Making your empathy work for you, rather than against you.
Have you ever wondered if your empathy makes you empathic or highly sensitive?
Do you know you are empathic, but feel like it’s always working against you?
If you think you are or might be empathic, do you feel confident using its energy?
Are You Empathic?
Before we talk about how to make sure your empathy is working for you, rather than against you…
… here’s a checklist to help you determine if you are empathic or highly sensitive.
Empaths have a unique experience of the world, and here are some common traits for you to consider.
Top 3 Traits I Consistently Observe. Empaths:
1. are deeply and easily moved emotionally.
You could be watching a movie or listening to someone tell a story, and you will feel what each person is experiencing.
2. pick up what other people are feeling.
You might find it difficult to spend much time with other people because you have so much compassion, you end up picking up other people’s emotions.
3. can be highly sensitive in many ways.
This includes being highly sensitive to scents, sounds, visual input—anything involving your five senses.
Additional Common Traits. Empaths:
4. are often told to toughen up when they are younger.
If you have ever been told you are too moody or too sensitive, you are probably empathic.
5. can be deeply affected by the weather or even the land around you.
If you’ve ever gone on a road trip and felt your emotions changing with the landscape or climate, you are very likely having an empathic reaction to your surroundings.
6. have a lot of compassion for others.
You might find yourself immediately wanting to reach out to someone in pain or discomfort. It’s as though you want to take away their suffering.
7. have a keen sense of intuition.
Empaths can be very psychic because they are picking up insights and information at very subtle levels.
8. need their alone time.
Being alone, and away from outside stimulus, is one of the ways an empath recharges their batteries and re-centers themselves.
For more ideas, here’s another checklist I really like from Judith Orloff, M.D. in Psychology Today.
So, what do you think?
Are you empathic?
Consider this: if you are here, and you’ve been reading this article, it is very likely you are empathic.
Although you may have felt like an outsider for a good portion of your life because you are so sensitive, I have good news for you.
Your sensitivity is one of your “medicine gifts” as my Native elders would call it. Believe it or not, it’s actually a blessing when you understand it and know how to nurture it use it properly.
If You Are Empathic, There is Nothing Wrong with You that Needs to be Fixed
It took me years to figure out I was empathic. I honestly thought something was seriously wrong with me that needed to be remedied:
- First, I told myself to toughen up and grow a thicker skin, which only served to make me aloof and distant.
- Then, I tried to make myself to be less moody, which only made me a living time bomb, when my repressed feelings came barging up to the surface.
- When neither of those worked, I forced myself to be more mental and analytical, which caused me to be harsh and critical, as I abandoned by compassionate nature.
Later in my life, as my medicine gifts (psychic and spiritual gifts) opened up, I wanted to hibernate inside my home. I couldn’t stand the thought of being out among people where I would pick up their feelings and even their thoughts.
Honestly, I thought something was terribly wrong with me and if I could just fix myself, I’d enjoy my life more.
But none of my fixes ever worked.
Finally, I found relief. I was given ancient Divine Feminine spiritual practices that helped me understand how to be present to my emotions.
For the first time in my life, I felt “in control” of my emotional, empathic nature. Feeling “in control” did not mean I controlled my emotions.
Rather, I was in control of my ability to attend to my emotions with enough love that harmful emotions could rest and helpful emotions thrived.
As I created a new relationship with my emotions and sensitivity, I discovered, to my delight, even my physical healing became much easier and more effective.
How to Get Your Empathy Working For You
You can do it too! You just need to know how.
Here are some great suggestions from Deepak Chopra suggests for staying emotionally balanced as an empath.
Over the years, I’ve found five simple, but powerful ways to make peace with, and even enjoying, my empathic nature. And you can experience their power for yourself.
First 3 Steps for Making Peace with Your Empathy
1. Spend time in nature.
This step is so important to emotional and physical well-being, I spent an entire chapter on it in my book, The Root of All Healing. This is what medicine people have known for hundreds of years. If you want to let go of other people’s stuff and get centered in yourself, get outside—frequently and often. That’s because negative ions have a particularly calming, centering and re-energizing affect on empaths.
2. Spend time alone but don’t hibernate.
Giving yourself enough time alone will help you reset and recenter yourself. Choosing to meditate, take a walk, listen to soothing music, or any other contemplative activity, will help you calm your emotions. Too much time alone means you are avoiding your need to find balance with your empathy; therefore, encourage yourself to get out socially, and then return to stillness afterwards.
3. Take care of yourself first, then others.
As parents and care-takers, we frequently need to respond to the immediate needs of those depending on us. But that is not how it has to be every hour of every day. As an empath, you’ve probably discovered that for the most part you simply must take care of yourself first, so you have the energy reserves to care for others.
Ways to Find Even Deeper Peace with Your Empathic Nature
4. Be present to your emotions rather than stuff them.
Repressing emotions doesn’t work. They tend to come out side ways at the worst possible times in the worst possible ways. Learn how to Hold your emotions—all of them—harmful and helpful. It’s your loving attention to them that allows difficult emotions to dissolve and happier emotions to flourish. After all, love is the great healer, and that goes for your emotions.
You can get a free guided meditation for Holding your emotions at my non-profit web-site: SacredFeminineAwakening.com
5. Create lots of positive experiences so you can trust in a friendly Universe.
If all you give your empathy to chew on is the suffering you and others are experiencing, you’ll constantly be in pain. Empathy can also align with positive, happy and joyful emotions, so give yourself lots of opportunity to feel good. The better you feel, the more you’ll trust in a friendly Universe, where you, and others, have the ability to use your gifts to create great life.
6. Set boundaries.
You don’t have to be available every hour of every day for others. Stop watching or reading the news if necessary. Limit the time you spend with people who are addicted to or leaning on your empathy. Encourage them to trust in their spiritual gifts and capacity for love. Have confidence in them, so they can find it in themselves. It’s not your job to fix them or make their lives better. That’s their job, so set boundaries so they can become successful taking care of themselves.
7. Use your empathy to sense and bless others.
The day I understood how really be with the barrage of emotions I picked up from others was the day I sensed their feelings and immediately blessed them in love. Rather than linger in the pain with them, I let the discomfort inform me and used that awareness to bless them in love, seeing them on the other side of their pain, happy and fulfilled.
You deserve to be a happy empathy, and by incorporating some new habits, you can enjoy your life as a highly sensitive person.
For more insights about living with your empathy, check out this article, here at misahopkins.com: Being Sensitive in a Critical World.