Highly sensitive people (HSPs) and empaths are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two distinct personality types. While both share a heightened sensitivity to their environment and emotions, they have important differences. This article will discuss the differences between highly sensitive people and empaths.
What Is a Highly Sensitive Person?
A highly sensitive person has a heightened sensitivity to their environment and emotions. They are often more aware of subtleties in their surroundings and can become easily overwhelmed by sensory input.
HSPs may also be more emotionally reactive and empathetic to the emotions of others. However, they do not necessarily absorb the emotions of others in the same way as empaths.
What Is an Empath?
An empath, on the other hand, is someone who not only has a heightened sensitivity to their environment and emotions but also absorbs the emotions of others.
Empaths are highly attuned to the emotions of those around them and can feel them as if they were their own. They may also have a heightened intuition and be able to sense the emotional state of others without verbal communication.
The Differences between HSPs and Empaths
While both HSPs and empaths share a heightened sensitivity to their environment and emotions, there are important differences between the two:
- Emotional Absorption: The biggest difference between HSPs and empaths is their emotional absorption. HSPs may be more empathetic to the emotions of others, but they do not absorb them in the same way as empaths. Empaths may feel the emotions of others as if they were their own, which can be overwhelming and draining.
- Intuition: While both HSPs and empaths may have a heightened intuition, empaths are often described as having a “sixth sense” when it comes to the emotions of others. They may be able to sense the emotional state of others without verbal communication or physical cues.
- Boundaries: HSPs may struggle with setting boundaries and saying no to others, but empaths may struggle even more. Because empaths absorb the emotions of others, they may feel a sense of responsibility to fix or help others, even if it comes at the cost of their own well-being.
- Coping Strategies: Because HSPs and empaths experience their sensitivity differently, they may have different coping strategies. HSPs may seek to avoid overstimulation by limiting their exposure to sensory input. In contrast, empaths may need to focus on separating their emotions from those of others and practicing self-care.
- Emotional Regulation: HSPs may have more intense emotional reactions than others, but they are often able to regulate their emotions more easily than empaths. Empaths may struggle to separate their emotions from those of others, leading to emotional exhaustion and burnout.
To Sum Up
While highly sensitive people and empaths share a heightened sensitivity to their environment and emotions, the two have important differences. HSPs may be more empathetic to the feelings of others, while empaths may be more attuned to the energy of a situation or person.
Both types of people require special coping strategies and emotional regulation techniques to manage their sensitivity and stay balanced.
With the right support and self-awareness, highly sensitive people and empaths can use their heightened sensitivity to their advantage, allowing them to thrive in life.
Do you need individual therapy? Riverbend Life Strategies offers coaching and counseling for the sensitive soul. Get in touch with us.