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I sense other people's feelings. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but I do. I have been doing it my whole life but only recently have begun to understand it. No, it doesn't make me Obe Wan Kenobe, but I guess a girl can dream! Basically, what it just means is I can sense in my own body the felt states of other people, be it one person or an entire group of people.
It's like my sixth sense, I can sense people as much if not more than I can see and hear them. For me, it adds a wonderful richness and texture to my interactions. It allows me to see the full spectrum of a person rather than just the surface. I have come to love it as a gift and learned how to manage it as a gift as well. But, it was certainly not always like that. My empathic gift felt a lot more like a curse for most of my early life especially before I understood what was going on. In this post I hope to explain from my own experience what it means to be empathic and how it manifests.
Being empathic is not the same as having empathy. Empaths actually feel the emotion in their body AS IF it were their own. We will also begin to associate our own thoughts and feelings with the emotions we are reading.
Think of an emapth as someone who lives life picking up different radio frequencies constantly being broadcast into their body. To make sense of the incoming information, empaths interpret these signals through the lens of their own life experience. This means that empaths interpret the incoming energy using their own memories, ideas, and body awareness. It is for this reason that "undiagnosed" empaths are often labeled as hypersensitive, shy, and/or hyper-emotional and tend to be more on the introverted side of the spectrum. When we are around someone feeling a certain way, we begin to think of something that happened to us that FELT the same as what that person is experiencing and we begin to feel as that person feels.
For example, let's say someone has been in a situation recently where they have felt deep sadness. They may not look or act sad, but their internal felt state is one of sadness. When around this person, I will begin to think of a time in my life when I was very sad. Often, I will begin to fixate on it. I will begin to feel very sad myself. And remember, this interpretive reaction happens for the empath whether or not they know the person's true felt state or not. This again explains why empaths often blame themselves for being too emotional. "Why do I feel so sad around that happy looking person?" is a common question for an empath. It is because the empath is reading the core of the person, feeling what is inside rather than only seeing what is on the surface.
Empathic senses are wonderful gifts, and I think to some degree we are all empathic just that some of us for whatever reason either feel more or trust our feelings more. We are all able to sense things about situations and people. I think the defining aspect of an empath is the ability to feel the feelings as their own. This sense goes beyond intuition into a very intimate and deep awareness of others. The gift must be seen, controlled, and nourished to keep that sense from overwhelming the empath. For those of you who feel you are like this it is a gift, cherish it.
I will end with a little easy advice for my fellow empaths:
1. Be very mindful of your inner circle of friends. The people closest to you are going to form the most intense energy circuits with you. While we all have family that is family whether we get along or not, we can choose friends who understand us and feel good to be around. Do not allow anyone who does not feel right into your inner circle of friends. Let your friends be your insulating circle to make interaction with larger groups of people easier.
2. Be extremely aware of how you feel around certain people and in certain places. You are going to notice as you become aware of your gifts that you feel certain ways in certain places and certain ways around certain people. Listen to this information for it is real. Do no waste your energy or sanity on places or people who do no resonate or feel right to you. Feel no guilt about saying no and setting boundaries; they are essential!
3. Learn to protect yourself in social situations. All of us have situations, people, and responsibilities to which we must attend. We cannot always control the environment or people around us. So, when in situations that are difficult but necessary to manage try these easy steps.
a. Realize you're going to pick up some energy and that's ok.
b. Be aware of your internal sensations and feelings.
c. Breathe deeply and exaggerate your exhales. This will keep your nervous system balanced and discharge excess energy from your body.
d. Tell yourself it's ok to take a break. Even if you just excuse yourself to the bathroom for a moment. Take a moment to be alone, breathe deeply with big exhales, and regroup your focus.
Remember, not everyone is like you my fellow empath. I always thought everyone sensed what I sensed, saw what I saw, but it's not true. And, it doesn't mean that the empathic sense makes you better or more special than anyone else. All it means is that you have a gift and everyone else in the world has their gifts as well. I cannot do physics to save my life, I wish I could draw more than stick figures, and I really can't even go near math, it makes my head hurt. But, I can read energy and emotion as easily as I breathe air. It helps me to teach, to communicate, and to see the world in a magnificently rich way. It helps make me, me.