My 100th post on my blog!
Picture: AP Photo/Jens Meyer
Being an empath is not always fun. As a child, I could never hurt anyone or anything. I could feel their pain myself and took it into my body and heart. It was pretty hard to navigate life under those parameters. When someone got sick, I felt their illness and if they were depressed or emotionally in pain, I felt that too. It led me to a place of retreat and solitude, where I could simply be myself, but that took a long time to figure out.
When I got married, I took on my husband’s depression. It wasn’t until after my divorce, I realized that a lot of the depression I suffered in life was not my own. Having children was especially difficult because as a mother you not only don’t want to SEE your children suffer, you ENDURE their suffering too. I’ve had to remind myself many times through their growing up that their illnesses and disappointments were not my own. How can you be an effective parent and help your child when you become mired in their own pain?
Walking into a room you feel all the diverse energies of the people inhabiting it. That couple fighting in the corner. The person who looks at you with envy or malice or jealousy. The drunk; the depressed; the person who judges everyone else. It’s all there, swirling in your mind and heart.
When I made my living as a dog groomer, I felt the fear and sometimes abject terror of my four legged clients. This made it exceedingly difficult to force grooming upon them. Their fear was my fear.
As I got older, I took on the suffering of the world. And there is plenty of suffering to go around. I am especially vulnerable to the suffering of animals and children and feel that intensely.
As I matured and began to study metaphysics, I became aware of the fact that I was an empath, and that awareness in and of itself is helpful. I learned to protect myself and to see the fine line between my emotions and the emotions of others. I learned to disconnect myself so that I could be an effective healer and counselor. I learned to allow others the gift of their own suffering which could lead them to spiritual growth in leaps and bounds. I discovered that it just wasn’t my job to heal all the ills in the world. It was my job to help individuals that came to me with a sincere interest in healing and forward movement to create a life that is fulfilling and joyous.
Intellectually understanding other’s pain is helpful to a healer, but the greatest benefit comes from having felt their pain. Empathy is ultimately a gift. Empathy makes you a better person. You feel the pain of the person who is being marginalized, discriminated against, homeless, hopeless. You begin to realize that they are no different than you are. They feel, they love, and they bleed. You develop a reverence for all life because you are able to feel that all life is connected. That all life is sentient in its own way. That suffering is not limited to human beings and neither is love, fear, empathy or joy. All life is connected and similar to a baby’s mobile. If you hit one of the parts of the mobile, the rest of the mobile will respond in movement.
It wasn’t easy, but I think being empathic made me a better person.