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.
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Sending you so much love….
Love the idea of filling your cup first thing in the morning. I just started a practice like this 2 weeks ago. Getting up early, before anyone else is up, so I move my body + do some devotions and meditation before the chaos begins. Makes SUCH a difference to start my day out right.
Amanda.. it makes the biggest difference setting the energy this way first thing..for awhile I was online instead of doing my practices and it was NOT a good trade!! love to you… Lisa
Teresa Deak says
Great info, Lisa! I think I’ve been doing that energy matching for so long, I usually can’t even describe the energy, I just feel things in my body. I’ll be watching for the signs now. And with one more call to do yoga, I think it’s time for me to roll out a mat and move again. Thanks!
Hugs and butterflies,
Teresa.. I know what you mean.. mostly we aren’t aware of it until somebody names it, it’s such an inherent part of our nature.. good to know it’s a choice and have ways to keep your body clear. Yoga or any kind of movement keeps the energy moving, always good. Maybe you can find a butterfly mat (!).. Love to you.. Lisa
Lisa, I feel like this is the key for me “You want to be empathic more as a conscious choice than as an automatic response” thank you for that assignment!
Christie..yes.. the conscious part with all of it shifts it. Glad it clicked for you.. Love to you.. Lisa
This quote particularly *clicked* with my spirit: 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.
I totally do this!!!!!!! 🙂
Teryll.. I’m not surprised.. I do too. But I do notice that when women have a variety of ways to bring down the energy, to clear and clean and maintain a level of grounded-ness.. that it requires less downtime.. although for many of us that may still be a natural rhythm, and preference which is all good.. it’s about choice, as always.
Thank you for always letting me know what “clicks”.. the feedback helps me know how to keep refining what to write about..
Love to you, Lisa
One more thing…..I love this idea of rituals, getting “preped” for the day, filling one’s cup, etc….but how can you realistically put these into practice, especially, if getting up early is a challenge. 🙂
Teryll.. This is a great question that I get a lot.. and my nature is that of a “Lark”.. vs an “Owl”.. I believe we are naturally one or the other but with a bit of inspiration and desire we can shift if we have good reasons. So…as with anything, move slowly and gently towards creating a morning practice. And know that it begins with a good bedtime practice.. it’s of course related. If you can aim to get to bed maybe 10 minutes earlier.. and increase that over time.. you will have an easier time adjusting your morning wakeup.. And if you have a ritual or a routine that is really calling to you.. something that you know intuitively is going to make a big difference for you..it may act as a “reward”.. creating such improved energies throughout the day that it becomes something you fall in love with vs a challenge.. Make sense? Great questions.. xox
Wonderful, fascinating post as always lovely Lisa! I am realizing more and more that I may very well be an empath! Ha! Not sure why I didn’t consider it before, but I absolutely mirror people’s energy/moods, and lately, have felt sort of repelled and uncomfortable around certain people who are not on similar paths as me…does that make sense? I am a HUGE fan of starting off my day with yumminess and intention (and your yoga mat + office look delish, btw!!) It sets the entire day. And two things really felt like a-has in this for me: “make it be a choice versus an automatic response” and “Giving from a filled-up inspired place is a blessing on the world, and a very different experience for both you and the receiver.” AMEN! I will be aware now in my interactions, and choose–or not–to mirror those I’m around. And YES, you are spot on–when we give because we want to and because we feel like we’re overflowing with love an bursting with abundance, it is sooooo different than feeling like you’re being sucked dry. YAY! Love this, Wise One! Thank you ever so kindly! 🙂
Empathic Eyenie…(mirroring your alliteration).. Yes it definitely seems you are an empath, and use your nature in all of the best ways,with beautiful practices and perspectives. So good. And intuitively you already KNOW where you need to set limits and create boundaries to protect the good-feeling energy.. you can feel it, when it’s not right, when somebody’s not a good match, or is too draining to be around.. now you just have to TRUST yourself to make those choices clearly and without any drama.
Loving this conversation, and of course it’s my pleasure.. With love.. Lisa
“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.” —– Reminds me of the old saying about being careful about the company you keep, but with a twist.
It’s so true, though — someone I love very dearly is also a draining force for me, so I avoid interaction. With your help, maybe I can manage that a bit better and become a more loving support in her life.
As always, Lisa, your help is so lovingly relevant.
Jessica.. that’s one of the nicest things you could say to me, about the help being “lovingly relevant”.. thank you truly for that. And yes.. we all have those people, and in many ways tend to attract them because we are sensitive, do want to help, and because we can so clearly FEEL their pain and therefore are more impacted by it.. which often creates more tendency in us to caretake/overnurture.. (and for my clients, this leads to overeating, filling the drain with food at times..). So..you don’t always have to ditch these friends, but can also let them know that while you want to be loving and supportive, there are times that you need them to shift their energy in ways that the two of you can engage in other ways, change the subject..make efforts to also nourish the places that are less draining/depressing. Teach her to be a better friend, gently and in your own loving way (you’re such a natural and powerful teacher.. I suspect you could do this easily once you thought of it that way..).. Love love to you..
Leah Shapiro says
I totally feel this- ?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.”
I have a hard time differentiating between this and being an introvert. I do fun events like the Luscious Ladies Lounge and it feels awesome- but then I’m exhausted the day after and need at least a day alone/down time.
I also know that people like to bask in my energy- which only feels good sometimes- it depends on what they are sending to me in return.
I feel like I feel other people’s moods and energy- but instead of matching it- my tendency is to try and raise them up to where I’m at. Which can be annoying for both of us.
Lisa, I love how you create the space for these thoughts and awareness’s !
Hi Leah! I understand around the confusions between empath and introvert.. and I think there is some overlap.. I also believe that we differ around how much energy we can “run” and stay in balance.. each of us has an optimum level.. and it changes with the seasons, with our level of self-nurturance, emotional wellbeing.. so many factors. And so we have to be our own experts and notice intuitively what feels right on any given day..
You’ve already identified a key challenge for you.. to want to shift others’ energies and that can be a lot of work, draining and potentially disappointing (also draining!).
I love how YOU get me to think more deeply about all of this with your own observations and feedback.Leah.. always appreciate you. With love.. Lisa
Leah – I feel like you read my mind with your first comment! I have been trying to get out and about (for my own sanity) yet it seems like I’m better off being home alone since it takes me so long to recover.
While I’ve been aware of the fact that I pick up on other people’s energy and sometimes can protect myself, if something goes out of whack (like just last night when a class ran late and I left knowing I was so tired and still had to drive home, so I got home exhausted but still had to eat so then it was even later and though I tried to go through my routine I forgot some and kept dropping things or running into walls…which meant this morning was rushed because I needed sleep…making the choice to stop running into things so forgoing the morning practice)…forget it. Not only do I need the time to recover from people, I need the time to regain my balance so I can recover from people! It seems very overwhelming sometimes and can be hard to get back to a place that I can center and ground with depletion and everything going on around me.
But I’m learning more and growing stronger so that is what matters.
Hi Jennifer.. the learning and growing stronger is a good thing to notice, always. Softening expectations and finding ways to balance creating practices that will support you with a bit more ease can be tricky.. but I know for myself, if I take the judgement out of it.. and don’t use any comparisons to anyone else, it’s easier. It’s frustrating when there are things that are beyond your control…other things can be helped with anticipating in advance what you might need.. maybe packing non perishable snacks in your car/ or bag.. just as an example.. hoping this helps a bit… Love, Lisa
Karen Ribeiro says
I totally get this – energetically, empathetically! And one of my techniques for continuing to show up as a compassionate, empathetic person is by getting an energy shield necklace – it’s amazing! Great post!
Karen… love that.. any excuse to buy jewelry!! Send pictures. sounds like a totem/talisman kind of thing. Love, Lisa