Are you an empath?

What does it mean to be an empath?

Intuitive empathy is the ability to sense energy from other people, to the extent that you absorb it into your own body and feel the same intense emotions.

With training and awareness, every person can sense the subtle energy of others, but not everyone is an intuitive empath. It is therefore very important you find out if you are an intuitive empath, so you have tools for avoiding the strong influence of energy from those around you.

In my therapeutic practice with empath clients, I follow the work of the psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff, who has written several books and courses on the subject, and notably, ‘The Empath’s survival guide, Life Strategies for sensitive people’, 2017.

Here is how she describes the challenges you may face as an empath, and the way I work with these challenges.

Who are Intuitive Empaths?

What is the difference between having empathy and being an empath? Having empathy means our heart reaches out to another person in pain or in joy. For empaths, this can go much further. Since empaths don’t have the usual filters that most people have, they feel others’ emotions and physical sensations in their own bodies. Empaths have an extremely sensitive neurological system. They don’t have the same filters that other people use to block out stimulation.
Empaths are emotional sponges who tend to absorb both the stress and positive energy of the people and world around them – so they may suffer exhaustion, anxiety, addictions, depression, and more.

Positive Traits and Challenges

Empaths have marvellous traits. As an empath, you may:

  • Have large hearts and the instinct to help others in need or who are less fortunate
  • Sense another person’s vitality
  • Be a dreamer and an idealist
  • Be passionate, deep, in touch with your emotions, compassionate
  • Be intuitive, spiritual, and can sense energy
  • Have a special appreciation for the natural world and feel at home there

But empaths also have special challenges:

  • Can go on sensory overload and absorb the stress and negativity of others
  • Feel things intensely, and can experience emotional hangovers and burnout
  • Feel lonely and isolated
  • Feel the physical discomfort, stress, and negative emotions of others even when they are unspoken, including their frustration, anger, and fear
  • Feel tired and sick when we’re around toxic people, noise, violence and rushing

Empaths and Addiction

Empaths commonly self-medicate, the discomfort of being overstimulated is dulled by turning to alcohol, drugs, sex, food, and gambling, shopping, or other addictions.

Why this susceptibility to these behaviors? The answer is the overwhelming feeling caused by the extreme sensitivity; empath’s feel ”too much,” including their own (or even another’s) pain.

Since this sensory overload is very difficult to manage, they look after ways to cope with it, by numbing themselves or to shutting off thoughts and feelings to diminish the empathy they experience—though not everyone is aware of this motivation.

Empaths who are struggling with addictions need to learn ways to ground and protect themselves instead of self-medicating in unhealthy ways. There is a high price to be paid for coping with sensitivities through addictions. These behaviors exhaust your mind, body, and spirit, creating illness, depression, and anxiety.

Overeating and food addictions are common among empaths. Food is medicine; it can stabilize an empath’s sensitive system, but it can also throw it off. Excess weight can be a way of armoring yourself against absorbing other people’s pain or stress. Added pounds can make you feel more grounded and buffer negativity. However, gaining weight is not a healthy coping mechanism. There are so many other healthier ones!

How I can help

Through our work together, we will focus on healthy alternatives and coping mechanisms against overstimulation.

It’s important to really understand the situations and the way you react to those; also, to develop a mindful awareness of your triggers and a readiness to use the grounding strategies we’ll discuss so you don’t impulsively act out with addictions when you’re stressed. Whether you periodically or regularly engage in an addictive behavior, you will learn how to grow larger than your addicted self to become a more empowered empath.

Empaths and Relationships

Empaths often have special challenges in all their relationships, including intimate relationships, because of their intense sensitivities. The right love relationship empowers empath’s. Being valued and adored makes us all feel appreciated and grounded.

Regarding intimate relationships, “too much togetherness” can cause empaths to go on sensory overload and feel suffocated. As a result, relationships may feel too emotionally demanding. Or alternatively, empaths may choose “unavailable people” to avoid the challenges of intimacy that arise with available partners (though they’re not always aware of this motivation).

Here’s the common struggle: you may want companionship, but it can feel unsafe. Empaths often have the conflicting desires of wanting to be loved and wanting to be alone. We want to be needed but we don’t want other people’s needs to overwhelm us. Shutting down, repressing our anxieties, walking on eggshells, or running away when these issues surface is not the answer.

How I can help

During the sessions, we will work together towards healthier ways to deal with such situations, but learning to protect your sensitivities, set healthy boundaries, and authentically expressing your needs—especially the need for alone time.

People who Drain your Energy

People who drain your energy are attracted to the sensitivity and loving hearts of empaths. Sensitive people need to be prepared for them.

Because empaths are emotional sponges, these people can suck the serenity and positivity right out of you.

The super-toxic ones, such as narcissists, can make you feel unworthy and unlovable. You may tiptoe around them for fear of an explosion or withdrawal of their love.

How I can help

During the therapeutic work, we will look into identifying those people who drain your energy in your life and developing strategies to effectively deal with them. Doing so will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your relationships and prevent you from being sapped by them.

Empaths and Work

Empaths must feel comfortable in their work environment, as is true for most people. However, since empaths may be less defended against stress than others, it may be harder for them to bounce back without becoming exhausted with their jobs. Remember, as an empath, you may be a creator, an inventor, a visionary; you may think out of the box and love helping others. Therefore when your talents are tapped, work can be fulfilling and fun. Considering this, it is important for empaths to choose the right job, as they will suffer in the wrong work environment.

How I can help

In our work together, we will look into what is the best job that suits your sensitive temperament. If you need to stay in a less-than-ideal job, I will also show you how to make the most of your environment with certain skills. It’s also important to deal with eventually challenging colleagues at your work place. Once you get coping skills in place to deal with these, work can become much more pleasant.

Empaths and Intuition

Empaths perceive the world in such rich and intuitive ways. Intuition is a wonderful gift of being an empath. 

Intuitive empaths differ from “highly sensitive people,” in that they know things that others don’t know because their channels are wide open. Some have visions, some empaths are powerful dreamers who receive guidance in dreams. Intuitive empaths can access mysterious levels of human consciousness that mainstream medicine doesn’t yet understand.

As an empath, you must learn to use your gifts of intuition wisely and remain grounded. Sometimes these intuitive experiences can feel far out and overwhelming.

How I can help

My work will help you understand who you are as an intuitive empath, to stay centered and integrate what you see and feel in a healthy way. We will work together towards self-empowering and self-development.