Just How Rare Is It To Be An Empath?

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Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is a crucial skill for human relationships and social interactions. But are some people more empathetic than others? And can anyone become an empath if they want to? Just how rare is it to be an empath?

Empathy is not a rare trait, but being an empath, an individual highly sensitive to others’ emotions, is less common. Estimates suggest that around 1-2% of the population can be classified as empaths. However, it’s important to note that this is not a scientifically recognized condition, and more research is needed to fully understand its prevalence.

Empaths can sense what others are feeling and experiencing, even without verbal or nonverbal cues. True empaths may also experience emotional contagion, which is the tendency to feel the same emotions as the people around them.

I am an intuitive empath, and I experience the emotions other people are having as though they are my own. But answering the question of how rare that ability is can be tricky. Let’s take a look. 

Are TRUE Empaths Rare? Or Can Anyone Become One?

Are TRUE Empaths Rare

The term empath is used to describe someone who is compassionate, altruistic, and caring. They may have a strong sense of morality and justice and a desire to help others in need. That’s one big reason that empaths attract narcissists. They may also have a deep appreciation for nature and art and a rich inner life. 

However, being a true empath can also have some drawbacks. True empaths may struggle with boundaries, self-care, and emotional regulation. They may feel overwhelmed by the suffering of others and experience burnout or compassion fatigue. They may also have difficulty asserting their own needs and opinions and be prone to self-sacrifice or codependency.

The question of whether true empaths are rare or not is difficult to answer. Some studies, like one conducted by psychologists at Coventry University in the UK,  have suggested that having an empathic nature is a trait that varies along a spectrum and that most people have some degree of empathy, but some have more than others.

Other studies, such as one conducted by experts in Spain, have suggested that empathy is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice and training.

One possible way to approach this question is to consider the different components of empathy. According to some models, empathy consists of two main aspects: 

  • Cognitive empaths have the ability to intellectually understand the perspective and thoughts of another person
  • Affective empaths, also known as emotional empaths, have the ability to feel the emotions and sensations of another person. 

Some researchers have argued that true empaths have high levels of both cognitive and affective empathy, while most people have more of one than the other. If this is the case, then it may be possible for anyone to become more empathetic by developing their weaker aspect of empathy. 

How Rare Is It to Be An Empath?

Empaths are not a homogeneous group; they may have different levels of sensitivity and different ways of coping with their empathic abilities. Some empaths may be able to tune in to the emotions of specific individuals, such as their family members or friends, while others may be more attuned to the collective mood of a crowd or a society. 

Some empaths may be able to control their empathic responses and choose when and how to engage with others’ feelings, while others may feel overwhelmed and drained by their empathy, particularly when they engage with negative emotions.

The exact prevalence of empaths is not known, as there is no definitive way to measure or diagnose empathy. However, some researchers have estimated that about 1 to 2 percent of the population may be empaths, based on self-reports and psychological tests. 

Other studies have suggested that empathy may be influenced by genetic, biological, environmental, and social factors and that it may vary across cultures and contexts. Therefore, being an empath is a complex phenomenon that cannot be readily quantified.

How Do You Know If You’re A Real Empath?

How do you know if you're a real empath
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This is a question that many people may ask themselves, especially if they feel deeply connected to others and their emotions. Empaths are not just people who have empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. 

Empaths are people who actually feel what others feel in their own bodies as if they were experiencing it themselves. Empaths are highly sensitive to the energy and emotions of people, animals, and even nature. A physical empath can even sense bodily ailments.

There is no definitive test or diagnosis for being an empath, but there are some signs and characteristics that can help you identify if you are one. Some of the common empath traits are:

  • You absorb other people’s emotions or stress, sometimes to the point of feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.
  • You get easily overstimulated by loud noises, bright lights, crowds, or multitasking.
  • You need a lot of alone time, even in your intimate relationships, to recharge your energy and balance your emotions.
  • You have a high level of intuition and can sense subtle changes in people’s mood, body language, or tone of voice.
  • You have a strong sense of compassion and altruism and often want to help others in need.
  • You have a deep appreciation for nature, art, music, and spirituality.

Empaths are not a new phenomenon, but they have gained more attention and recognition in recent years thanks to the work of some researchers and authors who have studied and written about this trait. Two of the most influential figures in this field are Dr. Judith Orloff and Dr. Elaine Aron.

Dr. Judith Orloff’s work on empaths

Dr. Judith Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and the author of several books on empaths, including “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People”. She has been called “the godmother of the empath movement” and has dedicated her career to helping empaths and highly sensitive people cope with their challenges and embrace their gifts. She offers online courses, workshops, and consultations for empaths around the world.

Dr. Elaine Aron’s work on empaths

Dr. Elaine Aron is a psychologist and the author of the bestselling book “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You”. She was the first to coin the term “highly sensitive person” (HSP) and to conduct scientific research on this trait. 

She estimates that about 20% of the population are HSPs, which means they have a genetic predisposition to process sensory information more deeply and thoroughly than others. She also suggests that empaths are a subset of HSPs who have an even higher degree of sensitivity and empathy.

Empath Or Highly Sensitive Person?

Empath or highly sensitive person

Are you an empath or simply a highly sensitive person? This is a question that many people struggle with, especially in a world that can be overwhelming and stressful. 

Empaths and highly sensitive people (HSPs) share some common traits, such as being easily affected by the emotions and moods of others, feeling deeply and intensely, and needing time alone to recharge. However, there are also some key differences between them that can help you identify which one you are.

Empaths are people who can sense and absorb the energy and emotions of others, sometimes to the point of feeling them as their own. They have a high level of empathy and compassion and often feel a strong connection to nature and animals.

There is even something known as a super empath, and they are particularly dangerous to toxic people like narcissists, as shown in this video

Empaths can also have intuitive abilities, such as knowing what someone is thinking or feeling without being told. Empaths tend to be very altruistic and caring, but they can also experience emotional exhaustion and burnout if they do not set healthy boundaries and practice self-care.

HSPs are people who have a heightened nervous system that makes them more sensitive to stimuli, such as sounds, lights, smells, and textures. They process information more deeply and thoroughly and are more aware of subtleties and nuances in their environment. 

HSPs tend to be very creative, conscientious, and loyal, but they can also get easily overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much sensory input or emotional intensity. HSPs need to find a balance between engaging with the world and retreating to a calm and quiet space.

Final Thoughts

Exactly how rare it is to be an empath is difficult to determine. Measuring empath abilities depends on the criteria used and the type of empath the researchers might be studying. 

One thing is for sure, however, and that is that those of us who experience being an empath are quite certain of the impact of our emotional connections. That’s why it’s vital to take good care of yourself and practice self-compassion regularly.


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