Being an Empath in a world where tragedy surrounds us we can become overwhelmed. There are many who advise shielding from the world. As one of the many Empaths in the Witch community, I too say to shield yourself. The shield we put up isn’t really like a protective shield in the way it doesn’t really put up an emotional barrier that blocks us from the feelings around us in such a simple way. It is knowing the difference between our feelings and those of others. Knowing we are connected yet separate living beings.
Regardless if it is human nature or human programming, we are all exposed to the tragedy of the world. The television shows, news, movies, and even social media focus on the tragedy. As Empaths, we tend to be a little more sensitive to what is going on around us that we get lost in the tragedies of the world that surround us. We absorb them as if they are our own.
We often get so wrapped up in what surrounds us that it gets confused with what is within us. We have a difficult time separating what we feel from what others around us are feeling. Often, to cope with these overwhelming feelings of the world, we isolate ourselves and try to “disconnect” which doesn’t feel any better.
As a child, I would tell my mother stories about all the things going on in the world and how I was feeling so badly for everyone. I was clearly overwhelmed. My mother would often pity me and comment how I am so sensitive that I wear the weight of the world on my shoulders. Tragedy was all around me. It was a part of my own world and my own life and those who immediately surrounded me. My loved ones and I were victims of our own tragedies and mine seemed to be compounded by the weight of the world. I recall writing in my diary how I couldn’t tell the difference between a loved one’s emotional state and my own. We were so closely connected in the tragedy which was connected to each other that I couldn’t separate our feelings at all.
But over the following decades, I learned how to separate myself from the outside world…emotionally. I learned how to identify my feelings from the feelings of others… most of the time. It took another decade to realize that the true shield of an Empath is more of a skill. I learned how to enjoy my own feelings and take control of my own state of being while the world around me is in the shitter.
A lot of tragedy has struck very close to home these past few weeks. From tragic shootings in a nearby town, that directly affected several people I personally know, to a life-threatening illness of a loved one. Almost everyone I know is either sick or injured. I’m still happy. With Death of loved pets and all the tragedy in the world, as an Empath, it used to be difficult not to absorb the tragedies around me and live them as if they were happening to me directly. Today, I am able to feel my own happiness while the world is on fire. Yes, I feel the heat but I don’t often get burned.
I think part of it is that we are expected to “walk a mile in their shoes” so we can have compassion. Often as an Empath, we have been programmed that compassion, sympathy and empathy require us to not only feel their pain and live their tragedy but to feel guilty if life is good for us and we feel happy while the world burns in emotional chaos around us.
I used to believe that I was born into this world to suffer. A lot of Empaths seem to fall into that scenario. It doesn’t help to live the pain of others. Empathy helps us to understand the pain of others and to connect with them, but it is ok to feel happy for ourselves when life is good even when tragedy strikes in the lives of others. It doesn’t make us bad people or mean we don’t have feelings or that we are somehow disconnected. It means we have our own lives and yes we feel for others but we don’t have to live their tragedy with them for others to benefit from us.
Because we were programmed to focus on the tragedy which we all see in the climax of movies and the sad backstory of the hero, we as a human race become engrossed with sharing the stories of tragedy. I myself find that to be particularly true even in my own storytelling.
I noticed, when I post on social media about how happy I am and how wonderful life is for me, and that I am in a happy state of being, it makes people frown. No one likes that cheerful, happy person at work who is always just brimming with sunshine who is simply happy to be there.. all the time. A lot of Comedy is based on tragedy. When I post something tragic I get more interaction. We as a human race talk about all the tragic things that have happened in the world.
I often tell the story of tragedy just like in this blog post. Yes, one side of Empathy is the part of feelings that we as empaths must overcome.
Today, I can tell a lot of tragic stories since the world is full of tragedy, but now, I am not living those tragedies. My shield is the skill of knowing the difference between my own feelings from the intense feelings of others. I still feel others and am connected but I know it isn’t my own feelings. I know those outside feelings are more like messages for me. They are there to help me understand others and to let me know that I am connected to the rest of the world.
Why? Because we are human. We are Empaths. The other day, I was with my sister on our way to visit my brother who was very ill and in ICU. We were having a good time visiting on our way to see my brother. We were enjoying the moment, and it was ok to enjoy that moment. For a brief moment, my sibling spoke about her pet that had recently passed away. I began to tear and immediately began to pull back knowing it is not my loss. I made a joke about my tears and dried my eyes.
Life is good. Tragedy is part of life, and feelings can be quite tragic but temporary. And yes, being an empath means we are more sensitive to those feelings. Not just feelings of sorrow but other feelings too like anger and resentment. That doesn’t mean we have to live the tragedies of others. We feel deeply so that we can understand where they are and help them overcome the emotions they are experiencing. We are connected and feel that connection more than some. However, we are not expected to allow the problems of others to overwhelm us to the point where we are not able to deal with our own lives.
When I tell my coven leaders who are discussing plans to get together in the immediate future that my boyfriend is ill, it is not because I need pity. It is so that when they plan a gathering and we don’t show up they will know why we are absent. The same with Empaths. We don’t feel the tragedy so we can pity the victim of the tragedy or become the victim ourselves. Others often don’t want our pity. They want our strength. They often only need understanding and compassion and to feel connected to another human being. The fact that you “know” is enough.
My sick brother didn’t want me to feel bad for him. He needed a smile and some light-hearted cheer, not someone to cry with and worry with. Laughter is the best medicine. I saw that in my sister that day. My brother was ill and feeling like crap. I knew he was worried and just feeling connected, cared for and loved was good for him.
The most important thing I have learned as an Empath is how to separate my own story from the world. It is ok to feel happy when the world is in the shitter. I imagine myself sitting on the sofa with a hot cup of herbal tea. A smile on my face and bliss in my heart not paying attention to explosions and fires around me. I am aware but I am not enveloped. And that is how my shield works. I am separate from what is happening around me but not disconnected.
Even as I speak of the tragedy of Empathy with a full understanding of its difficulties, inside I am smiling. Not because the problems of the Empath are minimized and devalued, but because I am here to tell my fellow hurting Empaths that it is ok to feel your own feelings and feel separate from the feelings of others and still be a connected Empath.
The best shield is knowing the difference between your own feelings from inside you from the feelings that come from the outside, from others. Know you are connected but remind yourself that it is not your anger, your loss, your tragedy. Then, you will be able to shield yourself.
Cry, laugh and live your own life. Be there for others but don’t live in their shoes because you have a life of your own with your own feelings to experience.
With my Love and Light,
I am sorry Summer, but the best shield for an Empath is a shield not just knowing the difference between your feelings and other people. I have been a conscious Empath for over 30 years, I can receive and send. Once the gift becomes active the new Empath needs to develop a true shield or the emotional input can overwhelm. After the emotions are sorted out, then the shield can be thinned so that emotional input can be received again. I currently have a multi layered shield that allows me to work through so that I can use my gift whenever I am away from home.
I believe we all work differently and to chide another that they should do as we have done — especially as the younger ones come along, is counter productive. Excellent to share your ‘method’ for consideration. To say they aren’t doing it right, smacks of disrespect. Just the ‘feeling’ I got from reading the response. I’m 68, so been at it a long time too, but I always learn from everyone. I found it interesting that you use a multi-layered format to process. Lovely that you have found a way to process that works for you. Sharing it might be very helpful to others who read it. Blessed Be.
Perhaps you are both correct. Neuroscientists have discovered and researched mirror neurons in the past several years. These brain cells are crucial for learning self-regulation as a baby from mom, learning social cues, and attunement to one another. When we sit and talk with another person and become aware that they or we have been unconsciously mimicking each other’s postures, is mirror neurons at play. Unfortunately, we often mirror each other’s emotions, negative or otherwise. Not starting the day with consciously shielding ourselves or not keeping on top of the difference between ours and others emotions may allow us to internalize the other person’s turmoil.
Summer, thank you so much for bringing this topic up and imparting your knowledge and experiences to us all.
I am an empath. I have the gift of being able, not only, to FEEL another’s feelings intensely, but I can absorb and lessen their bad feelings…due to this ability strangers who are emotionally suffering find me while I am out in public and will tell me of their troubles and unburden themselves of much of these bad feelings by dumping them onto my shoulders.
Yes, this causes my own feelings to be in emotional turmoil… Bad feelings ( hurt, anger, sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, etc.) Wash over me in waves, coming from every direction. I can’t get back to my emotional feet before the next wave crashes over me and knocks me down again…waves, one after another after another hit me until I seek the safety of my own car or home, allowing the tide to finally go out so I can get my emotional footing once again.
This happens every time I go out and has for as long as I can remember…even on the rare occasion that no one approaches me, I am still bombarded by the crushing, crashing waves of negative emotion…but I do NOT shield myself from them…I share my gift freely…I absorb all the pain and suffering that I can and help any and all that I can…it is, as my grandmother once told me so many years ago, my job to make others happy. So, like a sponge I soak up pain and suffering where ever I go…it is hard and it is heartbreaking and it means that I suffer from a type of depression called dystimia (I am always blue…like Eeyore)…as well as major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. I also suffer severe PTSD from my own traumatic past…but I still soak up the sufferings of others…and, on days when it all becomes too much I either just stay home or, if I must go out, I do so in the wee hours while most people are sleeping, to minimize the amount of suffering I will encounter.
When I get home after a trip to town where I have been beaten down by waves of despair coming at me from every direction I take some much needed deep, steadying breaths and then I ground and, once grounded, I empty my mind and meditate or “go mind numb” for a while to recover and detox (burning sage, if needed)…allowing me to recharge my emotional batteries and wring out my emotional sponge to get ready for the next emotional tsunami.
When someone that talked to me and told me about the pain they were suffering sees me out and about later on, and they come up to me and thank me for helping them through the worst of their painful situation…telling me that they don’t know why, but after talking to me that they felt much better and that that was the turning point for them from despair to acceptance and/ or happiness again…that it was like i just soaked up their suffering somehow and took it away with me…well, that makes all of MY empathetic suffering well worth it and helps me to be able to do it all over again the next time someone seeks me out as a port in their emotional storm.
Michelle, I am new to all this and everything you said, I can relate to. I’ve been trying to find a way to deal with these emotions and feelings, and it’s hard to because no one around me seems to understand. My sister is also an empath, and she’s constantly telling me how much her shield helps her and that I need to learn to “use my shield”. I feel very strongly that I should not shield myself from other people. I haven’t been able to figure out why. But I know myself well enough to know that there’s always a reason for feeling strongly about a decision. There’s something about me that causes people to be timid about approaching me, but if I approach them, they open up to me, and I have a very strong desire to use every resource I can to help them. And knowing I was able to help is what brings me joy.
im new to the wiccan faith although ive known for some time i am ‘special’ id like to say. the same goes for bein an empath, what a blessing & curse in 1!!!! but am strong enuff usually to discern whats what in all of my gifts. usually i would have so much to say, im bursting with questions & wish i had a mentor to connect to the deepest of my love of this faith a-z but i do need a lil guideance & prayer over losing my youngest son in dec in auto wreck he woulda turned or did turn 19 a few weeks later im havin a pretty difficult time with it even as spiritual as i am. im also fighting a drug addiction & i could juz really use a sponsor/teacher/mentor. i know im wayyy too strong to b puttin myself thru this juz need put back on the right road to overcome this & start back helpin others that r aent to me…..BLESSED BE!!!!! manda panda ?
I am extremely sorry for your loss.?May you find the peace that you need. -Many Blessings
thank you ??
Merci pour le partage.
Je vous en prie
It’s such a relief to know that I am not alone. I still don’t know how to use my gifts properly but I can relate to the “your so sensitive ” comment. I have been looking for answers and still am trying to make sense of who I am.
Can anyone help me with that? LOL
Thank you all for sharing
Thank you all for sharing your stories and experiences it too did wonders for me also. I’m also very new at this and too very much need a mentor so if anyone happens across someone in the teaching field please drop my name in the pot as well. Hope everyone has a beautiful day . Blessed Be. Christy.
I couldn’t help but notice the posts about such suffering and helping others. I have been empathic for 45 years myself but I, Like Summer have found ways to manage. It is a great gift to interact with others and know you can help them. I know I would never give that up. I look to my surrounding universe for signs all day, every day to guide and teach me.
The revelation for me was being told by a spirit that I was a healer, but I needed to learn to heal properly so I was also healed. I discovered through research that proper breathing techniques before you leave your home, prepares you for the automatic healing you will encounter when interacting with others. Basic technique goes like this…
Stand or lay with hands and palms together, ankles 2 inches apart. Perform a circle ritual that tightens the weave of your aura so there can be very little energy flow in and out, while you breathe in and out rhythmically for 4 seconds each breathe. Do this for about 3 minutes. This prepares you for the outside world.
When you encounter others, instead of absorbing their energy, indescretely point your palms at them or hold their hand and send energy from your heart chakra to their heart chakra as they talk, but channel it from your heart, out of your plam, into their hand, either by touch physically or by touching their aura, letting it be absorbed by them and channeled up to their heart chakra. Just do this until your palms are hot. The other person may also begin to feel hot as well, which will mean their healing is done and they move on. Afterwards, pull energy back to yourself from the earth through grounding. Make sure to seal the palm opening or you could leak energy.
Our auras automatically loosen when around others for energy sharing, so be sure to do the breathing exercise again after you help the other person.
It is best to practice this technique for a few days or weeks to make it an automatic technique you perform while exposed in the public.
After I learned this technique, my entire world improved. I had tons of energy, started interacting with others willingly, I felt better all around and my debilitating anxiety had become an empowering tool that gave me confidence and self worth.
I hope this helps many people become more whole again without having to give up your wonderful gifts.
May the force be with you.
P.S. I performed this healing technique on a moth in walmart that would not leave me alone. Now, when I go in there, flying critters and bugs try to employ my services. Funny but true. I wonder what the surveillance team thought of that.
Dear Summer, excellent job of writing and expressing how You run Your energy. It is wonderful. At 68 and having spent my life learning how to ‘feel’ without drowning in emotion, I applaud how younger people are getting it so quick. We all get pulled in unexpectedly at times and I’ve come to understand that it’s the way we maintain our humaness and to keep our ‘edge’ of being in the moment to help others in our way. Sometimes on huge issues , I allow myself to feel the entire world of hurt and I cry til I can cry no more. Then take all that power and send it out to the world transmuted as great love. It’s cathartic and it really helps when we send love – always.
A final note, I don’t believe we need to chide one another about how we integrate our Empathic souls. Sometimes older ones feel superior. I learn from my children, grands and others daily. If we were all the same, everyone else would be unneeded. Great work, continue in your own beauty. Love and Blessings, Iris