Psychologists use the term empath in describing a person who is highly empathic. A highly empathic person is someone who is highly sensitive and can sense what others around them are thinking and feeling. Sometimes empath s find themselves taking on or carrying the pain of others to their own detriment.
Does this ring true for you?
Empath s are beautiful friends who can become overwhelmed because they feel what their friends are going through and as a result can feel their anxieties. A ‘friend’ once told me that my high sensitivity meant that I could not love and I remember at that time I did not understand what she meant. It felt like an angry attack but, she was my friend and as an empath, I put her feelings before my own, unable to say ‘No’ that is not right and hold my boundary. In hindsight today, I can see that it was completely the opposite. Empath s love intensely and cry easily when they witness abuse, upset or injustice and its as if they need deep grounding in the inward turn toward the natural world. To the darkness and the movements of strength.
Dr Judith Orloff says that “Empath s have often been labelled as ‘overly sensitive’ and told to ‘get a thicker skin’. As children and adults we are shamed for our sensitivities rather than supported”
Its very important to honour your own empathic nature and not allow the world to stop it. The world is loud and fast and it knows how to make you feel badly toward yourself. I had a client who grew up in a family where she was unable to be herself with her own feelings and needs, she learnt really early on to not speak and express herself because if she did it would mean that one of her parents would be hurt or angry with what she was expressing. She had a beautiful empathic nature that felt deeply those around her but somehow she felt odd with this, she said she felt as though she was understanding everything the wrong way round. So, this little girl knew somehow that the only way to survive and the intelligent thing to do was to ‘harden up’. Not be loving and kind just in case you are overwhelmed and the world hurts you or takes what belongs to you away.
But this is your nature and is how you feel the world so what can you do?
So you can firstly have compassion for yourself. And to make this easy for you, think of this as the same as having compassion for others. One way I explore with people is to think together about the compassion you have others and notice how this comes from recognising somehow that you feel them because you see that they are suffering or have suffered in some way. This opens up the door in allowing you to be kind to yourself, acknowledge your suffering and not making yourself wrong for this. As an empath being kind to yourself can include things like spending time in nature, move your body in ways that are caring and nurturing. Hugging someone from your heart and breathing in that warm and expansive heavenly feeling.