Originally published May 21, 2015 and updated June 3, 2017
Most children are empaths. Many people are empaths and sometimes this is a matter of degree. If we begin to think as the empathic ability as a continuum then sometimes people are highly empathic – highly sensitive and sometimes less empathic perhaps due to circumstance and/or better boundaries. However in every social group there may be one or more empaths that may function as checks for both conscious and unconscious emotional patterns within a particular group.
A client who was an empath asked me how she could keep out “bad energy” or “negative feelings”. How could she protect herself? This is a good question. No one who is an empath stays in a feeling place all the time. We go into our intellect as a way of protecting ourselves from the suffering of the world and from our own suffering.
Emotion is analogous to flowing water.
No one can stay in the heart one hundred percent of the time without breaking down. The best parts of ego allow us to balance emotions with the intellect. It is possible for an empath, stuck in fear for example, to begin to rationalize judge and exclude others shifting themselves from the heart into the mind and using the intellect as a fortress against emotions. A person overwhelmed with emotion could be fearful, defensive and react in anger if they are unaware of the empathic abilities. Other empaths may seem to attract nothing but negative energy from others (see Shadowcatchers below) and this may originate from being scapegoated as a child and accepting the role as an adult. Balancing mind and emotions requires attention and the use of thinking to identify emotions in others and our selves. Once we engage the mind to identify emotions we can develop a plan of action to help us cope with others’ feelings (see example below).
Most people who are empathic sponges would like to keep bad stuff out and let only the good stuff in, that’s only natural.
The best defense for empaths is flow.
Let it flow through you. A metaphor for flow of emotions is a fast flowing stream, waterfall or river. Emotion is the empaths currency. Emotion appears, we sometimes process it and then it goes. Empaths ability to feel others’ emotions and identify these emotions can be developed into a skill and can trigger responses in empaths that remind us of woundings from the past. As soon as you realize you are triggered remind yourself that you wouldn’t be able to recognize the trigger unless you were ready to deal with it.
If the empath can answer these questions when feeling others’ emotions then protection becomes simplified somewhat:
- Does this feeling I’m feeling belong to me? (Does it originate with me?)
- If YES, decide whether to deal with it in current time or postpone it until you can deal with it.
- If NO, then either let it flow through you quickly and ground it down into Molten Core of Earth, or offer it to be burnt up in the sun, or create a column of light to the left or right of you and put the emotion or set of emotions in the column of light.
- If MAYBE, it’s likely that the emotions that you’re feeling are similar emotions than the persons or persons producing them and you have lessons to learn here or you feel triggered. Ask that Spirit separate your feelings from the others and then deal with the feelings from the others as you would in #3 and /or in #1.
Many times the four-question method above may not be possible. When we encounter others’ emotions we may be overwhelmed with their emotions. Their emotions may trigger similar emotions in us. Part of our abilities as empaths is recognizing the common threads of emotion that bond humans together. Two common emotions that humans feel are grief and love. Feeling love in another or in others feels good. Feeling grief can be problematic. Part of the problem is that grief can spawn feelings such as sadness, anger / rage and these can turn into depression sometimes. Recognizing when you are triggered and dealing with the trigger is a first step at diffusing overwhelming emotions.
There can be two kinds of empaths for the purposes of this piece. If you are reading this and feel you are an empath then you are on the path of a Conscious Empath. However there are unconscious empaths. These people become overwhelmed without knowing the reasons and sometimes blame others or become depressed. Their childhood traumas may be so complicated and their self-images so solid with walls instead of boundaries that their empathic abilities overwhelm them and prevent them from seeing triggers. They cannot process the overwhelming emotional onslaught without help. Usually some of these people feel they don’t need help.
You may also be a Shadowcatcher.
You may be a magnet for others shadows. Shadowcatchers may be absorbers of others unconscious projections. Essentially a shadowcatcher feels the shadow of another or shadows from groups. I noticed this when I was a participant in a healing circle. The facilitator asked for loving and healing energies from the group through coming forward – for a laying-on of hands or from our spot in the circle. Immediately I felt a surge of resentment and anger that was overwhelming. It happened many times until I realized what I was feelings was not coming from me. And as soon as I grounded it out I felt the love and was able to participate in the healing circle.
Sensitive people always attract less sensitive people to them especially if one or both parties are not conscious of their sensitivities. In psychology this is called Projective Identification. Our culture often brands sensitive people as “weak” when in fact the opposite is true. I grew up in a stiff upper-lip Yankee family where tears were rarely shed. My Mother would shame me for my tearful behaviors by saying – “You’re too sensitive.” Often it was she who was projecting feelings onto me that I could express and then she would shame me for having done so because she did not want to acknowledge the feelings in herself. When sensitive people become aware of their sensitivities and can name their feelings and take responsibility for them with “I feel” statements then merely on the psychological basis feelings can be owned and the blame/shame game can be reduced.
If you are an empath that becomes infected with the shadows of others and these shadows blend with your emotions, then problems can become severely compounded. As a child and survivor of ritual sexual abuse that had been repressed I was severely depressed and passively suicidal for all of my teen years. When the memories of abuse began surfacing in my 40s I was able to begin to deal with the feelings and slowly work through the most arduous territories of the abuse. Every person on the planet has grown-up in a dysfunctional family to one degree or another. If you played the role of an empath in your family and that particular family was highly dysfunctional and negative then its likely that you may be carrying your family shadow and are acting out what had been passed on to you. There are three paths of approach that may help with your healing:
- A daily spiritual practice that includes working on developing a non-judgmental and compassionate observed of your behaviors, thoughts and emotions (feelings)
- A visit to a healer to assist in removing possible ancestral beings stuck in your electromagnetic field.
I have been engaged in a daily spiritual practice for over 40 years and more intensely during the flashbacks of the abuse.
 The range of empathic abilities: https://lonerwolf.com/what-type-of-empath-are-you/
 Shadowcatchers in psychological terms: http://drs-oleary.com/Projective_Identification.htm