Survival Guide for Empaths
Last week I made a confession of a deep, dark secret.
Okay, it’s not so deep and dark, but I’ve never put it out there like that before.
I’m an empath.
If you don’t know what that is, then read this.
Empaths are highly intuitive people who can feel feelings, moods, and attributes of other people’s experiences.
Having this gift can feel like a curse if you don’t know how to process all that comes with it.
Here’s a general idea of the health stages of empath awareness are:
The life of an empath is not easy if that person does not have a deep sense of self-awareness.
Through my journey from low self-awareness to high self-awareness, I’ve learned some survival techniques which I’m sharing with you today.
If you are in a relationship with an empath
People who are in relationships with empaths should work to understand the sensitive nature of their gift and that even though we love to help other people and seem strong as rocks, we can be quite fragile.
It’s important that you, as an empath’s companion, know how to love your partner through learning how to become aware of their gift, their limitations, and need of self-care.
If you are an empath
Be aware that you may be an easy target for people with neurological conditions and can be victimized by them (such as narcissists).
Choose your relationships carefully and know that it’s your right to say no and distance yourself from people when necessary; taking care of your energy level and emotional health should be a priority in your life.
Common misconceptions about empaths
They are extraordinarily weak – actually, they are strong though when they are worn out they have to go into extreme self-care mode which sometimes can seem fragile.
They are extraordinarily strong – just like the previous point… empaths may seem strong as they come to everyone else’s rescue; it’s important to understand they will run out of steam and need more recuperation time than the average person.
They have a mental illness – though they do need to build in more emotional self-care than other people, they possess a gift of connecting with people on a mental and emotional level which is the opposite of illness.
They are self-absorbed – when an empath is in the “eager helper” stage, pride and a self-centric view of the world is part of their truth; however, empaths think much more of others than they do of themselves. When their actions look self-serving, they are not intended to be so.
Empaths are lazy – quite the opposite, in fact. Empaths need more time to recharge because once their emotional gas tank is empty, they have nothing left to give. This leaves them physically exhausted and in need of some serious self-care.
Survival Checklist for Empaths
Empaths experience different reactions from using their gifts or being around toxicity, negativity, and attending to the needs of others.
It’s important to keep a journal of your physical and emotional reactions as well as the related events.
For example, if each time you are around a certain friend and feel completely drained afterward, that person may be toxic for you; perhaps he or she focuses on negativity or acts as a parasite to your endless and generous supply of emotional and physical support.
Through journaling, you’ll be able to make those connections quicker than if you’re just trying to notice things as you go along.
Once you understand your tendencies, the following list of care items and best practices for empaths should help you cope with the incredible gift you have which can often feel like a burden:
- Understand that if self-care is not a priority, your life is going to be a very difficult struggle. Take care of yourself so you can show up at your 100% potential for everyone else.
- Rest is key. Have a regular bedtime and sleep routine. Your circadian rhythm is the core of health for your body.
- Even if you are not an “outside” person, spend time in nature. Give yourself 5-10 minutes outside each day regardless of the weather, and build in the opportunity to commune with nature when you have time off: rest on a beach, hike in the mountains, lie in a grassy field, sit in a swing and read or nap in a hammock.
- Guard your entertainment exposure. Highly sensitive people should be aware that watching violent or highly emotional tv shows or movies can impact their energy; they don’t have to be with someone or even be exposed to a non-fictional situation to be impacted; emotional stress is emotional stress whether fictional or non-fictional.
- Take digital breaks. Online exposure drains everyone more than we actively realize; this is even more important for empaths.
- Set appropriate limits and boundaries. If you are an empath, please take GILD Coaching’s Boundaries Assessment to check the health of yours. Without healthy boundaries, your health in other areas will suffer.
- Schedule time in after activities for your recuperation. This is especially important if you’ve been in public with other people. Give yourself a little “padding” in your schedule to allow a bit of rebound time.
- When you start feeling something negative, take a moment to ask yourself if what you are feeling is actually something that belongs to you, or if you have picked it up from someone else. If you realize it belongs to someone else, it’s easier to release it.
- Take deep breaths. There are loads of reasons we should stop (often) for deep breaths. This is especially important when you hit an emotional snag or start feeling negativity. Use deep nostril breathing to help calm your nerves: in for 6-8 counts, hold for 2, and out for 6-8 counts. During this practice focus only on the counting and sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils, windpipe, and lungs. Repeat this as many times as you need to begin to feel peace, balance, and flow. Using breath as a re-centering tool will be one of your best friends in this journey.
- Use visualization to assist in releasing unwanted tension when you realize you are holding onto things or have received things that did not originate with you. In this blog I discussed a toxic person who I have dismissed from my life. I visualized her holding me in a box, and then me breaking free from the box, leaving her holding the broken pieces. It helped me to disallow her from putting me back in that emotional box.
- Get to know more about what being an empath means. I’ve included a few book recommendations below to get you started.
- Find or create a support system of people who understand what you are going through from a firsthand standpoint: other empaths. Get a coach who can help you develop positive habits and become more in touch with who you are and how to customize your own survival plan, or find a therapist who specializes in guiding empaths.
- Buy some Epsom salts and become friends with your bathtub. Those salts are good for you in many ways. They help your muscles relax by increasing your level of magnesium. Salts infused with essential oils carry additional benefits. Here is a link to my favorite salts – I take at least one salt bath per day. Sometimes I take two!
As an empath who has been from the unhealthy to healthy end of the continuum, I seem to attract people who need guidance in this area, and it’s my honor to give it.
Here’s Some Free Support
If you’re an empath and would like to learn how to better use your gift and take care of yourself in the process, I’d love to talk with you.
GILD also has a free online mastermind group. Click here to request membership.
For empaths & their companions: Empath’s Survival Guide
For companions of empaths: Nonviolent Communication
For empaths at or below the “Eager Helper” stage: The New CoDependency