Ever since I was a little girl, I felt other people’s emotions strongly. I remember being so confused when family conflicts arose because I could so clearly see each person’s side and how valid it was. I was confused why everyone couldn’t understand that everyone’s intentions were good and loving and then we could just all move on with our lives in harmony!
As I grew older, I remember feeling like I would literally step into someone else’s shoes, and feel the world as if from their perspective. From this place, I could really understand where they were coming from, even if their decisions from the outside might seem strange.
I remember wanting to help every single person in my life through all of their tough times, and beyond that, I sort of felt that it was my duty. I couldn’t just turn my back on someone who was suffering...especially someone that I loved.
As a result, I would give and give and give and, if the person was in a really bad place, I would allow myself to be sucked down to their level, so I could relate and empathize. I didn’t do any of this consciously, I simply didn’t know another option existed.
So, I would find my energy was focused on others most of the time, and I wasn’t allowing myself to grow and thrive because I was too busy trying to make sure no one felt left out or left behind. I felt my purpose was to help others; that’s all I could see.
Does this sound familiar to you?
I have noticed many people who are attracted into the yoga sphere happen to be empaths as well! I believe it’s because yoga gives us such a greatly needed respite from the outside world, and from intensely feeling so many energies on a constant basis. During our yoga practice, we quickly come back into our own essence, and that which is true for us.
This can feel difficult to access in the outside world as an empath, with so many other energies swirling around us all the time, especially without knowledge of this superpower and how to harness it beneficially.
If what you read above sounds somewhat familiar, you may be an empath as well.
Here are some common experiences found amongst empaths:
Difficulty in discerning if an emotion is yours or someone else’s
You can see right through a smile if it’s hiding anxiety, depression, etc.
People often feel compelled to share their deepest secrets with you, even if you've just met!
Others gravitate to you for help, and you feel a strong urge to help them
You crave alone time, knowing there’s a limit to how much external energy you can take
You may experience “sympathy pains” for real!
I like to consider Extreme Empathy (as found in Empaths) to be a superpower instead of a weakness! After all, we have the seemingly paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual, even if it’s very subtle or hidden. To people who don’t have this superpower, this is seen to be straight up magical. And, it truly is!
We have really been given this gift for a reason. Of course, as with any superpower, we empaths must learn to manage this, and you better believe, we do have our kryptonite.
For empaths, our major kryptonite can be a lack of boundaries - basically, not protecting ourselves. But don’t worry! This is something we can really work with.
Once we recognize our superpower of empathy and learn to work with it, our lives become immensely more manageable!
This is actually such a beautiful gift that I feel we should honor and celebrate within ourselves and each other. There are tools we can learn in order to make this gift remain a cause for celebration, and not become a negative force in our lives that is a constant energy drain.
This way, we can wake up every morning excited to face another day as an enthusiastic empath!
Here are the tools I have found the most useful to manage the day-to-day life of an empath:
What energizes you? What drains you? Identify and adjust your life accordingly.
Grounding: Walk around barefoot out in nature. If you don't have access to the real thing, visualize it. Visualize that there is a tree trunk growing out of the base of your spine, rooting you deep down into the earth.
Create a shield: A bubble or protective white light, that only lets in which will energize you. Know that you're protected from everything else.
Learn to decipher what’s yours vs. what’s somebody else’s: Energy, emotions, moods, thoughts, beliefs. This is a high call, but so well worth it, and once you make the intention to notice, it will begin to shift everything for you.
Feel your feelings: Learn to identify them, and where you feel them in your body? The quicker and more in tune you can become with identifying your own emotions and become familiar with how various emotions send signals to you through your body, the quicker you can decipher what belongs to you vs. what you’ve picked up from someone else.
Find an outlet for your feelings: Breathe, Move, Meditate, Write, Dance, Talk it out with a loved one or a counselor.
Forgiveness: This is an especially important one for us since we may experience a lot of hurt in our lives due to being so sensitive! You are at the top of the list of who to forgive, by the way.
Find Your NO: Love Your NO. It is your best friend, and makes your YES shine even brighter.
Schedule YOU Time: Meditate. Dance. Draw. Take a Bath. Get into Nature. Do something that you feel connects you to your higher self, and nourishes your soul. Since you take in others’ energy so much, it’s extra important to plug back into your own, which can really happen when you have some private time, as an empath.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE - Be Kind to Yourself. Be Gentle. Have Compassion. You have a pure, giving heart, you’re doing the best you can and everything is OK. You are good, worthy, perfect, so please, go easy on yourself. You can learn lessons without being hard on yourself and in fact, that’s the only way we truly grow. Energy doesn’t move through rigidity and disappointment. It moves through openness and acceptance.
This was a gift you were born with.
We can all be grateful for the empaths in the world, and we can all work together to make sure they take care of themselves. If you know other empaths in your life, feel free to pass this along to them, and see how you can support each other in taking care of yourselves.
Here are some Journal Prompts to help you along your path of Empathic Self Discovery:
I feel the most alive when I….(describe in detail and get all the senses involved!)
I feel the most like my true self when I….
The last time I realized my energy was being drained from my body due to someone else’s energy was when…
Revisit the last time you set a boundary in order to honor yourself, and it was respected in return….How did you feel after? What happened next? Paint the picture with your creativity, and allow it to inspire your future.
To dig deeper into this, I recommend checking out a book called The Empath’s Survival Guide, by Judith Orloff. This book helped me to understand myself at a much deeper level! May you share your gift brightly with the world, remembering always to take care of yourself first.
Thank You For Being You,
Dia Michelle Smith
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