As empaths, we can tap into awesome emotions like joy, excitement, and inspiration.
But let’s face it, nobody ever found themselves struggling because they tapped into too much love. We most often find ourselves taking in other people’s trash and sitting in it.
Years ago, I was a graduate psychology student and had to drop out of my program. I had no idea I was an empath, and I was unknowingly taking on all of my patients’ trash. Each day, as I sat in their trash, my heart and body became heavier.
Then, one day, I could not get out of bed.
Nobody had said to me, “Hey, do you know you are an empath and there is nothing wrong with you?” Back then, nobody spoke too much about being an empath, something that seems obvious to me now.
I became depressed in graduate school because I was sitting in other people’s anxiety, depression, loneliness, and despair. It is impossible as an empath not to feel weighed down when we have no idea we are absorbing other people’s trash.
Ironically, as empaths, we are drawn to trash—much like Oscar the Grouch. He loves trash. He sits in it. But, as we all know, Oscar is grouchy. That is what happens when we sit with other people’s trash. We become grouchy at best.
If we were able to talk with Oscar, we could ask him if he knows what it means to be an empath. We may even find out he has physical imbalances, insomnia, and addictions. He may tell us that he is not just grouchy, he has panic attacks and depression. We may learn that he lives in a trash can because then, there is no room for anyone else to stand beside him—an ingenious self-protective measure for creating personal space.
Most people by now have heard the word “empath,” but many have no idea how to navigate their job as an empath. As a result, they wind up sitting in other people’s trash until the day comes when they realize something is wrong. Or, like me, they can’t get out of bed. Avoidance, isolation, and hibernation most often follow. I was flattened by sitting in other people’s trash.
Another woman I was helping in a spiritual group shared that she is an empath, and when her granddaughter passed away, there was too much grief in the family. What she meant was that it was “too much for her.” What she did not know was that she could do something about it.
It is not easy being an empath today. Frankly, I am unsure if Oscar would be able to make it.
As empaths, we are working overtime because of the chaos happening in the world. Relationships are going deeper, and dramatic healing is occurring on a global scale. Not to mention, a trip to the grocery store these days brings up a whole mess of emotions for everyone.
But it does not have to be difficult for us.
We do not have to live our life in a trash can, nor do we have to run away from the world, physically or emotionally.
Today, I no longer feel weighed down by other people’s trash, other than a few moments here and there. No matter what is happening around me, I live freer and feel more connected because of five important things I have learned to do as an empath. I pose them to you as questions to allow them to seep into your subconscious mind without too much resistance.
What don’t I know about being an empath?
The first step in freeing ourselves from other people’s trash is to learn all there is to know about being an empath. While we should support Oscar because he began shouting out to the world how he loves trash, he had no idea why, or what that meant. I have found this is the case with many empaths.
Get to know in detail this wonderful gift that we have. Dr. Judith Orloff is a wonderful place to start. Having compassion for ourselves is key because being empathic is a big job. We are feeling what other people cannot. While it may feel like a curse, it is a blessing. We are bringing these difficult feelings into our energy field because we are sensitive and have this gift. We are helping others simply by being us! This is amazing, and we need to stop for a moment and realize all we are doing for our world.
What do I need to do differently because I am an empath?
Once an understanding begins to take shape, we will begin to have appreciation for all we are doing. Self-care will take on a whole new meaning; it will be our lifeline. Running ourselves ragged, working overtime, or being available at all hours of the night for others will need to stop. Taking breaks will become a necessity.
Being alone will feel as good as a full body massage (although a massage never hurts either). Turn off the news. Drink water, exercise, sleep more, put up boundaries—we know the drill. Self-care is a wonderful practice for everyone, but for an empath, it can change our life.
How do I stop sitting in other people’s trash?
Taking out the trash is the single most important thing we need to do for ourselves as empaths. Many times, we think our work is done when we feel another’s emotions, and this is the most common misunderstanding for empaths. We take on other people’s negative feelings and then sit in their trash.
We need to take out the trash, to empty our garbage can. We don’t have to feel grouchy or overwhelmed as empaths. We simply need to release what we have taken in.
Every single night, or even after an interaction where we know someone has been unloading their trash, we need to walk, sit, or find a way to go inward. This is where self-care leads to processing. Find some alone time, a quiet moment. Sit in that space we created while practicing self-care. Add some soothing candles, and be sure we have room to breathe. We need to then ask ourselves a simple but important question: “What am I feeling?”
Once we address what we are feeling, we allow our mind to trace that feeling to a source. When something or someone pops into our mind, whether it happened five minutes, five years, or five decades ago, we will have hit on the trash. We may even be drawn back to a piece of news we watched on television recently.
Remember, as empaths, we are healing emotions such as fear, anger, and grief that arise from situations both in our backyards and across the globe.
Have patience and repeat this exercise as often as possible. Over time, this becomes easier, and we will know quickly where and when these feelings entered our energy field. What is amazing is that just naming the feeling will bring relief. It is even helpful to take it one step further and say out loud, “This feeling is not mine, and I now release it back to the universe.”
Does being an empath mean I don’t have my own trash?
If we have been taking out other’s trash successfully, we are ready to take out our own hidden trash. Don’t worry, we all have trash.
In a Personal Sacred Letter—messages I’d channeled for another woman—what came through was her need to start unburdening herself. She had been numb to her emotions for most of her life because of early trauma. When I shared these messages, she became confused and replied, “But I am not numb. I feel so much. I am an empath.”
One of the most misunderstood ideas of being an empath is that because we feel so much of others’ feelings, we have delved deep into our own hearts. We have addressed our shadow feelings and done the work of taking out our own trash. The irony is that we have been so busy feeling for everyone else, we most often have never processed our own feelings. As a result, even when we process others’ emotions, we still may find ourselves sitting in trash—only it is our own.
The good news is that while we are busy taking out the trash we took on from others, we also have a chance to clean up our own histories. A good rule of thumb is if we are directly triggered by someone or something, it is our stuff. We will know this because of how deeply we are feeling, or how long it lingers. Other peoples’ trash has triggered something in us we need to heal.
This might feel confusing, because it can be. Other people’s stuff can become mixed up with our own. Continue asking, “What am I feeling?” And take out the trash by naming and feeling whatever arises. It will become clearer to us what is ours and what is theirs.
Over time, as we clean up our history, we will have less and less of our own trash. This is the beauty of owning our stuff. Continue releasing no matter what, and eventually we won’t need to subconsciously sit in a garbage can, as we will automatically be in touch with our feelings and release them—whether they’re someone else’s trash, or our own.
Does it matter who I spend time with as an empath?
Looking at who we spend our time with is vital. Energy vampires have no place in our life. They will use up all our resources, never giving anything in return. Realizing that as empaths, we are always “on call,” we begin to covet our energy, and who we spend our time with will become important.
Eventually, this won’t matter nearly as much. We will be well versed in taking out the trash, and whether we associate with an energy vampire or an angel in disguise, we will be good. Although we may decide we do not want to spend time with these kinds of people, we will not need to purposely avoid them for fear of being drawn into their trash. Nor will we need to turn off the news because it becomes too much for us.
Our intuition will become our best friend, and we will get to know our limits. Understanding when we are able to take on more, and when we need to go it alone, will become second nature.
You are not Oscar the Grouch, and neither am I.
We are not puppets. We have a mind that can help us learn, evolve, and grow. We can do what Oscar has never been able to do. We can understand what it means to be a healthy empath and know what to do when we become grouchy. We may still be drawn to anything, “dirty or dingy or dusty.”
But we can clean ourselves up, and get out of the trash can once and for all.
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