I remember from a very young age that I was able to feel the emotions of another. Whether it was a family member, friend, or even a stranger, I could feel what they were feeling. If someone was sad, I felt their sadness, if someone was excited and happy, I could feel their excitement, if a person was mad, I could feel their anger. Being so young however, I had no idea what was going on. I just knew I felt so deeply, and at times, it caused me to become very anxious.
In the past I had considered myself to be "too sensitive" and "overly emotional," and those around me would often say the same. My feelings were easily hurt and I could cry at the drop of a hat. I would often find myself overcome with emotion when someone shared something tragic that had happened to them, and even just sitting with people who weren't talking, I could sense how they were feeling. This caused me to shelter myself and spend a lot of time alone. It became too overwhelming for me to be around people as I would carry their "burdens" around with me. I just couldn't stop thinking about the pain and hurt they were experiencing.
It wasn't until I was much older, and once I started working with energy, that I began to understand what was actually happening. I learned how energy works and that we are all energy beings, and some people are a little more sensitive to the energy of others. I was what one would call an Empath. An Empath is a person who can consciously and unconsciously tune into the emotional state of a another.
After understanding about Empaths and that they are highly sensitive to energies, things started to make more sense to me. Like the fact that I couldn't watch the news, and any kind of violence or cruelty would leave me feeling completely "blue" and with low energy for the entire day. I was holding onto experiences and emotions that were not mine, no wonder why my anxiety was through the roof.
Another interesting thing I noticed was when I found myself spending time with "inauthentic" people, I could sense it, I could feel when someone wasn't being themselves, when they weren't being real. During those kind of interactions, I would find it hard to carry on a conversation, small talk didn't even cut it, and oddly enough, I felt like I couldn't be myself, and so I would repress and go inward. I would avoid if I could those type situations and people because it just didn't feel good.
Sensitive/Empathetic people are very in touch with their feelings and in tune with their bodies. They know when something feels 'off' and they typically only express their emotions with someone if they feel 'safe.' On the other hand, people seem to be very drawn to empathetic people; they feel an instant sense of safety and trust, and will openly share their deep emotional traumas. You will find complete strangers being drawn to the energy of an empath, and I personally believe it's an unconscious connection and inner knowing that they will understand and listen without judgment.
I have now learned how to better manage my emotions, and I'm much more aware when I'm experiencing feelings and emotions that are not mine. I actually ask myself, "is this mine?" If the answer is no, I mentally clear it by envisioning the "uninvited" energy leaving my body. As a Reiki Master and Teacher who works with people, and energy, on almost a daily basis, I have gained a huge understanding of how we as energy beings work.
Here are some things which helped me throughout my journey and may help you as well;
"Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled. There is no shame in expressing your authentic feelings. Those who are at times described as being a 'hot mess' or having 'too many issues' are the very fabric of what keeps the dream alive for a more caring, humane world. Never be ashamed to let your tears shine a light in this world.
Anthony St. Maarten
I lived many years of my life in complete denial of my reality.
Denial of how unhappy I was. Denial of the fact that my relationships were not healthy. And denial of who I was, who I was really was, at the very core of my being. Living my life in denial meant I had to create masks for many occasions, and for many different people. It meant I had to go against the grain of my own soul, and of my wants and needs. And it meant denying myself the opportunity to experience true happiness and joy.
I'm not even sure I was aware of what I was doing. I had become accustomed to living against my true self, that it became a "normal" way of being. But deep down, I knew something wasn't right, I intuitively knew that what I was doing was not serving me, or anyone else. I was not living in alignment with my truth and my heart. I was not being honest with myself.
I remember all the excuses I gave to others, and to myself. I remember trying to justify my choices because others questioned my happiness, they could see right through me. They felt my suffering, they sensed my inauthenticity.
It came to a point where I was beginning to experience severe anxiety and health issues. Because I was not living "in truth" with my hearts deepest desires, things started showing up in my physical being. I was out of balance and alignment with my self and with my soul.
I needed to do something and I knew what I needed to do. I had to get honest with myself, really, truly and deeply honest with everything. I had to lay it all on the table and look at where I was, what I was doing, and most importantly, why I was doing it. I had to understand myself, and my choices.
So I sunk right in and I went deep. I realized there was so much "unconscious" stuff going on beneath the surface that it was dictating my choices and controlling my decisions. I knew the moment I got honest with myself, everything would change. And it did.
Sometimes we want things to be, and to appear so perfect to others that we sacrifice our own soul, and we often do this for acceptance. We neglect our truth and what our heart really wants because we fear what others will think, what we will think of ourselves, and we fear the outcome of change, and of uncertainty. So we live our lives without being truthful to ourselves. Not just in relationships but in other areas of our lives as well such as our careers. We go about our days being who we are expected to be just to please others, we wear the masks we create, and we force a fixed smile to hide the tears that are screaming to come out.
We lie to ourselves until we decide to tell ourselves the truth.
Honesty is healing, it brings change, and it sets you free. It brings new breath and new life to your lungs. It's the key to unlocking your truth, your authenticity and your true self.
The most important thing I tell myself often, and as morbid as it may sound, is that I am going to die one day. And I refuse to die with the beautiful essence of who I am buried beneath a mask of someone who I am not.
It's okay to admit your marriage isn't working, that you do not like your job, it's alright to leave friendships that drain you and make you feel bad about yourself. Because at the end of the day, if your heart isn't in it, you shouldn't be either.
Trust yourself enough to get honest with yourself, and give yourself permission to be you, in a world where everyone expects you to be someone else.
When you know something or someone in your life is unhealthy or unproductive, that you have grown beyond where they are and where they want to keep you, you must let go. If you tell yourself you do not see it when you do, or if you tell yourself it will get better, you are not being honest with yourself. Stop trying to fix things or change things. Simply let go.
Vanessa Marie Dewsbury is a Reiki Master/Teacher, Mindset and Self Development Coach and author of #1 Best Selling Book, "Heart Is Where The Home Is."
Inspired by her health issues in 2012, Vanessa began her journey of natural healing after unsuccessful attempts to find answers through Western medicine. She eventually found relief through natural healing therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and natural herbs.
Learn more about Vanessa.
There's a funny thing we, as humans, often do. We try to resist what is. We don't accept our lives as they are, and eventually we become resentful for things not turing out the way we expected, the way we planned.
Here's the thing, if we aren't happy or content with an aspect of our lives, we need to do something to change it, and change can not happen without intention and action. We need to recognize what's not working for us. But it's also important to accept where we are, as resistance only causes us grief, anger, resentment, and frustration. Which is fine to a point; sometimes this is what fuels change, however, if this is a constant state, something will eventually give.
On the flip side, if you are one who planned your entire life, but it did not go according to your plan, and you refuse to accept your life as it is, you simply can not enjoy it or appreciate it. You can't be completely happy living in resistance.
I was talking to a friend recently who appeared to have a lovely life. She had sweet children, a caring husband, and a great career, but she often spoke about how she thought she would be living somewhere else, and that she had only planned to have one child, not two. She would "complain" that life wasn't what she thought it would be, and it really bothered her, enough to talk about it quite frequently.
She was caught up in the fact that life had happened beyond her control, and that it had a plan of its own. Her ego was trapped in what should have been and she was unconsciously and consciously refusing to allow herself to accept the beautiful life she had. I shared with her the importance of acceptance, and how the more she resisted her life, the more she resented her life. I also spoke about gratitude and how life-changing it can truly be. When we are thankful for everything and everyone around us, it puts us in a state of peace and contentment, and takes us out of a state of constant need, want, and resistance.
I had my friend write a physical letter to the Universe and I suggested she write out every angry word she needed to get out of her system. Why she was angry, and how angry she was that her life was't what she expected and planned. I then had her shift emotions to acceptance and gratitude, thanking the Universe for her beautiful family, her amazing husband and her fruitful career. This "simple" act of writing the letter, completely released the resistance and deep upset she had held onto for so many years.
It changed everything for her. She found, and felt joy again.
Happiness can exist only in acceptance. – George Orwell
We need to remember that while we are in control of ourselves, we have no control over every outcome. We can't control what the Universe delivers to us and decides we need for our growth, and for our journey. If we can come to a place of acceptance, of every element cast upon us, and choose how we respond to each outcome, we can then find true peace within.
Acceptance simply means being okay with what is, embracing what is, and not giving time or attention to what isn't. Because what isn't, wasn't meant to be. We can end our own suffering when we accept with grace what life delivers to us. Understand the Universe is always supporting you.
Remember you aren't expected to accept circumstances that aren't healthy for you, or serving you purpose. If that is where you are, perhaps it's time to dig deep within your soul and recognize what needs to change and move forward with courage to make those necessary changes that your heart is asking for.
Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu
For the longest time I would feel guilty for taking time for myself, for spending the day not doing anything at all. I would beat myself up if I wasn't being "productive," and I"d shame myself for simply resting.
Some days I just wanted to relax however I would feel badly, telling myself I was being lazy and that I should be doing something. I would think of all the housework that needed to be done, all the blogs I wanted to write, and the business I needed to finish. Even when I was "relaxing," I was never really relaxing, my mind would not stop. The inner critic would not let me be.
It was getting so bad that my self care needs were not being met and, in turn, I would slowly burn out. This happened every few months. I would become so depleted that it felt like I had no energy, I would be in pain and I would suffer emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I was ignoring the mind, body, and soul connection: the most important connection of all as it keeps us in balance and harmony.
I needed to stop feeling badly for taking time for myself and I needed to stop feeling guilty and shameful for putting my needs first.
Something needed to change. I couldn't keep having these "body and soul breakdowns" every few months; it wasn't healthy for me or those around me.
While I was experiencing feelings of guilt during some down time one afternoon, a thought came to me. I could give myself permission to be still. So I said out loud to myself, "I give myself permission to be, to rest, to take time for myself. And I give myself permission to put my work and household duties on hold for the day while I fill my soul up with self love, self care, and undivided attention."
The moment I gave myself permission, my soul let out a sigh of relief; my body relaxed and I could feel a sense of ease in the very cells of my body. I could breathe more deeply. It was beautiful, it was powerful.
I soon incorporated this "tool" into my Spiritual Tool Box, but not only in regards to giving myself permission, but also situations and people. I discovered that when I gave permission for things to turn out differently than I had anticipated, and for situations with people to happen as they needed to, I was no longer bothered or upset by the outcome like I used to be. I was not disappointed because I had no expectation of how things should go, and how things should be.
Remember when you were younger and you needed permission from your parents to do all the things you wanted to do, you bugged and you begged for it? Once permission was "granted", you were free to do the very thing you wanted to do. That's how it feels to give yourself permission. And when we consciously and energetically give permission for external circumstances to happen as they shall, you feel less stressed because you're no longer trying to control what "should be."
We can be very hard on ourselves at times, and we can forget and neglect the importance of mind, body, and soul connection. But the truth is, in order to be able to give as best we can, we need to take time to just be, and just breathe.
If you want to experience true freedom and a lot less stress, start by giving yourself permission to do the things you need to do, and for things to be the way they need to be.
“An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”