I've recently been introduced to the concept of empaths as a real thing. It started from reading about "highly sensitive people", after I'd determined I definitely am one, the rabbit hole opened up even more. I've read a few articles, but as always, I'm worried about any bias getting in the way and making things a little too subjective for a self-assessment to be accurate. It's actually really annoying to me that I don't trust myself with this, because over the last year I've really been working on trusting my intuition. This is a pretty long post, if you don't feel like reading through everything, I answer a quiz at the end.
Not trusting it got me into an ugly situation that only got worse. In the middle of that situation, I started noticing that I sometimes knew when someone was going to do something, when people were pissed at me, and when I should be worried and what I should be worried about. I ignored everything though, even though my feelings and 'knowing' was being constantly verified. Towards the beginning of everything when things were relatively peachy, I had my first experience with shrooms, or magic mushrooms, with all the people involved in the situation plus a few. Of course it was an absolutely spiritual experience; it opened up not my mind, but myself. That's the feeling I had about it. I don't think I would have gotten through and handled the next couple months how I did without it. On the flip side, it also made me feel closer to those people than I should have. Only do that with people you're already close to! Two days after, I was jumped by 3 (other, but known by my 'friends') people. I knew that I shouldn't go around them, but I did because someone asked me to. I was fine, I think the drugs the Dr. Prescribed did more damage than the beating. I was honestly unscathed emotionally except for being furious. Everyone else was freaking out way more than me, but I know it must have had some kind of lasting impression. I think the psychedelic experience and then that practically on top of it may have jolted and activated something. I was more extroverted the following months, and began recognizing my intuition speaking and really picking up on peoples vibes, or noticing that I was. I think I predicted getting pulled over by a cop. I was driving to speak to the police about the incident. I kept thinking how funny and ironic it would be if I was pulled over. I kept thinking about it until I was like, "wait. WHY am I thinking about this?!" I tried to stop, but it never really did. On my way back home I was still thinking it when I got pulled over. I still often know what the people close to me are going to say or want me to do without any known precedent to make me think those things.
About a year or so before this all happened, I was perplexed and frustrated because I realized I was always looking for something, an answer, or rather THE answer. But didn't know what the question was! About 6 months before that, I had haphazardly stumbled into researching Hinduism and I researched as extensively as I could on the internet. I ordered the translated Bhagavadgita and some of the Vedas (very hard to understand without context). What I found was people had already had my personal and original thoughts thousands of years ago! It excited me, perplexed me, and slightly irritated me, but it mostly brought me peace. I always felt there were different parts of me. The atman my personal soul, part of a bigger picture, the brahman. Which was separate from my physical reality and I needed to be in touch with it. Reincarnation and karma became more than musings that I couldn't dare take seriously, even though I was already operating on that belief system. Everything seemed to fall into place and make sense. Even though I was in a very awkward place, in my early 20s, no idea what I was doing or where I was going, I was very content. I also realized I'd been inexplicably drawn to India throughout my life, for different reasons... Either I was being led the direction I needed to go with stepping stones, or I was rationalizing and finding reasons for my fascination. Either way, when I came upon and dived into Hinduism, it spoke to me and I truly felt it was path I NEEDED to take. It's important to note I don't consider myself a Hindu. For one it's just as much a culture and tradition as a religion. It's very tied up in culture and ethnicity, and there's a lot of regulations in the practice of it, and I don't believe in restricting one's self to a "religion" in which once committed you have to follow their rules and do a bunch of arbitrary things. Although perhaps if I had mentoring I'd see it differently, anyway. It does affect my everyday life in the way I perceive things and act and my beliefs because the core principles makes sense to me. An odd thing happened when I started seeing a therapist. She asked me, for apparently no reason as far as I can tell, if I was Vedic. I guess it's affected me more than I realize. I'm secure with this and at peace. But there is still something I've been looking for, for a long time. It leads me to never ending discoveries down different avenues, but I never find IT. I'm always searching for more knowledge.
Through all of my life that I can remember, I've been looking for answers, and even looking for questions to find answers for. This encompasses many things, maybe even literally everything. Even as a child I'd think about things intently and put together any information I got until I had a conclusion I was satisfied with. Routinely remembering and adding to problems I'd been working on but got put on hold for lack of new information or ideas. Of course I couldn't answer everything, and it was always really frustrating. I'm naturally introverted, I was a shy kid, and have moderate (taken down a notch from severe) social anxiety layered on top of it. As a kid, it was reinforced to keep things to myself, particularly away from my parents. My mother ridiculed her children more often than supported them, and passive aggressively found ways to undermine them and make them feel foolish. Even if it was something she agreed with, she could make you feel stupid and silly for not thinking of it sooner than her. It's a talent I guess. It took me years after moving out and far away to work out that she did that to me, and what affect it had, and recognizing that it was her, not me. It took me objectively seeing her do the same thing to my sister for me to really start putting it together. I believe that's where my near inability to trust myself comes from, and it makes it very difficult, even painful, for me to express myself and open up to even my husband. It makes me harshly feel criticism from people I trust. I don't care about criticism from people I don't know, but it really hurts from people in my inner circle.
While my mother was sneering, snickering and scoffing, my step dad was authoritatively enforcing biblical law and instilling the fear of the Christian god. I grew up in a medieval landscape where my bad behavior and stubbornness were caused by demonic possession. I was not a happy child, and it became worse after I started home schooling. My mother elected to put me on her anti-depressant pills when I was in second grade, and I took them until I was 10. I refused to take them anymore because I hated feeling unauthentic, and nauseous. For me, homeschooling meant years of isolation which sent me into a suicidal depression in my early teens. The general dysfunction of my family drove on me, drug me down, and oppressed me. I couldn't even express myself! I could barely think at times in that environment, and I really couldn't function. It was the clutter and the terrible vibes. I recently stepped into my old room, now packed full of boxes and god knows what, and this intense audio and vibrating buzz overwhelmed me. I couldn't think or anything, I had to just run out. When I went back in, I expected it and it didn't overwhelm me again. But it was still a huge relief to walk back out of the door away from it. I've considered electrical currents, or household appliance motors somehow resonating in that room, but it just doesn't make sense, and no one else noticed it. I think it was residual negative energy. My room saw countless hours of my emotional agony. Sometimes I'd run to my room because I needed to cry. Sometimes I'd go in, have my session, and come out to carry on whatever I was doing. There were long periods of time where I felt nothing but despair, depression and anger. I wondered if I could feel anything else, and decided the best course of action was to not feel anything. I shut myself down and retreated into myself as much as I could. I just felt numb most of the time. I think if I do possess empathic abilities, this severely stunted them. Fortunately with my time in my head and marginal success in blocking things out, I prepared elaborate multistep plans to overcome my social inabilities, anxieties, and repression. Looking back, that seems rather much, rather complicated, for a teenager. Not only a process I feel I shouldn't have had to go through, but something I shouldn't have been able to plan and carry out as a 13,14,15 year old.
I'm full of contradictions, which supposedly is apparent in my chart. On one hand I've made myself numb, on the other I feel too much. I do shield myself from the bloody details in the news, from violent movies and ones with the wrong kind of drama. Even the news I do expose myself to can make me really angry or sad. I feel intensely for people going through a tragedy and feeling pain. I think I unconsciously use my numbing technique to block a lot out and because of my upbringing I run away from emotions. If I'm getting emotions, I retreat. I've cheated myself out of many good friendships by doing this. I really can't tell if I don't know how to deal with regular emotions, or if mine are unusually strong. Music has the ability to make me cry, art makes my emotions uncomfortably intense, so can movies. I have mood swings for no apparent reason. One minute I'll be happy, the next I'll be totally the opposite. Unfortunately the negative ones are a lot harder to replace with positive ones. I have noticed this happens when I'm moving through a group of people. Although I don't mind crowds. I worked in a mall, in the food court for 3 years and I learned to love it. I love the energy of everyone together, but I experienced the mood swings. I held one job for almost the full 3 years, I noticed that the customers there were totally different than the ones that went to the other place I worked at. They were terrible! It was an odd phenomenon. After I quit and only worked at the place with reasonable and positive customers, I had almost no mood swings. I also recently spent time in Japan, I didn't mind the crowds at all. But I did have many mood swings and couldn't shake my funk. My husband could barely take it, and I didn't know what to tell him when he asked what was going on. This also coincided with digestive problems, which I read are related to receiving the emotions of others. I have a chronic lower back problem.
I know this is already really long, and probably not organized very well. But I'm going to include the list of 30 traits of an empathy I found, and my reactions to them. I really appreciate anyone who reads through all this and can help me.
1. Knowing: Empaths just know stuff, without being told. It's a knowing that goes way beyond intuition or gut feelings, even though that is how many would describe the knowing. The more attuned they are the stronger this gift becomes.
Sometimes I just know things, and it seems that sometimes it manifests as weird and obsessive thoughts. I just have difficulty trusting myself. I've been working on recognizing these from the general noise in my head and trusting them.
2. Being in public places can be overwhelming: Places like shopping malls, supermarkets or stadiums where there are lots of people around can fill the empath with turbulently vexed emotions that are coming from others.
I don't mind these places, I like the collective energy. But I do experience moodswings.
3. Feeling others emotions and taking them on as your own: This is a huge one for empaths. To some they will feel emotions off those near by and with others they will feel emotions from those a vast distance away, or both. The more adept empath will know if someone is having bad thoughts about them, even from great distance.
I would like to learn how to recognize if this is happening or not. I tend to think I'm paranoid and maybe I am.
4. Watching violence, cruelty or tragedy on the TV is unbearable: The more attuned an empath becomes the worse it is and may make it so they eventually have to stop watching TV and reading newspapers altogether.
These take a huge emotional toll on me. I stick to internet news and media where I can control what I'm exposed to.
5. You know when someone is not being honest: If a friend or a loved one is telling you lies you know it (although many empaths try not to focus on this because knowing a loved one is lying can be painful). Or if someone is saying one thing but feeling/thinking another, you know.
Again, I really need to learn how to trust myself. I don't think I'm usually wrong about whether I'm being lied to. "Think" being the key word.
6. Picking up physical symptoms off another: An empath will almost always develop the ailments off another (colds, eye infections, body aches and pains) especially those they're closest to, somewhat like sympathy pains.
This has never happened to my knowledge.
7. Digestive disorders and lower back problems: The solar plexus chakra is based in the centre of the abdomen and it's known as the seat of emotions. This is where empaths feel the incoming emotion of another, which can weaken the area and eventually lead to anything from stomach ulcers to IBS (too many other conditions to list here). Lower back problems can develop from being ungrounded (amongst other things) and one, who has no knowledge of them being an empath, will almost always be ungrounded.
I have noticed digestive problems when surrounded by people for long periods of time. While in Tokyo I was experiencing that along with mood swings and a general funk. I have a chronic lower back problem that almost always hurts.
8. Always looking out for the underdog: Anyone whose suffering, in emotional pain or being bullied draws an empath's attention and compassion.
9. Others will want to offload their problems on you, even strangers: An empath can become a dumping ground for everyone else's issues and problems, which, if they're not careful can end up as their own.
I feel this happens to me more than the average person, but not from random strangers walking up to me and spilling their secrets. Often it happens that I'm in a social setting, and someone will attach themselves and start talking. They comment that its odd they're telling me this, and I tell them people are just comfortable telling me things. Although this hasn't happened in a while.
10. Constant fatigue: Empaths often get drained of energy, either from energy vampires or just taking on too much from others, which even sleep will not cure. Many get diagnosed with ME.
Yes, I tend to think I'm lazy and slothful.
11. Addictive personality: Alcohol, drugs, sex, are to name but a few addictions that empaths turn to, to block out the emotions of others. It is a form of self protection in order to hide from someone or something.
I really like weed, but I don't feel I have an addictive personality. Perhaps because I created numbing and retreating techniques before I had access to any of these things.
12. Drawn to healing, holistic therapies and all things metaphysical: Although many empaths would love to heal others they can end up turning away from being healers (even though they have a natural ability for it), after they've studied and qualified, because they take on too much from the one they are trying to heal. Especially if they are unaware of their empathy. Anything of a supernatural nature is of interest to empaths and they don't surprise or get shocked easily. Even at the revelation of what many others would consider unthinkable, for example, empaths would have known the world was round when others believed it was flat.
I've always been drawn to the unexplained and taboo. I'm really interested in learning about herbology and consider holistic to be the only approach. I'm fascinated by everything weird and not mainstream. I've been trying to astral project and almost succeeded. I really could go on. This describes me. Though I thought it was a Pisces thing.
13. Creative: From singing, dancing, acting, drawing or writing an empath will have a strong creative streak and a vivid imagination.
I have a strong drive to create art. I wish I could sing well, I enjoy dancing, hate acting, love drawing, I often have the urge to write. I do have a vivid imagination.
14. Love of nature and animals: Being outdoors in nature is a must for empaths and pets are an essential part of their life.
Yes. It calms and energizes/recharges me, especially the beach. Living too far away from the coast bums me out, the idea of being landlocked gives me anxiety. I've always seemed to "have a way with animals" as people say. Pets that don't usually warm up to strangers often like me. If I'm approaching an animal, I can feel tension building and know when to back off and how to approach. I just feel my way around them.
15. Need for solitude: An empath will go stir-crazy if they don't get quiet time. This is even obvious in empathic children.
Definitely. I've always gone off by myself out of necessity. After a day at work, I usually just want shut myself in my room or go for a walk if I have the energy.
16. Gets bored or distracted easily if not stimulated: Work, school and home life has to be kept interesting for an empath or they switch off from it and end up daydreaming or doodling.
Always wandering off in my head. I have to drag myself back to the boring present.
17. Finds it impossible to do things they don't enjoy: As above. Feels like they are living a lie by doing so. To force an empath to do something they dislike through guilt or labelling them as idle will only serve in making them unhappy. It's for this reason many empaths get labelled as being lazy.
All. The. Time. Notably my older sister tries forcing me into these unpalatable molds. It's a volatile combination.
18. Strives for the truth: This becomes more prevalent when an empath discovers his/her gifts and birthright. Anything untruthful feels plain wrong.
I have always felt this way. I occasionally tell white lies to get what I need when there is no other way, like days off from work. But on the whole untruths drive me nuts.
19. Always looking for the answers and knowledge: To have unanswered questions can be frustrating for an empath and they will endeavor to find an explanation. If they have a knowing about something they will look for confirmation. The downside to this is an information overload.
Always. This post is me looking for confirmation.
20. Likes adventure, freedom and travel: Empaths are free spirits.
Yes. I crave adventure, need freedom and love traveling.
21. Abhors clutter: It makes an empath feel weighed down and blocks the flow of energy.
Yes. Clutter affects my ability to think and makes me feel suffocated and stagnant.
22. Loves to daydream: An empath can stare into space for hours, in a world of their own and blissfully happy.
More so when I was a kid. But I still like staring out the window on road trips just being in my own little world.
23. Finds routine, rules or control, imprisoning: Anything that takes away their freedom is debilitating to an empath even poisoning.
24. Prone to carry weight without necessarily overeating: The excess weight is a form of protection to stop the negative incoming energies having as much impact.
No, I don't think my weight is affected by anything like this. I was a chubby kid, lost my baby fat at about age 12 and stayed pretty slim, then gained 20 pounds when I was 20 and living with a bf, lost it all, and have been slowly gaining since. I'm only about 130 lbs.
25. Excellent listener: An empath won't talk about themselves much unless it's to someone they really trust. They love to learn and know about others and genuinely care.
I hate talking about myself for a few reasons, one of which is I don't trust people with information about me. I do like to listen. When I was in Japan, I worked at a couple hostess clubs. I just sat and listened to guys from all walks of life and from many places. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
26. Intolerance to narcissism: Although kind and often very tolerant of others, empaths do not like to be around overly egotistical people, who put themselves first and refuse to consider another's feelings or points of view other than their own.
Narcissists are infuriating.
27. The ability to feel the days of the week: An empath will get the 'Friday Feeling' if they work Fridays or not. They pick up on how the collective are feeling. The first couple of days of a long, bank holiday weekend (Easter for example) can feel, to them, like the world is smiling, calm and relaxed. Sunday evenings, Mondays and Tuesdays, of a working week, have a very heavy feeling.
No, If I'm not working, I won't have any idea what day of the week it is. I'm better at knowing the time, but that's just an accurate body clock.
28. Will not choose to buy antiques, vintage or second-hand: Anything that's been pre-owned carries the energy of the previous owner. An empath will even prefer to have a brand new car or house (if they are in the financial situation to do so) with no residual energy.
I don't mind used in the least. I actually have a lot of used things. Though I could probably stand to do smudging or something.
29. Sense the energy of food: Many empaths don't like to eat meat or poultry because they can feel the vibrations of the animal (especially if the animal suffered), even if they like the taste.
I am a vegetarian for many reasons. I went through a period of time where I didn't have money for, well, anything. I stopped eating meat because I couldn't afford it. When I tried again it was not enjoyable. I've eaten a little meat off and on since then, it always makes me feel bad and sick. I became more aware of how our food industry works, and one of the reasons I don't eat meat is because of the bad energy coming from an animal that had a miserable existence and most likely a violent death. Although I can't say I literally feel the energies. Also the hormones and antibiotics they pump into them. I'll elect to eat organic meat from an animal that had a good life and wasn't tortured when killed.
30. Can appear moody, shy, aloof, disconnected: Depending on how an empath is feeling will depend on what face they show to the world. They can be prone to mood swings and if they've taken on too much negative will appear quiet and unsociable, even miserable. An empath detests having to pretend to be happy when they're sad, this only adds to their load (makes working in the service industry, when it's service with a smile, very challenging) and can make them feel like scuttling under a stone.
So I'm really looking for any input that anyone has that can help me sort through this, should I be considered an empath, or highly sensitive? How can I cultivate my sensitivity to be constructive and work for me? Have I stunted my intuition or empathic abilities? I really need help and advice on how to become more attuned to my intuition, and in trusting myself too.
A great big thanks to anyone willing to help