Self-care is essential for all empathic people. When you mindfully and lovingly practice it each day, your sensitivities will flourish.
The self-care practices, perspectives, and meditations I present as daily offerings in Thriving as an Empath will support you in being a compassionate, empowered empath without shouldering the suffering of others or trying to “fix” them. All people deserve the dignity of their own paths. Day-by-day, I’ll offer gentle reminders about how you can be loving without becoming codependent or a martyr.
As a psychiatrist and empath, I am fierce about my own self-care practices and teach these principles to my patients. I feel so strongly about them because I want to keep enjoying the extraordinary gifts of sensitivity–including an open heart, intuition, and an intimate connection with spirituality and the natural world. Shallow emotional waters don’t appeal to me. I love going deep–and my sensitivities take me there.
Still, a big challenge for all sensitive people is how to be compassionate without absorbing the stress of others and the world. We don’t have the same filters as most people. We are emotional sponges who feel everything and instinctively take it in. This differs from “ordinary” empathy, where your heart goes out to others in pain or happiness, but you don’t take on their feelings.
We empaths are helpers, lovers and caretakers who often give too much at the expense of our own well-being. Research suggests that our mirror neuron system (a part of the brain responsible for compassion) is hyper-active, which can burn us out. This is not how I choose to live. I want to be loving, but over-helping or absorbing someone’s distress just puts me on sensory overload which is painful to my sensitive body and soul. It also doesn’t serve the other person in any lasting way.
To stay healthy and happy, you must be prepared with effective self-care practice so that you’re ready to deal with stress. Throughout the book, you’ll learn to keep yourself balanced and whole by trusting your intuition, setting boundaries, and protecting your energy.
The secret to an empath’s well-being is to break the momentum of sensory overload before it consumes you. The strategies and attitudes that I’ll share, which have been life-saving for me, will quickly bring you back to center when you are overwhelmed or emotionally triggered.
Here are two selections from the book I hope will offer more insight into your self-care.
The Gift of Being Different
Like many empaths, you may feel as if you don’t belong in this world. You experience life so intensely, and love so deeply, it’s sometimes hard to find kindred souls to whom you can relate.
As a child, I always felt “different” from my peers. Other kids loved going to crowded parties and shopping malls whereas I preferred climbing trees with my best friend or writing poetry. As an only child, I was alone a lot and found companions in the moon and the stars. Often, I felt like an alien on Earth, waiting for a spaceship to take me to my true home.