially true when they are confronted with ignorant, small-minded, and selfish people. For this reason, empaths are very likely to schedule some “alone time” in order to recharge their depleted batteries. However, if empathic people are unable to spend time with themselves, they quickly experience emotional overload.
20. Often obsessed with order and cleanliness
If there’s one thing empathic people absolutely do not like it is chaos and clutter. For this reason, they prefer minimalistic and clutter-free environments. In many instances, they themselves are minimalists.
21. Difficulty to identify source of emotions
When an empathic person is interacting with others, they may often struggle to differentiate between other people’s emotions and their own. As a result, they are not always able to identify if certain emotions they experience originate from within themselves or not.
22. Often misused as dumping ground for emotional baggage
Empaths often understand the emotional landscape of someone else much better than the person themselves does. As a result, many of their friends will seek consultation and help during times of great difficulties. Unfortunately, some people misuse empaths simply to get rid of their emotional baggage without actually caring for the empathic person.
23. Suffers from fatigue
Many empaths constantly feel drained without really knowing why. This can develop into a really severe problem, especially when the person in question is not aware of their high sensibility towards other people’s emotions. Luckily, many empathic people slowly begin to understand that spending time alone helps them to recharge their batteries after social interactions. This, in turn, helps them to reduce the fatigue they experience.
24. Overwhelmed in public places
Empaths quickly feel overwhelmed when they are in public places or really crowded areas. They prefer to avoid such places and specifically engage in activities that allow them to do so.
25. Dislike of violence and drama
It’s no surprise that one never comes across an empath that enjoys watching any form of violence on TV. They are – in most cases – pretty optimistic people, which is why they are not particularly fond of watching or reading fear-based news reports. Similarly, they do not like to engage in cruel or violent spare time activities.
26. Strongly connected to animals
Another very interesting trait of empathic people is that they are able to connect more deeply with animals than most others. They deeply care for the well-being of animals and suffer greatly when they see animals in pain.
27. Difficulty to say “no”
Empathic people incredibly struggle in situations where they have to reject others. Generally, they don’t really like to say “no.” In fact, they will often give their very best to avoid such situations. The reason for this is quite simple: they deeply understand how hurtful it can be to be rejected. They also know intuitively how unpleasant a “no” can be, especially when one really needs help. Consequently, empathic people often accept responsibilities without considering their own limitations.
Further reading: Learn to Say “No”
28. Problems with digestion
Don’t ask me why this is the case, but interestingly enough, many empaths have digestive disorders. One reason for this could be that empaths generally have energetic problems in the area where the solar plexus is located.
29. Sometimes overwhelmed when relationships get too intimate
As was already mentioned in the above, many empaths need much time for themselves. However, when they are in an intimate relationship, time alone can be quite scarce. Consequently, many empathic people feel exceptionally overwhelmed with relationships that get too intimate. To them, such a relationship endangers their ability to recharge depleted batteries. At the same time, they may be afraid of losing themselves and their identity in the relationship.
30. Lower back problems
It was already addressed that many empathic people suffer from digestive problems. Another consequence of energetic problems in the solar plexus area can manifest as lower back problems. Various sources attribute these problems to the fact that a person that does not know that they are an empath is less likely to engage in activities that ground them.
31. Absolutely hates injustice
Empathic people simply cannot stand it to be confronted with injustices. To them, it does not matter whether they are affected by it or not. They are often completely overwhelmed by the injustice they themselves and other people are experiencing. Such injustices to not only give them a tremendously tough time but they can also cause empaths to seek possible solutions, even if this search takes weeks or months.
32. Prefers to support underdogs
An empath feels drawn to underdogs and will often give their very best to support them in any way they can.
High levels of control, rules and tight regulations are soul-crushing in the eyes of an empath. Similarly, having to obey such rules and being forced to adapt to fixed routines feels highly imprisoning to an empath. While many others feel secure in such stable environments, empathic people prefer freedom, individuality, and adventure.
34. Particularly targeted by emotionally weak people
Empaths are very often targeted by people who – either knowingly or unconsciously – seek to drain their energy. The influence of these “psychic vampires” often leaves empathic people feeling depleted, exhausted, and inexplicably depressed. These emotionally weak people are, for instance, narcissists, drama queens, self-perceived victims, and many other abusive people.
35. Driven to spend time in nature
Nature helps empathic people to rejuvenate. They may somehow feel more at ease and refreshed when being in nature. Spending time outside helps them to ground themselves and to release the pressure of a hectic and busy environment.
36. Often confronted with synchronicities
It often seems as if empathic people are more in tune with themselves and others. For this reason, they often experience unexplainable synchronicities. They may be thinking about a particular person only moments before this for a person calls them on the phone. Or they may feel that a beloved person is somehow in trouble, even if that person is far away.
37. Easily manipulated by others
In the above, we’ve already covered that empaths have struggled to say “no.” Consequently, they are often confronted with people that have learned to manipulate them by using guilt trips. These manipulators have discovered that the empathic person struggles to meet decisions that make others feel disappointed or angry, which is why they can easily exploit them.
38. Often times too generous
If one of your friends is a highly empathic person, you will know that their kindness and big-heartedness (almost) knows no limits. Empathic people care to a great extent for the well-being of others. Often times, they make a great effort to solve other people’s problems and to relieve their suffering. In many instances, however, empaths give so generously that they are either exploited or simply don’t know when they have reached their limitations.
39. Finely-tuned senses
Another important characteristic of almost all empaths is the fact that their senses are highly tuned. For many others, such a person may appear as overly sensitive.
40. Confidential person to many of their friends
Without really knowing why, many empaths are the chosen confidants of their friends, family members, and those they interact with. They often hear sentences such as “I’ve never told this anyone before” or “I don’t even know why am telling you this.” In general, many people feel very comfortable around empaths and are therefore more likely to share intimate secrets that they wouldn’t share with anybody else.
“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”
Tips for empaths to find balance
If many of the character traits mentioned in the above perfectly describe who you are and how you feel, it is very likely that you are an empath. Here’s what you can do to rebalance yourself:
- Have the courage to draw clear lines
- Don’t allow others to mistreat you or to trample upon you
- Don’t accept other people’s misbehavior, make no excuses for them
- Know your comfort level for social interactions and limit your socializing accordingly
- Ground yourself by meditating daily
- Go out in nature as often as you can
- Regularly spend some time alone
- Learn to shut out other people’s emotions at will
- Don’t look at yourself in the middle of a crowded area, try to stay in the corners
- Have the courage to say “no”
Being an empath comes with many challenges and difficulties. Luckily, many empaths have learned to develop effective strategies that help them to protect themselves. One such strategy is to meditate regularly as it helps you to better cope with stressful situations. Another important step that empathic people can undertake is to limit the time they spend with draining and toxic people. But they can also set themselves limits and regular breaks, which help them to stay centered.
The better you learn to cope with your innate abilities, the less likely it will be that you perceive your gift as a burden. Instead, you will learn to wisely use these special gifts for the benefit of all the people around you and your own well-being.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the most common character traits of empaths.