Are you an Empath?
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
Do you often feel the pain of others? Do you feel tired or drained after spending time with certain people or in certain places? Do you feel physically or emotionally ill when seeing violent images in movies or on TV? Does your mood change depending on who walks into the room? Do you feel uncomfortable in crowds?
If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you might be an empath. (You can take this quiz to find out, if you're interested.) The term "empath" comes from empathy, which is the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of one's own perspective. But empaths go one step further: they actually absorb other people's feelings and energies. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist and well-known pioneer in the field, describes empaths as “emotional sponges.” Energetically speaking they are highly sensitive beings. They can literally experience the physical pain of other people, feel their spiritual urges, and perceive their moods and attitudes.
Empaths are often told that they're "too sensitive" and need to grow thicker skin. But the truth is empaths have a unique gift. They can sense vibes and easily pick up when someone is not being authentic or truthful.
Unfortunately, an unaware empath's life is influenced by others’ desires, wishes, thoughts, and feelings. That is why most empaths struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, physical illness or feeling overwhelmed in the world. They experience a ton of emotions all the time and don't understand why -- Imagine feeling peace one minute and then crippling anxiety the next for no reason and living life this way. They can be "people pleasers" with an innate ability to sense others' needs, and can end up caring for others more than they do for themselves. They may feel unworthy or find themselves in situations that leave them feeling hurt. They attract narcissists. If this sounds like you, you are not alone! Becoming aware of it will change your life.
Know this: Everything that you feel is not yours.
Go back to a time when you felt deeply sad, anxious, or angry out of nowhere, and you could not shake the feeling. Were you somewhere / with someone else in particular when this feeling took over? Realize that feeling was probably not yours. You may be unconsciously absorbing other people's energies and taking them on as your own. This can cause confusion and a feeling of powerlessness.
Here's the deal:
Empaths are naturally healers and transform energy in the collective.
Hurt people unconsciously seek out empaths because of the healing vibes they possess.
Empaths sense hurt people need help and try to "fix" or save them, but can end up getting sucked into their pain.
However, you can live life free from other people's energies if you practice two things: Awareness and Boundaries. Very simply put:
Awareness is getting to know yourself very well. Spending time alone consciously and seeing how you feel. Noticing your thought patterns by being the curious observer. Getting in touch with your core self & the baseline feelings and emotions that you experience. Then, notice the environment around you and pay close attention to your reactions. Have your thoughts changed after being around certain people, places, objects, noises, smells, etc.? Your physical or emotional state?
Boundaries are what you say "yes" and "no" to in life (see my previous post on boundaries to learn more). Setting boundaries means saying "no" to what doesn't serve you. As people-pleasers, empaths often try to make others feel better, but don't know how to recharge or process the energies they encounter on a daily basis. Learn how to set loving boundaries and you'll be better able to protect your energy.✨
Once you know yourself you can set better boundaries. If you don’t know yourself, you won't know where "you" ends and "they" begin, and you will confuse your "stuff" with other people's. If the above resonates with you, below are specific steps you can take right now to protect your energy:
Watch what you consume (food, music, TV, the people you hang out with, places you visit).
Practice meditation/yoga or just express yourself creatively (journaling, painting, making music, etc.)
Connect with nature. Mother earth is a natural healer and brings us to a balanced state.
Remember: You are not here to "fix" anyone. Just because you can sense someone else is in pain does not mean you need to follow them into it. Everyone is responsible for their own journey. 💜