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,

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.




Replenish Your Energy

As the day goes on, we run out of energy….at least, some of us do. I am one of the some of us. Have been for as long as I can remember. I reach a point where I am done. Nothing left to give for the day. Collapse mode. Sound familiar?

This scenario is built on the premise that you wake up in the morning with energy, your energy gets depleted as the day goes on, and at day’s end you have no energy left. It’s not the best way to live. And add to that, an empath’s energy reserves go quicker. It just comes with the territory. Other people’s emotions are exhausting to navigate and swim through. We are emotional sponges that ironically feel all wrung out at the end of the day.

I am learning that there are a few things that we can do during our waking days to combat energy fatigue. We can be mindful of a get away from that list and a do that list.

The get away from that list starts with energy suckers. You know who they are in your life. I’m not telling you to unfriend them, but I am telling you to limit your direct contact if you don’t want to be exhausted. Next on the list is unplugging from the negative onslaught of news media. Brazen lies, cruelty to others, and sensationalist horror stories crush empaths. So don’t feed the fire breathing media dragon. Walk away from it. Those are my two biggies. Each person knows their own get away from that list. Honor it.

For the do that list, Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D., gives this advice. (Psychology Today, 4/11/2015).

Did you know you can think yourself into having more energy? Thoughts that activate positive emotions can energize your mind, secreting the chemicals that increase your overall sense of well-being. Boost your mood with these activities:

  1. Instead of complaining, focus on what is in your power to control, starting with your own thoughts and feelings.
  2. Find things to laugh at, including yourself.
  3. Stop and appreciate what you have right now, including what you have gained from lessons learned.
  4. Listen to some upbeat or calming music, or sing to yourself.
  5. Get up and go for a walk, even if you have to stay indoors. 

Make your own get away from that list and do that list. Replenish your energy during the day. Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Uh…Yes, Your Words Matter – Part 1

Words can’t break your bones, but they can break your spirit, and they can break your heart. Because when we communicate with words, we exert power. When those in our inner circle, those we trust with our whole selves, say something, we listen. We believe. So recognize that there is a responsibility that goes with trust and a weight to your words. We can feel beaten down or lifted up by the words of others.

Think about it. What is the cruelest thing that someone(s) ever said to you? But you don’t even have to think about it. It’s right there, and you can remember it and spit it back verbatim. Here are the worst from my own catalog – “I don’t like to hold you at night because it makes me feel like I’m drowning and you are pulling me under,” from a former lover. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” from a former friend. “Your writing is pedestrian and boring,” from a former teacher. And the creme d’ la creme “Now you’re damaged goods, just like me,” from a (now deceased) relative. Pretty shitty, isn’t it? Made me feel small and worthless for quite some time.

But with age and experience, I gained more wisdom. I learned that it’s true that misery loves company, and that miserable people will pull others down with them. I learned that arrogant or narcissistic people only feel superior when they belittle you. I learned that I couldn’t prove myself otherwise, and that I needed to stop trying. I couldn’t change or save anyone mean or self-obsessed. I learned not to give away my self-definition. I know who I am.

But it’s been more recent that I figured out what I am. I’m an empath. And broken people are often attracted to empaths. We are by nature full of compassion for others, so we fall in the trenches with them and try to help them out. But recognize, it’s not your trench. I am not saying to not help others in need here. But I am saying recognize your own limits and protect your own heart. If someone is in pain, help them. It someone is always miserable and mean, step away.

“The moment you feel you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”      ~Alysia Harris

Lesson learned.



Because Your Body Matters

You have one body, and it houses your soul. Treat it with kindness. Not indifference. Treat it with love. Not disdain. Treat it with care. Not obliviousness. I am guilty of all three of the above at different times in my life. But as I did more soul work, I began to do more body work. I realized that the two go hand-in-hand, and it is foolish not to think so. They support each other, and together, they ARE you.

I learned to take care of my body when parts of it started not to work so well. When I couldn’t function full steam ahead. (And nothing will get your attention like blood in the wrong place!) I was able to see that my body was sending me distress signals. My body was stopping me in my tracks and telling me  to pay attention to it and give it the love and care that I so freely gave to others in my orbit.

I needed to make life style changes that would ultimately help both my body and soul. Many changes were put in place – some were drastic and some were gradual. I learned that what I put into my body mattered, so I follow dietary restrictions. I learned that “side effects” is a label warning on medicine that should be taken seriously, so I got off medicine that was hurting more than helping. I learned that a little bit of exercise daily leads to a lot of improved health. I learned a great respect for physical and massage therapists; they are on the front lines of body-soul healing.  I learned to tell my inner posse the truth of what was going on and to lean on them (hard for an empath). I had to learn (and am still learning) to manage stress better (and differently) because it really can make you sick in body and soul.

I also learned to meet my body where it’s at. Which is not perfection. Gotta accept and love all of it. The crooked back along with the lovely eyes. The sensitive stomach along with the strong heart. Your body/soul is what makes you, you. And there is only one you in the whole entire universe. Isn’t that amazing? Aren’t you amazing?





Walking Meditation

We walk for many reasons. To gain something. To get rid of something. To get somewhere. To get away from somewhere. Etc./add your own reason. People generally agree, however, that walking is good. No negative vibes come from walking. (Even “walking away” is beneficial.) Now how about adding another dimension to your walks? How about walking meditation?

Meditation means contemplating and thinking deeply and includes focusing and noticing the present moment. It is possible to do this outside in nature while you are moving; one can achieve a form of meditation while walking. Walking meditation is unique and intentional, and it is different from seated mediation. I think that it is accessible to a broad range of people and landscapes.

Here are guidelines for walking meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Website:

Walking Meditation

Wherever we walk, we can practice meditation. This means that we know that we are walking. We walk just for walking. We walk with freedom and solidity, no longer in a hurry. We are present with each step. And when we wish to talk we stop our movement and give our full attention to the other person, to our words and to listening.

Walking in this way should not be a privilege. We should be able to do it in every moment. Look around and see how vast life is, the trees, the white clouds, the limitless sky. Listen to the birds. Feel the fresh breeze. Life is all around and we are alive and healthy and capable of walking in peace.

Let us walk as a free person and feel our steps get lighter. Let us enjoy every step we make. Each step is nourishing and healing. As we walk, imprint our gratitude and our love on the earth.

We may like to use a gatha as we walk. Taking two or three steps for each in-breath and each out-breath,

Breathing in “I have arrived”; Breathing out “I am home”
Breathing in “In the here”; Breathing out “In the now”
Breathing in “I am solid”; Breathing out “I am free”
Breathing in “In the ultimate”; Breathing out “I dwell”

Find a special place, and go….

Accept the Help ….Really, It’s Ok

Empaths are not good at accepting help. And we are really terrible at asking for it. We are great at giving it. We are born nurturers. But what happens when the born nurturer needs help? We often go it alone as long as we can. And that’s often the wrong choice to make.

Empaths sometimes forget that other people can’t sense us like we can sense them. Not even close. Others don’t know what our feelings are if we don’t tell them. And if you wait for help that no one knows that you need, believe me, it’s not coming.

At the point of collapse, I usually ask for help. And I get it. My family doesn’t like to see me face down, and neither do my friends. They pick up the slack, do the things that I would normally do, and genuinely give me the TLC that somehow I thought I didn’t need or deserve. I become the receiver and not the giver, and because I am collapsed, I accept it. But I don’t like it. Not at all.

As I get older and wiser, I am slowly learning that it is okay to ask for and accept help before you collapse. (Then maybe you won’t.) Note that if you get an initial negative response (which is usually small), weather it. It’s okay for people to not be joyful about unexpected demands. However, more often than not, those who care about you are willing to help you. Let them. LET THEM.

And if you need to go outside of your inner circle for help, do it. We are a society of help providers and of health providers. You can find the help that you need (and you don’t have to wait until collapse mode).

Asking for and accepting help is a healthy choice and a healthy habit. And you want to be healthy, right? Your health and well being matter as much as those around you, right? Ask and you shall receive. It’s ok.