If you are an empath or highly sensitive person, you are familiar with the feeling like you have “taken on” the energy of others or “absorbed” other people’s emotions. This is because we are more energetically porous- more open- more perceptive and just generally more empathetic.
This trait is beautiful when you know how to navigate it, it can make you a better friend, listener, creative, intuitive, etc. But for so many of us it feels draining, exhausting, confusing… it can make you want to crawl in a hole and never come out!
At the end of the day we can feel all clogged up with energetic “gunk”, and it’s hard to tell what feelings are even ours! It becomes challenging to set boundaries, and it can often lead to self destructive behaviors to numb out from the pain and overwhelm of it all.
Naturally, many of us search for a “cure” for our sensitivity, or a way to shut it off. Believe me, I’ve been there!! And some days…. I regress. It is hard, and there is a lot of information out there about “protecting” and “shielding” ourselves as HSPs. These tools can be very valuable, but not when used in isolation. So I have a bit of a different perspective on “handling” our sensitive nature that I believe is vital to practice FIRST, before any protective measures.
The important thing to remember is that the trick is not to close yourself off to the world but to increase your awareness and self care. You don’t want to “shut down” your sensitivity because it is beautiful! It is a divine gift and it was given to you for a reason. You are not meant to shut yourself away from the world and turn off your big, loving, empathetic heart. The world needs that from you. So what can you do instead?
As an HSP, you WILL pick up others emotions and energies. It is just a part of who you are- you have to accept that it is your genetic nature to do so. What you resist persists. The more energy you spend on trying to make it different, hide it, or run from it, the more energy you waste that could be spent on quality self-care. Because that is what is going to help you the most. You may not be able to stop it from happening, but you CAN lessen it greatly and learn how to handle it better and faster when it does happen. Which leads to #2.
2. Know yourself
The more we know who we are the more we become rooted and grounded in our truth, our core values, and what’s important to us as a person. And the more rooted and grounded we are, the less we are going to be whipped around by the winds of others emotions. The more that you are in tune with what your true energy feels like, the quicker you will be able to notice when you are out of it; when you are “off” or picking up somebody else’s energy. You want to work on building a really strong center.
So how can you do that? The most important thing is quiet time with yourself. As HSPs, we care for others deeply and put so much investment into our relationships with others. But really ask yourself how much time and energy you are putting into your relationship with yourself!? It IS a relationship and it does need to be nurtured like any other. But we rarely think of it that way.
Start looking at how much time are you spending with yourself. Especially as highly sensitive souls we NEED that down time to process and thrive. So what are you doing on a day to day basis to really check in with yourself, let yourself hear the voice of your inner guide, give yourself some space? Where can you build in time for mediation, journaling, rest?
These are the things that will help you start building a stronger center- brick by brick, so you are less likely to be knocked around by energetic weather. Cultivate a relationship with yourself, get to know yourself. What does your true energy feel like when you haven’t been around crap all day? When you’re happy, rested, centered? When do you feel the most you? Tap into these things. Prioritize getting to know yourself. Because then, when you are in a negative environment, or around something sad or disturbing, you will notice so much faster when you are absorbing that which is not yours.
This one is SO important! Think of how often you go through your entire day and don’t tune into how you’re feeling until the evening? You come home, finally take a breath, and all of a sudden it hits you- “OMG”- you’re exhausted, you’re drained, you’re overwhelmed. It feels awful. However, if you start a practice of checking in with yourself throughout the day, you can avoid some of that energetic build-up that happens.
So you can set an alarm on your phone or computer for a few times a day. An “energetic check-in”. Jolt yourself out of your routine. Ask yourself, “how am I feeling right now?”, “what do I need in this moment?”, “is this feeling even MINE? Or did I pick it up somewhere?”. And the stronger your relationship with yourself, the quicker and louder you will hear these responses. “Oh, I was around that group that was fighting earlier- no wonder I feel this way!” or “I could really use some tea and a walk right now”, etc.
Once you have begun a daily commitment to steps 1-3, you will start to notice things shifting. Even if ever so slightly in the beginning. And then other “protecting” and “shielding” methods will work so much better in conjunction with your newfound connection to your truth and inner guide.
You can start to play with things like setting an intention at the beginning of the day (our thoughts are so much more powerful than we give them credit for) “God (or whatever resonates with you) help me to not pick up others negativity throughout this day. Help me to notice when I am out of alignment with myself and quickly recalibrate my own emotional balance.”
You can image yourself “bubbling up” or “zipping up” your space throughout the day. You can use exercise to move stagnant energy through your body. And journaling is a powerful tool you can use to make sense of what sometimes feels like a jumbled mess in your head. Even a 5 minute free write at the end of the day can help you untangle the energetic strings and feel clear.
So with all of this, do I still absorb other’s emotions? Sure- remember, I’m a sensitive gal through and through. But I’m a STRONG sensitive. And when I do pick up on those emotions, it’s so much faster and easier for me to recognize and clear them. Because I am make a commitment to “filling myself” with my own energy and values and spirituality and worth. And I’m really solid in that. And so I can feel and see the energetic tides, but not always be swept away by them.
I want this for you too. To commit to having better relationship with self. To cultivate that awareness throughout day. So that you will get stronger and stronger. And when your spongy, loving, beautiful, amazing, compassionate, empathic heart starts to take in the emotions of others- it will be so much easier for you to recognize them, release them, and move on with your day.