People debate the definition of “empath." Some say it’s similar to “highly sensitive” while others describe it more broadly, closer to “empathic”, or being able to recognize the emotions of others. Others say an empath is a person with full clairsentient, Deanna Troi-from-Star Trek psychic superpowers. Either way, it’s exciting to be alive at a time when these are the dinner conversations!
I’m no Deanna Troi, but like many of you reading this, I do feel the emotions of the people around me. And not just the people I know best. Most of the time being intuitive is helpful. But at times it can lead me into dangerous territory if I’m not careful.
What I’ve learned as an open hearted, empathic person is that if I don’t care for my own heart and protect it, I can suffer.
I like to think of the boundaries I’ve established or the protection that I have around my heart as a permeable bubble that expands as my heart does. It isn’t that I need to block out evil or walk around walled off from other people’s feelings. I can allow love to flow in and out, and open myself up on my terms. This way I honour my sensitivity.
One major aspect of protecting our hearts is being able to set clear boundaries. For a long time, I thought it was my job to look after everyone else first. But constant giving to others eventually lead me to exhaustion. I felt depleted, unsupported, and was giving from a place of emptiness. It is difficult to pay attention to our own needs when we are so busy looking after others.
Acknowledging the need to set clear boundaries has helped me implement the following tools and practices.
8 ways to Protect a Sensitive Heart:
1. Spend time in silence. Turn off the distractions in your life and create a quiet space to help you to notice your inner landscape. This gives your heart time to recalibrate.
2. If you can’t be in silence, minimize the intensity of the stimulation. For example, try driving without music or phone calls from time to time. My kids have (reluctantly at first) come to appreciate that we alternate between their favorite music and mine–the sound of their voices.
3. Honour your intuitive feelings and gut reactions. If you don’t honour these feelings, no one else will. By valuing your intuition you are trusting in you. Find safe, objective places (counselling, healers etc) to take your difficult emotions so they don’t get stuck.
4. Choose to be with people who support you and appreciate your sensitivity. As an empath, you don’t just hear a person’s negative story, you carry it away with you long after the person leaves.
5. When you do have a negative or draining interaction, cleanse your energy field afterward. Walk in nature, give yourself even a short yoga practice, smudge yourself or your space with white sage or essential oils. If you don’t have a lot of time, try a few strong exhaling breaths outdoors.
6. Before going into high stimulation situations (malls, school, meetings, supermarkets, line-ups etc.), “zip up” your energy creating a shield or imagine that you are surrounded with diamond white light.
7. If it fits with your belief system, call in Archangel Michael, Archangel Hanael or your higher self for strength and protection.
8. Practice acceptance of yourself and where you are in your life at this moment. Compassion for ourselves is an essential part of taming the need to constantly give to others.
How do you support your sensitive heart? Do you practice some or all of these already? I’d love for you to share your practices so we can all benefit from them.