Being an Empath
Updated: Jan 5
What is an empath? Am I an empath? Do I know someone who is or might be an empath? If so, what does that mean? These might be questions you're asking yourself.
Let me start with a brief introduction: My name is Bhadra and I'm an intuitive empath and energy healer. I work with adolescent and adult empaths helping them to obtain balance, learn to manage their sensitivity to energies, and uncover their true authentic selves. I've always been an empath but didn't always know there was a name for what I was experiencing. From a very early age I had difficulty being in large crowds, soaked up the energies of those around me, felt so many different things in a given day that I’d feel as though I was going crazy, felt more tired than I should have most of the time, declined social invitations preferring to be alone or with my pets, and upon entering any room knew whether it was a positive or negative situation I was walking into. It was not easy! Thankfully, today I am armed with not only the information about what an empath is and what that means for me but also with a tackle box full of tools that help me live my life to its fullest as an empath...which can be pretty tricky if you are unaware and without tools!
I'm writing this to introduce you to the nuances of being an empath, what that could look like and mean for you and how to manage this gift (yes, it is a gift!) so you can take back control of your life.
Let's start with some terms: maybe you've heard the word 'empath' before and maybe you've heard the terms highly sensitive person (HSP) and introvert used when speaking about empaths! Basically, empaths, highly sensitive people, and introverts are very similar but not the same. Many of the experiences and overall feelings overlap, but there are differences. I'll briefly explain highly sensitive people and introverts before getting into the heart of this post: Empaths. To be clear, an empath can also be an HSP and even an introvert, but not all HSP or introverts are empaths!
A Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), a term coined by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, is someone who has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment. Refer to Dr. Aron's website where you will find an extensive array of information on highly sensitive people, and even find a link to a test you can take to find out if you fall into this category.
An introvert, a term with varying definitions, is defined by Merriam-Webster as someone whose personality is characterized by introversion: a typically reserved or quiet person who tends to be introspective and enjoys spending time alone. Obviously, this is a very broad definition, and based on this definition we can all be introverts from time to time. If you want to know more about being an introvert, just google it and you'll find tons of information!
Now to the heart of this post: Being an Empath. If you google 'empath' you'll find an array of interesting definitions:
- Oxford Languages defines an empath as a person with a paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.
-Healthline.com defines an empath as someone with the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others outside of their own perspective.
-Merriam Webster defines an empath as someone who experiences the emotions of others; a person who has empathy for others.
-Cambridge English Dictionary defines an empath as someone who has an unusually strong ability to feel other people's emotional or mental states.
You can see from these definitions that some think being an empath is paranormal or supernatural!! To those who aren't empaths and don't fully understand it -- our abilities can, at times, seem paranormal or supernatural. However, if you're just trying to figure out whether you are or aren't an empath some of these definitions could create more stress and confusion than relief!
Here's my favorite definition of an empath and the one I subscribe to: an empath is someone with intuitive and often psychic abilities, who feels other people's feelings, often sensing and feeling the emotions of others as if they are part of their own experience. This goes beyond just 'sensing' someone's mood or having empathy for another. Empaths can actually feel the energy, emotions, and pain of others as if it were their own emotions, energy, and pain. This can make it difficult for empaths to decipher between their own feelings and that of others. Like highly sensitive people, empaths also have extraordinarily sensitive nervous systems and sensory abilities, noticing subtle cues, others often miss. This definition comes from a compilation of definitions given by Lisa Campion, Dr. Elaine Aron, and Dr. Judith Orloff.
Lisa Campion, one of my teachers and mentors, has been a professional psychic, reiki master, and healer for over 20 years. She wrote an absolutely phenomenal book called, Energy Healing for Empaths. Dr. Elaine Aron, who I mentioned above, researches highly sensitive people, and Dr. Judith Orloff, psychiatrist, empath, intuitive, and best-selling author is sometimes referred to as the 'godmother of the empath movement'. Each of these three individuals has a plethora of information and resources for empaths, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I highly recommend the book 'Energy Healing for Empaths'! It is so informative and chalked full of tips and tools to help empaths manage their sensitivity.
Being an empath and having that sensitive nervous system means we can also experience physical and/or emotional repercussions from being so in tune with others. This can often manifest into physical or mental ailments, such as panic attacks, general anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, auto-immune diseases, and many other issues. The reason for these health issues is that without knowing how to clear and release the energies we sponge up on a daily basis they get stuck in our systems and contribute to these and other health issues. This is not to say that you should not see a medical professional if you are experiencing any of the above health issues or have other health issues/concerns. This is just perhaps an alternative explanation or an accompanying explanation to why you may be experiencing health issues. Always, always consult a medical professional for physical and mental health issues.
It's not easy being an empath and many share the experience of feeling that their sensitivity is more of a curse than a gift or blessing. I definitely felt this way when I was younger and still trying to figure out how to live as an empath. As I mentioned above, when you don't have the necessary tools to help you manage this, it can be overwhelming, scary, and life-controlling.
An empath's intuitive, psychic or sixth sense abilities, are typically heightened. We are strongly connected to animals and nature - both of which can help us to replenish and recharge our energy when we feel drained and depleted. Empaths are also human lie detectors! We know when someone is lying to us or not telling us the whole story. How do we know? Well, we can just feel it and we know. Empaths also tend to be very connected to lunar cycles and weather events - oftentimes having trouble sleeping on New and Full Moons and being able to physically sense when a storm is going to happen before it hits. We can also be affected by solar flares and atmospheric frequency and pressure changes. All of which can lead to headaches, low energy, and inconsistent sleep patterns – to name a few! Empaths are kind, giving, caring, and compassionate people; we are born healers, and helping others makes us happy – really happy, even when it comes at the expense of our own well-being. The trick is for us to learn how to use and manage our gifts so we can help others without negatively affecting ourselves in the process.
Let's briefly discuss the terms psychic and intuitive to help you understand a bit more about this facet of being an empath. I believe as do many others that psychic and intuitive abilities are available to all of us. Everyone is born with intuitive abilities; some are just better at recognizing and using these abilities than others. Much like the fact that every one of us can sing, but not all of us are good at it!
Have you ever had a hunch or a knowing about something that you couldn't have intellectually known, but that later came true? Sure, you have, we all have from time to time! Maybe this isn't something that happens a lot for you, or maybe it is. That's your intuitive abilities at work. And just like singing, if we want, we can learn to hone and improve our intuitive abilities. There's an overwhelming amount of information about psychics, psychic ability, and intuition on the internet. For now, I just want to touch on the psychic clairs - the avenues our intuition uses to communicate with us.
There are four main clair senses: clairvoyant, claircognizant, clairsentient, and clairaudient. There are other less mainstream clairs as well: clairgustance, clairsalience, clairempathy, clairintellect, and clairtangency. See the below photo from reikilifestyle.com for simple definitions of each clair. Empaths can also be skilled at mediumship, but that's a post for another time!
Empaths, even if they aren't consciously aware, automatically have clairsentience and clair-empathy as an ability. It's just part of the package of being an empath. Clairvoyance and clairaudience are the most well-known abilities. Clairvoyance is the ability to see with your mind's eye or physical eye, what others can't see, and clairaudience is the ability to hear messages in your mind that seemingly come from outside of your own thinking mind. An example of this would be you're driving and perhaps not paying close attention and suddenly you hear 'STOP!' very loudly in your mind. You look up and instinctively brake, stopping immediately, and just missing an accident with the car in front of you. This is the Universe, God, Goddess, your spirit guides, guardian angels, or ancestors - whatever name/s you which to call it - speaking directly to you via your intuition. With the example above, there are just as many people who may 'hear' the message but for whatever reason choose to ignore it. The accident happens and life moves on from there with whatever consequences arise from the accident. The important thing to remember is that we will always be given the message we need, it is up to us to decide whether we listen and take action or simply ignore it. This is the grand design of free will. And thank goodness for free will, because without it we wouldn't have the opportunities to learn the lessons we came here to learn. Some lessons are harder than others, but they all provide us with the opportunity for growth if we choose to learn. But I digress a little...back to the topic at hand.
When you're still learning to manage being an empath, these psychic/intuitive abilities can just add to that constant feeling of overwhelm. If you feel like you want to learn more about intuition and psychic abilities, or you're feeling like you may have one or more of the clairs listed above, it's a good idea to find a healer or teacher who can help you understand and work with these gifts. There is obviously a ton of information on the internet, but it's so helpful to be able to speak directly with and learn from someone who knows what you're talking about and likely has or is experiencing some of the same things you are. If this is something you’d like to dive deeper into and you’re not sure where to start, contact me. I’d be happy to provide reputable resources.
As an empath, we naturally absorb individual and environmental energies unconsciously. We're like giant sponges soaking up all these random energies that don't belong to us. This particular aspect of being an empath can be the most difficult and can make life pretty unpleasant. Because we have this spongey nature, empaths not only need but cherish alone time. This is one tool we can intentionally use to help us recharge and replenish. This is where the aspect of introversion appears for empaths. Spending time alone can be a key tool for helping to replenish and recharge our energy resources so we can continue to function.
As a side note, empaths can also be extroverts! Even though a vast majority of empaths would more readily identify as being introverted or at the very least with introverted tendencies, a significant minority of empaths are extroverted. Since I am more introverted, I won’t go into too much detail here, however, below are a few things that an extroverted empath could identify with:
-You feel alive around others, but mostly in small groups
-You are very choosy about who you spend your time with
-You are very choosy about what you spend time doing
-You experience swings of energy – this is because an extroverted empath replenishes their energy via contact with others, but then on the flip side still absorbs energy like all empaths. This can create the swings in energy.
-You like to plan things in advance, and you need to feel free
-You have a not-so-secret creative side that you enjoy expressing
The thing is, empaths can, at varying times in their lives, have or identify with introverted or extroverted tendencies. I have noticed that the more I find and use tools to help me keep my energy replenished and keep me from constantly sponging up energies everywhere I go, the more I am able to express some extroverted tendencies – to a degree! But I’m still much more inclined to stay home on a Friday night, in my jammies, with my favorite take-out and movie, snuggling on the couch with my dog!
Tools for Empaths:
Below are a few of the tools I use on a daily basis to help me manage being an empath. The most important things we have to learn as empaths are how to clear, replenish/recharge and protect our aura/energy field. Clearing, recharging - so we aren't always working with completely empty tanks - and protecting our energy fields are truly essential to thriving as an empath. There are several ways we can do these things, and many of these tools overlap in how they can help us, so our intention for using them is an important piece.
-Sacred smoke is a fast and easy way to clear your energy. You can use any kind of incense or smudge sticks you feel drawn to using. There are so many kinds available these days. You can also make your own smudge sticks using specific herbs. Sacred smoke helps to cleanse not only our energy field but the environment where it is burned. If you live or work somewhere where burning candles or incense is prohibited, you can use essential oils for this same purpose. You can use an essential oil blend made into a spray or that can be used in a diffuser.
-Essential oils and crystals, used together or separately, also help in clearing, recharging, and protecting our energy field depending on the oils and crystals used. Essential oils can be used on the body or in a diffuser. Crystals can be worn as jewelry, put in pockets, purses, briefcases, or cars; placed on desks, or put in various rooms of your home. An extremely useful crystal to have in your home or office is a Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp. It helps to keep the energy of the room where it is placed clear of negativity. It can also increase energy levels, improve sleep and your mood, and help in reducing stress. Some other useful crystals for clearing include Black Tourmaline and Amethyst. Black Tourmaline transmutes and releases negative energies and helps in clearing all unwanted energies from your energy field and environment; Amethyst helps promote a sense of calm, dispels negativity, and attracts positive energy. I keep black tourmaline and amethyst crystals on my nightstand, next to my bed.
-Salt and water are other great cleansing and clearing tools. Take a shower or bath and use salt to cleanse and clear your physical body and aura. You can incorporate essential oils and crystals into a shower or bath ritual too. Water, salt, crystals, and essential oils all have healing, clearing, protecting, and purifying properties. While bathing visualize the water, salt, and essential oils (or whatever combination you're using) washing the days' energy grime, stress, or anxiety off you and flowing down the drain back to earth to be composted. If you chose to incorporate crystals into your bathing routine, make sure to use crystals that are safe to get wet, or you can simply place the crystals around your bath (not in it) or place them in your bathroom on the counters away from the water.
-As mentioned above, salt, essential oils, and crystals all have protective properties depending on the oils or crystals used. An important tip to remember is that in order to keep a solid and steady protection barrier around us, we must maintain a feeling of being grounded. This can sometimes be quite difficult for empaths. A few super easy ways to get or stay grounded is to be out in nature. Weather permitting, you can walk barefoot on grass or the earth, sit near or under a tree, or go outside and garden. Hematite and Fluorite both have protective and grounding properties, and they also help strengthen the aura.
Without creating a protective barrier around us and our energy field we are susceptible to sponging up energies everywhere we go, leaving us feeling exhausted, cranky, stressed, and overwhelmed. So, protection is super important for an empath.
-Another protective technique I recently learned from my Shamanic teacher, Deb-Fates Mental, is to visualize or imagine your entire body covered in a blue color coating -- kind of like what the Blue Man Group looks like! From head to toe and everywhere in between imagine this blue coating creating a barrier between you and the world. You can hold the intention that this blue coating will keep out all negative energies and allow only positive, loving, supportive energies to penetrate the barrier. I especially like this visualization because it’s so easy to do! If I’m running late in the morning and don’t have time to do my morning meditation practice, I can do this visualization in my car while waiting at a stoplight, at a coffee shop while waiting for my coffee order, or at the grocery store as I’m walking around getting my groceries. You don’t always have to sit for mediation to utilize these visualization tools! Many of them are or can be adapted to your situation – and that’s what I love about them.
Each of the above techniques is easy to do and can be done in a matter of minutes.
-Being in nature, soaking up the Sun, being around animals, spending time alone, being near natural running water, receiving energy healing, and meditation are all useful tools for replenishing our energy when we've become depleted. When we are depleted, it can be almost impossible to stay grounded or to keep a solid protective barrier around us. So, replenishing/recharging is crucial and not to be overlooked. I emphasize this because as empaths we tend to always put ourselves last. It’s part of our giving nature, however, I’m sure you’ve heard the airline stewards explaining how it’s vital to put your own mask on first before helping anyone else! Why? Because when we run out of oxygen – when we’re depleted and running on empty – it can be very difficult to help others fully as we so happily love doing. You must pour from a full teapot to fill up another’s cup.
-Another really helpful tool is to receive energy healing and/or bodywork from a trusted practitioner. This can be massage, cranial-sacral, somatic, reiki, crystal healing, angel healing, or any other energy healing modality that calls to you. Energy healing and bodywork help refresh, restore, and protect your aura or energy field. It’s also helpful in balancing your chakras or energy centers, making the practice of clearing, replenishing, protecting, and grounding easier to do.
I hope you found this to be informative and helpful. If you think you're an empath or sensitive and you'd like more help learning how to manage being an empath, click here to learn more about the services I offer and how to book a remote or in-person session with me.
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And if you like the idea of using essential oils and crystals as tools to help you along in your journey, visit my online store for more product information, or head to The Healing Sisterhood for information on how to pick up various healing and spiritual tools in person, for those living in or near Henderson, NV. You can also reach out to me with any questions at email@example.com.
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