What is an Empath? This word comes from “empathy,” which means vicarious experiencing of the thoughts and feelings of another. Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy. When I’m sympathetic, I feel sorry for you. When I’m empathic, I actually feel your pain.
Are you an Empath? Have people told you throughout your life that you’re “too sensitive” or said, “You need to develop thicker skin”? When you see stories about others who are suffering, do you feel the energy of it deeply? Have you been called “overly emotional” because you cry easily? Is it hard for you to watch horror movies or the news? Do you feel queasy when people tell you graphic stories with disturbing themes? Are you deeply affected when people around you are upset? Have you unconsciously mirrored another person’s feelings or attitude when you’re in their presence? Have you regularly felt cheated because other people don’t care about you as deeply as you care about them?
An Empath is a very sensitive person who feels everything deeply. We Empaths will blend with and absorb the energy of people around us who are suffering. But beware. Our ability to feel everything can make it too easy to become codependent because we often don’t know where we end and another person begins. If we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships, for example, the toll those relationships can take on our energy is devastating.
When we don’t understand the gift of empathy, it can take over our lives. We turn into huge sponges soaking up the suffering and pain of the world. Most of us are too sensitive to hear stories of abuse or violence without negative reactions. That’s because, in our soul, we can’t understand how anyone could bring that kind of pain to another. When we see movies filled with human suffering or graphic violence, those sights will often stay with us for days, or even weeks, afterward. We absorb those scenes and their energy, and it fills our gut, where it will linger as an unsettled feeling. I remember when I saw Hotel Rwanda. I cried for four days. The images kept rising to my mind. I was, quite honestly, tortured by the images in that movie.
At the core of this sensitivity lies a gift. We Empaths have a lot to offer the world. We can deeply affect others through our positivity, compassion, and excellent listening skills. We have a way of naturally validating others and uplifting them. When this gift is used for the highest good of humanity, it can bring depths of connection and fulfillment not only to those around us, but to ourselves. Isn’t that what we long for?
So how do you get there? You have to learn to release the weight of the world from your shoulders and allow others to be responsible for themselves. If you’ve acquired a victim mindset (very likely because the common focus has been suffering), before you can help anyone, you will need to release this weight. We need to become healthy in all of our relationships by learning to connect without merging our energies or absorbing the pain of those around us. We do this by setting boundaries, practicing compassionate distance, and becoming responsible for only ourselves. That is to say; we need to learn to care for ourselves, first and foremost. We need to practice self-love. We also need to avoid negativity by minimizing our time engaged in lower energy activities. For example, I no longer watch the news at all. I stop people who begin to tell me the latest news report of abduction or murder. There is absolutely no reason for me to spend time in that energy. It doesn’t change anything that’s occurred and it doesn’t honor the victim in any way.
It also helps to practice shielding. Empaths are often walking around as wide-open energy. Therefore, when we come across an angry person or very negative situation, we begin to soak up that energy. Instead of being a sponge, when you find yourself talking with toxic people, picture a force field around yourself, bouncing the negativity off so it cannot reach you. You can call this shield the white light of protection or you can visualize it with color and infuse it with angelic assistance. Pink is a wonderfully neutralizing color. Picture purple if you are in very draining situations.
My latest book, New From the Inside Out: How to Transform Your Mind and Your Life, contains a ton of information that will help Empaths find a more comfortable place in the world.
Peace and love ~