The Empath’s Survival Guide

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that I was an empath, even though I didn’t have a name for it.  I was often labeled as “shy” or “quiet” around people outside of my immediate family.  I was overly sensitive, but I didn’t understand why.  Seeing sad things on television could leave me devastated, and affect me emotionally for weeks, months, and sometimes longer.  I was intuitive.  I could sense things before they happened.  I had visions and dreams that would later come true.  Large groups and crowded places caused me to have anxiety, and left me feeling drained.  I easily absorbed other people’s energy and thoughts.

For a long time, I thought I was broken.  Like many empathic children, I didn’t have anyone to help me understand this, or to guide me on this journey.  It wasn’t until adulthood, that I realized that what I have is a precious gift, as long as I could learn to navigate life as an Empath.

Common Traits of an Empath

  • Intuitive abilities
  • Easily absorbs other’s energy
  • Women may have issues with their cycle
  • Artistic abilities
  • Fiercely independent
  • Sensitive to noise, smells, and crowds and a tendency to experience sensory overload
  • Needs time alone to recharge
  • Spiritual
  • Easily experiences “burnout”
  • Kind/Generous
  • Prone to depression and/or anxiety
  • Introverted
  • Connection to nature and/or animals
  • Prone to addiction out of a need to “numb” themselves since everything is felt so deeply. (This can be drugs, alcohol, food, even shopping.)
  • Commonly known as “people-pleasers” or overly polite.
  • Attracts narcissistic personalities.
  • Struggles with setting boundaries.

 

The Narcissist and the Empath

If you put me in a room with a hundred people, I guarantee you that the narcissists will find me.  Like a moth to a flame, narcissists are drawn to empaths and vice-versa.  Looking back, it’s evident that the most tumultuous relationships in my life have been with narcissists.  I’d hold onto toxic friends and relationships, not seeing them for what they are, or simply thinking I could help them.  It’s been a painful process extracting people out of my life, but absolutely necessary for my health and well-being.

Read this brilliant article, to understand more about the toxic attraction between narcissists and empaths.

 

Survival Tips for Empaths

  • Learn how to set boundaries – This is a crucial skill for thriving as an empath and having healthy friendships and relationships.
  • Practice self-care – Take time for yourself daily, to nourish yourself and recharge.  This can be in the form of yoga, art, meditation, exercise, spending time alone, or with friends.  Do whatever makes you feel alive.
  • Find kindred spirits – Find your tribe of like-minded individuals, that help you grow as a person.
  • Good nutrition – Eating well makes a huge impact on your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Spend time in nature – Since empaths struggle with balance, being in nature can help ground you.
  • Trust yourself – Learn how to trust yourself and your intuitive abilities over anything else.
  • Avoid Energy Vampires – The people that suck the life out of you and leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained.  Avoid them, especially on days when your energy is already low.
  • Find your own spiritual path – Whatever that means for you.  Organized religion has been toxic in my life, and the best thing I ever did was walk away from it. That doesn’t mean I’m not a spiritual person or that my path is right for everyone.  All I know is that whatever I felt I was searching for in another person, or religion, I found within myself.
  • Learn to tell the difference between your own emotions and when you are absorbing someone else’s emotions – This is huge.  Just figuring this out, helped me tremendously.  It also helped me learn how to block negative energy and keep myself grounded.
  • Find a creative outlet – For me that outlet is writing, mostly in the form of journaling.  For other Empaths I know, it’s dancing, gardening, painting, drawing, performing, musical, or even homemaking.  There is additional joy when you find something nourishing for your soul, that also serves others.
  • Women, track your monthly cycle  – Dealing with the deep emotions of being an empath, along with monthly hormonal fluctuations, can be especially difficult.  Knowing which times during your cycle, that are especially challenging, can help you make better decisions and protect yourself when you’re not in your most balanced state.
  • Limit the amount of chemicals you put into your body – Of course Empaths are going to be more sensitive to environmental toxins and harsh chemicals.  Whenever possible, choose products with less harmful ingredients.

 

The World Needs Empaths

Empathy is emotional intelligence. It is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, to view the world through another’s eyes.  To be able to perceive the feelings and emotions of another and convey that understanding to the other person.

Empaths are natural healers with their ability to read the energy of the people, places and objects, even though many are not aware of this ability.  Empaths have the ability to be great parents, as they are better able to read and understand their children’s emotions.  Empaths have a natural respect for other people, animals and the our planet.  They naturally understand that we are connected to one another, as they feel and process the energy of others around them.

“The world needs them – the ones who absorb the emotions of others, which diminishes their pain and disquietude and the world also uses them as a repository for confessions, secrets, grudges and indignation. They will leave these uncommon and intuitive individuals feeling unburdened themselves while the unusual individual will be weighed down by having taken on those burdens in addition to their own. The world needs them but what they need is something as aberrant as themselves, and that is silence, stillness and rest.”
― Donna Lynn Hope

So you see, dear Empath, the world very much needs your gift.

“Empaths did not come into this world to be victims, we came to be warriors. Be brave. Stay strong. We need all hands on deck.”
― Anthon St. Maarten

 

Letting Go of Things That No Longer Serve You

“Let go of everything which no longer serves you”

During my first Reiki session over the winter, the practitioner quietly spoke these words aloud while he worked.  This was not the first time I’ve heard this mantra.  In fact, over the last year, many of the yoga classes I’ve attended have focused on the process of letting go.  Almost as if the universe has been sending me a message that I needed to hear.

In my yoga practice, this mantra has served as a reminder to let go of the tension I carry in my physical body that can hinder progress. It forces me to think about the expectations I have for my practice, and my ability or inability to master certain poses, and to let go of preconceived notions.  It makes me acutely aware of the negative thoughts that creep in during shavasana, and to make an effort to clear my mind and focus on my breath.

More importantly, I’ve taken these words and applied them to life off the yoga mat.  There are many things I’ve carried through my lifetime, that no longer serve me.  Past wounds, emotions, situations, and people.  Things that for whatever reason, I couldn’t let go.  Maybe because they were familiar or I didn’t know how.  Over time, I’ve developed the belief that every experience in our lives, good and bad, can benefit us.  It’s only when we get caught in the trap of holding on to emotions, long after they’ve served their purpose, do they negatively affect us.

It’s been my experience that the emotions that I define as negative, namely fear, regret, and anger, have served as my greatest teachers.  These three emotions are closely tied to one another, yet very different.  Fear serves a vital purpose.  It’s our survival instinct.  Fear keeps us safe and helps us realize potential threats.  It’s how the human race has survived.

If you’re human, at some point in your life you’ve made a mistake.  If you have a conscience, you’ve experienced regret.  Mistakes are how we learn and grow.  Regret should be temporary, not something we carry with us through our lifetime.  Although painful, they serve as a lesson for us to make better decisions in the future and learn the kind of person we want to become.

There was a time I carried anger toward people from my past, that had hurt me or someone I love.  I’m no longer angry, but that anger served me for a time.  It taught me how to form boundaries, build healthier relationships, and extract people from my life that didn’t belong.  Now, I find these individuals rarely cross my mind.  If and when they do,  I’ve no ill will toward them, I simply have no use for them.

As I continue to delve deeper into the spirituality of yoga, I’m amazed at the way it’s changed my way of thinking.  When you can find purpose in every experience, however painful, then you can make peace with it, and eventually let it go.  This is how we heal.  I have found that compassion, understanding and kindness have replaced fear, regret and anger.  This has also allowed me to see others differently.  When I encounter difficult people, I see their inner pain masking as these emotions.  Instead of being upset or frustrated by their words or actions, I hope they can let go of whatever they are carrying that is holding them back.

Learning to let go of everything that no longer serves you is a process.  Allow yourself to experience fear, regret and anger, but don’t allow yourself to live there.

Ten Things I’ve Learned about Colorado

Colorado has been good to this southern girl.  I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to live in such an amazing place, but in spite of my love for this gorgeous state, there have been times I’ve felt as if I was living in a strange land.  Colorado is radically different than anywhere else I’ve lived.  I was born and raised in Virginia and spent the first thirty years of my life there, yet in ways I don’t fully understand, moving here has felt like coming home.

Here are ten things I’ve learned about Colorado…

1. Beauty

When I first visited Colorado, I was awestruck by the beauty of this state.  From the snow-covered Rockies, river canyons, colorful sunsets, and the stunning wildlife, there is no shortage of natural wonders .  I’ve lived here nearly two years and the first look at the Rocky Mountains each morning, still takes my breath away.

2. Weather

It’s common for Coloradans to experience all four seasons in a single day.  The snow season can start as early as September and last through May.  And just as quickly as the snow appears, it melts.  Humidity is almost non-existent in the Centennial State.  Did you hear that?  Humidity. Is. Non-existent. With such a dry climate and an average of 300 days of sunshine every year, the colder temperatures can be downright pleasant.

3. Pot

It’s legal here, guys.  Colorado was the first state to legalize Marijuana.  And there are dispensaries EVERYWHERE.  Personally, I have always been pro-legalization of marijuana.  Tax it.  Regulate it.  Then use the revenue to fund education and programs for our homeless.  It’s a no-brainer, but it still feels strange living in a state where pot is legal.

4. WildFires

Colorado is on fire…literally.  During the summer months, when everything is dry and rainfall is scarce, be prepared for the threat of wildfires.  Most of the time, officials are able to control these fires before they get out of hand, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This is my second summer in Colorado and I dread reading the news and seeing the words “there is zero percent containment and the fire is raging out of control, stay tuned for mandatory evacuations” with strong winds, zero rainfall and high temperatures for the next few weeks.  Scary stuff.

5. Beer

Colorado is for beer lovers.  Only Oregon and Vermont rank ahead of Colorado in breweries per capita.  When gold was discovered in the Rockies in 1858, many brewers were making small batches and selling it to the miners.  A couple of years later, our first brewery was established.  Colorado and beer just go together.

6. Colo-RAD-o

If you’re a native, you pronounce the world ‘Colorado’ as “Colo-RAD-o”.  Enough said.

7. Altitude

When low-landers visit or move to Colorado, they can feel very sick.  Elevation sickness is no joke.  Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, water retention, and high blood pressure.  Denver, the state’s capital, stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet high. Breckenridge stands at 9,600 ft high.  The good news: Your body eventually will adapt.  Until then, make sure you have chapstick and sunscreen and stay hydrated.

8. 14ers

Colorado is home to the 14ers.  What the hell is a 14er?  That was my question when I first moved here.  Well, Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (known as “fourteeners” or “14ers” locally) — the most of any state.  Hiking as many as the 14ers as possible is a goal for local hiking enthusiasts.

9. Bike-Friendly

Biking is big, here.  Whether its mountain biking, road cycling, or training at the U.S. Olympic Complex, cyclists come from all over to pedal our mountains and byways.  Hundreds of biking events are held here, each year for cyclists.  (Here’s a link for some great Bike Maps in Colorado.)

10. Colorado is for Everyone

If you’re a beer lover, a mountaineer, a ski bum, an outdoor adventurer, history nerd… you get the point… there is something for you in Colorado.  And if you’re not amazed by everything Colorado has to offer, you may not have a soul.

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