What is an Empath?

Tamara Low

Energetic Freedom Coach, Author

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It is estimated that around 3-5% of the population are Empaths (and approximately 15-20% are Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). So what is an Empath? According to Jason Breyer, an Empath can “read and understand other people by resonating with their emotions.” Further, “they are usually hypersensitive, an attribute that enables them to extend beyond themselves into the other soul and capture their inward conditions. This allows them to know exactly what is going on with another person by ‘seeing beyond the superficial and into the true intents of a person.’

Empaths feel everything (clairsentient), and they feel it deeply. They can absorb other people’s energy (both positive and negative) into their bodies. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if what you’re feeling belongs to you or someone else. Judith Orloff writes that Empaths are more prone to take on the emotional or physical pain from others that they haven’t yet worked out in themselves, further describing the trait by saying:

“The empath’s body is different from other people’s. We feel everything. Our bodies are porous, so we absorb the positive and negative energies (and emotions) around us into our muscles, tissues, and organs. This can affect our health in many important ways. On the positive side, we’re able to sense other people’s vitality, happiness, and love within ourselves. However, we can also feel other people’s physical discomfort, stress, and negative emotions, such as frustration, anger, and fear (even when they’re unspoken). As empaths, we can get tired and sick when we’re around toxic people, noise, violence, and rushing.”

Judith Orloff. The Empath’s Survival Guide

Empath Traits and Characteristics

There are many types of Empaths. Here are some of the many unique traits and characteristics of an Empath:

Characteristics and Traits of Empaths. They are:

  • very sensitive to others’ tone of voice and body movements. 
  • can hear what someone doesn’t say in words but communicate nonverbally and through silence.
  • feel things first, then think, which is the opposite of how most people function in our society.
  • very sensitive, creative, compassionate, and idealists.
  • prone to social anxiety because they’re overwhelmed by the multiple spoken and unspoken signals people give off in groups (Judith Orloff).
  • sensitive to rejection.
  • have to be soft and delicate to absorb the vibes from other people instead of being tough and repelling all signals.
  • can get hurt easily and need to be cautious about being taken advantage of.
  • can pick up signals that emanate from others and are sensitive enough to break through the barriers and access their thoughts and feelings.
  • absorb the emotions of others.
  • being in nature is essential for them to balance and heal
  • have high intuition; they often just know things.
  • have a gentle and kind nature, BIG hearts, and they love and need peace and harmony.
  • good listeners
  • love to give and help.
  • have sensitive senses.
  • deeply love and resonate with nature and animals.
  • have sensitive senses.

Susan Forward writes that people find it easy to be around Empaths because they pick up on your vibration and meet you where you are at.

Some of the Challenges Empaths Face:

  • often have difficulty with drama; people who talk constantly and are demanding, inauthentic, and toxic.
  • often give their hearts too easily to narcissists and other unavailable people.
  • loving and trusting and expect others also to be that way (and they are not). This can be a very difficult lesson to learn. 
  • are often introverted and have minimal tolerance for socializing and small talk.
  • bothered by lots of noise, crowds, anger, fighting, tension.
  • need A LOT of alone time to process things.
  • can become exhausted and burnt out easily from all they are picking up.

Having Empathy vs Lacking Empathy

I would say most people are empathic human beings. Having empathy is not the same as being an Empath. Empathy means that our hearts go out to another person and what they are experiencing (happy or sad).

Empathy Deficient Disorder

It is thought that the Narcissist, Sociopath and Psychopath have “empathy deficient disorder,” according to Judith Orloff, which may be caused by an underactive mirror neuron system. In Empaths, the brain’s mirror neuron system (responsible for compassion) is thought to be hyperactive.

Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive Empathy is a type of empathy that exists only in the mind. Someone displaying Cognitive Empathy:

  1. can make it seem like genuine empathy, but it is NOT! They can see that another person is upset and can put their mind there, but they don’t feel it! Therefore, they do NOT recognize the needs and feelings of another person.
  2. can’t feel what is going on for another person, so they do not feel responsible or genuinely care.

Egocentric Empathy

Stacy Hoch describes yet another form of empathy called ‘Egocentric Empathy.’ This is where we try to give someone what we would want in the same situation, and this is where Codependents can get stuck.

A Neurological Explanation of The Empath Experience

As mentioned previously, often, Empaths struggle to differentiate between their bodily feelings and those of others. There is no membrane that separates Empaths from the world (while most people have their ‘defences up’), says Judith Orloff. She explains the neurological explanation of an Empath’s experience when she says Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which two different senses are paired in the brain. However, ‘mirror-touch synthesis is where people feel the emotions and sensations in their bodies as if the emotions were their own.’

How and Why Does Being an Empath Develop?

We can indeed simply be born this way. I have also read some interesting theories suggesting its development through childhood neglect, abuse or poor parenting :

“Childhood neglect or abuse can also affect sensitivity levels for adults. A portion of empaths I’ve treated have experienced early trauma, such as emotional or physical abuse, or were raised by alcoholic, depressed, or narcissistic parents. This could potentially wear down the usual healthy defences that a child with nurturing parents develops. As a result of their upbringing, these children typically don’t feel “seen” by their families, and they also feel invisible in the greater world that doesn’t value sensitivity. In all cases, however, empaths haven’t learned to defend against stress in the same way others have.”

Judith Orloff. “The Empath’s Survival Guide “

Secondly, Stacy Hoch refers to it as a necessity for survival when babies or children in difficult circumstances have to respond to the needs of the parent/’empath- ing’ (over their own needs). She says, “someone who does not have to empathize with their parents will be more like oil in energy because they do not have to develop that skill to survive because the parent will meet their needs.

Empaths who struggle to meet their own needs can be very self-destructive and self-sabotaging. We are not supposed to ‘work out other people’s things for them.” For me, this deeply resonates as the root of Codependency.

The Necessity of Having Strong Auric Protection

When Judith Orloff speaks about the “usual healthy defences” being potentially broken down due to difficult situations around them as a child, I believe that she is talking about the aura that protects each and every one of us. Diane Kathrine speaks to this when she says:

“Distortions in the aura can appear from an early age and infant or childhood trauma, and illness can result in a weakened aura. A receded aura is caused by experiencing deep hurt and rejection, feeling unloved or unworthy. It can be a knee-jerk reaction to retract the energy field, like retreating into a shell, as a way to prevent themselves from getting hurt again. When the aura shrinks, it becomes destabilized and prone to damage. A strong aura protects against outside negativity, thoughts, energy and even disease. Through a healthy auric field, you radiate inner power and draw in positivity. Your vibrant energy empowers others and helps raise their frequency.”

Diane Katherine. “How to Heal Leaky Aura Syndrome: A Guide for Empaths”

Pranic Healing can greatly assist with healing and strengthening the aura. More info in “What is Leaky Aura Syndrome?”

Learning to Thrive as an Empath

In conclusion, to thrive as an empath, we must address our wounds and the parts of us that need healing, love and care on an energetic level. As we become whole, it is much easier for us to stop absorbing other people’s emotions and energy to stay balanced and grounded in overstimulating environments and around toxic people and situations.

Pranic Healing has helped me in an immense and invaluable way in regulating my nervous system and deciphering what is my energy, what belongs to me, and what is someone else’s. I believe that learning this “modality” would profoundly benefit all Empaths in navigating this trait! Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT Tapping) can also assist us in regulating our nervous system and healing the wounds that we store in our energy system.

I would love to assist you in balancing your nervous system and energy system! Feel free to reach out and schedule your free 15-minute call today or email tamara@sensitivesoulpath.com

Related Articles:


  • Breyer, Jason. Empath – A Highly Sensitive Person – Develop your gift, use emotional intelligence to turn your high sensitivity into a superpower: Overcome negative mindsets and master your social skills. Kindle Edition. 
  • Hoch, Stacy. The Empoweress- YouTube. 
  • Forward, Susan. Mothers Who Can’t Love (pp. 146-147). Harper. Kindle Edition.
  • Orloff, Judith. The Empath’s Survival Guide (Kindle Locations 94-100, 207-284, 155-159,  169-170, 192-101). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.
  • Kathrine, Diane. How to Heal Leaky Aura Syndrome. 2017

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Soulful Purpose in Business

Wouldn’t it be incredible if we were all encouraged to find our soulful purpose from a young age?

Imagine how your life and work would be different as a free-spirited HSP/Empath. It’s never too late to reclaim those buried or dormant parts. You CAN live and work with more meaning, authenticity, and enjoyment. It’s a matter of clearing the blocks that are getting in your way. Using EFT, I can help you with that.

The challenge for free-spirited, creative HSP/Empaths:

I have always felt the profound significance of living authentically with soul purpose. To live free of conditioned paradigms (that do not work for us). And to experience creativity, joy, and wonder.

Still, like most of us, I was trained to follow, ‘fit in,’ and got swept up in conditioned paradigms and expectations. 

When we are young, we learn by observing and adapting to our worldly surroundings. We are often told or shown by our parent(s), caregivers, and society at large who THEY THINK we are and should be. It’s about WHO they want us to be, WHAT they want us to do, say, or behave like, and what they think we should DO. This can create an immense amount of confusion.

Unconsciously, we can become controlled and led by beliefs that were learned and taught. Often, they do not even have origins in who we are and how we desire to live. It is so incredibly easy to become lost and deviated.

The trouble is, we are beautiful spirits designed to create, express, learn, grow, share, and explore. To live a life that is from us. Meant for us. And to BE FREE of conditioning. Free from the layers of pain, hurt, trauma, shoulds, and have to’s that direct us away from our true nature, uniqueness, and soulful purpose.

It’s painful to be a free-spirited, creative HSP/Empath trying to navigate and fit in where we do not belong. This can result in depression, anxiety, deep discontentment, and frustration, etc. 

The good news is that there are things we can do to retrieve and reclaim those buried or dormant parts of us. The parts and expectations that are not a fit for us. And to heal the parts of us that do not believe it’s possible to be ourselves. So we can do what we love OR take the risk to do something else that is more in line with us!

How do we make the needed changes to align with our purpose/soulful path?

I have had many unfulfilling jobs in my life and a two-decade business that was not soulfully fulfilling for me. I felt deeply bored, stuck, and trapped. My discontentment kept getting louder, and my spirit would no longer let me look away. Making a leap into the unknown felt terrifying. I did not know what my financial future was going to hold. But I knew that I HAD to do whatever it took to find where my soul was longing to be.

I did A LOT of EFT sessions on all the fear, paralysis, terror, guilt, etc. lying under making the change. It took a deep desire, diligence, openness (and a bit of courage) to remove the fears and conditioning so I could realign with my path. But it is so worth it!

And in the end, it ALL turned out even better than I could have imagined!

You know the expression ‘the universe has your back’? Well, once I cleared all the energetic blocks and fears, things started falling into place. I felt utterly ‘taken care of’ in the broader sense. And I believe everyone can access it if that is in their heart and soul’s desires!

The power of alignment:

I was listening to an interview with EFT Master Carol Look, and she sums this up extremely well by saying, “…appreciation is the energy of alignment. Manifestations follow emotions, and when you are in the emotion of appreciation, that is when things start to shift on that vibrational (or energy) level.”

When we are in the alignment or frequency of flow, life can bring us all kinds of miraculous things with ease. Ideas, solutions, inspirations, seeing things differently, opportunities.

Look goes on to say that, “when we are in alignment, we are open to all possibilities and can appreciate them when they arise.” 

Yes!! I have seen this over and over in my own life! So, to get into alignment, we need to remove the incongruencies (aka negative limiting beliefs, fears, etc.). Then life energy is free to flow in us, and we can create joy and beauty through our alignment! 

How EFT Helps us to Get Into Alignment With Our Uniqueness and Soulful Purpose:  

Shoulds, have to’s, guilt, shame, fear, mistrust, etc., are NOT in the energy of alignment. What is? Authenticity, passion, purpose, curiosity, meaning, trust, faith, expressing our uniqueness and true selves.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) helps us learn about, observe, hear, and accept how we FEEL. With honesty and compassion, we can honour what’s happening (unconsciously) in our inner worlds! It helps us to gain clarity, insight, and inner knowing. When we are open, we can better understand ourselves and the parts and places that need care and healing.

It has helped me gain insight and understanding in a profound way. I have developed compassion for myself. Freed myself from layers upon layers of conditioned thoughts and beliefs. Released deep emotional pains and burdens. BE me. Live and create a life in line with me.

EFT also helps us to regulate our nervous system so that we experience more balanced calm. Then, with openness and curiosity, we can hear our inner knowing, wisdom, and what our spirits reveal to us!

We Are Not Meant to Fit Into or Conform to Societal Norms and Structures!

We are here to find, reveal, and cultivate the path that is unique to only us!

I am in awe of how beautifully unique everyone is. Unique gifts, talents, abilities, goals, passions, desires, energetic vibration, and soulful purpose(s). Each of us is an essential piece of the bigger puzzle of existence here on Earth.

From my perspective, free Spirited HSPs and Empaths are here to assist in breaking free of old, toxic, harmful, and worn-out institutions and paradigms. We can see/feel/know things that are not aligned with truth and love. So we have essential elements to offer and contribute to healing in the world/planet.

The world needs the energy, skills, compassion, love, care, heart, creativity, kindness, peace, wisdom, etc. of HSP/Empaths…

Getting Support to re-emerge with Soulful Purpose in your Business (as an HSP/Empath):

I am here to support you in celebrating your uniqueness. To help you re-emerge as who you were (before being caught up in cultural and societal conditioned and false beliefs about yourself). If you don’t feel like you fit or belong – you are not meant to!

Book a 15 min discovery link call and we can begin to honour and discover your unique soul’s path!! What you dream of, lights you up, gives you goosebumps, and fills you with joy, freedom, and aliveness!! 

What if you could authentically do what you love AND experience the universe’s support via financial security?

Would you be doing something different in your business right now? Elsewhere?

Let’s explore and see!



Welcome to Sensitive Soul Path

I am passionate about Highly Sensitive People (HSP) and Empaths living beautifully authentic and inspired lives!


 I delight in assisting people to gently uncover the parts and places (in us) that are longing and need to be heard. Our feelings and body sensations hold MUCH wisdom! Often, we try to push away feelings we have labelled as uncomfortable, scary, wrong, or shameful. In locking them in, we cannot hear and understand their deeper meaning, what they are really trying to communicate to us. It also affects our energy and interest levels, and health. 


When we gently give voice to locked-in emotions and sensations, we can discover the gifts and wisdom they offer and become energetically free to BE ourselves completely! 


  1. Where is your inner voice and soul’s purpose guiding and directing you (to which people, situations, service, passions, gifts, etc.)?

          2. What is wanting to be heard, said, released or done?

 I love to work with HSPs and Empaths that love to do safe, deep inner exploring work to release the layers that do not serve them and their purpose, such as


  • clearing and unravelling the energetic blocks along their soul path. These could be unconscious beliefs we took in as a child. 
  • to break free from harmful conditioning in all its forms that do not fit our soul’s purpose and embrace all of themselves and a life fulfilling and authentic to them! 
  • energetically removing yourself from being bogged down by other people’s negative energy or expectations, e.g. do you stay in a situation because of guilt and shame? 
  • clearing the energetic residue of what is keeping you stuck and paralyzed in places and situations that do not resonate in harmony with your souls. 
  • external drains and pressures that do not come from our true desires 
  • clearing the blocks and barriers to accepting and caring for ourselves at the deepest levels.
  • balance our sensitive nervous systems

 If you answered ‘Yes!’ to any of the following questions, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or ‘Tapping’) and/or Pranic Healing could assist you. Please ask me how! 


Do you?

  • want and need to make a significant change, but fear, guilt or shame is leaving you paralyzed, preventing you from taking that leap?
  • feel bogged down by other people’s expectations, societal pressures, and early conditioning? 
  • are you aware of how many expectations you have of yourself that don’t actually belong to you?
  •  feel like you do not fit into society and the existing paradigms and institutions?
  • is the pace of society too busy and rushed for you and your nervous system?
  • struggle with SHOULDS? And as a result, feel like you are not living a life in alignment with your TRUE self?

 Does any of this leave you feeling frustrated, bored, disillusioned, anxious, angry, depressed, unfulfilled, stuck, etc.? 


While avoiding external pressures can feel challenging on many levels, ultimately, this is what I believe:


 We (HSP Empaths) are not meant to try and “fit in”; we are meant to SEE and FEEL and BE in the world from OUR unique perspective and soul’s purpose!! 

Emotional Freedom Techniques are especially helpful in supporting HSP Empath healing and empowerment:

Emotional Freedom Techniques (also called EFT, or “Tapping”) is a masterful way to gain clarity and insight. EFT helps remove the energetic and emotional blocks, fears, beliefs, and emotions (such as shame) from the body.

Struggle and/or emotional pain is a block or disruption in our body’s energy system. Our body gives us clues through feelings and sensations about what is happening within us (e.g. a sore stomach, tight chest). Similarly, it tells us how we feel around others and in certain environments. 

In other words, our body tells us when something is not in alignment. With that awareness, we have the power to shift it.

Benefit of an EFT practitioner and Energetic Freedom Coach for HSP/ Empaths:

My goal is to provide a SAFE, compassionate, secure, and non-judgemental space for you to peel back the layers to release what no longer serves you (aka all those SHOULDs).

SHOULDs, HAVE TOs, and other people’s expectations don’t have to hold you back from your passions and stop you from embracing your brilliant, sensitive, and empathic nature.

You CAN live a life in a way that feels TRUE to you….

If you are curious about how EFT can help you care for your HSP Empath nature, I’d love to have a no-pressure chat.

Reach out and schedule your free 15-minute call today or email tamara@sensitivesoulpath.com

Warmly, Tamara