If you are sensitive, too much negative empathy may be over-running your ability to enjoy a peaceful, connected life.
It’s difficult to be a sensitive person in today’s ultra-critical and negative world. While some people can just brush off the negativity, it’s not so easy for a sensitive person or empath.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve discovered four important tools for helping empaths thrive in a critical world.
First, let’s determine if you are you sensitive or empathic?
You are probably empathic or sensitive if you:
- Easily pick up other people’s emotions or physical experiences
- Feel deeply affected by negative news
- Hear other people’s thoughts
- Sense the story people aren’t telling you
- Feel safer around animals than people
- Get premonitions about things to come
- See what other people don’t recognize about themselves
- Know you are highly intuitive
- Need lots of alone time in order to feel safe or balanced
- Can become easily overwhelmed by others’ intense thoughts or feelings
- Give more than you can afford to give
- Feel compassion deeply
Do any of those seem like you?
If so, then you are probably sensitive and empathic.
It’s hard to be sensitive when you live in a critical world, because you can too easily pick that negative stuff up.
One minute you are feeling fine, then you hear something on the news that disturbs you, and the next minute you are snapping at someone you care about, or you are criticizing yourself about something very small.
When you are sensitive, it is natural to feel deep empathy for the pain. However…
You become lost in the suffering, when you don’t make sure the majority of your experiences throughout the day are focused (and empathizing) with Divine love.
When you hear your critical or blaming voice talking to yourself or someone else, it’s a cue to tune into your empathy.
Being critical may have become a coping mechanism you use when things are painful.
If you grew up in environments where criticism was equated with love, you may have learned that being stern with yourself and others was the best way to create changes toward more positive behavior.
So when the pain is intense, you might find yourself trying to scold the source of your pain right out of you. But trying to shame yourself into creating more positive outcomes, doesn’t work very well, does it?
As a coping mechanism, have you noticed how when you feel significant pain, your critical voice goes into hyper-drive.
And have you noticed how that voice has a tendency to go around in circles, rehashing all the pains and injustices of the past?
Continuing to talk or think from that critical place means you are trying to cope with the pain, but all the while, you are actually reinforcing the pain by focusing on it—negatively.
As you’ve probably discovered, ultimately, you don’t heal and you end up feeling even more miserable.
I know—I spent years empathizing with my anger, sorrow, and despair, and was almost hopelessly stuck.
Until I discovered some ways to shift out of my negative empathy.
If you think you too can get caught in negative empathy loops, perhaps these tools can help you too.
And by the way, I work with people every day who are the most compassionate and kind spiritual people you would ever hope to meet, who have over-empathized with negativity and pain in certain areas of their lives.
So getting caught up in negative empathy does not indicate a lack of ability to love or a lack in one’s spirituality.
It’s a matter of recognizing where your empathy is focused.
Here are four ways you can refocus your empathy out of the pain and criticism and into love:
1. Until your positive empathy muscles are very strong, watch and listen to positive news.
Nothing can set you off faster than all the pain in the world. Media has learned from us that we pay more attention to the pain than the joy, so guess what they report about. If you want more positive news in the world, read and listen to positive news, and let your empathy shift from pain and frustration to love and joy. (Don’t worry, you can always go back to regular news, once you know how to Hold yourself and all parties in love without being swallowed up in negative empathy.)
2. The minute you hear yourself going around and around in a negative circle, stop thinking and talking. Pause. You need to get control of your thoughts. You can do that by doing one of these things:
– Go for a walk. Nature is the great healer for empaths. She’ll have you reset in a matter of minutes.
– Soften your voice. It’s amazing how just speaking from a softer place causes you to choose softer words and focus on softer thoughts. Pretty soon, you’ll be in compassion that is synched up to copious amounts of love, and that’s where empaths thrive.
– Activate your heart with a love-based exercise. Find or create a love-based exercise to do when you wake up and before you go to bed. In you daily ritual, open up to feelings of love (any kind of love). When you feel anxious or fearful, take a moment to activate your love-based exercise, and watch how everything starts resolving as your heart opens up.
3. Think nine loving thoughts for every one negative thought. Each time you notice you are having a negative thought, immediately think up nine loving thoughts. As your own critical mind quiets down and you have a greater number of positive thoughts and feelings, you’ll attract more positive situations into your life.
4. Hold yourself in compassion. When the pain and frustration is really deep, this is one of the most powerful meditations I have ever discovered, and we teach it at my non-profit, Sacred Feminine Awakening. To Hold yourself effectively in compassion, focus on love (how loved you are, how you love others—humans or animals). Invite yourself to let your love significantly out-weigh the pain. Then Hold the pain in the sea of your love, until it softens or disappears.
Be gentle and patient in your process as you train your mind to refocus your attention away from negative empathy and toward your wonderful capacity to love.
If you want some help in this process, take a look at my Psychic Powers, Psychic Abilities; Live Intuitively audio course. This course shows you how to refocus your attention on your spiritual gifts, including your empathy— so you can use your gifts and sensitive nature to create an easier, positive, peaceful and more spiritually connected life.