Being an Empath in Times of National Disaster
If you’re an empath, please read this. If you don’t know why you have so much compassion for others, you’re probably an empath. Please read this.
For those who aren’t familiar, and empath is defined as:
“Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Psychologists may use the term empath to describe a person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.”
If you’re like me, you’re experiencing an increasing amount of anxiety about the health and economic crisis happening right now. That’s normal, at least to some extent. But if you’re experiencing increasing deep anguish and sorrow for not just yourself, or even your family and friends, but everyone who is now or soon will be suffering, let’s stop, together, and breathe.
Stress, Anguish, and Sorrow Will Affect Your Health
That negative emotions have a detrimental effect on health is widely known. Empaths typically take it a step further, and sense – – in a real physical and emotional way – – what’s going on in those around them. They feel other’s pain, stress, anger, and more.
Right now, the news is terrifying. Becoming aware of how so many are suffering physically, or who are losing income and jobs, is worrisome to the average person. To the empath, it can be debilitating.
You MUST Take Care of Yourself
The last couple days, I’ve found myself drifting into such sadness that I cry frequently at what is happening to people. And what’s going to happen to them. While I honor and even cherish the part of me that cares so deeply for others, I realized this morning that I cannot effectively deal with the crisis situations around me by going into an emotional tailspin.
Rather than try to create something new, in the interest of expediency I’m borrowing this from from Dr. Judith Orloff’s book“The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People” (Sounds True, 2017).
Here is her advice:
- Evaluate. First, ask yourself: Is this symptom or emotion mine or someone else’s? It could be both. If the emotion such as fear or anger is yours, gently confront what’s causing it on your own or with professional help. If it’s not yours, try to pinpoint the obvious generator.
- Move away. When possible, distance yourself by at least twenty feet from the suspected source. See if you feel relief. Don’t err on the side of not wanting to offend strangers. In a public place, don’t hesitate to change seats if you feel a sense of “dis-ease” imposing on you.
- Know your vulnerable points. Each of us has a body part that is more vulnerable to absorbing others’ stress. Mine is my gut. Scan your body to determine yours. Is it you neck? Do you get sore throats? Headaches? Bladder infections? At the onset of symptoms in these areas, place your palm there and keep sending loving-kindness to that area to soothe discomfort. For longstanding depression or pain, use this method daily to strengthen yourself. It’s comforting and builds a sense of safety and optimism.
- Surrender to your breath. If you suspect you are picking up someone else’s symptoms, concentrate on your breath for a few minutes. This is centering and connects you to your power.
- Practice Guerilla Meditation. To counter emotional or physical distress, act fast and meditate for a few minutes. Do this at home, at work, at parties, or conferences. Or, take refuge in the bathroom. If it’s public, close the stall. Meditate there. Calm yourself. Focus on positivity and love.
- Set healthy limits and boundaries. Control how much time you spend listening to stressful people, and learn to say “no.” Remember, “no” is a complete sentence.
- Visualize protection around you. Visualize an envelope of white light around your entire body. Or with extremely toxic people, visualize a fierce black jaguar patrolling and protecting your energy field against intruders.
- Develop X ray vision. The spaces between the vertebrae in your lower back (lumbar spine) are conducive to eliminating pain from the body. It’s helpful to learn to mindfully direct pain out of these spaces by visualizing it leaving your body. Say goodbye to pain as it blends with the giant energy matrix of life!
- Take a bath or shower. A quick way to dissolve stress is to immerse yourself in water. My bath is my sanctuary after a busy day. It washes away everything from bus exhaust to long hours of air travel to pesky symptoms I have taken on from others. Soaking in natural mineral springs divinely purifies all that ails.
Take Heed. We’re Going To Need Your Strength
The weeks and perhaps months ahead are going to require great compassion. You are uniquely equipped to be a source of that, to help, to inspire, as we all face the unknown.
Stay safe, stay strong.