A few weeks ago, I had an experience that filled me with fear.
I was standing in the middle of a field in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on the night of a new moon. While driving to our cabin, I couldn’t resist staring at the epic star-scape through the windshield. My friend and I decided to pull over to the side of the road to fully immerse ourselves in the glorious expanse of this velvety night sky, bejewelled with stars scattered from horizon to horizon. The air was crisp and the beautiful Aussie bush was making its night time noises. It was breathtakingly epic. I was in my element. Pure joy. I could even (much to my surprise) see connection lines drawn in the sky between certain stars, which appeared to be constellations, but I’m not sure. Odd I know, but more on me seeing unseen things in another post.
It happened pretty much as soon as I stepped out of the car and walked a few paces. My body was consumed with what I can only describe as full-blown-chilled-to-the-bone existential fear. I tried to ignore it at first. The sky was so mesmerisingly beautiful, I wanted to soak it all in completely. But after awhile I felt my chest tighten. My stomach dropped. My breaths began getting shorter. I started to shiver, and my teeth began to chatter (it wasn’t that cold). All of which are the physical signs of fear. It felt as though I was being watched or chased – but neither of these things were happening to me. I tried to remember the last time I had felt such an awful sensation of fear, but couldn’t recall.
It was my friend who brought it up first. She said, “I’m feeling really f*cking frightened”. “ME TOO!”, I responded. “What do you think it is?”. She replied that maybe it had something to do with what we’d been talking about – reclaiming the goddess, witchy rituals, mysticism, the unseen, cosmic stuff. She figured maybe she was scared of it. That while this was all perfectly normal conversation for me, she had only just begun to acknowledge that side of herself again, after many years devoted to zen Buddhism. This was all quite plausible.
But my feeling of fear made NO SENSE. I was in a beautiful part of the Australian bush, looking up at a stunning starry night sky. I wouldn’t hesitate to pull over by myself, sit on the bonnet and stargaze for as long as I wanted, in any circumstance. So in the absence of any physically evident threat, my fear was really curious for me.
“Okay, so maybe I’m picking up on your fear.” I said. As an empath this happens for me all the time. I’ve had to work pretty hard to create healthy boundaries for my energy field. We described what we were feeling in our bodies to one another, and it was exactly the same. So we both decided that yes, maybe I was feeling her fear. We continued to chat through our respective feelings of fear, staring up at the night sky discussing new moon and full moon rituals, and how challenging it can be to dive in to the divine feminine aspects of ourselves.
All through the chatter I kept on wanting to run back to the car, slam the doors shut, lock them, and race off. But something kept me there – a stubborn part of me that wanted to learn what it was like to feel a fear so great, but know that it wasn’t mine. I knew this would be useful to me in the long run. After awhile (maybe about 15 minutes), I couldn’t take it any longer and I started to think, “What if there IS something threatening I’m picking up on and I really need to get my ass out of here?”. So we got back in to the car and I locked the doors, quicker than you can say, ‘stop being an idiot and get going’. I sped off to the cabin which was only about two minutes away.
It took both of us a few hours to calm down afterwards.
Regaling a couple of my highly intuitive friends about this in the following few days, both of them (separately), said it was the land. That we were both picking up on a trauma connected to the land, which is where this feeling of fear emanated from. What it was, I have no idea. But that I know it wasn’t my feeling is 100% truth.
Are you acutely sensitive to the emotions and feelings of others? If so, it’s likely you’re an empath too. And it’s a GIFT. Truly – so long as you can manage and utilise it effectively, without it becoming personally debilitating. I’ve collated a list of tips especially for you, to help you deal with the times you feel overwhelmed by feelings, and are not 100% sure they’re yours:
Follow its tail
With this method I like to envision grabbing hold of ‘the tail’ of the feeling, and following it up to its head, which for me is the thought, reason, or circumstance that may be causing this feeling within me. So taking the above example, I could grab hold of the fear by its tail, and follow it – which I did – but I never found its head (circumstance / reason) residing within me. It was external to me. There was nothing to identify with. However, say if I regularly feel anxious about getting outside of my car at night; feeling fear and following its tail would lead me to my long-standing anxiety, and I would know that fear is mine. And I would likely not step outside the car, in respect of this boundary I know I have.
This isn’t mine
If you know the fear (or feeling) is not yours, declare it. Affirm to yourself that it isn’t, and anchor yourself in the truth of how you actually feel. This feels like ‘feeling in to’ the power centre within your body, which for me is around the womb/sacral area. Maybe for you it’s your heart area. I actively draw my energy in and feel it ‘land’ back there. A few deep breaths in to your power centre area also helps. Once you are clear this is not your feeling, and affirm it as such – you should begin to feel its clasp around you diminish and feel far less intense.
If the feeling doesn’t leave you, then it is likely something meant for you to own and integrate in to your being. That means it’s coming forward to be released within you (this is GOOD!). Face this feeling and ask it what it’s trying to tell you. Journal with it, dialogue with it. Get a spiritual mentor to help you see what’s trying to come forth to be released. It may be a shadow aspect of you that needs to be integrated.
Solar plexus strengthening and healthy chakras in general
When you find yourself regularly overwhelmed by the energy of others, it’s highly likely that your solar plexus chakra needs some strengthening. This is your third chakra / energy centre and is situated around the stomach area. It’s yellow, so envisioning this area surrounded by yellow, helps to cleanse and strengthen it. Eat yellow food (lemons, anyone?), wear yellow clothes. Doing things that help solidify your confidence and standing up for yourself, also helps.
As empaths we need to watch our energetic vibrations really closely, as we will very easily draw in a match to the energetic vibration within us. My favourite way to support my energy is via my chakras using reiki, bodywork healing and chakra cleanse meditations.
Set up some healthy boundaries
As empaths we’re used to running our energy beyond our own immediate energy fields (i.e. far beyond our body). We ‘feel’ in to other people’s energy systems, and in to the energy of animals, houses and land (anything really). Basically we can often do this without realising. This can cause energy leaks – and diminishes our capacity to hold our own energy field in integrity.
Now that you know you have the tendency to do this, it’s time to recognise when you feel your energy running away, and reel it back in. Call the parts of you that are wandering around the joint, back to you. You can do this very simply by commanding it. Become very present and say, ‘I command all of my energy to come entirely back to me’ or something to that effect.
This isn’t about ‘protection’ so much as learning how to regulate your own tendency to let your energy leak. I don’t advocate trying to ‘protect’ our energy fields, because energetically when we intend to protect ourselves from something, we automatically create something we need to be protected from. Learning to cultivate healthy energetic boundaries strengthens your energy field and helps you feel less ‘exposed’.
Empaths need quiet alone time
People who identify as empathic need regular alone time. It can become highly confusing for an empath to know who they really are and what their own energy signature feels like, when they’re constantly surrounded by the energy signatures of other beings. (Just quietly, I’m convinced there’s a significant correlation between those who identify as introverted, and those who are empathic.) Set an intention to know really deeply who you are, so you can differentiate what belongs to you and what doesn’t. Where you end and others begin.
So if you identify as empathic, you need to carve out regular alone time, stat. Create a space within your home that is just for you, that you can retreat to whenever you need. Ask not to be disturbed for xx minutes or hours. Cultivate a portion of your day to sit in quiet meditation or contemplation, alone. Schedule solo dates with yourself, far from the maddening crowds. Or maybe even a solo soul retreat? I know, Mama friends. This may be extremely tough for you to swing. But hopefully you have support that can help you get some much needed alone time every so often. (Or at least a few quiet minutes in the shower!)
Being empathic is a gift. But it can also be confusing, and cause us to take on things that simply aren’t ours to take on. Taking steps to recognise when a feeling is or isn’t ours is one of the most useful things we can do in the name of empath self-care. Because we (and the world at large) can truly benefit from this extra-sensory gift tremendously – if we know how to handle and work with it effectively.
How about you? Do you identify as an empath? How do you deal with feelings that aren’t yours? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks below.
If you enjoyed this post, please give it the thumbs up using the social media sharing buttons below! And if you know someone who would enjoy this, please send it through to them. Thanks, loveliest one. xox