I am an Empath. Now for those of you who do not know, an Empath is one who feels what others feel around them; we have the innate ability to tune into and read people's emotions and feelings, however seldom at will. Throughout my time on this site and looking through various posts and stories about Empathy and Empaths, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, questions is "how do I control my ability?" Plain and simple in a nutshell, you can't. Now I know that's a very blunt, conclusive response, but it's true and it's to the point as far as control goes with Empathy.
But if you really, really, desperately seek something that reaches as close to "control" over Empathy as is possible, then you've come to the right post: Tuning in. Sounds simple enough, yea? No, it's not. You're wrong. I know this, and so does any other experienced Empath out there. Tuning into someone's emotions isn't a feasible task, mainly because we are so subjective and impulsive that we lack the innate patience to tune in; when we feel the slightest bit of disillusionment we let our internal (and psychic) insecurities run amuck, starting fights and riots within our minds, making it even harder than how hard it already is to try to attempt to focus on tuning in. And then you just feel like giving up, or I do anyway.
So, in order to tune in, even though this goes without needing to say, you need to 1. Believe in yourself and your ability (if you truly are an Empath, this WILL happen sooner or later... Don't fret), and 2. Center, calm, relax, whatever you want to call it. Just shut up and listen! And by listen I mean you should be shutting your own feelings up, because if you've got those floating around along with other people's emotions, too. Can anybody say Xanax? And by shutting your feelings up I mean you should cast them out for the time being so that you aren't being jaded during your practicing tuning in.
Now, to get straight to the "tuning in" part, to tune in you have to be around somebody or someplace with a high enough degree of already present emotions; if you are not so experienced with your gift, chances are you aren't going to be able to dig too deep down in the place's or person's emotional aura to sense anything underlying just yet, that's for later.
If you are just starting out with practicing to tune into the emotions of others, try walking into a store, any store, and just calm yourself and listen. Not with your ears, but with your heart. What is the aura in here? Is it hustle and bustle, or is it calm and collected? And don't answer that by just looking around, because it's no lie that looks can be deceiving; somebody could be having a really bad day on the inside, while externally looking like they're all good, which causes the emotional energy in the area to writhe and swirl around like traffic on the freeway. Do you get a good feeling from being in here or are you feeling weird around this place?
These are the things that once you get to a certain "level" of experience in working with your abilities you won't have to even pay attention to how you feel, you'll know right off the bat what's up. I used to walk into a department store and felt nothing because I wasn't at that level with my gift yet. Nowadays, you put me in a store and I can tell you what the last customer in there had for breakfast that morning. Why? Because I listened, and with that practice of just listening it became instinctual for me to automatically tune in and listen to the energy with my heart wide open. So I guess I lied: if you can gain the patience to practice, then you can go from nothing to the world's biggest emotional sponge, and you can control your ability. I did.