Empaths be knowin'. Their keen ability to sense and understand goes beyond gut instinct. They are spiritually attuned, highly compassionate and extremely sensitive. Empaths love to give and enjoy seeing others reach their potential. At their sharpest, they are able to motivate and inspire those around them. Their intuition can propel them in miraculous ways. With the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Princess Diana and Martin Luther King in their ranks, empaths are good for the world. The empathy that defines them also makes them vulnerable because they tend to draw their polar opposite. Because they lean heavily on faith as tangible currency, they can't always explain the decisions born of their 'knowing' and are often characterized 'flighty' or impulsive. Although empaths thrive in positive and peaceful environments, they can become drained, exhausted and even depressed where negativity flourishes. If you are close with an empathic person, it's important to understand what makes them tick.

Here are 15 things every empath wants you to know:

1. We are sensitive — We can feel the emotions of others even from a distance. We care about people and situations — even those that we're not personally connected to. Whether or not we act on it, we know when someone is being dishonest or when they're saying one thing and feeling another. 

2. We will always defend the underdog — We can't stand to see others bullied and will run to the aid of anyone who is suffering or in emotional pain. Cruelty, violence and tragedy are unbearable for us. When we see injustice we are compelled to act. 

3. We are tolerant — We understand that everyone has a perspective and set of values based on their background, history and experiences. Even when we disagree, we try to understand where the other party is coming from. Tolerant as we are, we are completely turned off by arrogance. 

4. We're perceived as introverted, shy or aloof — Right or wrong, small talk can feel inauthentic to us. It can be tough for us to "turn it on," especially if we're tired or unprepared. Photo: giphy 

5. People are drawn to us — All sorts of people. Complete strangers open up to us. We consider it a privilege to hold this space for them. We genuinely love to learn and know about others. 

6. Social situations make us anxious — Because we can literally feel the emotions and feelings of others around us, absorbing the energy in a crowded room can be mentally draining and physically exhausting. For this reason, we have a tendency to be flaky, sometimes dipping out on plans at the last minute. Photo: giphy 

7. We crave connection — We might look like introverts, but we truly yearn for genuine relationships. We love meaningful conversation and we are fiends for good energy and positive vibes

8. We value integrity — We aren't here for the gossip and pettiness. Speaking negatively about people behind their back is a definite no-no. Anything that feels conniving or shady turns us off. Photo: giphy 

9. We're extremely guarded — We aren't comfortable talking about ourselves so we have mastered the art of diverting the conversation. 

10. Loyalty is a BIG deal — Conflicts are easily resolved when all parties are willing to take genuine ownership. When confronted with callous manipulation or betrayal, we check out and cut off all emotional access. 

11. We're hard on ourselves — We are very self-aware.When our behavior falls short of our own standard (as it inevitably does), we own it and correct it as quickly as possible. 

12. We're creative — We love museums, theater and all things eclectic. We enjoy them even more in the company of other creatives. Photo: giphy 

13. We need our alone time — Prayer, meditation and journaling recharge us. We might need to go off in our corner and chill for a sec. We'll be back, though. 

14. We are free spirits — We love adventure, freedom and travel. 

15. We woke up like this — If you want to see how quickly we can erect a wall, imply that we need to be 'fixed' or molded into some prototype. Repeat after me — individuality is okay.  Sensitivity and compassion in today's society are often framed as a weakness. Empaths frequently struggle to fit in, but once they learn to understand themselves and embrace their uniqueness, they can be incredibly effective. 

Here are a few quick affirmations for empaths:

  1. "The struggle of my life created empathy — I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” – Oprah Winfrey
  2. “If we have optimism but we don’t have empathy, then it doesn’t matter how much we master the secrets of science; we’re not really solving problems, we’re just working on puzzles.” – Bill and Melinda Gates
  3. "Cultivate a sense of empathy,  to put yourself in other people's shoes, to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world." – Barack Obama
  4. “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” – Maya Angelou