I never listened to my heart. I was always in my head. Emotions came and went. I didn’t understand them. I felt overwhelmed. I am an empath. (See definitions below.)
All my life, I have been sensitive. I understand people’s moods and without even knowing it, take on that mood, their energy. I push them to reveal themselves, because I already know what lies underneath the façade. This does not always help my relationships!
Signs I was missing about my health
When I became sick last year with cancer, after 2 injuries that left me on crutches for 7 months, I started to piece together my emotional journey. Started to realise that emotions were not separate from my physical health. That they were intrinsically linked to my own health journey. And most importantly, that the emotions weren’t always mine.
As a newly qualified and practicing nutritionist, I had begun to use my healing gifts to see clients face-to-face. I absolutely love working one-on-one with people and empowering them to heal themselves. It is my calling and I cannot be happier than when I am helping someone navigate their health and find wellness. I did not realise, that I was also taking on their energies.
I probably could have seen the signs, had I been paying proper attention. When I was in student clinic at university, a fellow student acting as patient, told me about her suicidal thoughts and insomnia. That night, I couldn’t sleep and felt deep despair. Another time, when I was a practicing nutritionist, a regular client told me about her reflux. It would get worse when she took her anxiety medication, which she needed at the time, so it was hard for us to keep under control. That night, I had reflux – for the first and last time in my life.
What’s an empath?
Being an empath means taking on the energy and emotions of those around us. So being a practitioner, means I can take on a lot of negative energy as I hear people’s stories. Unfortunately, I never learned how to conserve and hold my own positive energy. Never learned how to fill up my own cup.
Being an empath is a gift, and allows me to have great and deep intuition. I am still learning how to use it. I need to connect to my heart, and get out of my head. This is hard to do as an analytical person. My brain helps me establish what I need to do, what my clients need to do. So, letting go of my thoughts and instead listening to my intuition, is something I will continue to practice every day.
My journey now is to help others who are sensitive, and empathic, to use their intuition to help heal themselves. In the same way I used mine, and continue to use it every day.
Pitfalls of being sensitive or empathic
It is easy to slip into negative emotions if you are sensitive or empathic. It is so easy to get caught up in fear, especially during these crazy pandemic times when the media is feeding us full of fear. Too much information and a lot of misinformation can be very detrimental to the health of a sensitive person.
Empath to-do’s for self care
If this is you, please do yourself the biggest favour you can, and minimise the news you watch. Remember that you take on the energy of all the people you see – whether that’s face-to-face or on a screen.
Take time to centre yourself – maybe walk barefoot on the grass, hug a tree, have a cup of tea overlooking some water or a beautiful garden. Create spaces where you can be alone and nurture your own energy.
Then check in with yourself – the spirit or person inside – the one we seldom listen to. Speak to him or her, and ask “What do I need right now?”. If the answer is time alone, do that. If the answer is connection with someone, do that. If the answer is food to nourish your soul, do that too.
We all need a little extra self care, especially if we are sensitive or empathic. Now and always. As an empath and highly sensitive person, I feel I need a lot more self care than others. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s just that I’m catching up on all that I’ve missed. Either way, find what you need to do each day to centre yourself and find some peace.
I love you, and I hope you can say, you love yourself too. Take care. Xoxo
Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This can be done emotionally, cognitively or compassionately.
We all have empathy in varying degrees, except maybe psychopaths and sociopaths.
Empath – is someone who actually feels the emotions of the other person, rather than just imaging how they must feel. Psychalive.org states that “Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. A person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.”
Highly sensitive person – Elaine N. Aron, PhD, the author of “The Highly Sensitive Person: How To Thrive When The World Overwhelms You”, states “the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”
Wonder if you are an empath?
Answer these simple questions from the godmother of empaths, Dr Judith Orloff, taken from her book, “The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People,” published in 2017.
- Have I ever been labeled overly sensitive, shy or introverted?
- Do arguments and yelling make me ill?
- Do crowds drain me and do I need alone time to revive myself?
- Do I absorb other people’s stress, emotions or symptoms?
- Do I replenish myself in nature?
- Do I need a long time to recuperate after being with difficult people or emotional vampires?