At some point in your life have you ever had someone say “put yourself in their shoes” when trying to understand why someone is behaving in a way that may not make sense to you? This is a form of empathy. The more we practice the art of putting ourselves in the shoes of others, the more understanding, compassion, and wisdom we can cultivate. However, if we are not grounded in ourselves, it can be easy to confuse our own emotions with those of the other person.
“Empaths are highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings. Intuition is the filter through which they experience the world. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually attuned, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, they’re there for you, world-class nurturers.” – Dr. Judith Orloff
An Empath is someone who experiences others emotions as their own, oftentimes without having to consciously put themselves in the others shoes. They may be born with this ability or it may have been “awakened” in them at some point throughout their life. One awakens when they realize that the emotions they are feeling sometimes don’t make sense in everyday life, giving rise to the insight that they may be coming from an external source.
So naturally, most of the teachings are about how to protect oneself from this external source, but what this article shares is how to be empowered through embrace and non-resistance. It can be exhausting to feel like we need to protect ourselves from the world we live in. This in itself creates separation. What we want to convey is how to live life to the fullest as an empath through fearlessness. It is not about playing the victim, but taking full responsibility for where we are at in life and how to embrace everything, instead of resist it.
15 Signs Your An Empath
- Maybe you always seem to know how other people feel
- Maybe you feel uncomfortable or drained in crowds and need time alone to recover
- Maybe you share everybody’s pain as if it was your own
- Maybe you feel distraught when a friend is feeling distraught
- Maybe your feelings are easily hurt
- Maybe you overeat to cope with emotional stress
- Maybe you are afraid of becoming engulfed by intimate relationships
- Maybe you have been labeled as “too emotional” or overly sensitive
- Maybe you nerves get frayed by noise, smells, or excessive talk
- Maybe you cannot bear violence, even from the news
- Maybe people are drawn to unload their burdens on you
- Maybe you enjoy solitude
- Maybe you are prone to depression, anxiety, or addiction
- Maybe you experience problems that doctors can’t explain
- Maybe you are drawn to animals, mountains, nature, and the ocean
As an empath you’re more acutely aware of the oneness that exists, but in the moment you say you have to protect yourself against something, you’re ignoring the fact that the aspect that is mirroring you is actually an aspect of yourself. We can concern ourselves all day long trying to fix the reflection in the mirror or we can try and fix whatever it is that is causing the reflection. So if we are thinking “I need to protect myself from this negative energy” and we resist it, instead of welcoming it, then we will continuously attract that into our life. Because if you focus on the negative energy itself, then you are making yourself a match to it. Instead of looking at the situation as a negative, look at it as your teacher. If you are attracting something into your life over and over, then the lesson has yet to be assimilated.
The Importance Of Healthy Boundaries
Empathic people often have boundary issues. So the problem is not the empathicness in itself, it’s that we have some serious problems with a sense of self. So first we should talk about what healthy boundaries are. Poor boundaries can arise from the family dynamic that one was in when they were younger. For example, if a little girl says “I don’t want to do that”, but the Mother forces her to do it, then ones boundaries are being violated. The child is forced to tear down what is true for her or what’s right for her, in favour of what is right or true for someone else, such as the mother in this case. This causes her boundaries to wear thin enabling her to sense what everyone else is feeling. And over time, she won’t be able to sense the difference between herself and other people. This is often what gives rise to one becoming an empath.
The issue is that as children, many of us were not allowed to feel how we felt. Some emotions were acceptable and some were unacceptable, so we did whatever we could to suppress and deny the aspects that were unsavoury to everyone else around us.
Our evolution is to maintain that connection with people where the lines are blurred and we perceive oneness more so than other people, but simultaneously we are able to have a sense of separate self; knowing where you begin and end.
When people think of boundaries they may think of fences, because that’s the boundary we know. But fences are designed to keep other people out. That’s not what a boundary is, as a boundary doesn’t really have anything to do with other people. It has to do with your sense of self. It’s about identifying what is true for you, what you like and don’t like, and being honest about how you are feeling. When we have a sense of that, then we can know where we start and end. Rather than a boundary in terms of this is what i’m going to let you do and not do to me, a boundary is about what I say yes to, relative to myself. For example, I can say no to you or I can say yes to me, and sometimes saying no to you is saying yes to me. Whereas other times saying no is a form of resistance, and that does nothing but bring the issue closer. What you resist, persists. The wisdom is in knowing the difference.
Because of poor boundaries, many empaths perceive themselves as very small and weak. They feel as though everyone is intruding on them. But if you move into the space of believing that maybe you were given this ability for a reason, that maybe you are capable of transmuting everybody’s vibrations, you are actually switching into a frequency that is so high that you can’t be a match to experiencing an intrusion.
One strategy for empaths is to visualize themselves as being big enough to breathe everyones energy in. If you are sitting at a coffee shop, simply visualize yourself breathing in all the energy in the room. And because you are opening yourself up to everything, there is nothing for the energies to hit up against…there is no resistance. This simple practice can shift everything in your life.
No matter where you are on your journey as an empath, know that you are not crazy, and you are not alone in this experience. One of the most important things to keep in mind is not to fall into victim mode. In order for you to own your abilities, you must take full responsibility for everything that is happening in your life. When we do this we step into being an “empowered adult empath”, rather than a “victimized child empath”.
The key is to honour your feelings. The problem is not how you feel, but rather that you do not feel safe enough to feel how you feel. With this foundation you can make conscious decisions about how to spend your time, and who to spend your time with. With that being said, surround yourself with like-minded people and other Empaths.
And finally, make sure you ask in any given moment “are these emotions mine or are they coming from somewhere else”. This becomes a challenge in itself to identify the difference, but it becomes easier with experience.
Benefits Of Being An Empath
- You often seem to know how other people feel even if they’re not talking about it
- You’re very sensitive to other people state of mind
- People find it easy to confide in you
- You might feel other people’s physical sensations in your own body
- You may be natural healer
- Ability to feel into your partner during intimate moments
Downside Of Being An Empath
- Feeling emotionally or physically overwhelmed in crowds
- Feeling emotionally drained when you have to touch a lot of people
- Feeling like you need to help everyone by carrying their emotional pain
- Random mood swings (angry, sad, scared, etc.) that have nothing to do with your life events
- Loss of identity and sense of self
- Mental illness often manifests requiring pharmaceutical medication
- Getting too involved in others affairs, while neglecting oneself