Empathy is the ability to feel the ambient energies and emotions in your environment. It is our natural connection to everything around us, and in that way, it is an “6th sense” that is available if we know how to use it.
Just like anything in our world, empathy is a polarity. It can offer just as many beautiful and important blessings as it offers challenges. The difference between those who “suffer” from empathy and those who are blessed with empathy is entirely based in the relationship with it.
Empathy is often a signature of compassionate people. They tend to be energetically open and “feel” others. Unfortunately, the openness leaves an unclear boundary, blurring our ability to differentiate between personal energies and emotions versus “outside” energies and emotions. As a result, many people with strong, innate empathy feel like they are internalizing the emotions and energies of other people within themselves, and the result can be a series of symptoms ranging from feeling drained, nauseous, headaches, irritable, to lethargic.
In fact, there are studies that show the significant effects of “burnout” in the caring professions. Medical professionals, mental health professionals, massage therapists, energy workers, social workers, and even teachers and customer service representatives are often attracted to their professions because they are empathic, feeling people. They are what I call the Compassionate Warriors trying to help and be of service to humanity.
Oftentimes, people don’t even realize the side effects of their empathy. The impact of unmanaged empathy can be a significant “piling on” of subtle influences. For example, naturally empathic people might find these conditions…
- Easily distracted, even to the point of ADD/ADHD
- Tendency toward clutter in their lives
- Stubborn excess weight regardless of efforts to change
- Greatest contentment when alone or inside your own thoughts
- Desire to lose yourself and disappear into mindless activities
- Low energy — feeling drained by people around you
- A long and growing list of unfinished projects
- Shiny object syndrome — too many pulls on your attention
- Undiagnosable physical pain or other symptoms
- Lack of clarity of who you are and your life’s vision
- Sense of being lost or not fitting in
- Depression and/or malaise
- Difficulty making your own decisions
- Feeling repressed by the opinions of others
- And so much more.
A lucky few have had teachers or mentors who offered some insight into defending against the forces of empathy. Unfortunately, those helpful defenses too often let us down when we need them the most. Or, they create dynamics of separation and withdrawal, and that experience is in opposition to the nature of empathic, compassionate people, that the solution is actually a cause of new problems.
The good news is that there are ways to manage your empathy while still being fully present and fully engaged in the world, not withdrawn, not hiding behind an emotional barrier.
When I first started, I had to learn to manage my empathy the hard way. Over time, I had teachers who taught the usual methods, even though I found out they didn’t always work. Then, I had teachers who sparked insights that helped me to solve my problem.
== Slammed by Empathy ==
Years ago, I lived right on a large park, and one night I decided to go for a walk. My attention was drawn to bright lights on the far side of the field, so I decided to investigate. As I approached, I was hit by powerful sensations of sadness accompanied by headaches and mild nausea. It was a beautiful summer’s night, and I wasn’t sure what was happening so I continued closer. The feelings intensified with each step. And then, I saw it.
The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall was in the park. Imagine slabs of black granite engraved with the names of tens of thousands of military men and women killed during the war.
Consider that Black Granite is a type of crystal that absorbs energy. The wall itself became the embodiment of all of that sadness for family members and military personal who lost friends and family in a lost cause. They had come to the wall to grieve, and the crystalline structure of wall accepted the burden of their emotions. Being open and curious while enjoying a beautiful evening, I was completely susceptible to all of this.
I was completely unprepared, and not able to defend against this powerful immersion in all of this emotion. By the time I had implemented my “self-defense” barrier, it was too late. I had immersed myself in the energies and it was impacting me. Even with what I had learned at that point, the residuals of that experience affected me for the next 2 days. The memory is still vivid.
While not every experience is that intense, that’s empathy.
== A Monumental Cleansing ==
A few months ago, Linda and I visited the 9/11 Monument on a trip to New York City. Different from the Vietnam Wall experience, we both knew the depth of the emotions that had been unleashed into that area that awful September, and we were prepared. We did what we knew to do in order to experience this place and offer our prayers.
To our amazement, the architects of the monument did something brilliant in their design. The monument is a pair of square sunken pools, each outlining the footprint of the two buildings destroyed at the World Trade Center. The center of each pool is a square opening descending into the depths of the earth, and the outer walls are waterfalls. The water cascades down the sides to the floor of the pool, and then the water flows across to the central opening where it falls into the earth.
Why is this brilliant? Water absorbs energy! The waterfall absorbs and carries the emotions and horror as it flows away from those standing at the edge. The feelings I expected to have standing there did not rise up. The monument itself, intended or not, was processing the emotional energies. The area had a somberness to it, and definitely a reverence, but not the negativity one might expect.
The point to me sharing this is that often as empaths, we feel as if we are subjected to the battering and draining of sensations arising from the people and places around us. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. There are effective ways to manage empathy without sacrificing our own experience and connection with the world.
While most of the techniques and methods suggested by teachers work some of the time, they have downsides to them. They either cut us off from being fully in the world, or they fail us when we need them most.
== Water… The Quick “Solution” for Empaths ==
When dealing with powerful residual energies, water can be an excellent tool to absorb and hold those energies. When you feel sticky or heavy or notice symptoms after an encounter, simply washing your face and arms and hands in cold water will quickly resolve the issue in most cases.
A shaman I met while visiting Mexico taught me a way to be proactive with challenging clients. She shared that if you want to proactively avoid having a space filled with heavy energies or emotions, place a bowl of clean water (or having decorative fountains) in the treatment room, and it will automatically gather and cleanse those energies for you. It is important to periodically change the water, but pour it into the dirt so the earth can process it and not on your plants.
This is just one of many external methods for spiritual and emotional protection. To me, thought, the ultimate goal is have the protection as an inherent part of who you are. It can come from within, so you never have to worry about whether your devices are in place and ready.
== Want to Learn More Effective Tools to Manage Your Empathy? ==
Managing your empathy is as simple as learning to help yourself become more aware of those times when you are feeling forces outside of yourself. You can easily learn to implement outer methods while developing the inner methods of empathic protection.
The beauty of the inner process is that it is not based in separation. It is based in clarity. When the inner methods are used, many of the side effects of empathy begin to dissipate. Even better, when the inner methods are used, the beneficial gifts and blessings of empathy begin to take hold.
If you would like more information about these tools for empaths, you might consider a one-day workshop called “Empathy Burnout — Survival Training for Compassionate People”. You will learn to immediately use both the inner and outer methods so you can
free yourself from the challenges of empathy and awaken the gifts. Click here for details.
In one day, I will teach you…
- What is empathy, and what is true compassion… it’s not what you think it is!
- Why the usual methods don’t work when you need them most and what does
- How to find your boundaries and seal the leaks with quick and simple 2-minute exercises
- How to recognize when empathy is affecting other areas of your life and how to take back control
- Effortless self-defense for the empath
- How to “clean up” when you “miss” and get hit empathically
- The art of Compassionate Listening… without Self-Sacrifice
- Contending with Energy Vampires
- Extra prevention steps for ultra-intense situations
- And more.
Even better, I’ve extended the Early Bird Registration Period to Wednesday night June 24, 2015 at midnight Central.