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What Does It Mean To Be An Empath & How Does It Affect Your Energy?

Woman feeling overwhelmed by the impact of being an empath and sensitive to other people's energy.

Are you wondering, “What does it mean to be an empath?” Do you suspect that you might be one and want to understand how that impacts your energy and your life?

If you’re an empath, or you’re just becoming aware of your empath nature, then you probably sense that you’re a special breed. 

You already know that your nervous system is hypersensitive to external stimuli, including others’ emotions and energy. You’re keenly aware of your susceptibility to overwhelm and other kinds of distress like depression and anxiety. 

Being an empath may sound and feel like a liability. But the truth is, being an empath is an incredible blessing. When you understand how energy impacts you and have the proper tools to manage it, your sensitivity is your superpower. It is the key to your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing and empowerment. 

More on empaths and energy in a moment, but first, let’s clarify the difference between having empathy and being an empath

What’s The Difference Between Having Empathy And Being An Empath?

Having Empathy Means Caring

Empathy is the ability to recognize and have concern about the emotions of others. This skill of being able to “stand in someone else’s shoes,” generates caring, connection, and collaboration.

For example, you’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, and you notice the young mother behind you who is juggling shopping and caring for a fussy infant. You exercise empathy by pausing a moment and imagining what it must be like to be her. As a result of “putting yourself in her shoes,” you invite her to skip ahead of you in line, and you help unload her grocery cart at the register.

While some people come to it more naturally than others, empathy is a faculty that most people can cultivate within themselves with focus and intention.

Being An Empath Means Feeling

On the other hand, not only do empaths care, but they also feel. Empaths feel others’ physical sensations and emotions in their body as if they were their own. 

Imagine for a moment stepping onto an empty elevator. You’re at the lobby level and heading to the 34th floor. On the way up, the elevator stops at the 5th floor, and a stranger steps in. Right away, as the stranger stands next to you, you feel a surge of anger and frustration that hangs over you like a thick fog. The elevator continues to the 12th floor, where the stranger gets off. As soon as the stranger leaves the elevator, the fog around you lifts along with the feelings of anger and frustration.

Experiences like this are daily occurrences for empaths who absorb the physical sensations and emotions of others. 

Empaths are also sensitive to other sensory input from the external world. Loud and dissonant noises, chaotic public spaces, pungent odors, and harsh lights can cause an empath to feel under assault. These are just a few of the characteristics that set empaths apart from other souls.

Of course, no two empaths are alike. Some empaths may be more sensitive to certain stimuli than others. Nonetheless, for the empath who is unaware, their hypersensitivity can be both mysterious and destabilizing.  

Empaths Are Like Radio Receivers For Energy

For a deeper appreciation of what it means to be an empath, consider what spiritual traditions have been telling us for millennia and what quantum physics now demonstrates: everything is, at its source, energy. That means you, me, the planet, the oceans, your coffee cup, and so on. Everything is energy at its source.

Each of us is surrounded by our own energy field (aura bubble), radiating our own unique energy signature or frequency. Emotion is energy too, and every emotion (e.g., anger, sadness, joy) has its own energy signature. 

When you experience sadness, the energy signature or frequency of sadness can be detected in your energy field. Similarly, when a stranger on the elevator is in a state of anger and frustration–as in our example above–they will radiate the frequencies of anger and frustration. 

Empaths are like radio receivers. They are so highly sensitive to energy that they (often unwittingly) tune into the emotional frequencies that others emit. Empaths resonate with and absorb the emotional frequencies of others.

To grasp how this high attunement to energy plays out in daily life, let’s take a look at some of the signs of being an empath.

Signs You’re An Empath

  • People confide in you. You’re a good listener. Friends and acquaintances seek you out when they’re in distress and need a shoulder to lean on. 
  • You’re highly intuitive. Your intuition can speak to you through sensation, vision, and knowing. You prefer to trust your instincts when making decisions. You have a robust B.S. detector and can sense when something or someone is “off.” 
  • Busy crowds overwhelm you. Crowded places like shopping malls and busy airports can overload your nervous system and provoke anxiety. 
  • You struggle with too much closeness in relationship. Intimacy overload is an empath trigger. It means that you can only take so much togetherness and then need to spend time alone to refocus and recharge.
  • Small talk drives you crazy. Even though people may mean well, superficial banter often masks repressed emotional pain. You can feel their pain and be stressed by the fact that they’re avoiding dealing with it. 
  • Animals and nature are safe havens for you. Being among animals and nature brings you a sense of peace. When in nature, you release excess energy you’ve picked up from others, which is profoundly healing to your body and energy system.

Are these signs familiar? They are among the many empath characteristics that set you apart from other souls.

Now that you have a better understanding of what it means to be an empath and how it affects your energy, here’s a practice to help you build energetic stability.

Grounding Clears & Soothes Your Overstimulated Nervous System

One simple yet highly effective way for empaths to manage the onslaught of energy is to practice grounding. Grounding helps you to connect to the center of the earth and to feel rooted. When you ground, you release excess or unwanted energy into the earth for composting. Try it out with these four easy steps.

4 Steps To Ground Your Energy

  1. Begin by sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor. 
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Relax your body with each breath.
  3. Imagine a beam of light extending from your tailbone to the center of the earth. Allow this beam of light, or grounding cord, to attach securely to the center of the earth. 
  4. Sit peacefully in this position for several minutes as you experience a release of excess energy down your grounding cord and into the center of the earth. (The earth will compost and transform the energy, just as it composts and transforms old decaying leaves into vital nutrients for new growth.)

You can ground your energy anytime, anywhere. Grounding, and other practices like setting healthy energy boundaries, empower you to take charge of your energy no matter what’s going on around you.

When you understand what it means to be an empath and how it affects your energy, you’re able to embrace your true nature. As you do, not only will you learn to manage your sensitivities as an empath, but you’ll also discover the clarity and freedom you need to share your big heart’s gifts with the world.

If you’re an empath wanting to learn how to manage your sensitivity, reading about it may not be enough to create the shifts you want in your life. Consider booking a healing session with me. I can help you build energetic balance and stability, no matter how intense the world around you becomes. Book your session today!

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