Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Paging All Empaths

"What's wrong mommy?" my 10 year old son asked me while I was stretched out on the couch with a pillow over my face. I responded: "Oh, mommy just has a headache. I'll be over it soon."

…a long pause went by before he said: "You sure do get a lot of headaches. I think it's because you have all the feelings and they stress you out. It's hard carrying all those feelings." I removed the pillow because I can't help but marvel at someone {anyone} that perceptive, let alone someone who happens to be my elementary aged child. 

I'll tell ya, the kid is completely dialed in to what's going on. I should know, he's just like me. We can both walk in to a crowded room and feel {with 98% accuracy} every emotion from every person before anyone even tells us what they're feeling. 

I never thought of the headache thing like that before, but the kid is so right. I've recently discovered that I am something called an empath, which makes me so feely that it also can cause me pain. The same goes for my kiddo. He gets it. We are both highly feely, loving, incredibly sensitive, moody, nurturing, perceptive, passionate, tender, empathetic beings. We feel things much more intensely than your average individual.

It is a blessing and a curse. We see things other people don't. We feel things other people don't. We spot things other people miss. We understand people more deeply than most. We also can be more vulnerable than most. We absorb feelings deeper than most. Other people's feelings become our own, and we can feel other people's sadness to the point that it causes actual physical pain. 

Suspect that you're an empath too? Here's my little long checklist:
  • People are always telling you "lighten up" or "you're too sensitive."
  • You feel more than you think.
  • You just know stuff, without being told. It's stronger than a hunch, because when you "just know", you're rarely {if ever} wrong.
  • You don't know where other people's emotions start and yours begin. You take on others' feelings and problems as your own.
  • To say you have a problem with boundaries is an understatement.
  • Watching violence or tragedy {or reading about it, or even discussing it} is unbearable. It feels like fingernails on a chalkboard to your soul. Watching the news is excruciating.
  • You "know" when someone isn't being honest with you. You feel lies like other people feel drops in temperature. It may not even be an outright lie, but you "know" when someone is saying one thing but feeling another. For example, if you have a grieving friend who is pretending to be OK because it was an expected death, you "know" they actually aren't. Their grief is palpable to you.
  • You get symptoms of illnesses of people you love. Think sympathy pains here. The struggle is very, very real.
  • You're drawn to the underdog. You can feel when someone is having a hard time or is being left out, and you have to look out for them.
  • People always unload their problems on you, even strangers! People sense that you are compassionate which causes them to come to you with their issues.
  • You're always tired. Sleep does nothing for your type of fatigue. Your lack of energy comes from constantly giving out healing energy to hurting people. 
  • You're creative. This doesn't have to mean you crank out Pinterest crafts on the reg, it can just mean you like watching movies, reading, dancing, cooking, etc. Even if you don't paint or write or cook, you have a deeper appreciation for those who do and you're drawn to creative activities. 
  • You have a need for solitude AND stimulation. You'll go nuts if you're too bored with nothing to do or no human contact, but you'll go equally nuts if you don't have some downtime to recharge from time to time.
  • It's impossible to do something you dislike. Just like you love deeply, you dislike just as deeply. So if filling out tax paperwork is annoying to someone who isn't an empath, it's excruciating for someone who is. Or going along with an activity someone else likes to do but the empath dislikes to do feel like a lie and is completely unbearable. 
  • Anything untruthful grates on your nerves and feels just plain wrong.
  • You're a free spirit who loves to explore the deeper meaning of life.
  • Smalltalk hurts. It physically hurts. You'd rather not talk at all than engage in meaningless smalltalk. 
  • Deep talks or entertaining talks are life-giving though. You could do this for days.
  • You're an excellent listener. You love to listen to people and people love talking to you.
  • You cannot tolerate egotistical people who think they're better than everyone else. People who put themselves first kill you inside. You will never understand.
  • You're a dreamer. You dream about solutions to the world's problems. You dream about getting the best out of life. People even call you na├»ve or unreasonable for thinking such ideas are possible.

I have fought against my bleeding heart my entire life. I've always thought I cried too much, felt too much, and hurt too much. I've spent almost 30 years wishing I could just turn it off. But you know what? I also love too much, hug too much, and give too much. And this is OK. Better than OK, this is a gift. I tried to fit in the mold my whole life, but then I realized that I just never will, and that is also better than OK. If you're anything like me, why try so hard to be rational and dial back your empath qualities when you were born to share them with the world?

I've been told over & over that I feel too much. I don't. 

I've been told over & over that what I feel isn't real. It is. 

I've been told over & over that being this way isn't rational or desirable. Wrong & wrong. If it weren't rational I wouldn't be right so often with these things I just "know"… and if it weren't desirable, strangers wouldn't cry with me over the bacon in the grocery store about their problems {believe me, things like this happen to me all the time.}

If you're like me, and you feel like you feel too much, you do not. Don't you dare let this rational, logical, pragmatic world tell you otherwise. Don't let other people's blindness eclipse your vision. You may feel misunderstood or broken, you are not. You are special, unique, and you have gifts that aren't as rewarded in our culture as others. 

Every day, I come in contact with people and I feel what they feel before they tell me. I feel things 1000% deeper than your average individual. Sadness feels devastating. Happiness feels like euphoria. Anger feels like rage. Boredom feels like imprisonment. Cold cuts me to be bone. How about you? Do you relate? What now? What you you do with yourself in a world that doesn't understand you? How do you fit your square peg of a personality in a world that only seems to accept round ones? 


That's right. Don't fight it. Don't apologize for it. Don't shrink it. Don't hide it. You're all feelings, sweet one, so feel them. Use them. You honor how you feel. If you need to love people, love them. If you need to scale back and take time to yourself, do it. If you need to cry at the six o'clock news, let yourself wail. Most of all, CELEBRATE your sensitivity because IT. IS. A. GIFT! Not everyone has it, and while this world may make you feel like that is a negative thing, realize that it actually means that you are RARE! You are on this Earth to feel all the feelings and love like there's no tomorrow. That is not weakness, that is POWER! So stop hiding your bleeding heart. Let all that power in that bleeding heart be unleashed. The world needs it, baby.

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