If you’re an empath, you know you’re an empath.
Maybe you don’t (yet: until this very instant) know or use the word “empath,” but you know how being an empath feels.
And it’s all about feeling. Ordinary in all other ways, empaths are those who by some as-yet-unknown means absorb the moods and vibes and energies of others—even strangers.
What’s this like? Imagine wearing a magnetic shirt and walking through a needle factory. Imagine hearing the whirl of atoms in air, and the footsteps of flies. Imagine suddenly finding yourself nude at Disneyland.
No wonder empaths often mistake other people’s problems for their own. No wonder they doubt their own sanity.
Given this sacred gift or psychic talent which might be a spiritual hypersensitivity, a biological anomaly, a disease and/or the world’s most annoying superpower, empaths have developed techniques by which they might safely navigate this crowded, sad, mad world.
Emmy the Empath needed help. She scoured the Web and asked friends for empathy-management techniques. Here are a few she’s learned and tried, and what she thinks of them.
“Grounding”: One of the most popular techniques entails visualizing a cord, root, anchor-chain or beam of light extending from one’s body deep into the earth. Unwanted energies are then “flushed” down this cord.
But Emmy imagines her cord tangling with those of other empaths and with subterranean pipes, cables, tree-roots, gold mines, weapon-smuggling tunnels, sewers and stalagmites. A literal type of thinker, she also imagines her cord savagely bisecting moles.
Similarly, she wonders: how long and elastic are such cords? What happens to empaths flying over phone lines or the Alps on planes?
Grounding works best for those who like to visualize and who believe energy can be moved around. (Those are big ifs.) Alternate grounding methods, without subterranean imaginary cords: touch trees; visualize bad vibes shooting from your hands down their trunks and roots into the neutral, energy-transforming earth. Walk barefoot on sand, grass or unpaved ground (ringworm alert!); imagine bad vibes draining through your soles. Wade, swim, bathe or otherwise touch water. Many empaths recommend saltwater; salt is a natural disinfectant.
Crystals, jade and other gemstones can allegedly repel bad vibes and attract or even create good ones. Agates for courage, quartz for clarity, turquoise for honesty, obsidian for cleansing and releasing fear;, jasper for understanding, pearls for love, garnets for hope and joy—or so they say.
To Emmy, this technique holds infinite appeal.
Some empaths like to “shield” by picturing themselves surrounded by impermeable emotion-deflecting substances: fiberglass spheres, fore example. Or hazmat suits.
Shielding is controversial because impermeable shields block all vibrations, bad and good—rendering empaths relatively numb. Appealing as that sounds, Emmy asks: aren’t we meant to feel and somehow use all these emotions? Is disabling our superpower cruel, sinful or stupid?
To calibrate quasi-numbness, some empaths recommend “filtering”: Picture yourself ensconced by not an impermeable substance but a porous one—sponge, say, or insulation foam or window screen—which blocks (because you tell it to) only bad vibes.
Emmy prefers a filter comprising potent, protective, pale blue light falling around her from the sky in sheets. She finds this image easy to maintain.
Most of the foregoing techniques boil down to focused fantasy. When Emmy is having a skeptical day, they feel to her like playing Mystery Date. For such days, empaths might try strategies aimed at decluttering and decompressing (Emmy calls it “desperate soul retrieval”) before, during and following human contact. For instance, listening to music. Emmy likes techno, bells and binaural beats.
Other popular decompressors include art. Exercise. Nature. Prayer. Meditation. Food. Sleep. Animals. Chatting with fellow empaths. Hugs. Manual labor. Laughter, which is of course a matter of taste.
All these techniques require trial, error, practice and faith. Of course, the foolproof solution is arithmetical. The fewer people near you, the fewer emotions you’ll absorb, aka abstinence. This makes life extra-hard for extroverted empaths. Emmy is not one of those. She would prefer to be a hermit living miles from anyone, inside a hollow log.
Empaths, remember: you can absorb not just grief, fear and anxiety from others but also happiness, awe and mirth. Learn to detect these feelings (also: serenity, reverence and jubilation) wherever you can. Intensify your positive-emotion receptors as you might tone muscles for sports. Locate the “positive emoters” wherever you go. Shy? Introverted? You need never meet them. Simply siphon their bliss, secretly.
Author: Anneli Rufus
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Images: Original illustrations courtesy of author.