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What is an empath? Is it the same thing as an introvert? Yes and no. Not all introverts are empaths, but a large majority of empaths do seem to be introverts. This article does a great job of describing the differences between introverts, empaths and highly sensitive people. When you hear someone described as highly-sensitive, you might picture someone who overreacts or is easily offended. That’s not what highly-sensitive means, at least in this context. Empaths and highly-sensitive people will often absorb the emotions of others in a deeply personal way which tends to make them good listeners and very nurturing, but can also lead to stress when they can’t resolve these incredibly immersive feelings of putting themselves in others’ shoes.
On to the introversion facet of being an empath. Yep, that’s my face when someone says “go mingle”. Give me a clear task or agenda to accomplish and I will happily complete it but tell me to go strike up a conversation with strangers (especially in networking situations) and I want to curl up into a ball and disappear. I clam up and worry that I won’t have anything interesting to talk about, and often just end most interactions after introducing myself so I can go find the nearest dog to pet. I need plenty of alone time to recharge. I’m not shy, but I am more comfortable being an observer than a participant at times. Know any introverts or empaths? Maybe you are one! Either way, below I’m sharing some ways to support those with these tendencies!
- Don’t leave us alone in large groups where we don’t know anyone. We thrive in one-on-one interactions, so try to introduce us to someone that has a common interest before you go, or even better, introduce us to the resident dog or cat!
- Avoid calling us out for being “too quiet” in social situations. Respect the fact that we contribute our opinions when we feel they’re relevant and needed, not just for the sake of talking.
- Recognize our need to relax and recharge after social events. It is physically draining to be around people for a long period of time, especially if there are repeated loud noises or strong smells.
- Hang out with us in nature. This tends to be our favorite place to recharge and relax.
- Provide structured and clear expectations for social events. Give us a task if at all possible, because having a purpose in an unfamiliar situation makes it much less intimidating.
- Allow for times of silence without being threatened or uncomfortable with it. We need time to process things internally before verbalizing. This doesn’t mean we are angry or upset, just thinking. Let us have time to think.
- Cut out the small talk. We are great listeners and prefer to have meaningful conversations rather than wasting time with surface interactions.
- Don’t give up on us. Keep inviting us to things even if we have declined several times in the past. Spontaneous invites are best since they allow us to go with the flow instead of overthinking and/or coming up with reasons why we can’t go.
- Confrontation of any kind is uncomfortable. Yes, I know that’s the case for most people on earth, but it’s on a different level for us. If we witness this happening between other people, even if totally unrelated to us or anything we have done, it can drain our energy as if it were happening to us.
- Keep us thinking positively. We can tend to live in our heads and play the “what if” game too much, so remind us to be more carefree and just let go.
What do you think? Has this made you think differently about “shy” or sensitive people? Can you identify?
Remember, with great power (to feel), comes great responsibility (to help others). ♥♥
Thanks for reading!
This post was proofread by Grammarly
Thank you for these definitions! It’s indeed an important distinction, in the way that I think an introvert will be insecure in any social interaction, whereas an empath will try to avoid toxic people but will be at ease in meaningful, one to one conversations.
I think I’m the latter, and you’re right, I hate small talks! Most of the time I don’t even try… and then people think I’m an introvert;)
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Such a great article! I’m more of an extrovert but I know I come on strong to shy people so this is a good insight!
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This post is so relatable and perfectly explains how we introverts are! Thank you for explaining empath and their characteristics.
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Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it!