“Empaths have an extremely reactive neurological system. We don’t have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb into our bodies both the positive and stressful energies around us. We are so sensitive that it’s like holding something in a hand that has 50 fingers instead of five. We are truly super responders.” Judith Orloff, MD
Greetings, my darlings!
I know, I know, I have been slacking off on my writing. But it’s not to say I’ve been slacking off on my reading (among other things). There’s nothing like being captivated by good books, Netflix feel-good programs, such as The Kindness Diaries, podcasts and meaningful conversations with friends around all of it.
Speaking of conversations, I’ve been having several of them lately around the topic of empathy, empaths and highly sensitive people. These are also topics that often pop up in yoga class. So it’s no wonder that Judith Orloff’s book, The Empath’s Survival Guide, has been the central focus in many of the convos over the past few weeks (and even months). And, just to show you what a genie the universe is, I walked into acupuncture the other day and came across a copy of the book (which I borrowed, of course).
And wouldn’t you know that I opened the book to the section on protection strategies for curing an emotional hangover!?!? The universe is quite the genie!
My, oh my! While these strategies are some of the practices I have been employing for a long time, they didn’t surprise me. However, I was surprised to learn exactly where I fell in the world of an empath (and there are several assessments/checklists included in the book to guide us).
All it took was reading the first paragraph of the first chapter, and I was hooked:
“Though there is a spectrum of sensitivity that exists in human beings, empaths are emotional sponges who absorb both the stress and joy of the world. We feel everything, often to an extreme, and have little guard up between others and ourselves. As a result we are often overwhelmed by excessive stimulation and prone to exhaustion and sensory overload.”
Does this sound like you, your child, a family member or someone you know? Are you prone to fatigue or illness? Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? Do you feel overwhelmed with large crowds, loud environments, or toxic people? Do you numb yourself with food, alcohol, sex, shopping or other addictive behaviors? Do you tend to have low blood sugar? Do you dislike arguing? Do you feel overworked? Do you have chemical sensitivities? Does too much socializing and overstimulating situations such as parties and cruises make you feel trapped? Do you feel suffocated in relationships? Well, if the answer to any of these questions is YES, you will want to get a copy of this book for yourself ASAP. I wish I had it in my twenties!!! It would have made my life, and the lives of others around me, so much easier! By the way, these are just a few of the indicators that deeply resonates for me.
Needless to say, this book is a wonderful resource for understanding empaths, empathy and for developing coping skills. And coping skills is something that is much needed in today’s chaotic and overly- stimulated world… a world that is filled with what can be a disturbing array of sights, smells, sensations and sounds, don’t ya think?
As noted on the inside cover of the book, it was created to “support empaths through their unique challenges and help loved ones better understand the empath’s needs and gifts.”
Not surprising is that empaths are usually intuitive, compassionate, creative and spiritually connected. As one of my beloved yoga teachers often says, “Empaths have superpowers.” These gifts and superpowers also bring with them an array of challenges though. And one of these challenges is dealing with people and situations that drain us of our energy.
Why? Because as much as empaths are able to sense other people’s vitality, joy, enthusiasm, happiness and love within ourselves, we also absorb negative energies around us. These energies go right into our muscles, tissues, and organs.
I remember reading the term “energy vampire” in a magazine article I was reading years and years ago- before it becoming so mainstream. That’s when I started connecting the dots and having a greater awareness around the topic of energy. I also started taking note of people and situations that left me feeling depleted and exhausted. In other words, I started identifying the energy vampires in my personal and professional life.
Dr. Orloff identifies seven types of energy vampires in her book. They are:
- The Narcissist
- The Rageaholic
- The Victim
- The Drama Queen or King
- Control Freaks and Critics
- The Nonstop Talker
- Passive-Aggressive People
And what happens when we spend too much time in the company of energy vampires, without setting healthy boundaries, having strategies or tools for protecting our energy? We end up overwhelmed, fatigued, drained and with an emotional hangover! Sound familiar?
It sure does! So what are some tools and strategies to protect us against these emotional hangovers?
- Shower meditations
- Smudging/ Clearing ourselves and our space
- Negative ion generators or salt lamps
- Lighting white candles
- Spraying rose water or other types of aromatherapy
- Being in nature
- Sacred space for meditation/ prayer
- Seeking emotional support with a friend or therapist
The following are additional tools we can use to protect and conserve our overall energy and keep us from getting to the point of overload and/or burnout:
- Shielding visualizations
- Grounding and earthing visualizations
- Cutting energetic chords visualizations
- Open to a higher power
- Loving-Kindness meditations
- Music and Mantras
- Detoxing baths
- Essential Oils
- Alone time
- Getting good sleep and napping
- Setting clear limits and boundaries
- Stepping away from what’s disturbing
- Disconnecting from electronics and social media
- Eating healthy and nutritious “alive foods”
- Drinking lots of water
- Avoiding or limiting caffeine
- Being fully present in your body
- Practicing self-compassion
- Conscious and meaningful conversations
As we may all know by now, cultivating positive self-talk boosts the flow of endorphins- otherwise known as our “feel good hormones,” much like exercise does.
So on this note, I will share with you with some beautiful affirmations from Dr. Orloff’s book. Remember, I’m all about the sharing… wink, wink!
You may choose to write them in a journal (I know I am), post them somewhere, share them or perhaps even use them as a springboard for journaling, meditating or praying. We can also turn to these affirmations if we find ourselves in a toxic, challenging situation or with a person who is challenging to be with.
- I vow to honor my sensitivities and treat myself lovingly as I explore what it means to be an empath and embrace my gifts. I will appreciate myself every day.
- I am strong. I am loving. I am positive. I have the power to clear all negativity and stress from my body. I embrace my physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.
- I will listen to the wisdom of my body. I will eat a healthy diet. I will practice self-care to heal my addictions and stay physically, emotionally, and spiritually balanced.
- In a quiet state of self-acceptance, tell yourself: I deserve to be in a loving relationship where I feel comfortable. I deserve to express my true needs. I deserve to have my sensitivities respected. I deserve to be heard.
- I will protect my energy around draining people. I will learn how to set healthy boundaries. I will learn to say “no” at the right times. I will listen to my intuition about the relationships that are nurturing for me.
- For children and parents to use: I will embrace my sensitivities and take time to rest and recharge. I will express my needs with supportive people. I will not hide my gifts. I will be authentic. I will stand in my power. I am proud to be a sensitive and loving person.
- I set my intention to attract rewarding work that energizes me. I will practice self-care in my profession to protect my sensitivities. I vow to play and to rest when I’m off work to recharge myself.
- I will honor my intuition. I will listen to my dreams. I will not second-guess my inner voice. I will seek to find balance with my intuition and other aspects of my life so that I can express my full spectrum of sensitivities and be whole.
- I will treasure myself and vow to have people in my life who treasure me as well. I will use my sensitivities to better my own life and the world. I will celebrate the adventure of being an empath.
My darlings, I have shared but only a snippet of the content in this most valuable book by Dr. Orloff. I am certain that you will find yourself, your child, a friend(s), spouse/partner, family member, coworker, or some other loved one on its pages, especially after taking some of the assessments.
If we want to live a life that is rich in love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and meaning, we all need to embrace our gifts and the gifts of the other people in our lives-even those of energy vampires- for they, too, are our teachers. If anything, they propel us to love and heal ourselves. In order to do so, we must first learn to love, support, understand and accept ourselves so that we can then love, support, understand and accept others. This is the gift of healing!
Here’s to embracing our gifts, our superpowers and leading from the heart… right from the start!
Inhale Love & Light… Exhale Grace and Gratitude, JTC