Introverts HSPs EMPATHs - what are they and how are they different

Over the last few years, the labels introvert, HSP (highly sensitive person), and empath, have become increasingly popular in blog-land. Social media quizzes, memes or listicles of top ten traits pop-up in my feeds almost daily. I check all the boxes for all the lists, which explains A LOT about my childhood, my lifelong temper tantrum tendencies, my sleep habits, my need to have a dog by my side, and just my life in general.

I have yet to find on the inter-webs a simple and clear definition that differentiates these labels in a way that really makes sense to me. Yet, thanks to an overabundance of bloggers offering top ten lists of traits and characteristics, I have found a growing number of people who claim to be each of these.

I'm all of them.

So I made my own definition & differentiation.

Introvert (MIND)

(30-50% of population)

Introverts are people with a naturally inward MENTAL FOCUS.

  • recharges energy in alone-time

  • prefers small social gatherings with deep intimate conversation

  • does not enjoy small-talk or large social gatherings with superficial interactions

The word introvert means 'turning inwards'. We thrive in mentally processing information in DEPTH. In fact, depth is one of our favorite words. We like to take things in, churn them around, take them apart, put them back together, and ultimately figure out FOR OURSELVES what they mean to us personally. In order to do this, anytime we gather information from the *outside world* we need large amounts of alone-time and quiet-time to process that information in our own *inside world* to make sense of it for ourselves.


HSP ~ Highly Sensitive Person (BODY)

(15-20% of population)

HSPs have a heightened awareness in one or more of their five SENSES.

  • has a seemingly super-human ability in one or more of the five senses

  • tends to experience sensory overload (like a sea anemone

  • often wince and recoil to otherwise *normal* levels of stimuli

HSPs super power is that their nervous systems are highly developed. They may be able to smell food going rotten a couple days before it goes bad. They may see colors within the human energy field (auras). They may hear subtleties of sound imperceptible to average ears. In rare cases, HSPs may have the super power of synesthesia, which is the ability to merge senses and use two or more senses in conjunction with each other. For example, a person with synesthesia may know what specific sounds smell like, or what each color tastes like.

Empath (SPIRIT)

(2-5% of population)