Did you know that some everyday places can be a war zone for an Empath? It's true. When you are super-sensitive to all the subtle changes in an environment and are also a sponge for people's emotions, some very normal places can become overwhelming. Here are five:
As an Empath, you soak in all the pain and suffering of the world, whether or not you are consciously aware of it. It stands to reason that a hospital—a veritable castle of suffering— would be a truly awful place for you to be.
When my husband had a total hip replacement, the hospital staff recommended that I stay with him in the room. I was more than happy to do this, but I didn't realize what a toll it would take on me. Not only was I not sleeping much because of worrying incessantly about him, hearing various beeps, and being woken by hourly nurse visits, but I was also soaking in all my husband's pain as well as the pain of everyone on the whole floor.
By the third day, I walked outside to get some air and just burst into tears. Being inside the hospital constantly for over 72 hours was a serious mistake for me, as it would be for you, if you're an Empath.
2. Planes, Trains, and Buses
Because you are so sensitive to both subtle shifts in your environment as well as other people's energy, any mode of transportation where you are crammed in with lots of other people in a space that is moving and you cannot get away is pretty awful.
Add to that the fact that you will feel every shift in altitude, bump, and turn and hear every noise, and it’s kinda hellish for you.
3. Group Therapy Sessions
Group therapy is great for a lot of things, but for an Empath, it can be debilitating. While others feel better talking things out, the Empath in the group will be absorbing all the pain of everyone there. And, because Empaths are such natural healers, it's a safe bet that the Empath in the group with be the one that everyone looks to for help and healing, even when the Empath is there for healing themselves.
One caveat on this one: If you can find a support group for Empaths, that is good for you. With a true support group filled with others like you, you can be heard and supported as much as you offer healing and support. Better yet, you will know that there are others like you out there in the world, and that can be really healing.
4. Violent or Traumatic Films
I don't go to violent or traumatic films. I learned a long time ago that they would totally blow me out energetically, and I would pay for it with a sick feeling in the gut, shakiness, or exhaustion for days afterward. it's just not worth it to me, and it shouldn't be to you, either.
Not only will the extreme sound effects bother you more than a non-Empath, but you will go on the director's emotional roller coaster much more than anyone else. You will FEEL the movie and feel for the characters in a way that is vastly different from non-empaths, and it will wear you out.
I'd avoid them. You are absorbing enough of the difficult energy of the world; you don't need to add to that.
5. Angry Offices
I worked in an office where I could feel the boss's emotional state before I ever saw her. She was an angry and seriously unbalanced woman, and she purposely led in a way that made people afraid of her. She was a total control freak, and by making everyone fear her, she got total loyalty and total compliance, which fed her crazy need for attention.
It was awful. You'd scurry around, hoping that she wouldn't single you out for humiliation during that day's meeting. You could hear her screaming at co-workers behind closed doors.
I would walk out of that office shaking, exhausted, and seriously off-center. I felt like a shell of myself, and I rarely felt the kind of joyful inspiration that is my normal.
Have to go to one of these places? Here's how you survive.
1. Limit your time or take breaks.
People think I am crazy because I opt to break up a long flight with a stop rather than take the direct flight. However, I know I will do better if I can get on the ground and get away from others for a bit.
If you can't do this, go to the bathroom and clear your head. I know it sounds silly, but the bathroom is one of those places where you can guarantee that you will get some time and space to yourself! Go in there and take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and to detach from all the emotional energy around you.
2. Put your shield up.
An energetic shield is one of the most useful things for an Empath, and it is also super easy to do. To create a shield, you simply imagine that you have a bright light that emanates out from your stomach and all the way around you, front and back, top and bottom. Imagine that this light is whatever color you would associate with protection or safety. When you are done, it should look like you have a colorful Easter egg of light surrounding your body.
3. Practice grounding.
Grounding is also an easy but essential practice for anyone that is a highly sensitive person. there are many ways to ground yourself, but some of my favorites include taking off your shoes and standing barefoot on the ground, holding on to a tree, or visualizing that you have roots of light that shoot out through the bottom of your feet like roots from a tree. I like to imagine that any stress or negativity is flowing out the bottom of my feet into the ground.
The main thing with grounding is to do whatever makes sense to you to feel like you are standing on a solid foundation and reducing the build up of energy. It’s a lot like touching a wall or a wood dresser when you feel like you’ve built up a static charge (something that is now a frequent experience for me living in Denver); when you ground yourself, you are releasing the build up of all the emotional energy you’ve picked up moving through the world.
4. Listen to your body and respect yourself by setting clear boundaries.
Finally, if you are in any of the above places (or you know you will be), make sure to pay attention to how your body is feeling. If you start to feel tension in your shoulders or stomach, or a sense of unease in your legs, it’s time to make sure you get away from the situation for a bit.
In addition, before you go, make sure you set clear boundaries about the amount of time you can deal with the situation as well as how you are going to interact with others. For instance, it’s very common for the Empath in the family to be the one sitting with an ill relative all day and night, while everyone else heads out to get lunch or coffee. This is not good for the Empath, nor is it fair. Instead, make sure to communicate clearly how much time you can be in the hospital, and create a schedule with others to make sure the ill loved one is getting support at all times.
Or, perhaps all your friends are pressuring you to go to a violent movie. For your own good, it’s okay to say, “No, you guys go ahead. I’ll meet you for drinks afterwards.” You do not have to make them understand your reasons for not going. A simple, “I’m just not interested in that film, but you guys have a good time.” is perfectly okay.
I realize setting clear boundaries is easier said than done, but it is critical for any Empath in the above situations in order to keep from being overwhelmed and exhausted.
Are there things you do to help yourself stay centered when you are in one of the above difficult places? Please share them - I’d love to hear about it.