You're an empath, giving of yourself is the de facto operating system by which you live. While most people are able to sympathize with others, you can literally feel the emotions of those around you. Being this plugged in is an asset but it can also take a heavy toll if not properly managed. A disempowered empath can become a victim of their gift. Ain't nobody got time for that - You have work to do and purpose too great to be paralyzed! To maintain balance and protect yourself, you need to preserve your energy for maximum effectiveness. Here are 17 tried and true tips to help you become a thriving and empowered empath.
1. Know how you tick Think of all the people in the world as pieces of a puzzle. Most people function as their own individual puzzle piece but you have somehow managed to tap into all the pieces. Your life is not just about yourself. You feel connected to everyone around you, especially those who are suffering. This is an amazing gift and a heavy burden, but if managed correctly you are equipped to make a significant impact in the world around you.
2. Understand yourself It's likely that your characteristics are partially genetic and partly circumstantial. Tracing the roots to the source of your empathy can provide a sense of purpose and direction. What circumstances in your life cultivated your ability to relate so profoundly to suffering?
3. Get to the bottom of it In order to operate in a healthy way, you have to take the time to examine yourself. If necessary, begin the process of forgiving anyone who wasn't able to give you what you needed when you needed it. Until you've done this, you won't be able to reach your maximum potential. You'll always be manipulating your gift for approval and validation.
4.Do what works for you You are coded differently. Though you're extremely driven, you may not be suited for work environments centered solely on revenue and profitability. You are more concerned with ethical results than quick ones. For you, no amount of money is worth your integrity. Embrace the fact that your path is unique and work toward a profession that feeds your passion.
5. Follow your heart It may seem unrealistic to some, but you have to trust that operating in your calling will open doors and pave the way for miraculous opportunities. Your power lies in your spirit, not in your size. Take fellow empath and activist Johnetta "Netta" Elzie for example. After the tragic shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, she was moved to action. In an interview with O Magazine she described her practical response to the events that followed,"I was spreading the word about where to drop off food or care packages and gathering people to clear away tear gas canisters." Netta was just being herself and doing what came naturally to her. Her gut reaction to care for her community would customize a lane for her at the helm of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
6. Set your intention Before you embark on a mission, be sure to gain a clear understanding of why you're doing it. Ask yourself how you will feel if you never get a thank you. What if no one ever recognizes your work? Would you still do it? Determining this will help you to establish your motivation and ensure that your heart is in the right place. If you give your very best with sincere intentions, the reward will come.
7. Be Aware Wait...what just happened? Everything was fine a moment ago and now, out of nowhere, you are completely drained. Welcome to the life of an empath. You have just tapped into someone else's energy. Annoying? Perhaps, but it doesn't have to be paralyzing. Pause and acknowledge the fact that you are absorbing stuff. Awareness will help you draw the line between yourself and whoever is in agony nearby.
8. Be the Light When you feel a transfer of energy hit you it's easy to become frustrated at the hijacking of your mood. Resist the spiral down and take a moment to pray for that person (whether you know who it is or not). This requires intention and lots of practice but by taking this approach you will learn to counteract their pain with positivity.
9. Shake it off So, you're misunderstood. Waste no time on pettiness. Your energy is to be spent on purpose.
10. Set Boundaries If you find that you're consistently depleted in certain environments, limit your exposure.
11. Make good investments When it comes to helping others, sometimes it's necessary to quickly spring into action, at other times it's entirely appropriate to radiate love from a distance. You are a limited resource. Invest your energy where it will be most impactful.
12. Avoid parasites A seasoned manipulator will spot you from a mile away. Trust yourself. You know when things aren't right. Be smart about who you give access to you.
13. Calibrate your expectations Don't impose your definition of success on anyone. If you're pushing someone to sprint a marathon when their goal is to learn how to walk, you're not helping. In fact, you're coming off as an arrogant know-it-all. Know when to fall back.
14. Be bilingual The frustrating thing about operating on instinct is articulating it to people who don't speak that language, you have to learn to speak theirs. If it becomes necessary to provide an explaination, wrap your knowing in data and give only as much information as needed.
15. Trust yourself You know it is before there's any evidence to support your hunch. Trust yourself. Your instincts are good.
16. Loosen up You won't always be right. When you make mistakes, own it and move on. Don't let imperfection hamper your effectiveness.
17. Recharge A drained empath can easily fall into depression, anxiety, and addictive vices. When you're feeling low, avoid the quick fixes. Get some exercise, take a nap, meditate and recharge. This is not optional!
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Two Part Empathy Series featured in Blavity:
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