I wrote a while ago about what it really means to be an empath and distinguished between what can be confused as empathic ability, and what marks a true empathic ability. I realize now that it’s only halfway helpful.
If you’re an untrained empath life has probably been really difficult and social interactions exhausting. In fact, just having an energetic connection to others has quite possibly been draining you and/or making you sick. So I’ve outlined five tips for learning to master your ability so that you can lead a life you want to lead, not a life dictated by empathic overwhelm.
Befriend Solitude & Silence
Time alone with no input from others is essential. That means no people, no animals, no phone, no television, no music. You may be thinking to yourself, “wait, isn’t this article supposed to make all these aspects of modern living bearable?” Yes. This is where you start. You need to create space from noise and outside input in order to begin the work of detangling and discovering the you amongst all the “us.”
I discovered this necessity of aloneness on accident many years ago when I was beyond overwhelmed and took a bubble bath behind locked doors while mentally repeating the mantra “I am alone. I answer to no one here. No one needs me. No one can reach me. This is my space. This is my time,” effectively breaking the energetic connections that were making me miserable and giving me the space to engage with myself. Taking at least an hour a day to do this is life-changing for an empath, especially in conjunction with the other steps.
Get to Know Yourself
Mindfulness. What a buzzword. It’s also super helpful to the empath when utilized properly. Learn to make space for yourself in the moment. Check in with how you are feeling. Create the habit of examining your feelings in the moment. Learn to discern between what is your legitimate response to the people and circumstances around you, and what you’re feeling that isn’t yours.
Did someone say something that made you uncomfortable, or did your mood change for no discernible reason? Were you feeling great until you walked into a place and now you suddenly have a headache or stomach ache? Or were you feeling under the weather on your own? The physical symptoms of empathic abilities can be most difficult. You must be in tune with your body for this kind of discernment, and beware of writing off symptoms that are actually yours.
This step can be one of the most difficult to integrate because it’s easy to get swept up in what’s happening, but it is vital.
Release What Isn’t Yours
You aren’t responsible for the feelings or illnesses of other people. Once you’ve mastered discernment (this does take a lot of work and daily practice, it isn’t easy) learn to release what belongs to someone else. This is a process that is difficult to describe. I’m a verbal person, so for me saying to myself “This isn’t mine, I no longer feel it” is an authoritative cue to let it flow away from me. You may need to develop your own way of releasing.
Create Healthy Boundaries
The word “no” is your friend, get used to saying it so that your “yes” doesn’t betray your needs. Know your limits. Learn to recognize unhealthy behaviors in others and say no to them. Refuse to take responsibility for someone else’s thoughts/feelings/etc. Recognize that your life is for you to live and that you don’t exist as a resource for other people to endlessly draw upon. Nurture your own desires and dreams (you’ll be able to tell which ones are yours when you consistently practice the first two steps). Do things for you just because you legitimately enjoy them.
Cut out the energy vampires who have most likely sensed you a mile away long ago and glommed on to you to suck up your energy and transfer their dysfunction to you while they do it. You’re not their energetic dialysis system anymore.
Place your wellbeing above others’ desires and needs. You are just as important as anyone else. Work on your own healing. Learn to spot manipulative behavior and don’t allow it to occur with you. Terminate any codependent behaviors. You’re not responsible for healing or saving others, and you’re not going to change anyone either, nor can you be anyone’s self-esteem for them. Every individual is responsible for their own change, healing, saving, and the way they treat themselves.
Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable Feelings
You can release an emotion or illness that doesn’t belong to you, but chances are you will still sense it. This can create quite a bit of tension. Don’t run from it. This is where healthy boundaries come into play. This is where, “you’re entitled to and responsible for your own feelings” is a statement that empowers you and the other, creating a healthy line so that you don’t end up in a situation that abuses your empath abilities.
When it comes to physical illness, you may have to create distance for your wellbeing if the energy continues to act on you. It can be more difficult to release the energies of an illness because it feels less temporary and more “yours” than the energies of someone else’s emotions. Practicing discernment and releasing will be the best way to reduce and eliminate the physical affects of someone else’s illness. But you may still sense it, and it may make you uncomfortable because illness has a stickiness to it. Like jam hands (hands covered in jam) but worse.
Mastered Empathic Abilities
Ideally in a situation regarding physical health where you’ve mastered your empathic abilities, recognizing the physical sensations and energetic personality of an illness is where compassion in caregiving allows you to be more beneficial to someone who is physically ill around you. You know what they feel. You can validate it for them, and if it’s within healthy and hippocratic boundaries, be of assistance to them.
Empathic ability is an exceptional gift for anyone in the healing field. But just because you’re an empath doesn’t mean you must be in a healing field. You decide your life. When you are the master of your ability you recognize what’s yours and what’s someone else’s, and you decide whether or not to engage with the person you’re sensing it from. Remember, you are not required to do so.
In other situations your ability can help you discern danger, manage conflict, assist your loved ones in recognizing their own motives or the base of their feelings, and in general connect more deeply. It is a gift for creating and healing connections to people, to animals, to the earth in general. Chances are you will be a conduit of healing to those around you no matter what else you decide to do with your life if you do the work to master your gift. Mastering this gift means you won’t lose or destroy yourself in the process.
You may have noticed I didn’t mention anything about daily shielding. I have found that practice to be ineffective as an empath. The steps above has done more for me than any shielding technique ever did.
But, if you’re an empathic witch who works with spirits I recommend solid regular protection practices (such as warding), and daily banishing and cleansing work to keep unwanted energies and beings away from you and your space. Doing this makes for cleaner witchcraft and prevents undesired interference.