Empaths are highly emotional sponges that is heightened around negative energy, which overrides their sublime capacity to absorb positive emotions and all that is beautiful. If empaths are around peace and love, their bodies assimilate these and flourish. Crowds or negativity, though, often feel assaultive, exhausting.
For empaths to fully enjoy gatherings with family and friends, they must learn to protect their sensitivity and find balance. Since I’m an empath, I want to help them cultivate this capacity and be comfortable with it.
As an empath, I’ve always been hyper-attuned to other people’s moods, good and bad. Before I learned to protect my energy, I felt them lodge in my body. After being in crowds, I would leave feeling anxious, depressed, or tired. When I got home, I’d just crawl into bed, yearning for peace and quiet.
Here are six empath survival strategies from my book, The Ecstasy of Surrender to help you manage empathy more effectively and stay centered without absorbing negative energies.
6 Helpful Skills for Surviving as an Empath
Empath Survival Skill #1 – Move away
When possible, distance yourself by at least twenty feet from the suspected source. See if you feel relief. Don’t err on the side of not wanting to offend anyone. At the gathering try not to sit next to the identified energy vampire. Physical closeness increases empathy.
Empath Survival Skill #2 – Surrender to your breath
If you suspect you are picking up someone else’s energies, concentrate on your breath for a few minutes. This is centering and connects you to your power. In contrast, holding your breath keeps negativity lodged in your body. To purify fear and pain, exhale stress and inhale calm. Picture unwholesome emotions as a gray fog lifting from your body, and wellness as a clear light entering it. This can produce quick results.
Empath Survival Skill #3 – Practice ‘Guerrilla Meditation’
Be sure to meditate before the gathering, centering yourself, connecting to spirit, feeling your heart. Get strong. If you counter emotional or physical distress while at an event, act fast and meditate for a few minutes. You can do this by taking refuge in the bathroom or an empty room. If it’s public, close the stall. Meditate there. Calm yourself. Focus on positivity and love. This has saved me many times at social functions where I feel depleted by others.
Empath Survival Skill #4 – Set healthy limits and boundaries
Control how much time you spend listening to stressful people, and learn to say “no.” Set clear limits and boundaries with people, nicely cutting them off at the pass if they get critical or mean. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.
Empath Survival Skill #5 – Visualize protection around you
Research has shown that visualization is a healing mind/body technique. A practical form of protection many people use, including health care practitioners with difficult patients, involves visualizing an envelope of white light around your entire body. Or with extremely toxic people, visualize a fierce black jaguar patrolling and protecting your energy field to keep out intruders.
Empath Survival Skill #6 – Define and honor your empathic needs
Safeguard your sensitivities. In a calm, collected moment, make a list of your top five most emotionally rattling situations. Then formulate a plan for handling them so you don’t fumble in the moment. Here are some practical examples of what to do in situations that predictably stymie empaths:
~If someone asks too much of you, politely tell them, “No.” It’s not necessary to explain why. As the saying goes, “‘No’ is a complete sentence.”
~If your comfort level is three hours max for socializing–even if you adore the people — take your own car or have an alternate transportation plan so you’re not stranded.
~If crowds are overwhelming, eat a high-protein meal beforehand (this grounds you) and sit in the far corner of, say, a theatre or party, not dead center.
~Some empaths are highly sensitive to scents, if you are overwhelmed, for instance by perfume, nicely request that your friends refrain from wearing it around you. If you can’t avoid it, stand near a window or take frequent breaks to catch a breath of fresh air outdoors.
If all else fails and you absorb stressful or negative energy while at a gathering, when you get home take a bath or shower. My bath is my sanctuary after a busy day. It washes away everything from bus exhaust to long hours of air travel to pesky symptoms I have taken on from others. Soaking in natural mineral springs divinely purifies all that ails.
About the Author
Judith Orloff, MD is author of the national bestseller The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, upon which this article is based. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and New York Times bestselling author who synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. An Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, she passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Forbes, the Oprah Magazine and USA Today. To learn more about the power of surrender and Dr. Orloff’s books and workshop schedule, visit www.drjudithorloff.com.