The word empath can throw people off and sound a little too mystical, but really, it’s quite simple. Certain people are super sensitive to other people’s energy and emotions. These people are called empaths, and I am one. I can be around someone, even a stranger, and without them expressing anything at all, I can actually feel their emotions as if they were my own. It can be a gift or a curse; it depends on how you look at it.
Being an Empath is a Gift
In many cases being able to get in touch with another person’s emotions can help you, help them. Empathy is a compassionate way to show someone you care, and more than you just understand, you truly feel what they feel. So, in that respect, it is a gift and a beautiful thing to be able to share with another person. When I am feeling strong and not experiencing anything negative in my own life, I truly appreciate this wonderful gift.
Being an Empath is a Curse
On the other hand, when you feel other people’s emotions (whether you want to or not), it can drain you and leave you feeling tired and overwhelmed. I have my own life situations to deal with so taking on someone else’s depression, sadness, fear, or anxiety is often too much. It is especially hard on me when I am feeling vulnerable or drowning in my own difficult emotions. I cannot be around people with depressing or frenetic energy. The good news is, I have developed a coping mechanism that works wonders for me. My EFT coach introduced me to it a few years ago, and I use it all the time.
The Solution – Learn How to Protect Yourself
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my kitchen counter, having lunch with a friend. My friend is bipolar, and he leans strongly to the manic side of things. On this particular afternoon, he was hyper and talking a mile a minute. I could “feel” the excess energy coming off of him and it was making me feel anxious. So, I made a gesture that looked like I was lassoing my whole body, and he laughed and said: “what was that?” I told him that years ago, my EFT coach taught me a visualization exercise to encase my whole body in a protective shell that keeps my emotions in and other people’s out. He knows that sometimes his mania is too much for me to handle. This simple gesture of surrounding myself with protection immediately calms me down and blocks out anything that isn’t mine.
Mindfulness to the Rescue
When I first started using this technique, I had to perform a few meditation sessions, to set the visualization for this invisible shield. It worked right away, but I wanted to make it easier like something I could pull out of my pocket quick to use on the fly. So, I continued to set this visual image until I could see it clearly anytime I wanted. Now, whenever I am going to be visiting someone who I know could be challenging, I pre-set this shield in place. I don’t feel any of their stuff, and I keep calm and cool inside my shell. Whenever I get trapped in a situation that I didn’t expect, all I have to do is use this simple hand gesture to bring down the shield, and it has the same calming effect.
With a little bit of mindful work, it is amazing how we can change our reactions to things that in the past would overwhelm, exhaust and topple us for the day. I am so grateful for my mindfulness tools and the gifts that daily mediation has brought me.
Living in this world as an empath can be excruciating without some type of help. Give the invisible shield method a try and let me know how it works for you.