Have you ever experienced loss or trauma, and somebody told you that they feel for you? Although most people can relate to the shared human condition, some have a natural gift for empathy. If you have some of the traits of the most empathetic people, you understand well.
Sympathy vs. Empathy
It’s a common mistake to use these connecting emotions interchangeably. However, they aren’t because one involves a more profound emotional attachment. You can be sympathetic to another’s burdens while not being empathetic.
An article published by the American Psychological Association explains that these emotions entail different psychological processes. According to the report, sympathy involves a heightened awareness of another person’s pain, while empathy seeks to understand those subjective feelings. They have also been used differently throughout history.
For example, your friend could be grieving the death of a pet, and you feel bad for them. In response to your sympathy, you tell them that you’re sorry for their loss and you’re there for them. It’s the kind thing to do for anyone who has experienced a loss or is struggling with a problem.
Although you’ve expressed your sympathy, you can’t have genuine empathy for your friend’s situation unless you’ve experienced a similar loss. Empathetic people seek to share the pain with their friends because they can relate. It’s not saying, “I know how you feel,” but rather, you’re a loving presence.
Psychologists define an empath as a person who is so connected to others that they absorb the same feelings, often at their own expense. These most empathetic people tend to be emotionally intelligent and highly intuitive.
Some empaths have explained their personality as being emotional sponges. They instantly connect with other people’s feelings and share in their pain. Such empathy often leaves them exhausted and emotionally drained.
Behaviors of the Most Empathetic People
Would you describe yourself as a person who can display empathy? Maybe it envelopes your life to the point of being an empath. Here are 12 behaviors of the most empathetic people to consider.
1. The Most Empathetic People Are Highly Sensitive
Some people can turn their emotions on and off like a light switch. While they can show empathy for others, they know how to draw healthy boundaries for their own sake. However, many of the most empathetic people are so sensitive to the emotional atmosphere that they’re in sympathetic overdrive.
Perhaps you’ve had people tell you that you’re highly sensitive or even too emotional. Empaths make the best friends lean on during times of trouble. However, their heightened sensitivity can also make them easy to offend or upset.
2. Empathetic People Are Introverted
A strongly empathetic person would be most comfortable in a crowd. They are more approachable and easier for starting a conversation. However, most empathetic people tend to shy away from the limelight and retreat to a personal haven.
Being in a multitude of people or even a tiny get-together may be too overwhelming for empaths. All the individual emotions become a tidal wave for their sensitive soul to absorb. So, they do best by sharing experiences on a one-on-one basis.
3. Most Empathetic People Experience Heightened Intuition
According to an article published by the Association for Psychological Science, intuition can make successful decisions without relying on analytical thought. The article shares a study by the University of New South Wales which suggests that unconscious information from your body and brain may help you make better decisions in life.
While many people use their intuition occasionally, the most empathetic people often use it as their life’s compass. They aren’t afraid to trust their gut feelings about others and situations. They’ve learned to develop their self-awareness and are usually open to their inner voice.
4. Empathetic People Thrive in a Natural Environment
Empaths are at their best when communing with nature. They are often smothered by the bustles of the concrete jungle and prefer the great outdoors. These sensitive souls feel an innate connection with plants and animals and thrive in any nature-oriented career. They have a passion for the environment and are unique conservationists.
5. Empathetic People Have Heightened Senses
An empathetic person not only has a heightened sense of intuition, but their other five senses are usually on the same level. These are the people who often are troubled by too much light or noise. They can also have a keen sense of hearing, taste, and smell.
It’s these hyper senses that can make being in a crowd miserable for them. Everyone talking at once, the laughter, clatter, and bright lights can send them to a hasty retreat. However, this condition serves them well as they enjoy the outdoors and their private sanctuary.
6. Most Empathetic People Crave Solitude
If you’re among the most empathetic people, you know how healing solitude can be for your entire being. After absorbing the emotional waves of others throughout the day, empaths need time to recharge alone in their sacred space. Some find comfort in meditation, journaling, and gentle stretching exercises.
This longing for solitude often makes empathetic people more independent. They usually like to do things their way in their own time. These people are often in artistic and other creative fields.
During these refreshing times, empaths reflect on their lives and discover what doesn’t work for them anymore. They discard these and other toxic feelings that people have stuck on them. The only caveat is not to be so isolated that they lose human connections.
7. Intimate Relationships Can Challenge an Empathetic Person
Those who have an empathetic partner are blessed with someone who is in tune with their feelings. Unfortunately, intimate relationships can be difficult for empaths because they don’t want to lose themselves in the tangle of emotions. They may remain emotionally distant to protect themselves.
8. Empaths Are Good Listeners
Anyone can hear what you say and nod their head absently, silently constructing what they’ll say next. However, empathetic people easily connect in conversation and are active listeners. They instinctively mirror your emotions and use deceptive body language.
These empaths are the ones you want in your corner when you need a shoulder for crying. They’ll listen without interrupting and won’t pass judgment on what they hear. Plus, they cherish friendship and will keep your conversations in the strictest of confidence.
9. Empaths Embrace Spirituality
It’s not unusual for people to equate spirituality with religion. The fact is that you can be a spiritual person with no faith. The most empathetic people embrace spirituality as part of their triune being of body, mind, and spirit.
While they may not subscribe to any deities, sacred writings, or tradition, they are often in touch with the Universe. They feel the pain and injustices in the world, and they search for ways to make a difference in their community. Empaths are usually tolerant of other beliefs and seek to find common ground with others.
10. Most Empathetic People Realize That They Can Attract Toxic People
One of the downsides of being an empath is that you are easily drawn into people’s emotional turmoil. It becomes the perfect storm with the person acting as an emotional vampire, and it drains the empath of their time, resources, and energy. The empath doesn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings, so they are often walked on like a welcome mat.
When empathetic people are aware of this pitfall, they can avoid being toxic or overly needy. It’s fine to be a sounding board with a kind word, but you needn’t be a built-in therapist. Empaths may need outside help to break free of toxic relationships.
11. Empaths Are Born Helpers
Talk to almost anyone in a helping profession, and you’ll probably discover how empathetic they are. These people are often drawn to careers that allow them to reach out to those struggling or who need assistance. You’ll find them as teachers, medical professionals, counselors, and any work that involves listening and helping.
12. Empathetic People Are Different
If there were ever a square peg in a world of round holes, it would be the empath. Since childhood, they often have felt like they never fit in with their family, friends, or the rest of the world. Until they find peace with their uniqueness and abilities, it can cause them much anguish and trouble in life.
When empathetic people find their niche, they become comfortable in their skin. They embrace their differences and use them as tools to learn and grow. Empaths are usually the best people to help others find their way.
Final Thoughts on the Most Empathetic People
Most empathetic people know that sharing in the pain of others is a valuable gift when used correctly. If you’ve noticed any of these twelve behaviors in your life, you’re probably an empath. As you love giving support to others, don’t forget to be kind and support yourself.