I tend to take on too much of what and who is around me.
I want to help other people — at times to the detriment of myself.
I’m hyper-sensitive. I have come to discover that means I am an empath.
I feel other peoples’ pain as if it were my own, even if I don’t know them. My face loses all color and I turn “sheet-white” if I watch something devastating or really sad. I cry easily at Hallmark shows, Maxwell House Coffee commercials, or even melancholy song lyrics.
I have known this for many years and have been made fun of for it. People would say, “You’re too sensitive” or “Lighten up.” For a long time, I thought that it was a bad thing until I realized my sensitivity made me a better listener and a better visionary.
It’s been a huge asset as an entrepreneur, writer, leader and artist. I relate to people in ways other people are not able to do so. I often understand what they seek and aspire to. I relate to their emotions. It lets me work with clients on more of an emotional level. I see past the facades and can speak to, create, and offer inspiration for what really matters.
Being an empath has allowed me to take a deeper dive inside my own heart as well as have in-depth conversations with those around me. I am able to question more, probe deeper, and create space for expansion.
It’s also been hugely beneficial in allowing me to connect when I teach, present, and facilitate. I find that my empathetic ways allow me to feel my way through conversations on an intuitive level. It allows me to really “see” people for who they truly are.
Of course, it is not always easy. When someone else is in pain, it can be hard to distance myself from it. I tend to take on too much of what and who is around me. I want to help other people — at times to the detriment of myself.
So, how do I navigate in the world as an empath? I know I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole when I am feeling overwhelmed and I don’t want to push people away in order to not feel. I need to be able to engage and be present and let go in order to best serve.
For me, I do my best to balance the gifts of feeling deeply with the grace of letting go. I live with vulnerability and also have very clear boundaries.
I wouldn’t change being an empath for the world. I have come to accept that to feel is to be alive.
It’s the raw emotions that allow real meaning and connection to flow into creation and inspiration.
The challenge is to understand when to let it in and when to let go. And the challenge is also when to let in just enough to allow for deep connections, compassionate experiences and extraordinary creativity.
I’ve danced with this process of letting in and letting go for as long as I can remember. It has been a driving force for some intense journal writings, channeling messages, and connections with many mentors and spiritual teachers.
A few years ago when I started Toning the OM™, for an entirely different reason, I found something else that’s helps me process life as an empath – meditation and mindfulness.
It doesn’t mean I still don’t cry easily or close my eyes when something profound is happening. It means I can allow my emotions to flow rather than consume me. What it also does is allow me to understand when I’m being drawn in and then make a more conscious effort about whether I’m going to open to empathy or detach with love. And it reminds me to breathe and not get stuck in the shallowness within my own body.
Honestly, it is not easy and it takes work. There are days I am lousy at it. And I’m still learning just how important it is to stop and take slow, deep breaths. Having awareness of my breath and being mindful has made me more awake and alive in the world.
Being of service is an honor and privilege. Recognizing what emotions bring compassion and what emotions bring exhaustion have been part of my life-long journey. Identifying the waves of emotion as they rise, acknowledging them, and pausing to breathe has empowered me to lead and serve more humbly.
I’d love to know what your experiences have been with this.
What has your journey of the heart revealed about you?
Mary Anne Flanagan is a Certified Life Coach, Shamanic Practitioner and Teacher, workshop facilitator, inspired speaker, and creator of Toning the OM™. Mary Anne Flanagan/Toning the OM™: firstname.lastname@example.org or 917.238.9726. Visit http://www.toningtheom.com