Six Habits of Highly Empathic People

By Roman Krznaric on Friday September 9th, 2016

Are We Living in the Age of Empathy?

If you think you’re hearing the word “empathy” everywhere, you’re right. It’s now on the lips of scientists and business leaders, education experts and political activists. But there is a vital question that few people ask: How can I expand my own empathic potential? Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives.

But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. That makes it different from kindness or pity. And don’t confuse it with the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they might have different tastes.” Empathy is about discovering those tastes.

The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid.

Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person.Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person.

The Empathetic Brain

Over the last decade, neuroscientists have identified a 10-section “empathy circuit” in our brains which, if damaged, can curtail our ability to understand what other people are feeling. Evolutionary biologists, like Frans de Waal, have shown that we are social animals who have naturally evolved to care for each other, just like our primate cousins. And psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.

But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood. We can nurture its growth throughout our lives—and we can use it as a radical force for social transformation. Research in sociology, psychology, history—and my own studies of empathic personalities over the past 10 years—reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives, and thus, improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!

We are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.We are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.

Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers

Highly empathic people (HEPs) have an insatiable curiosity about strangers. They will talk to the person sitting next to them on the bus, having retained that natural inquisitiveness we all had as children, but which society is so good at beating out of us. They find other people more interesting than themselves but are not out to interrogate them, respecting the advice of the oral historian, Studs Terkel: “Don’t be an examiner, be the interested inquirer.”

Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own. Curiosity is good for us too: Happiness guru Martin Seligman identifies it as a key character strength that can enhance life satisfaction. And it is a useful cure for the chronic loneliness afflicting around one in three Americans.

Cultivating curiosity requires more than having a brief chat about the weather. Crucially, it tries to understand the world inside the head of the other person. We are confronted by strangers every day, like the heavily tattooed woman who delivers your mail or the new employee who always eats his lunch alone. Set yourself the challenge of having a conversation with one stranger every week. All it requires is courage.

Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circleCuriosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle.

Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities

We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels—e.g., “Muslim fundamentalist,” “welfare mom”—that prevent us from appeciating their individuality. HEPs challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices by searching for what they share with people rather than what divides them. An episode from the history of US race relations illustrates how this can happen.

Claiborne Paul Ellis was born into a poor white family in Durham, North Carolina, in 1927. Finding it hard to make ends meet working in a garage and believing African Americans were the cause of all his troubles, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Ku Klux Klan, eventually rising to the top position of Exalted Cyclops of his local KKK branch.

In 1971 he was invited—as a prominent local citizen—to a 10-day community meeting to tackle racial tensions in schools, and was chosen to head a steering committee with Ann Atwater, a black activist he despised. But working with her exploded his prejudices about African Americans. He saw that she shared the same problems of poverty as his own. “I was beginning to look at a black person, shake hands with him, and see him as a human being,” he recalled of his experience on the committee. “It was almost like bein’ born again.” On the final night of the meeting, he stood in front of a thousand people and tore up his Klan membership card.

Ellis later became a labor organiser for a union whose membership was 70 percent African American. He and Ann remained friends for the rest of their lives. There may be no better example of the power of empathy to overcome hatred and change our minds.

Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis show how empathy can overcome hatred and change our minds.Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis show how empathy can overcome hatred and change our minds.

Habit 3: Try another person’s life

So you think ice climbing and hang-gliding are extreme sports? Then you need to try experiential empathy, the most challenging—and potentially rewarding—of them all. HEPs expand their empathy by gaining a direct experience from other people’s lives, putting into practice the Native American proverb, “walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.”

George Orwell is an inspiring model.  After several years as a colonial police officer in British Burma in the 1920s, Orwell returned to Britain determined to discover what life was like for those living on the social margins. “I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed,” he wrote. So he dressed up as a tramp with shabby shoes and coat, and lived on the streets of East London with beggars and vagabonds. The result, recorded in his book Down and Out in Paris and London, was a radical change in his beliefs, priorities, and relationships. He not only realized that homeless people are not “drunken scoundrels”—Orwell developed new friendships, shifted his views on inequality, and gathered some superb literary material. It was the greatest travel experience of his life. He realised that empathy doesn’t just make you good—it’s good for you, too.

We can each conduct our own experiments. If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap,” attending the services of faiths different from your own, including a meeting of Humanists. Or if you’re an atheist, try attending different churches! Spend your next vacation living and volunteering in a village in a developing country. Take the path favored by philosopher John Dewey, who said, “all genuine education comes about through experience.”

If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap”.If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap”.

Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up

There are two traits required for being an empathic conversationalist.

One is to master the art of radical listening. “What is essential,” says Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), “is our ability to be present to what’s really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment.” HEPs listen hard to others and do all they can to grasp their emotional state and needs, whether it is a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer or a spouse who is upset at them for working late yet again.

But listening is never enough. The second trait is to make ourselves vulnerable. Removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond. Empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences.

Organizations such as the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle put it all into practice by bringing together bereaved families from both sides of the conflict to meet, listen, and talk. Sharing stories about how their loved ones died enables families to realize that they share the same pain and the same blood, despite being on opposite sides of a political fence, and has helped to create one of the world’s most powerful grassroots peace-building movements.

Read more about holding space for others and speaking to someone about an unspeakable loss.

Sharing stories enables families to realize that they share the same pain.Sharing stories enables families to realize that they share the same pain

Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change

We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change.

Just think of the movements against slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries on both sides of the Atlantic. As journalist, Adam Hochschild, reminds us: “The abolitionists placed their hope not in sacred texts but human empathy,” doing all they could to get people to understand the very real suffering on the plantations and slave ships. Equally, the international trade union movement grew out of empathy between industrial workers united by their shared exploitation. The overwhelming public response to the Asian tsunami of 2004 emerged from a sense of empathic concern for the victims, whose plight was dramatically beamed into our homes on shaky video footage.

Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children.  That’s why HEPs support efforts, such as Canada’s pioneering Roots of Empathy, the world’s most effective empathy teaching program, which has benefited over half a million school kids. Its unique curriculum centers on an infant, with a focus on learning emotional intelligence—and its results include significant declines in playground bullying and higher levels of academic achievement.

Beyond education, the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action. Twitter may have gotten people onto the streets for Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, but can it convince us to care deeply about the suffering of distant strangers, whether they are drought-stricken farmers in Africa or future generations who will bear the brunt of our carbon-junkie lifestyles? This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.

The Roots of Empathy

Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

A final trait of HEPs is that they do far more than empathize with the usual suspects. We tend to believe empathy should be reserved for those living on the social margins or who are suffering. This is necessary, but it is hardly enough.

We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way. If you are a campaigner on global warming, for instance, it may be worth trying to step into the shoes of oil company executives—understanding their thinking and motivations—if you want to devise effective strategies to shift them towards developing renewable energy. A little of this “instrumental empathy” (sometimes known as “impact anthropology”) can go a long way.

Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.”

Organizations, too, should be ambitious with their empathic thinking. Bill Drayton, the renowned “father of social entrepreneurship,” believes that in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership. His influential Ashoka Foundation has launched the Start Empathy initiative, which is taking its ideas to business leaders, politicians and educators worldwide.

The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.

Roman Krznaric is a UK-based social philosopher whose books have been published in more than 20 languages. This article is based on his book ‘Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It’ 

Tracker Pixel for Entry

Watch The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People.

Listen to Roman Krznaric on the UPLIFT Podcast: Roman Krznaric: The Real Meaning of Carpe Diem.

Feature Image: David Curtis.

Read More: The Limits of Empathy

This story originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.




The Limits of Empathy


12 Rights Women Have in Intimate Relationships


What it Really Means to hold Space for Someone

Subscribe to UPLIFT

UPLIFT is dedicated to telling the new story of inspired co-creation.

Get free updates and news about UPLIFT events and films.

How will my data be used?



59 Responses to Six Habits of Highly Empathic People

  1. I would have ordered the skills differently. Listening to understand is essential. Several of the other items follow naturally from that. Conversely, organizing for mass action requires leadership skills, organizational skills and charisma that most people frankly lack.

    The “easy” part is listening and changing one’s own behavior, The harder part is getting others to do the same.

  2. Thank you for this very well written article. Finally a cool article about being nice. I love it. Most of us kind people get a bad wrap. Even though it’s cool to be warm, most baddies popularize meanness. I personally get hurt sometimes from being too kind. I have been used a couple times because of it. Thanks.

  3. Excellent Article but unfortunately Gandhi was a backstabber and a liar and a hypocrite. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel divided Hindustan developed by Secular Mughaliyat.

  4. I am also an empath by either birth or destiny and like others have said it is a life full of suffering. I keep encountering the same types of disturbing events and behaviours from different types of people. I feel like I’m jinxed in a way where I can’t avoid being caught up in a loop of repeated patterns of behaviours from others. I keep getting mistreated by deceitful people for no justified reason, I keep finding myself in catch-22 situations where Im damned if I do andI’m damned if I don’t, my life appears to be ruled by extreme irony. I keep being falsely accused by liars who seem to convince everyone while all my efforts to expose the truth are disbelieved. I am highly intuitive and can foresee events that are heading towards disaster and when I do everything in my power to prevent the catastrophe by pleading with all those involved, I get ignored, disbelieved but then despite my efforts it ALWAYS ends up happening just as I warned. And once it occurs, all those responsible for causing the problem turn around and blameshift on me despite the fact that I was the only one who fought to prevent it from happening. I’ve been a scapegoat all my life in The hands of my Narcissistic parents. The theme for my suffering this year has been “victim blaming”. It’s strange that other empath have also had experiences with toxic people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is also another strange connection I came across…search the words “burden bearers”. It appears like we are part of a higher cosmic purpose that has been appointed on us to prepare us for something. But although all empath are given the tools, only one or a few will end up going onto fulfilling this higher purpose. Many of us will fail And crumble under the burden, suffering and pressure of coping and dealing with what we were given. Those who manage to somehow not lose faith and come out stronger in the end have a heavier task awaiting. This is my belief.

    • I feel very similar to you. I am highly sensitive, empath, and I’ve always been the scapegoat. I don’t mince words or sugar coat. I’d rather tell them the ugly truth than a beautiful lie. Only people don’t want the truth, it forces them to be introspective, examine the part they play. It’s too much for most people, from what I’ve found. They look at me and equate my honesty and willingness to be vulnerable with thinking I’m better than everyone because, and I quote, “I’m so evolved” Words that I’ve never, ever said myself. I make them feel inferior purely from being brave enough to be honest & vulnerable, no matter how terrified I am of rejection, or judgement, or disapproval. I have to because my own disappointment in myself from not living or speaking my truth is worse than their judgment, rejection, and finger wagging could ever be on my psyche. Even though as an empath, those things truly devastate me and cut me to my core in a profoundly painful way, even moreso the more I care for them….. it hurts worse to live out of sync with the core me.

      • Hi. I hear you well my friend. As a natural empath , the following I took action upon , thereby embracing ‘ my truths ‘ AND living them as ‘ my destiny ‘. Embrace being an empath positively – do not ‘ fight ‘ this. Only once I am ” right within ” could I then begin to tangibly assist others, as I now do. This took me 3 years of research and study , in addition to amplifying my natural gifts. I will continiously seek enlightenment – Move my state from ‘ the me ‘ to ‘ the you ‘. Train my mind away from futile emotions. Seeking knowledge constantly – that which I do not know , however NEED to know , is more important. I will know my inner being well. I will live in the moment. I will not cry WITH you , or I am of little purpose to you in times of need. I will expect my open mind to ‘ deliver ‘. I understand the ‘ concept ‘ of ” no good deed will go unpunished ” 😁 – such is humanity. I fear not humility ; my vlunerability . I care not for ‘ ego ‘.
        I will be ‘ untouchable ‘ in all . I will invoke my first right – that when you have truly given up on yourself , I can no longer care , or I destroy myself within. I understand the metaphysical. I trained my inner gifts and trust my instincts. I do not ‘ hope ‘ – I ‘ believe ‘. I ‘ label ‘ no one. I ‘ judge ‘ no one. I ‘ justify ‘ nothing , suffice the truth. No prejudices. Love myself ‘ in balance’ . Love all humanity. Seek tolerance constantly – a constant weakness I conquer more each day. Intelligence gets me through ‘ the moment ‘ – wisdom through life. All this in place of the point of ME being in a mental state of ‘ an empath victim ‘. There is SO much more 😊☺ ❤ to share . We have mental capabilities FAR beyond our imagination. Though imagination , used wisely , is truly wonderful. I am not ‘ happy ‘ . I am blissfully content. I live a simple life now . Life is simple ; know that only people make life difficult. Only a boy or girl is born. We learn all from thereout. And then I ‘ unlearned ‘ that which served me nothing but negativity. All has been a process. Not an easy one , but SO well worth it. I do not ‘ move with the masses ‘. I accept I am ‘ unconventional ‘. Completely free spirited. I Have learned to ‘ run calmly to the fire ‘ in life. We are all born ready for all things abundant It is all about what happens from then onwards. I was an abused child. Have systematically made wealth throughtout my life and given it away to the ‘ needy children ‘ – do you see ‘ the link ‘ and how I deal with ‘ my inner child ‘. Of course there are other ways as well. I love to do things in tangible ways. I am busy looking at two ‘ start-up businesses , and once I have gained more wealth , will once again give that away to the needy children of this world. Do I TRULY feel , sense , know the pains of humanity. Am DEEPLY sensitive to all. Without a doubt ! And yes, for that I weep , alone , often , and know I can cleanse myself through that and move on to assist others. Many come to me directly for guidance . Gentle, kind and deeply loving, BUT FIRM in assisting others. I am NO better than ‘ that beggar on the corner ‘ , that I know well. I just have a better mindset , is all , and nuture , AND raise it , for all whom I have the honour to assist. Thank you for reading. So much love to you Anita. Use well and wisely the ‘ gifts ‘ you have. Tis’ not for you to ponder how others feel about you , but how you feel about yourself. I too used to be right there where you are . You could become an amazing Life Coach. Just a thought 😁. ” Then embrace all and truly live in sync with the real and amazing you ” .

    • Hi Marcus. I have only read your wonderful contribution to this blog AFTER replying to Anita’s contribution below. Sincerest apologies dear friend.

      Know that you are NOT alone in literally ALL you have said ; as in, OH WOW !!
      Perhaps just read that which I have shared below with Anita.

      Then know, the true and positive change for you comes when you change your mindset to this . It will take effort and IS a process. Every single point you have made , I have experienced,,fully. Right up to very clear visions , including time frames.

      I had the entire board and senior management against me, where eventually they would not even begin listening.

      I now of course know the reasoning behind all that was happening within me , having researched and studied ; embraced all and now work assisting others.

      And yes, they did begin ‘ listening ‘ albeit ‘ a late night call ‘ …”Tony ( scenario ..) what do you suggest … “. Oh ,,glorious light 😊..

      Such are ‘ truths ‘ , and as in all ‘ good deeds ‘ ,,,,, unfortunately sometimes a price is paid for that. Due to others fears, jealousies etc . I won’t go into detail here now again, suffice perhaps start with finding out and understanding why all this is happening within you. However do that with a sense of positive determination.

      Once you have a handle on THAT , so much will fall easier into place. Don’t let this become your ‘ achilles heel ‘ in life.

      KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS , is the key !! Face it , deal with it , conquer it’s meaning . It’s true purpose.

      A thought and what the heck , a tip. When this happens , ” slow down , state the truth calmly in a slightly lower voice , perhaps less intensely , and move on “. You can only change that which is within others to desire that change. As I would not know the specific situation , I could only suggest you look at the ‘ how ‘ you ‘ deliver that truth ‘ . Simply, one has to always begin with themselves.

      And I am well aware you cannot ignore that truth 😊 . It is just not you , as in many ways , it defines you.

      Don’t give up , lest you ‘ give up ‘ on yourself. Find a way positively into their minds , and ears ie ..when the mind is closed , the eyes do not see ; the ears do not hear.

      However , you are NOT the/a victim !! That amount of intuition is telling you something ☺ . Something tells me you may have an amazing journey of discovery 😃. Stay good and Take Care…

  5. It’s always good to examine yourself especially when you start to judge others or point out things you don’t like about others. The thing is though is that your only seeing you from your point of view going off of only what you’ve learned and believe ect… When you can take a good look at yourself through someone else’s eyes that believe differently and have learned differently and know things and feel things in a way that you don’t, cause your different people that have lived different lives, you are able to know things about yourself that you just wouldn’t have noticed without the other person’s view, knowledge and feelings.

  6. your article promotes Islam, you know nothing about the dangers. A true empath will not want to connect with an Islamist. I know women who now have an order to murder them because they left Islam. Wake up.

    • Jeanette, How did you manage to turn this into a topic about Islam? Seriously, people like you are so full of bigotry and hate that you bring your prejudice into every discussion. You post a ridiculous statement claiming that “a true empath will not want to connect with an Islamist” when in fact a true empath will not want to connect with any type of bigot regardless of whether they happen to be a Muslim or whatever you are. Following Islam does not automatically make someone a bigot like you. There are plenty of empath who happen to be Muslim.

  7. We are here to feel for and care about one another and empathy is so very important. It is so important to act on that empathy to help each other. It is just as important to know the difference, however, between helping and enabling. It is key also to be aware that sometimes holding some people accountable and giving them the potential for independence is the best help that you can give them. When our empathy, heart,and brain are in sync… our actions that include accountability, autonomy, mixed with empathy and kindness, can be the best gift of all.

  8. This is describing something far less complex than being Empathic – which can actually be debilitating for a person who has yet to figure out what that even is.

    As an Empath I know that I am not curious about people, people are curious about me – they seek me out and then proceed to tell me their life experiences, their lllneses, they often ask me for help with things and that could be while I’m standing at a bus stop, a check out or at a party.

    I also know that being an Empath can leave you depressed, lethargic, anxious, riddled with panic attacks, insomnia and a persistent and often chronic desire for space. It is most definitely not a rosey existence.

    Empaths can absorb the thoughts, feelings, phobias and habits of other people to the point where they may be unable to decipher the difference between theirs and their own – it can be very frightening.

    They also absorb the pain and suffering on the planet, they can’t fathom abuse of any kind particularly the abuse of animals and children – they FEEL it and absorb it even IF that pain is over the other side of the world it feels like they are there experiencing it. I turned off the news in 1995 without even knowing that I was empathic, I just knew that the negativity from the news was sticking to me and was affecting me. I closed the newspaper the same year. I don’t allow the news on in my home to this day.

    They are also major targets for Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths and any other kind of exploitative personality.

    Empaths also find it difficult to live with partners, because the desire for space can be constant at times – I’ve decided to live alone and I love it – doesn’t mean I don’t participate in life of course I do but I value that space way more.

    So being an Empath has its ups but trust me it is a life long struggle.

    • I’ve tried to explain to my husband why I CANNOT watch the news, view current events (especially with our current political climate) or visit comment sections of major/mainstream websites, watch horror movies or “downer” movies (Pan’s Labyrinth comes to mind immediately) because even watching terrible things that are fictional will throw me off for sometimes days at a time, & if it’s particularly horrific, it maybe still running through my head even weeks later! It’s why at 34, I mainly watch cartoons & comedy. Probably 94% Cartoons, it just feels better. If it’s a situation with real people, especially ones I know or care about, that’s what shakes me up the worst, and is hardest for me to recover from.

      I know it all sounds ridiculous to people who don’t experience energy from a Highly Sensitive level, but it’s so hard for me to regroup after being hit by so-called *subtle* energies. Lol..If it’s so subtle, why do I feel like I slammed face first into a brick wall the second it 1st crossed my “threshold?” lol I spend a good solid 3 or 4 waking hours at home by myself, secluded in a room, listening to music, writing, thinking. My husband and I work from home & I MUST have my time in the middle of my day to recharge regroup, etc.It isn’t pretty if I don’t get it.

      This article seems to be talking about practicing acts of
      empathy by choosing to empathize with any given person, as opposed to being an empath/empathic & not having a choice, it isn’t something that needs to be practiced, a skill to be honed, it just already is. Some people are natural athletes, other’s natural learners, we’re just natural feelers, that’s all:)
      (Although honing the skill of closing yourself up and protecting yourself and personal boundaries, energy, space, emotions, from being a constant sponge, at least as much as possible, is a great tool to have as an empath)

      There are fundamental differences between having empathy and being an empath, one is an act of doing, the other is a state of being. However I encourage both, and know that both is needed is massive amounts!

      • Oh and the 1st half of my comment about exposure to news etc. was a reply, but the rest was just generally speaking toward the article. I’m not trying to tell any empath a bunch of things they already know, like a pompous ass…lol… I just wanted to clarify that after rereading my comment.

    • I agree with you completely! People I’ve never met before will tell me their deepest secrets. I also, have no choice as to feel what people are themselves feeling. It’s not something I work at. Unfortunately, it also makes you want to “fix” everyone or help them get relief from what is emotionally or physically hurting them. Yes, I do get migraines, anxiety, tension in my back, and other symptoms because it’s like it’s happening to you. Over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with some of these things and trying to detach myself when it gets bad. This article is very misleading!

  9. What a fascinating article! What I find most appealing is how the application of “Empathy” can be a bridge toward effective communication with us regardless of our differences. In a world where it is easy to point out the things which make us different, rather than support the commonalities which brings us all together; “Empathy” ought to be the binding ingredient.

  10. Empaths just are…you can not learn or practice being an Empath. You have no choice when you automatically deeply feel what others feel. It is very exhausting at times. It is not just being highly sensitive either. It is much deeper than that…much more intuitive and natural.

  11. Empaths are hunted down by narcissists as a ready source of supply.
    Be wary of this- and false claims to spirituality that may disarm your natural defences.
    To encourage this tactic in any way will not only cause you suffering- it will damage the karma of the other.

  12. Weirdest part of this article is calling those qualities “habits.” For empathic people, much comes naturally, often without awareness or deliberate behavior. For others I guess empathy may be a skill to be practiced; however, seems like some behaviors can be suggested yet the person actually has to FEEL empathy to succeed in this pursuit. I’m very glad I can tune in with curiosity and understanding and shared humanity without any agenda or conscious efforts. Flows like blood through my veins.

  13. I am thrilled, simply overwhelmed. The core concept of Empathy resonates with me And it redefines my boundaries and limits. I can now reach out, whereas previously I was encountering a block.
    Please keep it up, world needs many empaths today.
    I am reminded of a great Empath who achieved unbelievable feats with help of Empathy, Mr Prot in K-Pax (the movie)

  14. Amazing – this really resonates – especially about finding our commonalities instead of always looking for differences and comparisons.
    Powerful stuff and something we have shared at our morning workshops.

  15. Love this article! It clearly shows the need for ‘attachment’ to others; when the focus of so many spiritual articles is ‘non-attachment’, and ‘detachment’. In reality, without attachment to one another, the human race is doomed. We are all connected.

  16. Empathy is a virtue and needed everywhere but OMG if this guy isn’t cliched with his KKK, slavery and global warming broken records.

  17. Hum, yes I agree with a lot of this. I have Revelation 2:17 mark awarded to me by “Christ”. I don’t belong to ANY RELIGION, a requirement for the mark. If there is a “Spiritual Entity” trying to speak to this planet, I can hear it. I received this mark in 1987. Since all human thoughts are 1st on the spiritual Realm, yes I am as high a level empath as is possible.
    I have been abused by many of my life. No problem.
    My connection to the Spirits is greater.
    I spend a lot of time helping others, trying to help the planet.
    I created the International Space Station in 1983 just to give the world a “Bigger Dream”, nope USA/NASA is not giving me credit. The USA removed my Human Rights 24 years ago and 12 years I was tortured to try to shut me up…
    I guess I have not learned.
    If you are empathic don’t run from, but look into the Spiritual Realm for help.
    And yes, just like the New Age Spiritual stuff watch out for the greedy & arrogant.
    Spiritual energy costs nothing! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ac71ad8459caf15db5e2875198c572d91a021ff3ef2e627ad5f83ea03d3c8f3c.jpg

  18. Empaths feel others’ feelings, whether they want to or not. Many of us are very sick from it because so many suffer. Habits of empaths are: avoiding people/public; panic attacks; numbing senses w/ drugs; spending much time alone. Yes there are positives to it, but since there’s so much pain around us, it can be a curse. This article is describing how to drop your ego and be compassionate. Empathy isn’t a brain function, it’s of the heart. All I have to do is walk past someone on the street and look at them for a moment and I get to feel how they feel, and it’s most often not well.

    • I recognise this very much. Whatever name we want to give it, this describes me quite a bit. I managed to stay away from the drugs I guess but there are other things that can take the place of numbing your feelings and senses. And it does feel like a curse as you say.

    • We were talking about this in my Nonviolent Communication group this week, and we thought that real empathy can only happen when you understand with your whole being what the other is feeling and needing, but at the same time don’t take this on as your own suffering. It is not about losing yourself in the other but being fully open to them not as part of you but as them. I suspect this is extremely hard when their suffering is somehow similar to your own, because then you are in your own suffering as well as theirs. Does this make sense? Marshall Rosenberg, mentioned in the article, is very clear about empathy and I find his writings really helpful.

      • Empaths don’t have a choice. It’s not about understanding; we literally FEEL others just by passing by them, or glancing at them. We’re not taking on others’ suffering as our own, we just FEEL it, automatically. Nothing has to be communicated for this to happen, just an intersecting of auras.

        • I had a chat with my holistic health practitioner about this yesterday. I am not an empath in the way you describe it, so cannot be fully empathic to how it is for you, I guess – though I can certainly try! At the same time you have said that you suffer a lot from feeling what others are feeling, and here I would be worried you are not getting the space to be yourself that you need, the boundaries that seperate your soul from others’. If this can lead to panic attacks, drug-taking etc it seems to me, as an outsider, that you have a need for health and wholeness which is denied by your sensitivities. Actually, I went to my practitioner, who uses magnetic healing therapy amongst other things, because I was feeling really weird, not being in myself, dizzy and wobbly. He tested me and said it quite clearly came from my having taken on energy from the USA and events there that did not belong to me and was not mine to carry – that in effect I need to concentrate on what keeps me whole and clear, and recognise what I can’t take on. I suppose this is actually something similar to what you are talking about. So that was his solution, or recommendation, and the rest is up to me… Does that make sense?

          • I’m with you, Matei Merkens! Fortunately for me, I fell into the social work profession and learned to attend to my mental health and now I’m a therapist, so that’s helped a lot, but I still feel so much despair when I feel the pain of other people.

      • Whether or not that’s true, this article is not describing empathy. It gives tips at how to be open-minded, compassionate, and selfless. ‘Define empathy: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions’-Webster dictionary. Empathy is feeling anothers’ feelings. You don’t have to interact with them, you just have to be near them, or look at them.

        • Your correct empathy is the understanding of others feelings situations etc but the article is describing what it means to be Empathic which is more than just knowing or understanding how the person feels, but more being able to feel their feelings as they feel them, without losing sync with my own feelings at that precise moment I’m in their presence. If I touch them or their belongings then I’ll feel more of what they feel on a personal level. You will need a dictionary of historical English to gain a better understanding of how the entire meaning of a word is changed by simply adding an extra syllable to the end “suffix” or start “prefix” of a word such as ‘ic
          I’m going to feel your indignance accross the airwaves but feel free to argue precise literature with me.

        • No ..this article was not about empaths…

          It actually reads like a how to increase your sales seminar

          Or worse..tbe title could be

          How a Narccisist should act to gain someone’s trust

        • “..you just have to be near them..” describes sensing their energy. I think the term for that is clairsentience. Not all empaths are clairsentient. Negative or toxic people tend to be surrounded by strong waves of negative energy. Working in disaster assistance, I once walked into a site with hundreds of people on the telephones talking to victims. I barely got in the door when I felt like I had been hit in the stomach with a fist. The pain and anguish being discussed in that room sent out waves of energy.

    • Totally agree if someone sad or mad or fustrated it can wear on you I am a empath to sometimes I weird people out cuz I tap into their thoughts itis both a blessing n a curse at times n fustrated if u cant read their true feelings

Leave a reply