Are You an Empath?
Apr 03, 2018 09:11AM ● Published by Danielle Vaughn
Have you been feeling tossed around a bit lately? Chances are if you’re reading this you’re sensitive to the energy around you. People like us are referred to as being empathic, or empaths, which means we have a heightened sense of awareness and translate what’s going on around us into feelings. And if you are this way, it’s likely your kids are too.
It used to be a curse, I thought, to feel so much, but as it turns out I just needed to understand what I was feeling to understand this super sensitivity is actually a gift, and can be used as a useful tool when applied to my life.
One of my favorite teachers – Dr. Joe Dispenza, says “emotion is energy in motion.” So when we are feeling something we are actually interpreting energy either from ourselves (think past, present or future thoughts), or from other people or situations. We all have an internal radar, or inner technology, receiving information from our inner and outer worlds, but empaths have an extra sensitive radar. We pick up on a lot of things, kind of like a dog can hear sounds our human ears can’t hear, empaths interpret and feel energy stronger and pick up on energy others aren’t aware of.
What does this mean in life and why should we care? Because a lot of what we or our children feel may not even belong to us, and sometimes we may react to situations that leave others wondering what's the matter, and we wonder what's "wrong" with us.
It’s also important to understand the distinction and get clear on how we feel in order to make decisions that are in alignment with who we are, not with who they are (the ones we are feeling.)
My daughters are all empaths, but one is extremely sensitive, which means there are days when she comes home from school and after encountering hundreds of other kids, teachers and situations, she feels extremely overwhelmed and “fried.”
And in a sense, she is fried. Her emotional inputs have been overloaded in every moment of the day. Kids shuffle from class to class in busy hallways with clanking lockers, taking in all the learning their teachers are trying to teach them, while trying to understand social dynamics and who they are, and where they are going to sit at lunch and who they are going to play with at recess, and they never have any time alone to catch their breath and check-in. I’m stressed out just writing about it. I can understand why my sensitive kid comes home feeling completely out of sorts when she's spent the day feeling and taking in so much.
As much as I would like to change how our schools operate, like having meditation breaks throughout the day, going outside more often, or jumping rope in between classes to break up the energy, I’m facing a pretty big system and I’m just one person.
But there are tools we can apply to our lives and things we can teach our kids that will help us understand what life is like being an empath and how we can use it to our benefit.
Understanding Empaths: When I began to understand my sensitive nature I began to understand how I relate to world I live in. (After I got over the fact that I wasn’t put on earth to help everyone else feel better, and feeling someone else’s hurt wasn’t my responsibility - common side effects of being an empath.)
There are varying degrees of empaths. Some are so sensitive that the thought of going in public seems overwhelming, then there are empaths like me, who enjoy going out, but not all the time and definitely with some downtime afterward. (Although small talk kind of drives me crazy :-) ) Knowing this is an important step in understanding the full scope of who we are, and this is really just the general tip of the iceberg, but a great first step.
Check-In: How do you or your kids feel in big groups? Do you prefer a more intimate setting? Do you need some downtime after the energy swirl of a big group? Or does is not bother you at all? Noticing this is a vital piece in understanding the bigger picture about ourselves and our kids, especially when it comes to committing to social engagements and time management planning.
Segment Your Day: This really helped me gain clarity on how empathic I am. I look at each part of my day, the morning routine, driving the kids to school, work, exercise, date night with my husband, running errands, etc., each part is a segment of my day. By segmenting my day, I gain clarity on the effects each part of my day has on me physically and emotionally. At the beginning it was a quick breath before and after each segment, but now I’m generally pretty aware of how I’m feeling and take the few seconds when I’ve been thrown off by negativity, overwhelm, or I’m really working on staying clear on something I want to manifest. (More on that in another blog.)
Check-In: Take a deep breath in, close your eyes and scan how you feel before each segment of day. This can take just a few seconds but will give you a reset. If you notice any negative emotion you can handle it then before dragging it to the next segment of your day. You can also pay attention to any recurring themes, such as a certain part of your day that continually leaves you feeling drained or feeling good and then tweak where and with whom you spend your time with based on your internal feedback.
Super-Sensitive Recovery Time: One of my daughters notices every single thing in her classroom, when someone grabs a tissue, when someone leaves the classroom to go to the bathroom, she’s constantly feeling everything around her and taking it in. (The school thought she had an issue with attention, but it turns out she doesn’t, she’s empathic and really doesn’t like math.) So after the energy overload of a busy school day she likes to come home from school and be in her room alone, or jump on the trampoline – alone, before she takes on her homework or any afternoon activities. This time is important for her to recover so I make sure to give her that break. For an empath it is important to “shake off” any energy that’s been carried over from someone else or a situation and to reconnect with our inner technology.
Check-In: Give yourself or your kids adequate time to recover from a lot of outward energy exposure. Even a quick walk in the sunshine or dancing to your favorite song or sitting with your favorite cup of tea offers a chance for recovery.
Visual Empaths: I “see” a lot of the energy I interpret. When I’m working with a client I “see” their situation and the possible solutions or different perspectives. I’m also a very visual dreamer and meditator and see vivid scenes. One of my daughters is also very visual, so it was helpful for her to start assigning colors and textures to the energy she saw around people and places. This gave her the space she needed to not take it on. I would have her tell me what she saw and would validate her experience. Even if it’s in her imagination, having this experience of witnessing it and noticing what she was seeing and feeling didn’t belong to her was helpful in maintaining her individuality. In some cases, when she sees gray or black energy, she knows that's a message to keep her distance. When she takes notice and honors what she sees she validates her inner technology, or intuition. (And if I’m getting to woo on you here, trust me when I say this is probably more common with kids than you think, and I’ve met adults who let this gift go dormant and were able to reawaken it after intentionally using it again.)
Check-In: Giving words to our feelings and how we interpret energy if it’s through color or texture or even sound is an important part of grounding ourselves and feeling comfortable with our heightened sense. Explore this option to see if naming energy with color or texture is something that helps you or your empathic child.
The Need for Disengagement and Downtime: I made the personal choice many years ago to stop watching the news before I go to bed and in the morning, otherwise I was sleeping with negativity and the tone for my day was set with whatever the news decided to throw out me. This goes for social media as well. I spend the last few moments of my night and the first few moments of my day checking in with my inner world before I give the outer world any of my attention. If I’m checked in to who I am, what life throws at me is a lot easier to handle, and I’m also more certain of what my inner technology is trying to tell me and guide me to. Dis-engagement and downtime is a crucial part of my contentment, and I notice a difference in my kids too. If they are getting a lot of screen time on their devices, their mood suffers and then we all go down in flames.
Check-In: Honor your inner world by making time for yourself without distractions before you go to sleep and first thing in the morning. Meditation, writing a gratitude list, sending love to who you love, animals, a stranger you saw that day, or a part of the world you feel called to send love to are all great ways to uplift yourself and get your heart into congruence with love, (it’s also really good for the planet too.) You can do this visually in your mind, or utter the words aloud. Even basking in the delicious feeling of your comfy bed will get you feeling better than any social media check-in, newscast or on-going to-do list can.
When we begin to accept there is so much more to us than what our five senses interpret, life becomes far less challenging and reactive, and instead we live in-line with who we are in a fuller more engaged way and we can begin to understand our empathic nature.
Empaths are more prevalent now than ever before. Just like the latest version of our outward technology – cell phones, computers etc., have more bells and whistles and can do things we never thought possible, our inner technology can take us to new levels of understanding and work for us in amazing ways when we begin to accept it as "normal."
Interpreting energy is truly an amazing tool. And I’ve tried every which way to numb it - - ignoring it, drinking alcohol to dull it, and stuffing it down, but nothing comes close to fully embodying it and letting it work for me, and the best thing I can do for my kids is teach them how to work their gifts to support them.
If you or your children are empaths, I hope you find these tools helpful. If you try them or have other techniques, I would love to hear about it below.
It’s a beautiful world when we can understand our gifts and honor them for what they are and not be scared of everything we feel, or even worse, try to turn it off. You were given these gifts for a reason, let’s let them help us live our best lives.
Lots of feel good love from one empath to another,