Empaths: What Are They And How To Deal With Being One
People throw the word “empath” around a lot but there still seems to be some confusion about what, exactly, an empath is. Do they have special powers? Are they energetically disadvantaged? Are they just people with mental problems? There’s even some debate about whether or not empaths should even practice magic because of their state. And with all that confusion about what an empath actually IS, it can be challenging to know if you are one and what you can do about it if you are.
If you’ve been struggling with this concept, are unsure if this term applies to you or not, or are feeling like you don’t know how to handle your empathic abilities then this blog post is for you. Today we’re going to take a deep dive into the inner world of the empath.
What Is An Empath?
Ok, first and foremost we have to actually define what an empath is. At a very basic level, an empath is someone who has highly permeable energy naturally. Rather than having a natural barrier that controls the flow of energy in and out of their system, they live in a state of free flow. Now, this permeability can affect various layers of the energetic body but the most common way this manifests is emotional permeability. Emotionally permeable empaths pick up and hold onto emotions from their surroundings.
As you can imagine, this makes existing around people quite challenging. When your emotional state can be so easily swayed by the people around you, a single day in normal society can feel like a dizzying rollercoaster of emotions. You start your day off feeling good but then your partner is worried about work over breakfast so now you’re feeling anxious for no reason, then during your commute someone on the bus is angry or feeling rushed, now you’re anxious AND agitated, at work your boss is frustrated with someone’s work performance, the barista is sad about her breakup when you pick up your coffee, and the friend you’re grabbing lunch with is feeling conflicted about her boyfriend. Now you’re on a wild ride through every one of these feeling states on top of all of your native emotions.
All of these emotions end up in the empaths energy field and then they get stuck, creating energetic blocks, physical discomfort, and unprovoked emotions. Being an empath in today's high paced, stressful world can be a real headache!
How Do You Know If You Are One?
Figuring out whether or not you’re an empath isn’t difficult. If you’re regularly labeled as “sensitive”, have a tendency to feel emotionally overloaded by your life, and can’t keep your emotions separate from the emotions of people around you, then you’re probably an empath.
Here are a few other ways to know if you’re an empath:
1. You NEED alone time to recharge
Enjoying alone time or wanting to be alone for introspection is one thing, absolutely needing alone time to function in your day to day life is something else entirely. Alone time can definitely be healthy but humans are intrinsically social creatures, together is our default state of being. If it feels to you like alone is your default and something you absolutely, desperately need to return to in between stints of social interaction then you’re probably either suffering from too much energetic permeability or from an inability to be authentic around the people in your life.
Think carefully about whether or not you feel comfortable being yourself with other people or if you feel the need to act a certain way in social settings since labeling yourself an empath when your problem is something else entirely won’t be very helpful to you.
2. You need to control your surroundings and the people in your life as much as possible
One of the ways many empaths handle their feelings of overwhelm is to simply try to micromanage everything in their lives. If you need everything, and everyone, in your life to be just so or you’ll start to lose your grip, it’s time to find some other coping mechanisms. Acknowledge the source of your desire for control and start finding ways to gain control over your experience internally, rather than externally.
3. You can see through people to their true intentions before most other people can
Have you ever immediately disliked someone that everyone else seemed to love and couldn’t quite explain why? Have you ever had your dislike of that person justified weeks or months down the line when that person reveals themselves to be just as untrustworthy as you suspected? This is unsurprisingly quite common for empaths. When you can so easily feel other peoples energy and emotions it becomes apparent fairly quick who is, and isn’t, being genuine.
4. You don’t like crowds (or you love them)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Crowds = lots of people, lots of emotions, and lots of energy and that can spell overwhelm in no time.
On the flip side, if you find that you actually get kind of high off of crowd energy this can also be a sign of being an empath. In the right kind of crowd, taking in a huge amount of energy, elation, happiness, horniness, and whatever else is flying around can absolutely make you feel drunk on energy. This crowd high is likely to be followed with a crash after you remove yourself from the crowd as your system suddenly comes down from the high. Headaches, exhaustion, heavy mood swings, body aches, and sensitivity to light and sound are common.
5. Crystals and herbs feel particularly potent to you, you notice clear and immediate effects
Being energetically permeable can have its upsides. One of these is that your energy system tunes itself to the energies of herbs and crystals very easily making these forms of healing and magic particularly effective for you.
6. Fatigue, either intermittent or chronic, is a problem for you
Sleep is one of the bodies primary defense mechanisms against overwhelm. When life is too stressful, to intense, too MUCH, your system is going to react by making you want to sleep constantly. Whether or not you actually sleep much might be up in the air, for some people this can result in 12 hours a day of sleep, for others, it can manifest as insomnia.
7. You regularly feel that the world is set up in a way that you just aren’t designed to handle
This feeling, despite being incredibly prevalent in modern society, is not healthy or necessary. This is a symptom of feeling out of control, whether that means out of control of your finances, out of control of your relationships, out of control of your health, or in the case of the empath, out of control of your emotions. If you regularly feel like you can’t figure out how to fit into the world, how to create a life that you actually enjoy, or how to control your life in ways that seem easy for other people, then you might be an empath.
While one or two of these symptoms by themselves may not mean that you’re an empath, if you found yourself nodding along with almost every point, chances are good that you are one.
Being An Empath Is Not A Bad Thing
No really, it’s not.
Being an empath without knowing how to deal with it can certainly be hard and confusing and overwhelming but you can learn to work with your energy system rather than against it and achieve a state of health and comfort in your life. When this happens, being an empath comes with some serious perks.
You’re more in tune with yourself mentally and emotionally than most people. This means that you can always tell as soon as anything gets out of whack and fix it ASAP. No letting feelings or problems fester for months, no suddenly crashing after months of gritting your teeth and “being fine”. When something is up, you KNOW.
You’re more in tune with the people around you. This allows you to choose better people for yourself and to be a great friend to the people you do choose to have in your life. It’s easy to know whether someone needs a hug, needs to rant, or needs a distraction when you can feel how they’re feeling.
You’re good at creating peace and cohesion in teams. Since you can feel the energies of everyone involved, you can learn to adjust how teams and groups function and relate to each other to remain peaceful and productive.
You inspire trust in other people naturally. Since you pick up on and respond to other peoples emotions, it’s easy for them to let down their guard around you. When someone feels like their emotional space is recognized and respected they cease to feel as though they have to be on the defense and this can lead to deeper relationships and stronger bonds with other people.
How To Stay Centered When You’re An Empath
All that said, being an empath does take work. Going from an emotionally permeable wreck who doesn’t know how to handle life to a calm, centered, emotionally tuned in empath can take time and it definitely takes effort but it’s well worth the work.
1. Focus on magical hygiene
Magical hygiene should be every empaths' first step. What is magical hygiene? It’s all of the processes we use to keep our energy and the energy around us clear and neutral, i.e. cleansing and grounding.
Create a routine of cleansing and grounding and stick to it. I suggest starting with 5 minutes each of cleansing and grounding exercises every day (or more, if you need it) and cleansing baths at least once a week. Pay attention to how each exercise you try affects you. Many energetically permeable people find that salt cleansing baths are far too harsh and leave them feeling drained and exhausted. Some herbs may not work well with your system. You may find that some grounding exercises leave you feeling drained while others leave you feeling “overcharged” and jittery instead of hitting that cool, calm, collected middle ground.
Pay attention to these things and adjust accordingly.
2. Use protective warding
Every empath needs to use a daily ward of some kind. White light wards are common but use whatever works for you. I like the ward below because it’s simple and the daily momentum builds power quickly.
Daily Protection Ritual
1. Start by finding an item that can encircle you that you won’t mind wearing every day. This can be a necklace, a bracelet, a belt, or even a ring. It is important that you’re comfortable wearing it EVERY day though! In a pinch, you can also just tie a length of yarn around your ankle as well.
2. Every day when you wake up, put your item on and as you do hold the intention that it will protect you from harm. You can say an incantation out loud, visualize the item creating a shield around you, or simply hold the thought in your mind.
3. Wear the item any time you are out of the house (if your house is protected) or if you’re traveling or can’t ward your living space, wear it all the time and only take it off while showering to give you a chance to put it back on again afterward.
4. Every time you put your necklace or other item on, you will be increasing the strength of the spell. After even just a week this provides you with ample protection that will only continue to grow stronger as you continue repeating it.
Journaling is an overall healthy habit but it can help to drain out some of the excess energy and emotions that you pick up during the day, as well as keeping your emotions and the emotions of others separate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I would suggest starting with a few pages of emotional word-vomit. Just let all of the feelings out onto paper, it can be messy, it can be crude, and it can be incorrect. Allow yourself to use profanity as much as you want, use short sentences, change topics on a dime, and throw grammar out the window. Just write anything and everything that you’re feeling and get it out.
After you’ve exhausted that part of yourself, try some more exploratory journaling, digging into the thoughts, feelings, and day to day events that are sticking with you to help you process and understand your inner workings better.
4. Learn to put yourself first
This is an absolute must. Your energy is too permeable because you do not have any personal boundaries. You let people walk all over you, don’t speak up for yourself, don’t listen to your feelings, and just generally disrespect your wants, needs, and desires. You have got to cut this out. If you don’t want to be in public anymore then go home. If you don’t want to be around someone then get away from them. If you don’t feel good then listen to that. If you want someone to stop doing something then say it.
Give yourself permission to put yourself first! You have to learn to create space for yourself in this world or you will continue to be so energetically permeable that you can hardly function forever. Yes, the negative effects of being an empath are completely reversible if you simply learn how to respect your wants and desires and make space for them in your life by communicating them to other people and protecting them when need be.
Being an empath is not a bad thing but neither is it a solution to all of your problems. Suddenly realizing you’re an empath and implementing these steps will help but the best solution to many of these problems is generally to take a multifaceted approach. Yes, you should absolutely work to help yourself as an empath on an energetic and emotional level but you should also be helping yourself mentally by seeking out the support of mental health professionals, and physically by taking care of your health with good food, exercise, and the help of a doctor. You are a being with many layers and each facet of yourself deserves care and respect!