As promised in last week’s post about the Advantages of Being a Sensitive Empath (if you missed it, you can check it out here ) this week I want to talk about the aspects of being highly sensitive that can be more challenging.
There is a lot to talk about here, and we won’t cover it all today but to start with, feeling more, still means feeling.. more. It’s not easy to carry all of that emotions, yours, theirs, whomevers’ it is, it’s a lot of emotional energy to take into your body, your psyche, your energy field. Whether it’s positive, negative.. it’s a lot to process and hold. That means that if you are highly attuned to emotional energy you are likely to feel the overload at times.. particularly if you don’t have regular practices that allow you to both recognize when you’re in the danger zone, and don’t have energy-clearing and daily centering practices. Things that help you come back into your own body and experience and feel grounded again, clear.
When you pick up so much of what’s around you you may feel more anxious, depressed, distracted, and vulnerable. The women that I know who are empaths often need to spend more time alone just to “come off ” of time spent around other people. They often haven’t learned how to protect themselves from taking on so much energetic “information”. So being alone ends up being a strategy that feels like relief.
Other strategies, when you haven’t learned how to create good energetic boundaries, or energy clearing practices, include turning to food to soothe yourself, to numb out from feeling things in ways that are uncomfortable, possibly using other addictive patterns to “escape”. This can include substance addictions like food, alcohol, drugs.. but it can also include other patterns such as discharging energy through conflicted relationships, or anything else that distracts or diverts you from the sense of overwhelm in your body.
My work with clients tends to focus most on issues around eating and body related patterns, and relationship patterns that are causing them discomfort, but I definitely believe that at the core of many addictions is somebody who feels things very intensely.. somebody that is more “open” to picking up and absorbing the energy of those around them.
One thing you may find yourself doing, that is subtle, but a pattern worth watching for I call “matching the energy”. You probably won’t be aware of it, but once you read this you will start to notice occasions when you engage in this pattern.. some more often than others, depending on your level of sensitivity and how often you’ve used this as a way of navigating in the world.
“Matching the energy” means that you literally match the energy of who you are with. So if you are talking to a friend who is in a depressed, down, low energy state.. you will adjust your own energy to match hers. Similarly, if you’re around friends who are upbeat, you may find your own energy rising up to meet them.
The best therapists and coaches and those in helping-professions tend to be very good at matching and reflecting the energies of others.. this of course is empathy at it’s best and is a really useful and necessary trait in such conditions. But you always want to be aware that you are choosing to match energy.. as opposed to being influenced and having your own center blown about by the wind by your own empathic nature. You want to choose and be able to manage your strengths and this is the essential piece.
Without the choice of how you respond to others.. you will end up drained, depleted, and feeling overwhelmed, often without really understanding why, and without knowing how to refill your own well in ways that matter. If your own reserves are constantly being “used” in response to others’ needs around you.. you will not feel well and it will be difficult to tap into your potential for inspiration, creativity, and overall wellbeing. It’s easy to get trapped in the giving too much, feeling too much patterns… which is where many patterns of overeating/food addiction/body hatred come in.. When you feel like you are disconnected from what is “yours”.. and are on empty in certain ways or stuck in these patterns, that you haven’t learned how to properly manage.. it doesn’t feel good.
The good news is that you can absolutely change these patterns.. and in ways that are not particularly complicated.. especially with support. For now, when you are around other people, begin to notice what you pick up in their overall mood. How would you describe their emotional tone, what is their energy level. Next, notice if and how you feel it in your body? Do you feel a slight pull or a bit of a “charge” to join them in that place.. to adjust your own energy level to meet them where they are? There’s nothing wrong with that if you do, but make it be a choice versus an automatic response. You want to be empathic more as a conscious choice than as an automatic knee-jerk response, that will quickly drain you and limit your ability to keep your own energy levels flowing and nourished. Notice what it feels like if you do shift how you feel to “meet” them.. What’s the effect on you during and afterwards. Even tracking this for one or two interactions is helpful and instructive.
The other part of protecting yourself from the downsides of your empathic nature, while enjoying the benefits.. is to make sure you are practicing things that keep you filled up and nourished every day.. Fill your own cup, your own oxygen tank.. whatever you want to call it.. before you start to give. Giving from a filled-up inspired place is a blessing on the world, and a very different experience for both you and the receiver.
Pick one way that you can daily provide loving care for yourself. For me, it’s a bit on inspirational reading followed by sun salutations on my pink yoga mat accompanied by gorgeous drumming on a few of my favorite CD’s in my pink office.. plus a purple green smoothie afterwards. You want to “set the energy” for the day.. way before you give or take on anything else.
Want to learn how to make the most of your nature, and fine-tune new ways of living beautifully in your body, and your relationships? I have something brand new for you. Check out my new (and I think exciting!!) short-term super focused mentoring packages – 5 spots open for March/April.
Sending you so much love….