Navigating life as an Empath or Highly Sensitive Person.

So now you know that ‘you are an Empath’….

Andrea by darren 1

“It is only when I stopped doing life so fast and started to look within that I found myself and the treasure trove of gifts available to me to play with in life;
Gifts that give me a sense of meaning, purpose, and direction to not only who I am, but what I can give back to life.”

Hello fellow travellers,

If you are reading this post then I am guessing that it is the word “empath” that has caught your eyes. If you are, or have been told, or recently have discovered, that you are a highly sensitive person or empath then I am hoping that this blog will help you. But be prepared, because I am going to shoot straight with an honesty arrow.

What is an empath?

Can I say here that in truth I am not a fan of the word empath or any label for that matter. However for the sake of definition and understanding I guess that some form of descriptive word is needed for this article.

It has been extremely helpful for me to understand what an “empath” or “highly sensitive person” is; but after this bomb of awareness I decided as much as I can, to dissolve using a label for myself. I am simply me, and you you….

There are many definitions available for research on the web (see here for Dr Judith Orlaff’s wonderful webpage), however I am going to give my own interpretation through how life feels for me. Firstly I believe that we all have various degrees of empathic traits, sensitivity, and also psychic traits. Some of us are more highly empathic/ sensitive, others less so, some have learnt or chosen to switch their empathy off and others are so incredibly sensitive and empathic that their empathic traits are always acutely present no matter how much they may try to numb them out. Each and every empath is on a journey of discovery about their own feeling and interpretation of empathy and this is to be respected. In other words we are all different!

Many articles pitch empaths at one end of the sensitivity spectrum and narcissistic people at the other, and there are countless discussions of why unsuspecting empaths draw themselves into (harmful) relationships with persons displaying narcissistic traits. Although these discussions are highly informative, they do drive me a little crazy as I don’t believe that it is quite this simple. We are, for the most part, all here doing out best in life. Worse still why victimise ourselves? Life is a journey of learning and once we are skilled enough to make decisions we have to become fully accountable to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Sometimes when cold, manipulative, controlling, calculating and perhaps narcissistic type people cross our paths we can be very quick to judge them.

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However they also may have empathic and highly sensitive traits that have been deeply buried following traumatic early lives or incidents in life that caused them to numb out and self-protect.

To feel in our world takes strength.

“If you can let yourself purely feel,
then you are strong indeed.

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I believe that empathy is the characteristic of being highly sensitive and “feeling” and often “just knowing”; empathic people come with a sharp “truth detector”. As I said some highly empathic people also have strong feelings of intuition and also psychic skills such as clairvoyance; clairaudience; clairsentience; deja vu, precognition and past life recollection; telepathy; death warning, mediumship, channelling and connection to spirit world; ability to read auras and chakras and perform energy healing and even distance energy healing or remote viewing; astral projection and lucid dreaming.

I myself have most of these traits (not all at one time; and they come and go depending on how well I am caring for myself and connecting. Sometimes I think life gives me a bit of a break from it all also) and for most of my life they scared the bejaysus out of me. However as I learnt more about them and tested my intuitions (and ability to survive all that was scaring me) I learnt that in truth it is a sensitivity to energy and being able to interpret and read that energy be that from people, animals, places, buildings and historical sites, situations, world events and all energy that has ever occurred in past, present and future.

It is not magic; it is not dark, and once you are guided to embrace it and understand it and control how it impacts daily life then it is a ‘sensitivity’ that is manageable in life.

Empaths feel people and the world and indeed universe in many ways.

We are just wired in a bit more sensitively…

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It is first important to understand that everything is vibrating energy; thoughts, movement, objects, nature, the human body and all its functioning, and everything that makes up the substance and function of life. Sound (words), movement, heat/ cold, light, and smell; they are all different forms of energy. Energy is often invisible and can never be destroyed. These facts has helped me greatly in understanding how places still “feel” of the events that happened there many years ago.

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Highly empathic people may feel energy in many ways (so don’t worry that you are different; we all are which is why I prefer limit the use of the title empath). The following are a few examples of how I feel things and for you there may be many more variations.

I am writing this so that perhaps, it may help just one person understand themselves better and  provide nudges, if this is you, to encourage you to embrace all that you are and jump on the path of self trust and the incredible journey that this will take you on. I urge you to have a think further than my blogging rambles so that you grow to understand yourself better. (I took time out of life in recent years to find my way back to me and I cannot recommend more highly taking time to slow life down sufficiently to find what it is you seek):

  • Feeling someone’s thoughts with a sense of just knowing – for example I can walk past someone and “know” they are worrying about their daughter. At times feeling the world this way can feel sad and heavy in my heart so sometimes I intentionally ask that I feel the good things. There is nothing that I can do in the majority of these situations only silently send positive vibes their way so it truly is better for the world that I keep myself sane and happy and positive where I am in a position to make many more positive gestures in my day.

Some days when I am nudged very strongly I will open up and talk to the person in question and these ‘meetings’ usually have been very special. Often it only takes a few words of support and encouragement; but beware this approach takes confidence and tact and discernment because you knowing stuff that no one can really know about someone can be a bit weird and freaky especially if they are not on the same vibe as you. I think that this is a bit of a knack that observant empathic people have which can be developed over time; fascinating thing is that  it usually makes complete sense to the person in question! I am always open to being wrong and approach it all with a bit of wonder so maybe that helps.

Remember this type of ‘helping’ is something that should come from the heart. I never expect something back and more often than not the person never knows my name or my story; it’s not about me.

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“If you feel drawn to help someone in need; do it. Your intuitions as you will learn are often not wrong. I often stop to talk to the homeless and give them some money or if I sense that someone is in need of just a few words I have developed sufficient trust in my knowing to do so. For a start if I don’t the nudges in my mind will persist!

  • Feeling others thoughts should come with guidelines on how to not take things too personally as in retrospect I spent most of my life thinking I was a useless person when I was actually sensing things from people.

The reality of life is that there will be often people that aren’t interested in your words and stories, or not that into you on a date, or caught up in some dramas in their head and so distracted from a connection with you, or too busy to talk and so on. Just as you are all these things with other people on occasion!

Remember these two great life skills: 1. Don’t take yourself too seriously and 2. don’t take things too personally; this will save a whole lot of heartache, confusion and beating yourself up. Its not always about You; but being so sensitive it can hurt deeply. I guess we have to be tough and soft all at the same time!

  • Feeling someone’s blocked emotions; for example many of my clients hold grief, sadness of the past, or a past trauma in their body and I can not only feel the physical symptoms that relate but often depending on how much of a wall they have up, I feel the emotion of the original trauma as well as their current thoughts around this.

This is quite an intense feeling for me to navigate and I have learnt that simply observing what I am feeling rather than blocking or resisting it has assisted me to feel more comfortable in the thick of it all and to clearly know what I should do with all of this ‘information’ and make better decisions that combine science, medicine and my intuition.

I wish that I could magically help people love themselves completely and unconditionally…

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  • Feeling “with” the emotions of something or someone. For example emotional movies, stories, or media news will have an intense impact; someone discussing an event that holds high emotions will have me feeling their emotions significantly and so on. This is a significant issue for many empathic people and one that I urge you to develop some skills to cope with.

I have learnt that limiting negative media (and even people) has been crucial for my peace of mind. I can, if I let myself be hit by the daily horror stories, go off on every tangent trying to heal the world and her people and this was absolutely draining so I have asked the universe to bring to me that which I must know and I have chosen to live in a positive energy bubble of uplifting music, positive and inspiring movies, positive people, and so on. Our immediate lives are complex enough without adding more unnecessarily to the mix.

I realise that for some of us we will choose at times to go ‘into’ the energy of events, for example the current refugee crisis. Make this a personal decision, based on it feeling right (and not a duty), and you being sufficiently strong on the day to deal with it. You are not here to be a hero.

Also a note on gossiping; gossip type news; trashy image, celeb and judgemental fashion magazines; and gossip type media – in general none of these hold positive energy or positive messages regarding image or aesthetics and can have a profound influence on an empathic person. Before you know it you can be saying things and judging people including yourself with words that simply aren’t yours…unless you let this vibe start to change you.

Don’t let yourself get sucked into being a critic or judge of others. We know nothing about the lives or challenges of others especially in relation to looks and body image.

  • Feeling the world; this can be a confusing one as some days I will suddenly be overcome by a feeling that something is not right or worse. I used to spend hours trying to figure out what I was feeling (on Google, on astrology sites, on news sites, on weather forecast sites, etc!), what possibly could be going on that felt so heavy in my heart, and anxious in my body, and like brain scramble in my mind.

Now I trust that the feelings will pass, they will ultimately make sense (or not) and that the best thing that I can do is smile, send my positive energy out into the world and trust that all will work itself out.

However on other days I feel a specific knowing and duty to go and meditate on what I am feeling and send specific thoughts and energy out towards the world events and people who I am sensing. My dreams also at times can be highly insightful and specific to global issues or concerning clients and family/ friends; when I can remember them; I’m as bad as the rest of us at recalling all of my dreams! I have for many years queried and tested what I am sensing and seeing; I guess I have come to a point now of simply trusting.

It can be a challenge some days when you feel drained, tired, or low and emotional and yet on others filled with the worlds energy and positivity. Trust that what you are feeling will pass, take steps to feel better, slow down if you are tired (I usually meditate as I have learnt that this is my nudge to do so) and get out into nature and into your own sacred space. Tomorrow will be better if today sucks. I find that connecting with people helps for example I smile more at sales staff and enjoy random chit chat; its extraordinary how it lifts both them and me!

Some days you will have to do things that challenge you; for example long-haul travel for me can hit a point when I hit my max and tube journeys in big cities can be a real test at rush hour. So I take steps along the way to make the journey smoother; I find quiet spaces, I listen to music, I connect to my surroundings, I trust that I am safe and I schedule in down-time for the other side where I can have a day (or few hours) of being alone or doing sport in nature. This rebalances me and I feel responsible to do this for my own peace and health.

  • Just knowing.
    Certain people may say words and I “just know” that they are lying. Certain events, decisions, personal choices, and the dilemmas of loved ones will often feel very right, or terribly wrong, and with time I have learnt to trust in this more and care less what others may think or advise.

I have also learnt to be more discerning about what I share with others especially concerning advice to another. It is not always right to speak my mind and often best to allow others to make their own personal choices and navigate their own journey; if it feels right however and the person in question is eager for my insights then I will share and also respect their ultimate decisions.

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  • Feeling physical pains in response to a world event or pain in another human that we are somehow connected to be that merely being in the vicinity or being bound by blood or love – for example I feel my boyfriends headache as I drive home from work or I feel tightness in my chest when my clients hold fear in their chests. I have often felt babies in the womb kicking and this has come with a sharp jab in my own womb; much to my astonishment as well as anyone that I am with!
  • “Feeling” intense emotions from others. This one is a difficult one to describe. Any emotion that is intense can feel like something massive engulfing me sort of like a wall pressing on me or I will just feel anxious, or heavy, or tired. Large groups feel like what I described to someone lately at a race briefing as a giant mushroom cloud of energy. Its not necessarily a bad thing; just a mega force-field that I have to do a bit of visualisation for myself to feel comfortable in!

Feeling a lot of energy from people isn’t always a bad thing. The thoughts of facing into a lot of people’s energy for example at a conference or race can be overwhelming. It can lead to much nerves before the event which is an utter drain and waste of your energy.

To conquer this I have used EFT or visualisation with a lot of focus on positivity. And you know what? It works wonders.

Seeing myself being ok in a situation in the near future has led my body to feel safe (and energised) in the situation when it ultimately happens. Also as you become stronger in your centre you realise that you can channel the energy of the people to raise your energy instead of deplete it. In truth we are energy vampired when we leak our own energy and so I do believe that energy management is our own responsibility.

And if you do decide to feel into the energy of a group of people, dont worry, you are not draining other people’s energy. When you are in a collective of people you are not “stealing” anyone’s energy to benefit your own but rather absorbing into that bubble of everyones high vibes as a collective.

When I raced my first full triathlon this year in Austria at Ironman 70.3 I spent months visualising being calm on race day as I knew that my nerves and feeling others nerves would be highly intense in my body. Normally I am shaking uncontrollably in any anxious situation and when it is around athletes my heart rates sky rocket and I get very very cold. I didn’t want to ruin my day after all my hard training.

After months of positive ‘forward focus’ I faced this start line calm as a breeze. I also had focus oil from vibrant blue oils on my wrist 🙂

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I think this sensitivity to intense emotions has been the most challenging sensitivity for me before I understood what it was and how to deal with it. This wall of feeling can be happy energy such as a party full of people, or anxious energy from a crowd in a shopping mall, or complete scatty energy like at a football or rugby match, or it can be very intense emotions from just one person that can create the same wallop. Anger, fear, bitterness, control, and simply a bad mood are intense emotions that can feel very overwhelming.

A word for those that are very sensitive to places of trauma or even energy from a distance. Yes you can pick up on energy of events (recent or distant past) or even people driving in cars or in airports for example. This can be confusing.

For example I used to feel suicidal thoughts right through me in certain tube stations or anxiety at times on the morning car commute around the London circular. I thought that I was losing it until one day as I was overwhelmed by a feeling of suicide and literally had backed myself into a wall knowing I didn’t want to do anything of the sort, the intercom system at my station announced a train delay due to a person jumping on the tracks at that moment. This impacted me significantly and although I have never felt fully comfortable travelling on those very old tube lines where the energy of not only unhappy people but also war remains I feel less mad and stronger to deal with what I sense.  

This is just one example of many situations that I have learnt to grow accustomed to and no longer fearful of. I actually regain a sense of peace and safety by sending love and healing into whatever situation or past event that I feel simply guided by my intuition. I don’t know if this changes the vibe for others that pass through but in my own small way I believe that it makes a difference. In fact I know that it does.

Some healers will tell you that these energies are harmful and dangerous and for me this really created a LOT of fear in me until I started to trust my own guidance and judgement. Fear grows fear; and remember that all emotions are energy so fear can feel to some of us as an energy in its own right. A bit of downward spiral don’t you think!!

I believe that although their (healers) intentions are good the outcome is not if it creates fear and terror for people and a sense that there is dark bad energy out there that only specific others can deal with (creating a feeling of powerlessness). Go into your heart space, connect with your own positive energy and do what feels right. When guided by your heart you cannot go far wrong. And disconnecting from it all isn’t a bad choice either if this feels right!

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  • Feeling physical “symptoms” – again this has been a journey of discovery that has been a little more challenging. For example suddenly I may feel buzzing energy, or light-headed and dizzy, or claustrophobic, or anxious and so on. I now know that often these feelings are not physical ailments in my body but just a feeling of something out there in the world and to just let it pass; to trust.

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Sometimes the way we feel things can be non-specific such as feeling discomfort or a tight gut, chest tightness, or anxiety and if the stimulus persists then the sensations in the body can just feel like too much.

Places of high stimulus can do this easily to a highly sensitive person taking one from being able to tolerate the situation to being completely overwhelmed. Airports, train station and planes can be manageable to a point; but when the noise, bright lights or movement of people gains in momentum sometimes this can be too much. The best thing to do is remind yourself that you are ok, to move to a quieter location if you can, take deep breathes, imagine your feet firmly on the ground; smelling essential oils; pressing on acupressure points or any other tactics to ease you can be helpful

I find that blocking out some stimulus helps me greatly so often I close my eyes, or shut my ears off by listening to music (or if I cannot do this I cover my ears), or sometimes I cover my solar plexus by crossing my hands around my belly. I don’t care how daft I look; most people just think I am curled up sleeping. 

  • Empaths often have heightened sensitivity to sound, discordant sounds (i.e. some types of music can feel terribly uncomfortable), light, smell, touch, taste, and even energies that are seemingly invisible such as the following electromagnetic frequencies: Wi-Fi, mobile phones (limit time on the phone if it makes you feel anxious or gives you a headache), electricity cables, computer monitors, electrical equipment, and so on.

Energies such as different lunar cycles, moving planets, solar flares and geomagnetic frequencies can also unsettle highly sensitive persons. If you suspect something is upsetting you; your initial gut feeling about the cause often isn’t wrong.

Many people wont believe you when you complain about a smell making you feel ill (especially if they are unable to smell it), or lights hurting your eyes, or insomnia that is worse with the full moon, or electronics in an office upsetting your focus and giving you headaches, or that you may have to leave a concert when the noise level gets too much to bear (despite enjoying the music), etc. It is important that you honour yourself and when stimulus become too much that you leave.

It is important to know that sometimes we just have to leave the party at a time that is right for us. I never understood why at a certain point of my fun-shenanigans I would get mega tired and every bit of me would just want to run away. Usually I didn’t listen and would hit complete overwhelm mostly in my body where I would feel cold, shaky, need to eat and then have bouncing off the walls insomnia for the night. Honour what you are feeling; go home when it feels right and keep yourself grounded as best you can.


We don’t need to avoid life; sometimes the pay off is worth it for the fun! If you feel tired the next day just roll with it. Being around a lot of people sometimes can be draining but you WILL bounce back.
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Please bear in mind also that when you are under stress, the stress response and its resultant hormone cascade of adrenaline and cortisol can also leave the body with heightened senses so for these reasons it is important that you pay heed to your health and overall stress levels. Adrenal fatigue and fatigue is something that I can help you with in the clinic if you suspect that you are suffering health issues as a result of chronic stress. It can also be a bit of a vicious circle as being highly sensitive and empathic can increase your stress load (leading to increased feelings of overwhelm) and so for these reasons it is even more important to practice self-care in your daily life.

  • Driving can be exhausting. I never understood how I could go from hero to zero in minutes in a car driving (or as a passenger) until I read that due to the fact that empaths are picking up on so many cues from the environment they become over-stimulated very quickly when driving. This made so much sense to me! It doesn’t make driving any easier but I am no longer beating myself up for feeling tired and I now make time to have breaks. I know that once I have got to my destination I will perk up quickly enough once I have breathed some fresh air.

 

  • A feeling of not belonging here and absolutely failing to understand people and their words and actions when they hurt one another (and us).
    Speaking personally the words ‘how can humans do this to one another’ run often through my mind. I spent a lot of time hiding from life, crying under trees in my darkest and most lost moments, and afraid to trust in life and especially people.

I spent years feeling like I don’t belong here, or like the odd one out in my family, and had the incredible sense that half of me was somewhere else and that my spirit family was a long way away, perhaps galaxies away. I felt lost and I pushed all the people close to me away to make matters worse (but safe).

I don’t know if you feel this way too but for me reading about star people, indigo, rainbow, and crystal children, and researching more about the spiritual beliefs of the Native American Indians, the Druids and the Essenes has guided me greatly in understanding myself better.

I prefer to not identify with labels yet I embraced the feeling of truth in many of the texts that I read along my journey. I opened myself into meditation and regression and I made peace with all aspects of myself (as best I could). I stopped calling myself crazy; and I learnt to accept that perhaps I am somewhat different and that as much as I may not understand others, others may not understand me and that is ok.

Once I healed the hurt child inside I then developed the strength to be me in the truest sense of the word.

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  • Incredible sensitivity to medicines, herbs, certain people and places; often increasing with age.
    There is often no logic for the brain to comprehend when you ‘suddenly’ feel awful, or high, or low, drained, off the ground, or unwell. I thought it was just me; but as I grew to understand that everything has its own energy frequency it started to make sense to me that medicines and drugs that don’t suit my sensitivity will make me feel off-balance (remember it is not only the drug that has its frequency but the energy of the whole disease and also the intention of the pharmaceutical industry that can be felt depending on your sensitivity), herbs too, and even poorly formulated vitamin supplements.

Food can be tricky; You may at times notice that certain foods don’t suit your system and go through periods of vegetarianism and then craving meats. Some highly sensitive people can feel the story of the food also making it hard to eat farmed fish or meats from animals that have led unhappy enclosed lives. Food that has been prepared with ingredients or additives that don’t suit your system can also give you a funny feeling whereby you just don’t trust to eat the food. Highly sensitive persons can also pick up on food contamination, poor water quality and microbial spoilage of foods.

This can feel a little crazy. Trust me it’s not a bad thing even though it can be both frustrating and confusing. Your heightened sensitivity is actually the body both protecting itself and crying out for its needs, as well as tuning into the energy of where the food came from. Honour this; make ethical food choices that concur with your beliefs and sensitivity. I find that it helps to pray over the food and give thanks for the abundance on my plate. I also practice eating frugally when I can.

Certain people in our close vicinity or even on the radio or television can create uncomfortable feelings within us such as anxiety, coldness, energy loss or massive fatigue. The label “energy vampire” has been thrown around very often on empath forums like these people are bad. I don’t believe that these people are necessarily bad; they may however have made mistakes in life, done bad things, or hold deep pain in their soul or simply developed skills to gain energy from others (I don’t think they are aware of this). That we sense this isn’t their faults as they aren’t usually intentionally flinging it at us despite us perceiving it so.

I have discovered that persons with illness or not eating adequate calories can also feel like energy drain to us.

The extent of how we feel people’s “stuff” can be absolutely overwhelming. A few years ago I was shopping in a large mall in San Diego and suddenly found myself getting the sales spiel done by a man in an outdoor stall selling some form of beautifying face cream.

As he chatted away to me I noticed (as us empathic people are good at) what an attractive man he was and so skilled at engaging me (and others) in chat. While observing this to myself and before I was fully aware of how close he was to my personal space he applying the cream to my face.

To demonstrate to me the effects of the cream he turned a mirror towards me for me to see for myself and like I had been shocked by electricity I felt utterly overcome by weakness and anxiety and felt so crazy in my head that had I not known better I felt like I had been drugged.

I felt like he had drugged me through the skin cream and such a thought had me feeling utterly batty! I just knew that this man wasn’t safe and had done bad things and I just had to get away. Like a mad person I excused myself, and walked away. My heart was racing, my legs would hardly move, and I was terrified. I got a taxi home to the hotel and for several hours lay on the bed telling myself I was safe and not in any form of danger and that he hadn’t followed me. It took hours to feel normal and the following day a lady on my medical course dragged out of me what happened and offered me energy healing. I was very grateful and have since learnt some self-preservation skills!

I didn’t fully understand what had happened but a gifted friend of mine months later  explained to me that the energy I was feeling from this man was intensified by the mirror. I still cannot fully explain this incident but I was terrified and I know in my heart that this man had done bad things. This is just how intense we can feel things in our bodies. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense yet it is very real.

Many people may not like what I am about to say but I will say it anyhow; I believe that it is up to us to do more work on ourselves so that we can better navigate these situations. We can choose to explore issues such as why are we vulnerable to these energies? Where are our boundaries? Are we practicing self-care and honouring ourselves with time to recharge? Are we permitting people to come to too close for our energetic comfort? Should we remove specific people from our lives? There are many books, CDs, courses and gifted therapists that we can seek advice from.

There may still be days that we struggle to navigate life and the world, but the more we own who we are, the easier it gets.

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  • Insomnia
    This one has also been a bit of a learning curve for me also having struggled with sleep issues for most of my life. I think that it is important to explore medical reasons; stress levels; medication, herbs, and supplements; diet and food compounds with stimulant nature; alcohol intake, the set up of your room and even geopathic stress and electromagnetic interference; hormone imbalances, room temperature, lighting and so on.

Speaking personally feeling safe was a big issue; lunar cycles still wreak a little bit of havoc; sensing stress from my partner (a bigger bed can help many people), going to bed over-stimulated from working late or exposure to mobile phones, stress and worry;  computers and iPads etc. and interference from technology like televisions and mobile phones in the bedroom.

I have found crystals to be a huge benefit to me (I use them my own intuitive way but this may help), my energy healing essences, sleep meditations, and essential oils (I love Vibrant Blue oils) and when I cannot sleep sometimes I lie on the ground, open the window and listen to the wind in the trees 🙂

  • Feeling scared and yet bored at the same time?
    Some empathic people have a high desire for living life to the full and so tend to jump in and then freak themselves out. This has been termed the “high sensation seeking highly sensitive person”. To read more I urge you to visit Dr Elaine Aron’s webpage The Highly Sensitive Person. Her book the Highly sensitive Person in Love helped me understand a lot about myself.

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So many times I have great ideas and then half-way through wonder
“what the hell I was thinking?”.

  • The funny stuff.
    Knowing that someone needs you before they ask, knowing that the phone will buzz, knowing about a persons deceased loved ones, knowing about a clients past before I meet them, knowing the next track on the radio, being able to read animal’s talk, babies minds before they utter a word, the language of the baby in utero…. gosh I could write a book on all the quirky stuff that I have chosen to label thus to keep me level-headed and grounded.

I now see the universe as something astonishing that holds a strong sense of humour when you chose to see the light side.

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  • Pain
    I wanted to keep this blog as positive as possible to show you that there is hope and that we are not broken or weird or incapable of surviving this crazy world. But I would be lying.

There are days, less often now that I make choices to enrich rather than deplete my life, but there are days when I feel ‘pain’. Like a big ball of sadness and grief that sits heavy like a ball pressing on my heart and stomach for all that I have felt in my past; all the times I felt terribly alone, unloved, ignored, confused over why could I never be enough for people to stop throwing anger and intense emotions at me. The confusion of feeling jealousy and envy, anger, hatred, body hate, and all spectrum of emotions from others; every feeling from another felt like somehow it was my fault. I also felt through me the unhealed emotions of people that crossed my path in life be they family, friends or strangers; but I thought that somehow it was I that was broken.

Some days the tears just fall and I don’t know where they are coming from. I don’t feel angry, or depressed or afraid; is it the soul healing?

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So I let the tears fall; until they fall no more and when I am ready I slowly take down the big walls that went up in the process. I think that with time the pain and empty sadness grows less. Perhaps this healing just takes time as new memories of a beautiful life grow in number; a life where I understand what it means to feel.

A life that I have also let love into, and slowly taken down the barriers that protected me. The universe always told me that there was a special man out there for me; but that I had to do the work first! I am still healing, but now I am blessed to have found my soul mate. A man who loves me for who I am, supports me, accepts me, holds me safe, and nudges me to fly. I owe it to our love to continue on my path of letting go of my walls and allowing love into my heart; giving all my heart was never a problem but allowing the depths of another’s love in? This challenged me.

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So…. I am starting to let all types of love in from family, friends, and strangers, and the universe. And you know what? It hasn’t killed me or engulfed me; but strengthened me.

  • What other ways do you “feel”? Take a moment…. I have probably missed a gazillion and I think that you are getting the jist of what this “empathy” lark is.

You are special, and so is everyone else.

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When I first discovered more about who I am and that I was “empathic” and “highly sensitive” it gave me a lot of clarity about who I was, why I struggled so often with life, why I felt weird and alone, and why to be honest I wanted to leave life and curl up in a ball for most of my previous 35 years (the last few have been good). I read about empaths and highly sensitive persons and I suddenly felt part of something and that I had an identity.

Understanding your sensitivity and being able to look back on your life with eyes that now see with compassion is a powerful gift of healing HOWEVER I also believe that if we identify excessively with labelling ourselves as an empath or highly sensitive person we risk all sorts of issues such as feeling victim, placing blame, uprooting anger over why didn’t people understand us (how could they?!), making excuses and seeing the world as “us and them”. I am a recent member of a forum and today I realised that almost every post is negative. How so? Because most of these amazing gifted and sensitive souls are seeing themselves as victims to the gift of empathy and separate from life instead of seeing their incredibly beautiful bright soul lights.

eckhart tolle give-up-defining-yourself-to-yourself-or-eckhart-tolle

Everyone in life is different and unique and special; as an empath we are not special or different or chosen (!), we have simply come into life armed with a trait that may differ in emotional feeling intensity from others.

So I urge you, once you have read and researched more about what “being empathic” means that you then do your best to drop the label and see yourself as an important piece in the jigsaw of life.

That you, like everyone else have come here with gifts and skills to contribute not only to life, but to live to the full. Embrace your journey of  many adventures and soul expanding experiences.

AbeHicks

Navigating the empath maze:

My heart truly does go out to those that feel alone (weird, different, crazy) or in pain with the gift of empathy; you are not alone please know this. You are very much supported and loved and protected by that universal force called Love and the Divine. Start to see yourself as connected into life and not separate and practice this frequently.

For me the following strategies have assisted my growth into what I can only describe as an imperfectly comfortable level of comfort about who I am. I use all my empathic awareness now in my work and life and as I do so, my ability to do so grows….

I don’t always get it right; some days are still a bit too much full of feeling, and I short-circuit a little and need to go back to reminding myself how to rebalance….. and I know that  it will be ok and… I trust

I am not sure how exactly I got myself to here where life feels so much easier than it was before for chapters 0 to 35 years old when I was a nervous anxious wreck, terrified of life, terrified of being alone and uncomfortable with people (uh yes big dilemma there!), constantly getting into controlling relationships and losing myself, ill all the time with fatigue issues and panic attacks, hating my body, and suffering with disordered eating and excessive exercise and so the story goes on. I don’t think it was any one thing that got me to let it all go and make changes. Maybe on reflection the following helped:

Tips to navigate your empathy and develop strength and self belief:

Rumi

  1. In order for me to grow I had to let go of being a victim to my empathy and quit feeling sorry for myself. I had to grow up fast and realise that I am here, a strong yet vulnerable person in this astonishing world, gifted with the opportunity of life. I made a choice to grow by the experiences of my life and to take my darkest moments from my past to bring light and meaning to not only my life but my understanding of others.

I could simply exist, or LIVE.

I don’t always get this perfect and my amazing boyfriend, who shoots very straight, will always remind me when to “cop on” as we say here in Ireland. It is so very easy for us to feel victim to our sensitivities and to use it as an excuse.

I won’t lie I still hit walls on certain days and the tears fall when I fail to understand life and everything just feels too much. On these days it can be the hardest thing ever to let my loved one close and yet to be held close to the heart of someone who loves me unconditionally makes everything ok. We have to take a chance someday to let love in.

Here is a lovely article: I Blamed my Anxiety on Being an Empath, but Here’s the Not so Pretty Truth.

self love 2

2. I had to forgive to move forwards.
As Empaths we could become very bitter, negative, and  cynical people for all we have experienced in life should we not choose to open our eyes and see fellow humanity with compassion and understanding. It is not our parents faults that they may not have had to tools (similar empathy and awareness) to understand us, or that we chose to relinquish our power to others in negative relationships, or friendships that ultimately hurt us, or work situations where we allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of.

By nature highly sensitive empathic people tend to be givers, and healers, and perfectionists, and worriers. Before we learn to follow our guidance systems and develop reasonable boundaries we can be people-pleasers and get ourselves into all sorts of pickles.

This is not to downplay the incredible pain and hurt that we may have endured in life, but a reminder of your strength to liberate yourself into a better life, and to understand the soul within every person that we have encountered in life while lovingly setting ourselves free from the bondage of the past.

With time comes healing and an ability to have compassion for those that hurt people (as the saying goes ‘hurt people hurt people’), we learn how to develop safe distances and boundaries, we begin to use the word “No”, and practice discernment in our decision-making regarding people and life choices.

It is up to us to be the bigger person and release our unrealistic expectations for other people. Not everyone will understand and get you, nor should we expect them to….

let shit go

3. Learn to navigate your sensitivities.
This is a journey of discovery; whereby you learn a multitude of things about yourself such that life becomes smoother. Learn about all the various aspects of your own unique empathic traits. For example how long can you spend with people before you need a time out, how many people is a crowd, how much noise too much, what medicines and herbs don’t suit you, which foods nourish you and which deplete you? And so on.

Learn the code of your body ailments. For example if I get physical pains and sensations I have with time learnt how to interpret these and from this know what to do to rebalance myself.

For many years I was ill all the time (especially with fatigue issues and gastrointestinal complaints) and then I realised the power of interpreting my body sensations and correlating these with emotions and past traumas that now required healing. This has led me to develop several techniques that I currently use in my work to help clients heal more quickly.

Examine where in life you place walls around your heart or unconsciously dissociate from your body. I learnt a long time ago that loving hurt and I developed a very fast way of jumping out of my body to block myself from feeling love and to protect myself from intense emotions and feelings from outside of me and within me.

After a while I just became plain numb; I was completely detached from myself. Although this strategy served its purpose to protect me,;I was no longer “living” life. I couldn’t love and I couldn’t feel love. I blocked all the pain and with this all the joy of life. I couldn’t feel the pain of the world nor could I feel the breathe and life of Mother Nature. I had to develop trust and take back down my walls.

I will be completely honest and say that this task has been a work in progress. I still jump out of my heart and my body too at times and I am now aware of this and so instead of beating myself up I allow myself to slowly ‘jump back in’ when I am ready and feel safe to do so. This can be confusing for my partner and so with time and trust I have learnt to communicate this to him so that he understands the wall and distance that he is sensing from me.

It is important that your partner knows that it is not them and that often all you need is time. I also let my love know that sometimes I need them there beside me; even when I am unable to let them close. Because in this closeness I let my heart feel theirs and this heals everything.

rumi 3

 4. Stop seeing life as you and them.
Stop seeing yourself as a victim where the world is out to harm you and people to hurt you. There are very few people in the world that set out to intentionally hurt you. Being empathic we feel more, we sense more, and until we truly take a step back and explore and examine things for what they are we can be the worlds best people at misinterpreting situations.
Be mindful of your role in the dynamic of personal relationships. Wherever we see ourselves as victims we enable someone to pop into our lives that verify this belief whereby the cycle of being hurt and controlled and so on is perpetuated. You are NOT a victim.
I was once that victim and it took hitting rock bottom and deciding enough was enough for me to finally make empowering decisions. I ended my marriage and promised myself that I would work hard to heal myself and grow emotionally before  I was ready to be in a relationship again; no matter how long that took. My grandmother died that same month and instead of pushing away the spirit world I heard her clearly guiding and supporting me.
5. I started to read and connect on Facebook threads and online communities with people like me…. after a while I no longer needed this virtual support but for the moments I was low, I felt connected and understood. There comes a time however when you need to be in the real world and not locked away in the safety of ‘virtual’.
I read…. and read… and listened to wonderful people like Dr. Orlaff, Abraham Hicks, Caroline Myss and many many others that I have listed on my blog.

6. I opened myself to my psychic skills.
I stopped being terrified of feeling dead people, the energies of suicide and death everywhere, intuitions about places and energy from the lands. This took time, trust, patience, and developing confidence. Left and right brain wanted to work in opposition.

I started to trust in what I got and understood that if I GOT it, I was to do something with it. So I sent love and healing into what I felt; at first guided and assisted by those with more experience and then later alone. Doing all this with a sense of intrigue and humour greatly assisted me. I used to often get on Google to verify what historical events I had felt just to be sure I wasn’t going mad! I chose to listen to my visions and no longer fight them.

7. Honouring myself, doing the best I could to work with my body, my heart, my intuition, and also learning what I felt meant.

I learnt that uncomfortable feelings in me were a guidance system a bit like Satnav to develop trust in. I also learnt to question what I was feeling and discovered that a lot of my physical pains were those of others, voices those of others and that knowing information was to assist others… I go with it now and wow life is very colourful and wonderful and amazing.

einstein

8. Opening up to the possibility of angels, spirit guides, and the universal energy that flows in all life and through time. Don’t ask me to explain it!
I started to remember that I always had these psychic empathic gifts and to no longer feel weird, but a part of the world and all its variations.

I asked spirit one day why do I feel so much; the pain, all the hard experiences in life, the feeling of not wanting to be here and yet powerless to end my life as I couldn’t hurt my loved ones.

Spirit said that all these experiences were what I wanted to learn and understand to then use to understand and assist people. That I felt all of this because I was strong, not weak. That for every piece of discomfort I felt I could feel love and the simple things in life with such intensity, and that this is so truly precious. That I can indeed experience these things and come through, grow and use it for the greater good…and to remember this in my times of doubt.

9. I started to keep a journal
All my feelings went into it and my reflections and thoughts and quotes from  books that inspired me… I worked out my life with pen on paper, with a bit of assistance from the universe I think!

10. My work saved my ass a few times….

I started to really listen to my intuitions about clients and their health and emotions, and past lives and family; to no longer feel like a nut job when I had knowing. It was a fascinating system of assistance to help me help people better. Using these tools and adding them to “science” really does help people miracle heal… once they are ready. I do have to be very discerning about what approach I use. Some clients still want science and to be honest I like having this balance in my own life.

How did this save my ass? Well when life felt tough; the people that the universe drew to my office for my help gave me faith.

11. Self love.
This one is a journey still for me as I feel like I am in the wrong body half of the time. I know this is quite likely that my energy just doesn’t fit into me if this makes sense; so I learn to be more comfortable. Also I noticed that there are certain days of the week when I feel especially fat; this is usually Monday… a day when the world is beating itself up over letting go at the weekend. So to break this ‘energy’ I go out for a walk and disconnect. I normally come back feeling refreshed and more comfortable in my skin.

Self love also means doing the things that feel right for you to create happiness and balance. There are many ways to do this; for me it is crucial that I spend time in nature whether I am running, walking, or simply sitting; meditating and using my crystals and aromatherapy oils helps ground me; and music –  all types! There are numerous strategies that you can include in your life; there are no rules. Simply do what makes you feel good and grounds you.

This article may give you some ideas; and for the times that you hit overwhelm I do recommend some of the following strategies: get close to water for example sit by a river or stream; take your shoes off, lie on the ground, sit in an Epsom salts and lavender bath or under a shower; spend time near trees, hug a tree! Dig your feet into the sand or earth, or if you cannot do this and work around a lot of people then aromatherapy oils can be very helpful or energy essences (I custom makes these in my clinic for clients).

If you have developed some helpful strategies please do share for others in the comments box at the end of this article.

12. Censor how much negativity bombards you.
I quit the media, magazines, the news, and everything that I felt bombarded by and down in my energy from. I noticed that it was negative in my life and dragged me down.

I set the intention that if news is meant to find me it will. My sensitivity will know when there is a world event that I should sit and send love and healing into.
Life feels so much better when you go off grid from the craziness of “superficial life” and for those that love their big houses, and designer clothes and living the dream….. that’s cool too. It’s just not for me.

13. Redevelop trust in life and the world; it is not a bad place, there is no darkness only fear, there is not a them and us only an “Us All”, that we are all doing our best, that we all have gifts, that those doing bad things are suffering too and far from their hearts and souls.

As empaths we should understand this more than anyone and be accepting and forgiving. WE can feel the truth…. so let us be reminded of this when we are wronged.

14. To not label myself…
To label myself as something different only lets the ego run away with itself. Yes I am sensitive, yes I have empathic traits, yes I have a psychic awareness in many ways and yes I resonate strongly with character traits of crystal and star people.
But I am still me, Andrea, doing my best in life; and as my boyfriend reminds me I have a responsibility to use the set of gifts that I have mindfully.

I ask that the universe gives me frequent kicks up the ass to remind me that I am just like everyone else. And as best I can I try to follow where I am meant to be and what I am meant to be doing, and how I can grow myself further. We can be so quick to judge others and so fast to criticise those whom dare judge us. Let us be mindful that behind every person there is a journey, a gift, a purpose, and a struggle.

I wish that my empathy came with a road map; it only comes with a guidance system of what feels right. I mess up often.

to err

15. To honour my sensitivities and to consider it a duty in my life and my career to balance and ground my energy and to learn the skills to do this that work for me. As chance has it all I need is quiet time (alone!) and nature and naps; ok and maybe music!
I am ok with messing up too; every now and again I hit overwhelm and as best I can I try to not be too serious about life.

16. To listen to my anxiety, it is an information guidance system; that truly only I can understand.

17. To not hate myself for the negative coping skills I had in my past and the few that I may still have.

I learnt that starving myself was my way to numb, bulimia my way to get rid of all the energies I felt bombarded by, exercise how I escaped, and drinking how I dulled anxiety out socially. Fortunately I never was too bad in any one of these negative skills and to all in my life I appeared very successful.

I learnt that empaths often have problems with food and eating (and addictions); this helped me to release shame and guilt; I was simply doing what I found helpful to release energy and anxiety and numb feeling.

End of day I did have to grow up and embrace healing these negative coping skills and to  learn more positive ones. I am sure I have many more odd patterns or coping but that’s ok!!

18. To forgive, to let go, to move on…..
Our empathy means that we (often) consider others more than ourselves, we give more than we receive, we help everyone, we want to heal everyone….

We can potentially get very angry with the world when we don’t understand why people are selfish, don’t help us, aren’t considerate, hurt us, and take advantage…

So…. first I looked at where I enabled any of this, then I developed boundaries and lastly the hardest one; I realised that not everyone sees life the way I do. They are doing their best also. They may not  be as sensitive or empathic and lucky for the world as we need balance or the whole place would implode!

It is not up to me to judge or see without compassion and withhold forgiveness. I can, however, make choices that protect myself better.

mother theresa

19. To believe in myself and my strengths and that my body is well and awesome.
Since I started to use the power of my mind to heal I have been well. In fact I did my first half ironman event this year after only 6 months of training. That’s me in the background 🙂 racing my little heart out.
Andrea bike
After years of chronic fatigue and health issues, if I feel tired now or develop an injury/ illness I know now that I can heal  quickly using my mind and listening to the body and the emotions of the injury or fatigue/ illness. It is astonishing how we can heal when we work with ourselves.

20. Raise your vibe.
Surround yourself with things, people and places that inspire you; set goals and challenges…. slowly remember your strength and awesomeness by rising to personal challenges. Choose to become part of life again but on your own terms….

21. Don’t give your power away.
After being the person that ran everywhere  to find someone to help me ‘find me’ and ‘heal me’ I realised that the only one that could do this was me. I realised that more often than not when I went to  a healer or therapists I came away feeling broken or that I had to change and work on xyz.  I was attracting more control into my life and giving my power away again and feeling useless and broken and no good in the process.

So I started to believe that I was OK and that I wasn’t BROKEN, just me on my path and that being different is perfectly ok. That made a huge difference in my life and saved me a packet load of money!!

charlie chaplin

So above are some tips and nudges and insights from my own journey. I hope that they empower you to find your own path and way and to trust in yourself and your wondrous gifts and giant heart.

There are probably so many more strategies that I have used to get to where I am now….

But mostly I would say love yourself, connect back into the grid of life, absorb yourself into nature and trust.

We chose to be here.

Stick your feet into the ground and connect back to this knowing…..
This extraordinary world that is our home for this journey.

Let love back in.

When you realise how large your heart and how much love surrounds you,
You will realise that no one can hurt you,
and so many want to love you….

Let love back in

Sending love, from little me

Andrea x

Andrea by darren 5

I am not an empath, I am Andrea

I am not defined by a title,
but by all of who I am enriched by all of my experiences in life; both positive and negative.

“Today I am going to be all me, and ok with this “

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One thought on “Navigating life as an Empath or Highly Sensitive Person.

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