I’m what you might call a creative.
I write, I draw, I love to cook, and music breathes life into me, causing me to sing and dance as if nobody was watching. Oh, and I also happen to be an empath.
I feel deeply. I weep copiously. I love unconditionally. I’d make a rubbish poker player because I can’t lie or keep a secret. Believe me, I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. I couldn’t hide a needle in a haystack, let alone hide how I’m feeling! I’m told I have a face that paints a thousand words in a nanosecond. And anyway, I learned at an early age that telling fibs left me feeling drained and sad.
It’s understandable why life has often felt a pretty cold and prickly place to me—wincing at the slightest act of cruelty and bruised from fighting against injustices.
To be totally frank, there’ve been times I’ve experienced the world around me as a full-on torture chamber—and I’m not talking Fifty Shades!
So, somewhere back in the late 80s early 90s when I discovered the merits of positive thinking, you can imagine why I lapped it up so greedily. Quickly mastering the stiff upper lip approach, I soon found I could “carry on regardless,” no matter what was thrown at me.
Mind over matter became one of my favourite mantras. I could power-up and roar in the face of any challenge. With a mental tool kit to rival even the largest hardware store, negative emotions were swiftly dealt with, pushed aside, and sent packing the second any one of them dared to rear their ugly head. Swoosh, wallop, bang—and I was back in control in an instant. Strutting the positive power stance of a lioness, Wonder Woman had nothing on me.
The thing is, as the years and decades went past, whilst I no longer felt victim to the world around me, I began to realise there was something missing. It wasn’t until everything I had believed in came tumbling down around me that I finally came to my senses. My true senses.
It was 2009 when I found myself on my knees in every sense of the word (physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, emotionally, you name it); there was absolutely nothing left to hold on to. Nothing.
The desperation was overwhelming, and with all my external choices utterly depleted, I had no choice other than to surrender to the unknown. With nowhere else to look, nobody else to turn to, and nothing else I could do, I went inside…
Stepping inside was a darned scary proposition for me. I’d spent decades building a castle to keep myself safe. I’d deliberately created ways to keep charging ahead, developing complex methods to protect the soft, innocent little me who had felt hurt so many times, she doubted that she could even survive in the world. My “positive thinking” attitude had seen me sailing through difficulties—and losing myself along the way.
I started to realise that despite my best intentions, my fine-tuned practice of staying resilient in the face of adversity had left me feeling exhausted and empty. Or to put it another way, drained and sad. Exactly the same response I’d felt when holding a secret or being untrue to myself.
Step by step, breath by breath, moment by moment, I began to reconnect and feel. Really feel. And it turned out that this vulnerability we all have is not a weakness. Quite the contrary. It’s our greatest strength.
I came to know that there’s absolutely no such thing as a negative feeling. Nope. No such thing at all. I know that’s a big statement to make. The fact is, all emotions, all feelings, all senses are simply messages. They are our internal signals, letting us know there’s a better way.
Imagine it this way. If a child is frightened or sad, do we admonish them? Do we tell them to “stop being negative, pull yourself together, and put a smile on your face!” No, of course we don’t, so why do it to ourselves?
A tightening in the tummy, quickening heartbeat, feelings of dread—these are all messages from our intuition, our inner child, our core, our essence, our soul. It doesn’t matter what we call it. These are all valid and accurate feedback on what’s going on in the moment, and that ultimately connect us to our inner sat-nav that knows the way. When we dismiss emotions such as anger, sadness, or fear as “negative,” we’re dismissing the very part of us that knows and is trying to tell us something.
This isn’t some wafty-fluffy-nonsense theory. It’s real and it’s practical, and, once fine-tuned, it has the potential to become our superpower.
Here’s a simple example of how being RAW works in real life:
R – Recognise the feeling that’s happening in the moment. Identify what you’re experiencing inside and give yourself time to feel it, without judgment, criticism, or blame.
A – Acknowledge the messenger. By which I mean, let your intuition know that you’ve heard what they’re trying to tell you. Yes, I’m inviting you to talk to yourself. Simple messages such as “I hear you. Thank you for letting me know. Goodness, I wasn’t aware of that. I’ve got the message. Thanks for warning me,” go a long way to helping immediately settle any angst!
All of us seek to be seen and heard, to feel validated. By acknowledging our inner world, we can then affect our outer world with much greater authority.
Those two steps are the ones that are so often missed, which is how we create a false reality that doesn’t serve in the long run. By recognising the feeling and acknowledging the messenger, we’re paying attention to a message our intuition has been bursting to tell us.
W – Wizardry (or witchery) because this is when the magic happens. Once the feeling has been registered and the messenger acknowledged, we have the power to do something practical in the here and now. Because now we’re standing on solid ground, in truth, and from this place, we can choose the next best move.
This is the time (not before) when self-coaching questions like “How would I rather feel? What would help me? Who can I talk to? What would happen if I did know the answer?” hold much more weight and help us create movement.
Why? Because the first two steps have cleared the way for us to really listen to the part of us that already knows. We can then act with confidence on the clear responses we’ll receive as a result of internal inquiry.
This is how our natural vulnerability becomes our greatest power. It’s a force that’s within each and every one of us, and once we understand the language, it will guide us every step of the way, always and all ways.
My lioness fighting days are now long gone. Why? Well, to paraphrase Katy Perry: “Cos I am an empath, and you’re gonna hear me raw.”