Step Away

One of the hardest things that I have learned as an empath is to step away. It is a form of self-preservation and self-protection. But it is counterintuitive to an empath. We are the ones that are supposed to step in, right? We are the ones that are supposed to sit by your side, right?

The answer is yes….until it is no….in some cases. It’s with the person who courts a lot of drama in their lives or with the person who will not change self-destructive behavior that the empath needs to move away from. We cannot be present forever in these situations. And when it becomes too painful to be a participant in a scene that replays itself over and over again, we need to step away and not go back.

The problem is that you don’t know this situation until your are in the thick of it. We empaths gravitate toward intense people. Some are healthy and some are not. Some are healing and working to be healthy and some are not. We are in it with you when you are growing and healing. We are in it all the way holding your hand and feeling what you feel. It is exhausting, but we believe in you. And it is a bit shocking to us when we sometimes have to realize that you are addicted to the bad drama or the bad behavior that is bad for you and bad for us. When we see that no change is coming (probably ever), then we need to be gone. It is too painful for an empath to be close to someone who is slowly killing themselves and not be able to stop them.

The biggest challenge in this kind of situation is when you have to step away from a family member who is still there. You may move away, you may have minimal contact, but you can’t get all the way away (especially if other family members don’t “get it”). My advice is to find someone to support you because you’re gonna need it. And trust your gut, and pray for strength. Then give yourself permission to step away.

Expect the Unexpected

Expect the unexpected. As children, we do this naturally. The world is full of wonder. It is exciting and unpredictable. New experiences are around every corner.  And we are open inside to embrace them. And as children, we don’t mind some mystery in our daily existence. We accept it as a part of life.

Adulthood has a different tenor. Predictability takes center stage. We create it. We nurture it. We sustain it.

I am not saying that predictability is bad. It isn’t. It’s a long road in this world to achieve stability (especially for an empath). What I am suggesting though is that stability can include the predictable and the unpredictable. The expected and unexpected can co-exist as twin flames, as yin and yang. And understanding and embracing both experiences leads to a fuller participation in this world.

Who helped me to embrace the unexpected well into adulthood? A cat. Yes, a little black kitten came into my life, and she developed a special talent. She leaps on you. Out of the blue. From a distance. From behind, from above, from below. Sometimes even a quiet running down the hall and jumping leap. She always lands on your shoulder or upper back. Good aim. Scared and surprised me the first time that it happened. But now I can smile because I see the lesson behind the leap. She helps me expect the unexpected, literally – helps me stay grounded and tuned in to my environment – two traits that this empath needs to be reminded of. And I recognize that some surprise pounces can add a little zip to my day.

Expecting the unexpected leads to awareness and can also lead to growth and creativity.

Creativity cannot flourish if we keep seeing only the things we expect to see. If we want to be creative, we must keep ourselves surprised; we must embrace uncertainty and actively look for the unexpected.           ~ Lidor Wyssocky

My cat sees adventure around every corner. And when we expect the unexpected, we see it too.

We Laugh, Too

So I can feel what you feel. Just by being next to you. And here is the upside. I can feel your joy. I can sense your happiness. I can melt into your laughter. We can explode with mirth. And that is when it is a complete pleasure to be an empath.

Many empaths and highly sensitive people express how hard life can be to be constantly bombarded by other’s emotions. It is so. Sadness runs deep. Anger is overwhelming. When it’s your own. When it’s someone else’s, you can’t even dissipate or resolve it; you’re just sitting shotgun for the car ride. It is tough and exhausting, no doubt.

That being said and fully acknowledged, there are also times for empaths and HSPs where riding shotgun in the car is pure joy! It is an adventure of spirit with another person who is brave enough to ride along with you, oh intense one.

I have had the times of my life when I trusted the moment, trusted the companion, and went with the new experience. Yes, empaths can have fun, be fun, and enjoy the moment to the fullest. It is hard to express to others what it feels like for an empath to completely share joy with another person. It is like putting a magnifying glass to a feeling and dancing in the magnified light. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I have found that being in a new and beautiful place also intensifies the joyous experience. (Ok, I know, empaths can be intensity junkies!) To take in the new and wondrous together, to feel it with another…wow. Pick your own destination, but I like Nature as the perfect backdrop. Beauty and surroundings that touch all our senses enhance our bliss even further.

Moving through new landscapes by foot or by wheel, stopping at times to breathe it all in and capture the moment, brightens your soul. I can feel my light of joy growing inside, and I can feel yours too. For the shared moment, we are twin lights. And we shine brighter together in this shared joyful experience.

To Grow, Not to Sort

Labels. We all have them. We all use them. They are helpful. Until they are not. I’m not talking about the labels on things. I’m talking about the labels we put on people, and the labels people put on us.

Don’t think you have any? You do. We all do. Start with your family. Are you the middle child? The oldest? The youngest? The only? That’s probably label number one. Then are you the smart one? The funny one? The pretty one? The flaky one? The dependable one? Etc. Then come the school labels. Hard worker or slacker? Gifted or slow? Athletic or non? Good test taker or not? Etc. Friend labels next. Good listener or know-it-all? Giver or taker? Fun or not? Quiet or loud? Etc. Then there are occupational labels, medical labels, special interest labels. Etc.

Want to know a secret? There are very few forever labels. Unlike the ingredients on products, the labels on people can change. Because people can grow. We are not stagnant. We change. And we have the power to make our own determinations about what a label means for us. We can live up to it, live down to it, or get rid of it altogether. The key is not to let a label limit you. Embrace the labels that help you find your place in the world and grow. Discard the misnomers others may throw at you.

Labels may be universal or specific. Labels can narrow your view to self limiting or can widen your gaze and broaden your compassion. They can also connect you with others who are like you. The web is full of pages and people to learn from, and it all starts with the label or topic you type in. Do you see where I am going with this? Use your labels to grow, not to sort. Use labels to connect, not to disconnect.

We can adopt and discard labels as we grow and change. Our families, our jobs, our health, our homes, our world views, our inner lives, our special interests will grow and change. We will self-define differently, and labels can give us an outward starting place for connection, investigation, and exploration. They also can give us a starting point for understanding and compassion toward others. And sensitivity and compassion are signs of being an empath. Empath. Now, that’s a label I like.