IMAGE: You say I… Like it’s a Bad Thing! © Louise A. Shilton
I remember my mum saying I was “too sensitive” when I was young. I also remember her saying that I “cared too much about other people”. I vividly recall feeling some shock at the latter statement one time as I was standing on the landing upstairs, helping mum fold bed linen and towels for storing in the airing cupboard around the boiler. I thought—and may have even suggested to my mum—that caring about other people was a good thing. But Mum added, “You need to think more about yourself!”
As I got older I understood that I had an abundance of what is known as “empathy”— empathy is the ability to emotionally put ourselves into another’s shoes and genuinely relate to the feelings they are having around an experience. I saw my natural empathy as a good thing, but became acutely aware of the challenges to being this way also—not least experiencing when others lack empathy in their behaviour towards you.
During my teens, and as an adult, I have on more than one occasion been told I am “too nice”, “too sensitive” and “emotional”. And, as a woman who certainly did suffer from some pre-menstrual emotional flux, I was quick to put much of my emotional sensitivity and behaviour down to that pesky cycle of hormones. I also grew up in a highly emotionally charged environment, so there was some environmental conditioning that (some) women were just wired this way! (Western society has certainly perpetuated this perception with words such as “assertive” being used for men putting their point across passionately, being replaced by “aggressive” or “emotional” for women. And I’ve certainly experienced this double-standard in workplaces.)
But all this aside, it’s only really in the last two to three years that I had the epiphany that I am an EMPATH. Upon realising this, I found myself singing “I’m an empath, I’m a big empath, oh I’m an empath!” to the tune of The Kinks’ “Apeman”. (Such is the way my mind works—I love music and lyrics!)
While obviously related to empathy, being an empath and empathic (as opposed to empathetic) are defined energetically. An empath is an energetically sensitive person who feels the emotions around them—and can often process and interpret the emotions in places and around other people. An empath literally feels another’s energy, and can sometimes understand more about what is going on for a person than they may even be aware of themselves! Therefore, being an empath is a gift—but it is also a curse (if you don’t understand it, or know how to manage it)—as it can render you vulnerable to energetic attack by others, and leave you feeling thwacked and drained. In the years before really understanding and finding power in my ability as an empath, I certainly felt the curse side of it more than the gift!
So, I worked out that I am an empath—I literally feel another’s emotions and the energies in places and situations. As such, I can ‘read’ the agendas behind people’s words and behaviours. I had an awareness of unpleasant stuff going down in workplaces for example. Doing the 9 to 5 in offices was extremely challenging for me as I was acutely aware of the politics and agendas being played out by people. Yuck! It was like being in an energetic quagmire at times—and sometimes all the energy I was picking up from others would leave me emotionally fraught, or result in an outburst as my body could take no more of the energetic crud—I had to throw it back. (Think energetic Batman punch—Pow! Zap! Bam!)
But on the upside, I could often sense what was going on behind the scenes and prime myself accordingly. For example, a few years ago I left a job on principle because the new CEO was bullshitting me and trying to box me in to being a “technical” person rather than acknowledge that I was actually doing business development in the science and conservation sectors (which was actually part of my job description). This person was impacting on my creative flair as well as my income, so I quit. No regrets. I could also see that other good people would leave the company as the culture of this workplace was changing under this person’s misguided ‘leadership’. (And I learned later that I was right.)
What I didn’t really understand fully was the toll all this was taking on my body. I was picking up on a lot of yucky energy, but I had no idea that there were ways to protect myself and clear myself energetically when this happened. Sensitive people often suffer physically—conditions such as chronic fatigue are common—until they understand what is going on energetically and learn to clear themselves of what does not belong to them. And this was certainly the case with me. (I will write more about my physical health issues, and what I have done to recover my health—which is ongoing—in another blog.)
The thing I really want to touch on here is energetic protection—it’s so important to protect yourself if you are getting so thwacked energetically that your own emotional, mental or physical health is suffering. I truly believe that as sensitive individuals, we are the best service to others when we are aware, and able to maintain a strong and healthy body. The good news is—there are many, many tools and techniques for energetic protection, and many are described in resources available online. Doreen Virtue describes light shielding techniques and other methods calling upon Archangel Michael (aka St. Michael)—who is a protector—in several of her books, as well as MP3 recordings and videos on YouTube. Rose Rosetree has written books about cutting energetic cords and empath empowerment.
Realising that I am an empath was a lightbulb moment for me—but discovering that there are ways of managing being an empath was simply astounding, and left me thinking “everyone should know this stuff”!
Lastly, one of my favourite spiritual teachers, Lee Harris, specialises in all things energetic. Lee posts monthly energy forecasts on YouTube, and has a range of wonderful channelled recordings available for purchase. I was blessed to meet Lee in July last year, about six months after I first discovered his work. Lee (visibly channelling from a higher source) told me that my energy field is very wide, and described the experience I have walking down the street passing people—like a minesweeper picking up on all this energetic stuff. Lee said that when I walk down the street I’m aware of what’s going on for the people who pass me, whereas they might have no idea.
There was something about this visual that Lee offered that was the final piece of the jigsaw for me—it suddenly clicked into place that how I ‘see’ the world—that is my experience of being in the world—is uniquely mine. This might sound like an obvious statement, and really it is obvious in that it is true for all of us—but how many of us really get it? When you realise that the experience you are having at any one moment in time is absolutely unique to you, it changes everything.
So, I’m an empath, a big empath, oh I’m an empath—yeah! But now I know how to manage being an empath, I am much less prone to having a build up of emotional garbage until I have an ‘outburst’, or end up emotionally drained. (I still have my moments though—I’m human, and occasionally I forget to use my tools!)
I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might be an empath to learn some energetic protection and clearing tools. It really is one of the best things I have ever done!
Do you relate to being an empath? Do you already have techniques for managing this aspect of yourself so that you don’t get drained?
I’d love to hear about your experiences, and what works for you…