Being an Empath

Being an empath comes with many gifts and many challenges. I have personally known what it means to be an empath since I was seven years old. It is now 40 years since my first awareness, and I have spent an entire lifetime studying, practicing, honing, and forming a relationship with the gifts, and with the challenges.

If you happen to know you are an empath, know this- I see you, I hear you, and I believe in you. Over the next few months, I will be sharing tools and grace-filled ways to experience and express your life without feeling like something is wrong with you. If you have never heard of empaths, or you only have a basic awareness of what it means, it is my goal to support you in getting to know, understand and trust yourself or your loved one, co-worker, or potential partner a little more. I feel it is so important to have compassion for others, and to learn to live with people who are different from us with loving kindness.

The dictionary.com description of empath is as follows: “em-path (noun)- (Chiefly in science fiction) a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.”

The dictionary.com description of empathy is: “em-pa-thy (noun)- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

The main difference (according to the same site) between empathy and sympathy is: “Sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters. Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another, which is why actors often talk about it.”

The difference between empathy and compassion, according to UC Berkeley, Greater Good Magazine: “Compassion literally means, ‘to suffer together’... (it) is not the same as empathy or altruism, though the concepts are related. While empathy refers more generally to our ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person, compassion is when those feelings and desires include the desire to help.”

You may find that there is a lot of focus on the words ‘empathy’, ‘compassion’ and ‘sympathy’, but not on the word ‘empath’. So why separate those who feel compassion or empathy for another, and the act of the feeling state? We can learn to accept that ‘being an empath’ (one who apprehends the mental or emotional state of another individual) is a real thing. There are many articles and books available to support the truth that being an empath is a real thing, (even if it hasn’t yet been proven) so instead of focusing on that, it is my desire to focus on supporting you and helping you learn to live more peacefully, and become less overwhelmed by this ability. I will share some tools and experiences that have helped me as an empath, and I will offer guidance to accept your gifts, and learn to create your own tools to support you.

Tool #1- “Is It Mine?”

Walking into a crowded space (a full room, a funeral, a party, a concert, etc.) can be very daunting for an empath. We want to be able to enter the space and not feel like a tidal wave of energy and emotions smacks into us like a brick wall. We also need tools that help us avoid taking on the energy of everyone in that space, leaving us with headaches, body aches, or feeling sick. The following is the very first tool I was ever gifted, and it helps me with both of those issues. With practice and tons of support from acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, and even therapists who have been willing to believe in me and support me, I have honed this skill (and many others) over the years. I call this tool, “Is it mine?”

Being overwhelmed by a strong physical, mental, energetic, or emotional feeling, often takes us out of alignment with whatever we are doing in the moment, and may even cause anxiety, panic, or major stress. You can be bopping along through life, and then suddenly think, “What the heck just happened? I was feeling great, and now I feel _________ (tired, sick, stuck, like I have a headache, or I’m going to throw up)!” That is the moment to pause, close your eyes (if you safely can), take a deep breath into your heart, and ask yourself, “is it mine?”

Here’s where the magic of this tool happens, and it is actually quite simple once you get used to using it. If the feeling gets stronger, it is yours. If the feeling eases off, it is someone else’s. And if the feeling stays neutral, it could be partially yours, and partially someone else’s. {This is a tool I have been using the most over the years, so I really trust it, and can tell almost right away what is going on. When you first start using this tool, it might not be as easy to tell right away. Keep practicing it and trusting your intuition and your gut.}

If the feeling is yours, take some time to get clear about what your body, mind, or inner voice might be trying to tell you. Do a personalized meditation, a heart math breathing exercise, (www.heartmath.com), a mindfulness meditation, or a yoga nidra meditation. (These are all tools that help me get out of my head and into my heart quickly, so I can more clearly hear what my inner self is trying to communicate.) Pausing to care for self, and becoming mindful, is often all you need to become present and to understand why you are feeling funky. Practicing self care on a regular basis, will also make it easier to hear your inner voice when something feels ‘off’.

If the energy is someone else’s, ask yourself, “what am I being called to do with this feeling or energy?” and then, listen… you may get a clear answer right away. Or, you can use this tool my mom made up when I was 8 years old (I still use it to this day). We came upon a car accident, and I started screaming about my arm and my head hurting (we found out later, the person in the car had broken their arm and gotten a concussion). She told me to open myself up like a “hollow tube”, and “give it to God” (Over the years, I have learned to use whatever form of prayer works for me to release it into the Universe). You can say something like this, “ I know this feeling/energy is not mine, I release it now, and I let it go to Universe/Source/God/Goddess/All that Is. I open up like a hollow tube, my heart, mind, body, spirit and soul, and I allow this energy/feeling to flow through me. I fully release it to be cared for by the powers that be. I trust the Universe, and so it is.” Do this exercise until the energy subsides, or goes away entirely. Using this tool, it doesn’t take very long to feel a change in the energy, and the more you use it, the easier it becomes. Feeling someone else’s stuff can be very overwhelming at first. As you become more aware of whose energy it is, you can change the way you feel very quickly.

If the energy remains the same or feels neutral, you can do a combination of the above exercises to become present, release the energy, and move into presence. Only you can truly know how to take the best care of yourself, and it is essential to learn to fully trust yourself and your inner voice.

Over the next few months I will be sharing some Q & A’s; more ‘tried and true tools’ to thrive as an empath in this world; and some of my own experiences living as an empath. I look forward to hearing your personal empathic experiences, your questions, and the tools that have helped you as an empath or as a friend or family member of an empath.

The most important thing to know as you move forward into accepting the gifts of being an empath is: TRULY LEARN TO TRUST YOUR INTUITION AND YOUR INNER VOICE! Here’s to you, my empath friends!

20 views