If You’re Tired, Rest

“If you are tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy.

Resting and quitting are not the same thing, though our society often sends us the message that they are. Rest is necessary. Rest is rejuvenating. Rest is a valuable part of life. Resting is actually the opposite of quitting – it is filling you up so that you can accomplish your goals. So do it. It is okay to take a break (long or short) from the demands of life. Your body will thank you for it. Your emotional well being will thank you for it. Your family, friends, and colleagues will notice your improved disposition and your better attention to tasks.

4 Lessons to keep in mind: Lesson #1 – no one will tell you to take a break, you just have to take one. Lesson #2 – people will usually help you IF YOU ASK. Lesson #3 – let go of guilt – you can’t do everything all the time. Lesson #4 – it will be okay – disaster will not strike because you took some time out.

So you need some rest, and you need a break, but how can you actually get one? You have a very busy life. No worries. Rest breaks can be short or long. They are meant to be refreshing, not something else added to your to do list. Here are some suggestions that will lesson stress and lead to rest:

1. Breathe. Remember three good things in your life.

2.  Pray – overwhelmed? Lift it up to a higher power.

3.  Stop and walk away. (It’s okay to hide out in the bathroom quietly or step out on the porch alone.)

4. Control your to do lists. (When I reach 10 things on a list, I throw the list away and make a shorter one.)

5. Laugh! Laughter relaxes your whole body.

6. Hang out with your pets; they make you laugh. Cuddle up for a nap together.

7. Say no. (There is actually someone else who WANTS to do the thing that you don’t want to do.)

8. Tell your partner and ask for help so you can rest.

9. Play music that expresses your feelings or how you want to feel.

10. Sleep. Nap. Go to bed earlier. Rested body = rested mind = ready for the day.

Rest is doing something. It is not doing nothing. So if you’re tired, rest.

 

You Fill Up My Senses*

Highly sensitive people have highly sensitive senses. Makes sense? Of course.

We know we have 5 senses. (I’m not including our psychic senses here – that is a topic for another day.) We know that sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell are the basic five senses. Empaths and HSPs feel the outside world amplified, so it makes sense that we have heightened sensory experiences.

Let me ask you —– Do you smell things that others can’t smell? Do sounds and music strongly affect you? Do you have zero tolerance for itchy fabrics? Are there certain foods that you can’t put in your mouth without fear of puking? Do visual images cause very real feelings for you? (And are you sensitive to temperatures, too?)

Though some senses may be more sensitive than others, if you are an empath or HSP, you probably answered yes to most of these questions. And guess what? There is scientific evidence to back up this difference in sensory sensitivity for us. And guess what else? Science points to we were born this way.

“Brain imaging studies suggest real differences in the brains of Highly Sensitive Persons versus everyone else. Cortical areas linked to attention and processing perceptual data show higher activation in reponse to all kinds of stimuli.” (Andrea Bartz, “Sense and Sensitivity” in Psychology Today 7/05/11)

Some bemoan this sensitivity, but I say celebrate it! What a wonderful gift to experience the world in its saturated form! The key is learning to flood your senses with positive sensory input and conversely, to limit unpleasant sensory input whenever you can. Seek intense and uplifting sensory input. Share it with another, and your sensory bliss doubles. Think about your own personal sensory choices. Be deliberate. Surround yourself with this input. Daily. It will be good for you and for those around you.

Will close here with lines from a sensory rich love song.

You fill up my senses like a night in the forest, like the mountains in spring time, like a walk in the rain, like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean. you fill up my senses, come fill me again.” ~ John Denver*

Speechless

Ever find yourself speechless? Are you an empath or highly sensitive person? You are not alone in your loss for words. It happens to empaths and HSPs more often than others. We may become temporarily unable to speak when we are experiencing very strong emotions. It especially happens when we are in the presence of inauthentic people.

A dishonest, inauthentic, and untrustworthy person is often angry and demanding and has a tidal wave of negative emotions that they lug around with them. These emotions spill into ours when we are near them. It is a crush of want. We can’t help but absorb the emotions of others near us, so their upset becomes our upset. Speaking no words stops our engagement and starts our self protection. (We shut down until we can get away.)

That’s not to say that empaths can’t handle the gamut of emotions that flow in and out of us throughout the day as we connect with others. We are strong. We can swim with the tides. It is to say that when someone has a bottomless pit of negativity, we need to swim away from them because they will drown us otherwise.

We are vulnerable to emotional contagion. So empaths need to be careful with who they spend time with. It is better to get out of the line of fire of negative vibes than to stay there speechless. Because if you stay, they will gain energy and you will lose energy; it will only go one way.

Think about proximity when dealing with inauthentic people. Use selective proximity. Don’t sit by them at meetings. (Avoiding meetings they attend is even better.) Don’t invite them into your home. (If you have to see them, meet in a public place.) Always have an exit strategy. (Limit your time by arranging to have a place to be shortly after you see them.) Don’t tell them personal things about yourself. (Inauthentic people can be very manipulative and may use your personal information to draw you closer.) Stay away from talking heads on social media and tv who rant. (Read your news rather than watch it – it won’t feel like an assault that way because we can’t hear or see the person’s emotions.)

Empaths and HSPs do not have to be open for emotional business 24/7. We do not have to draw close to every heart we encounter. Speechless is not hopeless. It is an avenue to a closed door to emotional contagion.

Game Over

“Game over, man! Game over!” I can still picture Private William Hudson (Bill Paxton) yelling this in the movie Aliens when he realizes that  the ship meant to rescue him and his crew was destroyed. They are armed, but it doesn’t matter. They are trapped. Hope is lost. They will die.

“Game over, man! Game over!” was not in the original script. Bill Paxton ad libbed it, and they kept it in. It’s arguably the most memorable line in the film – because it’s over for Private Hudson, but NOT for Ripley. She decides that game will NOT be over until she rescues herself and the little girl.

Aliens was filmed in 1986. Critics still list it as one of the best movie sequels of all time, and it was nominated for many Academy Awards. Yes, it had state of the art special effects and a good script and solid cast. But its worth is that its message still rings true. When do we accept defeat? When do we fight on? And who gets to decide Game Over?

You do. I do. We do. They do. It depends on the situation and the relationship. It often hinges on the question of how much can we take before we are done. How do we want to live? What will we accept? What will we fight for? Is there hope left? Is the situation fixable? There are always some choices involved.

“Game over” can be a good thing in life. It can be a rallying cry for I’m done with this part of my life and I’m moving on to something better, something safer, something more fulfilling, etc. For us “Game over” is usually not life and death – although sometimes it may feel like it – it means we will change, and our lives will change. Like Ripley, we may need to fight our way out of a bad situation, and leave our past/the game behind us. We may not know what the future holds, but we know it will be better than this.

Game over means that this chapter of my life is over and I protect myself and I take care of myself by exiting the game. By leaving, I am moving on, and I am hopeful, and I am not doomed.

A Peaceful Heart Stays Clean

Strong? Yes. Dumping grounds? No.

We all have broken parts, and compassion for others helps with the healing process. But there are persons who will deliberately and continually take advantage of empaths’ and sensitives’ compassion and empathy. Some people call them energy vampires, but I think of them as dump trucks. It took me a long time to figure out why. When a distraught person is near an empath, we will take on their emotions, help carry the burden so to speak. Emotionally chaotic people will feel some relief JUST BY BEING AROUND YOU. And the more negative emotions they dump on you, the better they feel. So they will want to be around you. A LOT.

Perfect description of this is “a crush of want.” (Nick Cave). When I heard this, I thought, yes, yes, yes. That is exactly what it feels like. Because the want is never ending for some people. It feels suffocating, and if we don’t get out of the way, the dumping will crush us.  If I take your pain on as my pain whenever I’m near you, guess what? I can’t be near you. I have my own wounds to heal.

Empaths are strong. We can handle a lot of emotion. All kinds. But we need to set boundaries to keep the dump trucks out of our environments. They are skilled at demanding our attention as they rattle into the room. I feel no match. So I step away. I refuse to be the garbage dump. We are at cross purposes, so I will cross you out of my life as much as possible. I will not invite you into my home, and if I meet you, it will be on neutral ground. And I will give myself time to recover after time spent with you. The less of a host a become for you, the less of a parasite you will be, and eventually, you will go looking for another dumping ground.

My children helped me clear my environment of dump trucks. That was my turning point. My energy shift. I wanted my energy to go to them. It was up to me to create a peaceful family environment. I made it clear that my children would always come first, and the dump trucks slowly but steadily paraded away.

Do I still take on other people’s emotions? Yes, of course. It is part of who I am and who I will always be. Born this way. But I recognize who I need to stand back from. No one wants to be a dumpster.

 

 

Give Yourself a Break ~ Step Outside

It’s a tough time to be an empath and a highly sensitive person. So much unrest, anger, violence, and downright hatred in the world. We can’t help but feel the collective discord radiating from the masses, radiating from the news. Sometimes, these feelings that attach to us are overwhelming. Yet, we can’t turn a blind eye or a closed heart. It is not to our nature and not to our calling. Too much damage is being done in the world to too many people. We are called upon to respond with compassion and caring to those in need and to not feed the discord monster.

But give yourself a break. Empaths and HSPs can’t turn off emotions, but we can take a break from their impact to replenish ourselves. How? Step outside. Seek out a retreat in the great outdoors. Nature will give you the break that you need. 

Nature is a giver. (Kinda like you – but magnified!) It is vast in its wealth with gifts for the senses and the soul. Just breathing the air outside (and away from other people) will help you regain your center and your balance. Just seeing the beauty that we are given (without even asking) when nature surrounds us can help us to remember that yes, there is beauty in the world, and most of it is not manmade. Hearing the sounds of nature (for me, especially water sounds) are calming, peaceful, and rhythmic. Nature takes its time, and walking in nature can help you adjust your own inner rhythm. Nature will envelop and embrace us, if we only let it.

So when you can’t take it anymore, retreat from Man’s world, and return to Mother Nature’s. Step outside. Right yourself away from the fray by going into the forest, up the mountain, on the beach, by the waterfall, you pick! Nature will always welcome you back to her lap.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”                  ~ Khalil Gibran

 

You Don’t Have to Open Every Door that Knocks

It was our first night home from the hospital with our first child. And my first husband left and went out to a concert with his friends. Crazy, huh? The problem is at the time, I accepted it as not crazy. I justified it by saying he wants to go more than I don’t want him to go. So I swallowed the hurt, and he went. And I stayed home alone with a crying newborn. This kind of behavior was mine for many years with a handful of people close to me. Their emotions and wants trumped mine. Every time. Didn’t know what was happening. Didn’t know I was an empath.

Empaths are emotional chameleons by nature. A young empath will unknowingly blend into others. They will take on other’s emotions as theirs. They may see other’s desires as paramount to theirs. A more experienced empath will recognize that they CAN blend with someone else, but will make some conscious choices for each situation. They will know someone’s feelings and experiences but not OWN them. They will not let your desires overwhelm their own.

An empath needs to learn not to open the door to everyone who knocks and not to say yes to everyone’s  demands. This is hard for an empath, as we are full of compassion and consideration. Yet, empaths are not here to be the welcome wagon for emotional upheaval and unfinished business. We are here to help others find their own lights, but not to give them ours. So don’t fling open the door. Proceed with some caution. Take a quick sensory check. Trust your intuition. You don’t have to invite everyone into your heart – even if they really, really, really want you to. You do have choices.

Intensity and empaths. We thrive on intensity. Intense people. Intense music. Intense conversations. Intense sex. Intense experiences. We take on intense demands, and we like being intensely wanted and needed. It is intoxicating for an empath. Intimate connection is great, but make sure there is an exchange of energy. Don’t give yours all away. Share intense experiences, but don’t get run over.  No one wants tire tracks on their faces/hearts. Learn to balance intense connection with others with intense peace and quiet for yourself.

New to understanding yourself as an empath? Seek information. I especially like reading Judith Orloff. You don’t have to hold the crying baby forever.

 

 

 

Hear the Quiet

“Hear that?” “What?” “The quiet.” [We listen. I sigh.] “Isn’t it wonderful?” We have this conversation periodically in our household. It’s a reminder to me to welcome the peace that is reflected in the silence. Because quiet makes you slow down and take notice. I breathe it in every chance that I get. It is restorative. Quiet reminds you to check in with yourself, to check in with your life. And for the empath, it gives you the opportunity to separate from the energy of others. Quiet has its own energy, and it offers us a much welcomed respite from the cacophony of others.

Quiet…. is a gateway to tranquility, healing and restoration, offers real physical benefits. It induces a mind-body connection that’s been demonstrated to relax muscles, lower anxiety and pain, and enhance one’s overall sense of control and well being. And all spiritual disciplines embrace it as the pathway to the divine, whether through silent meditation, prayer, chants or visual imagery. (Suzanne Clores, Feb. 2, 2012, The Benefits of Quiet for Body, Mind, and Spirit, nextavenue.org)

So we know that quiet is beneficial for health, but how can we find some in our daily lives on a regular basis? Expand the definition and location of quiet. There are different kinds of quiet, and yours may look different from mine, and ours may look different on any given day. I like to think of quiet as on a spectrum – you have to find the right one at the right time (but seek it, you must!). There is the stillness of quiet found in meditation and prayer. There is the beauty of quiet found in a walk through nature, perhaps with your dog. There is the silent gaze of love at your beloved when words are not necessary. There is the momentary escape into silence when the parent hides in the bathroom to regroup from the demands of parenting. There is the silent, active hiker, bike rider, and runner. There is the quiet reader, the peaceful baker, the solitary writer, the contemplative tea sipper, and the list goes on.

Our methods may be different, but no matter how we experience quiet during our days, it will be restorative. So, play with your opportunities for quiet, and see which give you the most benefit. And remember, quiet is a sound. Enjoy it!

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.

Don’t Give It All Away

Gifts. Big tradition. It’s the time of year for giving and receiving. We cannot not get “wrapped up” in it. It can be a special time to give tokens to those we treasure, or it can be an uncomfortable time to give something out of obligation. Same goes for receiving from those we love or receiving from those we wish wouldn’t give us anything. And then there’s the problem of over doing, over spending, and giving it all away.

I love gifts – both giving and receiving, but as an empath, I have been faced with two challenges. One is that I can feel the feelings of the giver radiating off the object given to me. The other is I have to restrain myself from giving it all away – giving too much to too many and not having enough left in the bank. I did not understand these issues (although I lived them) when I was younger, but now I get it. Empath ways. Now I know how I operate and why, so it is easier to manage my “gifts.”

Receiving a gift given with affection and thoughtfulness is a powerful thing for an empath, no matter how large or small in size or price tag. I keep it near me so I can feel its energy and the warmth of the gift giver. When receiving a gift given without thought or care, it radiates negative energy. I don’t want it around me and get it out of my house. I used to feel guilty about this, but I don’t now. It is simply being self-protective.

And how not to give it all away? I learned this the hard way. It is such a natural high to give a gift and feel the happiness that radiates back from the receiver – especially when you plan and search for just the right thing. But don’t break the bank. You don’t have to shower gifts on too many to feed that natural high. Control it and shower them in your own backyard to those closest to you.

And remember that the gift of a shared experience can be better than something sitting in a box – so open your horizons to other ways to give. Spending time together at the holidays will make memories that will last longer than a present.