Are you an empath? by Judith Orloff MD (Extract)
I’m so passionate about this topic both professionally and personally because I’ve had to develop specific strategies to manage the challenges of being an empath myself. These allow me to protect my sensitivities so I can maximize their benefits—and there are so many! I want to share with you how to become a balanced, empowered, and happy empath. To thrive, you must learn ways to avoid taking on the energy, symptoms, and stress of others. I also want to educate your loved ones and peers—family, coworkers, bosses, parents, and romantic partners—on how best to support and communicate with you. In this book, I will show you how to accomplish these goals.
I offer The Empath’s Survival Guide as a resource for kindred sensitive souls to find understanding and acceptance in a world that is often coarse,
heartless, and disdainful of sensitivity. In it, I challenge the status quo and create a new normal for how to view sensitivity, wherever you are on the spectrum. There is nothing “wrong” with being sensitive. In fact, you are about to discover what’s most “right” about yourself. Through this book, its companion audio program, and my workshops for empaths, I want to create a community of support so that you can find your tribe, be authentic, and shine. I want to support a movement of people who honor their sensitivities. Welcome to a circle of love! My message to you is one of hope and acceptance. I encourage you to embrace your gifts and manifest your full power on the empath journey.
Empaths have an extremely reactive neurological system. We don’t have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb into our own bodies both the positive and stressful energies around us. We are so sensitive that it’s like holding something in a hand that has fifty fingers instead of five. We are truly super responders…
…I was an only child, so I spent a lot of time by myself. I had no one to relate to who could understand my sensitivities. No one seemed to be like me. My parents, who were both physicians—I come from a family of twenty-five physicians—said, “Sweetheart, toughen up; get a thicker skin”, which I didn’t want or even know how to do. I couldn’t go to crowded malls or parties. I’d walk in feeling fine and walk out exhausted, dizzy, anxious, or suffering from some ache or pain I didn’t have before.
What I didn’t know back then
was that everyone has a subtle energy
field surrounding their body, a subtle
radiant light that penetrates and
extends beyond it a distance of inches
or even feet. These fields communicate
information such as emotions and
physical well-being or distress. When
we are in crowded places, the energy
fields of others overlap with ours. I
picked up all of these intense sensations,
but I had absolutely no idea what they
were or how to interpret them. I just
felt anxious and tired in crowds. And
most of all, I wanted to escape.
As a teenager in Los Angeles, I got heavily involved with drugs to block out my sensitivities. (I’m not recommending this to you!) Then, with my empathy numbed, I could cope. I was able to attend parties and hang out at shopping malls, just like my friends, and would feel fine. What a relief that was! In my memoir Second Sight, I wrote about how I turned to drugs to shut out my intuition and empathic abilities. But after a near tragic car accident, during which I went over a 1,500-foot cliff in Topanga Canyon
at three in the morning in an Austin Mini Cooper, my parents were scared to death and sent me to a psychiatrist.
Naturally, I fought my psychiatrist the whole way. But, in fact, this angel in human form was the first person to help me realize that to become whole I had to embrace my sensitivities, not run from them. This was the start of my healing and self-acceptance as an empath.
Extracted from The Empath’s Survival Guide with permission of Sounds True. This extract was featured in the Winter 2018 Cygnus Review. The Empath’s Survival Guide is available for purchase from Cygnus Books.