Are You An Empath or Just Highly Sensitive?

empath or highly sensitive

Empath: A person who is capable of feeling the emotions or physical symptoms of others even if they themselves are not going through the same situation or events. 

Highly Sensitive: Used to describe a person who has high sensory awareness and often feels extremely emotional or in-tune with their surroundings. 

It is estimated that around 15-20 percent of the population is highly sensitive and another 2-3 percent of the population are empaths.

The term “empath” has been growing in popularity however, many are confused about what it actually means and mistaken it to describe someone who is highly sensitive.

Being an empath is really like having clairsentient abilities whereas being a highly sensitive individual is more about enhanced sensory awareness.

To put it simply- empaths pick on up energy whereas highly sensitive people pick up on sensory stimuli.

The difference is important because those who are highly sensitive can learn to protect their energy using various mindfulness tools however, empaths really need to learn how to harness their talents and channel them into something deeper.

So, what are the traits of an Empath?

  • People feel comfortable telling you their personal stories and often comment how good they feel after talking to you, but you usually feel worse after talking to them.
  • You experience aches and pains that are also being experienced by your loved ones or the people around you.
  • When you are around others, you can pick up on certain energies and emotions, however when you are on your own, you feel a sense of calm and normality.
  • You have trouble concentrating when others are around, or you feel overwhelmed easily when hanging around others, especially in crowded places.
  • Some people appear to be intimidated by you as they can feel that you can see right through them.
  • You understand or comprehend a lot of what others are going through and seem to know more than you were verbally told.
  • You can instantly detect and absorb the emotions of others and feel them on a physical level.
  • When you are around certain people you find yourself acting out of character or doing things you wouldn’t normally do.
  • You have a hard time navigating through your own feelings and emotions and working out why you feel a certain way.
  • You feel a certain way but have no idea why, only to find out that someone close to you is going through the same emotions.
  • In Astrology, empaths usually have their Moon in a water sign or another sensitive placement.

Compare this to the traits of a Highly Sensitive Person:


  • You feel your emotions or the emotions of others on a deeper level.
  • You have the tendency to be more reactive than normal in emotional situations. Many might accuse you of being overly dramatic or that you need to calm down.
  • You tend to take things very personally and are easily offended or disgruntled by other people’s thoughts and actions.
  • You prefer to do things on your own and avoid hanging out in groups.
  • You have a harder time making decisions because you are more aware of the possible outcomes.
  • You have the ability to notice the finer details in your surroundings are are often sensitive to noise, colors and other stimuli.
  • You have a hard time watching scary or violent movies and are easily moved by emotional scenes.
  • You have tendency to cry more often and can sometimes be triggered to cry when others are crying.
  • You are often more polite and conscientious than normal due to the fact that you are more aware of your surroundings.
  • Often there is a  propensity to developing anxiety, especially in social situations.
  • In Astrology, a highly sensitive person usually has many planets in water signs.

Whether you resonate with being an empath or a highly sensitive person (or a bit of both), there are ways you can calm your feelings such as learning some mindfulness tools, practicing meditation and setting firm boundaries with others.

As an empath however, you may find these practices a little more challenging. Instead, you may benefit from working on an energetic level rather than an emotional or psychological one.

Try cleansing your etheric body often using sage, carrying around a protective crystal, or perhaps even seek out different forms of energy healing. You can also channel your abilities into psychic awareness or development.

Being an empath or highly sensitive person is definitely something that you can use to your advantage and the more you begin to master your abilities, the easier they will be to manage.

At the end of the day, we are all effected by the emotions, thoughts and feelings of others whether we realize it or not. Our energy is not limited to the containers of our physical body and the more we tap into this idea and grow in awareness, the more we can use it towards realizing our potential.

Could Your Empathic Abilities Really Be Clairsentience?

About the author

Tanaaz

Creator of Forever Conscious and other things.

  • Lora Marinova

    Can one be both?

    • I would say if you were resonating with both you are probably more of an empath…however there are no rules with this!

    • Cassandra DeCourcy

      Imo, yes. There is likely a crossover between empaths and HSP… if you have empath traits and hsp, you are likely an empath who is also a hsp.

    • D Martin Miller

      “Either/Or” mentality is a bad habit- highly ingrained by our culture. Try Both/& More. ;o)

  • Ariel Paz

    Very good article explaining the difference. I am posting on Twitter and FB. These terms are not interchangeable. I am an HSP but not an empath.

  • George David

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I still don’t know whether I am an empath or hsp but at least I am more aware of what’s going on now.

  • Dildo swagiins

    I defintley understand but disagree with the terminoligey as i see it from a posetion of athoritey as my terminoligey or verbige would apply.cant see implanting delousional belifs in our future genorations.Listen some people care for others others ignore them since this is not a good survivle traight to be passed on