Hello, it’s Rebecca. I am an empath. I’m wondering if you are. There’s been more and more posted on the internet about Highly Sensitive Persons or “Empaths”. The personality trait — which was first officially researched by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D., in the early 1990s — is relatively common, with as many as one in five people possessing it according to research. (Personally I think the number is much higher because of the masking effect I am about to discuss!)
What is an empath or a Highly Sensitive Person? An empath is someone who is highly sensitive to the energy and emotions of the people and places around him or her.
Well, the most obvious sign is that you feel like you are more sensitive than everyone else. However, there are many other signs that you might be an empath. I have listed 16 of the most common signs that I’ve witnessed in my work over the past 20 years.
Count how many of the following statements apply to you:
- I avoid watching the news because it is too stressful or upsetting.
- Frequent sensation of being mentally scattered or having brain fog.
- I struggle with chronic anxiety.
- I feel when others are upset, angry, or sad without them saying it.
- I feel drained after talking with someone upset or negative.
- Emotional radar was developed due to childhood exposure to abuse or alcoholism.
- Chronic problems with overeating or binge eating.
- I have a very strong sense when people are lying.
- Chronic moderate to severe environmental allergies or digestive problems.
- Avoid crowds and feel drained and tired after being in groups.
- Experience other people’s anger like a “sonic boom” to your nervous system.
- Feel like a psychic “sponge” to the people and places around you.
- Frustrated by your lack of resilience to stress and stressful people.
- Unexplained bouts of sadness or depression that come and go.
- Feel like being sensitive is your weakness or “Achilles’ Heel”.
- Have difficulty drawing boundaries or saying “No” to others.
If you scored high on this quiz, you will probably agree that being empath can feel more like a burden or an on-going challenge than anything else. But did you know that being highly sensitive could be the exact reason that you have not been able to overcome other problems in your life? Here are some common ones I am going to discuss today:
- Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Emotional Eating and Eating Disorders
- Social Anxiety
- Chronic Sadness or Depression
- Serial Stressful Relationships
Anxiety and Panic Attacks. I have never (in 20 years!) worked with a client who suffers from anxiety who wasn’t an Empath! Highly sensitive people are highly reactive to their own internal dialogue and stories. This means that they can put themselves into fight or flight just by thinking about stressful situations! The problem is that if left unchecked, anxiety and panic tends to mushroom. This means that it will start in one area of your life like driving and then it extends to other areas of your life.
Instead of getting frustrated and criticizing yourself for being too anxious or reactive, you’ve got to honor your nature and learn how to work with it. If you struggle with anxiety or panic attacks, I would love to show you how to retrain your mind and body to have a relaxation response to stress and stressful thoughts instead of the fight or flight response which underlies anxiety and panic. My program for breaking the cycle of anxiety bridges the gap between intellectually knowing what needs to happen and actually embodying the resilience and calm you want.
Problem Sadness and Depression: I grew up in an alcoholic home. And like many highly sensitive children, my emotional radar was always “ON” as I tried to navigate around my parent’s moods and the dysfunction in the home. As a teenager, I began to suffer from depression. I believe that depression, in many cases, is another type of coping for certain empaths where the person shut downs when feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Hypnotherapy helped me heal my depression by clearing the old wellsprings of emotion left over from childhood and providing me with active tools to become more emotionally resilient. Now, I teach other empaths how to clear their stress at the subconscious level and stay more emotionally grounded and positive.
Social Anxiety: Empaths are sensitive to the energy and emotions of the people and places around them. If you struggle with social anxiety, it seems that you are particularly affected by the stressful emotions and stressful energy of the people and places around you. In other words, group situations and community spaces are your biggest challenge. High school, college classes, busy or stressful work environments, shopping malls, concerts, amusement parks and other similar places are like emotional toxic soup for these types of empaths and thus they tend to avoid these crowded places or feel extremely drained after being in them. The good news is that you can learn a system of hypnosis and imagery techniques to become resilient to the energy of the people and places around them.
Problems in Personal Relationships: Do you feel drained, tired or down after you talk to a friend who is upset? Many empaths struggle to draw healthy boundaries with others because saying “No” is uncomfortable. Furthermore, you may put aside your own needs rather than experience the discomfort of feeling the other person’s disappointment, frustration, or anger. In other words, you avoid conflict! This can create a huge problem in love relationships and friendships because over time you tend to become increasingly unhappy living out everybody else’s daily stresses and as you habitually put aside your own wants and needs for others. Believe it or not, there is a way out of this. You can learn to develop “healthy detachment” and stop getting steam rolled by other people’s stresses and emotional dramas.
THERE IS A SOLUTION! If you are someone who struggles with any of the problems on my list of 16 signs, it is my 100% belief that you ARE an empath who just needs to learn how to manage your sensitivity so that it becomes your GIFT instead of what holds you back in life.
I believe this is very important for you and humanity! Believe it not, the ultimate role of the empath is NOT to absorb stress or go into the pit with everyone else’s dramas. The ultimate destiny of an empath is to rise above the stresses and anxiety of the world around you, unleash your brilliance and become a light to this world in the unique way that only you can do!