Do you cry when you hear about animal abuse? Does it upset you when you hear that a fire has driven people out of their home? Do you worry when you hear that an innocent person was hurt due to the negligence of another? Does it make you sick to your stomach when you see or hear about senseless violence? When someone you care for is ill, do you feel sick as well? If so, you just might be an empath; that is, a person who takes on the emotions of others.
The word “empath” comes from the word ’empathy,’ which means “identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives” (Webster’s Dictionary). However, it’s more than that. If you are an empath, you may have one or two (or all) of these traits:
- You often take on another person’s pain with (or without) realizing it.
- You can usually tell when a person says one thing but means something else.
- You feel tired or drained after being around certain people; in fact, being around some people makes you feel ill.
- You become overwhelmed or even claustrophobic when there are many people around.
- Your moods change often without warning, and you don’t know why.
- You find that you can often change or influence the moods of others around you.
- You unwittingly become others’ ‘go to’ person when they have problems.
- When someone you love hurts, you do, too.
- You find that being by the ocean or out in nature soothes you.
- When you see or hear violent images on TV or the movies, you may become physically ill.
- You will often find yourself taking care of others more than yourself.
- You understand that animals and plants have consciousness.
There are more traits as well. You will find that people seek you out so that they can dump all their emotional baggage on you. They walk away feeling better; you are left dealing with a big pile of emotional garbage. How do I know this? I know because I am an empath, too.
When I began taking classes from the amazing *Noreen McDonald, I learned that I was not only an empath, but had been for a long time. I learned about “energy vampires,” that is, those people who drain your energy so much that you feel exhausted afterwards.
So, if you are or think you may be an empath, what do you do? Here are some “weapons” I learned about from Noreen’s classes, and they WORK:
- Keep an ‘energy shield’ up at all times, especially when around negative people. Use a **real or mental mirror to deflect negative energy. You can also design your own ‘shield’ in your mind. When coming in contact with a negative person or ‘energy vampire,’ think to yourself, “Shields UP!” and imagine your shield is all around you and protecting you.
- Pay attention when you first meet someone—do you feel you want to hug them, shake hands, or feel you should walk away.
- Listen to your gut—this is your own intuition sending you a message. Pay attention to your feelings; if something or someone feels wrong, you are probably right. Don’t let your brain talk you out of it.
- Take care of yourself just as you would a child or a pet.
- When you see or are with a person in pain, do NOT take on their pain. Instead mentally send them a laser beam of healing energy and love.
About that last one—I learned this the hard way. If you try to take on the other person’s pain, it is just as if you were telling that person that they are too weak to handle it themselves. Taking on their pain hurts you both. Keep your shield up, send them love, listen; but do not take on pain that is not yours.
There is so much more, but the above are things I’ve learned to use over the years so that I don’t become overwhelmed by things I cannot change. I instead focus on those things I CAN change. I was lucky to have the right teacher at the right time to guide me.
Whether or not you search out the right teacher, just know that you are not alone, that you are not weird or strange or odd. You are simply a person with a gift. How you use and grow that gift is up to you.
**Even if the smallest of mirrors will do. We used to have constant problems with a neighbor; she tried her best to make our lives miserable. I finally placed a small pocket mirror in our bedroom window, facing her house. The complaining and confrontation stopped almost immediately. In fact, she soon moved out of the house. All her negativity was reflected back onto her. Sounds silly, but it works.