The Empath’s Guide

Self-care

Truth Byte #64

“Avoid energy zappers.”

 

I am an empath. That means I feel deeply what other people are feeling, sometimes even when they aren’t directly experiencing the feeling. It also means I can see into people’s emotional landscape even when they have spent a lifetime perfecting their masks of “everything’s fine.” I don’t know if being an empath is an official thing, but it’s an idea that has helped me understand and cope with my incredible sensitivity and often-debilitating compassion.

 

For much of my childhood, this made me seem like a crazy person. When there was tension in the room, I would feel it in my body, and my eyes would well up long before voices were raised.

I was the poster child for “why don’t I GIVE you something to cry about.”

 

When other children were spanked or yelled at in my vicinity, my body would quiver and cringe. There were no bruises to show, but the damages left on my inner space were permanent. I was the sponge that mopped up all the unexpressed feelings in the room, and often as a child, I overflowed with other people’s un-cried tears.

 

It took me years of personal development work and therapy to understand the complexities of my gift/curse. It’s probably what makes me a really effective psychotherapist today. But what it’s also given me is a highly sophisticated radar for energy zappers.

 

Energy zappers are people, places, and discussion topic that drain the life out of you.

 

Here are five ways to know you are an empath who is experiencing an energy zapper.

 

  1. You are generally an “all-in” kind of person, but in the middle of the experience, you find yourself guarded, uneasy, and looking for a way to get out of the interaction.
  2. When you leave, you are exhausted and irritable, and you are not sure why.
  3. When you think about re-visiting that place, person, conversation, you want to run away.
  4. You have a “gut feeling” about avoiding that person, place, or conversation comes up and you can’t really pinpoint why.
  5. You can tell there are unexpressed feelings happening, but the people around you are denying it.

 

People who engage in energy zapping are often unaware they are doing it. I think the invisible root causes are inauthenticity and pessimism.

 

Let’s start with inauthenticity. When people pretend “everything’s fine”, but your Spidey senses tell you otherwise, it creates dissonance in your compassion centres of the brain.

Humans have evolved to empathize with each other. It’s what has helped us develop lasting social ties when we needed to survive in the wild. When you can sense something is off and another person denies it, your brain doesn’t know what to believe, and that means you either trust yourself or the other person less.

 

And then there is pessimism. I am not sure exactly when it became so fashionable to be a negative Nancy, but it seems to me sometimes that “being cool” means crushing the hopefulness in the people around you. What the world needs now is not another nay-sayer. We need creative thinkers, builders, risk-takers, and innovators to tackle the new generation of challenges coming our way. Pessimism simply slows down progress.

 

If you are an energy zapper, the quickest way to stop is to a) get real with yourself and b) look on the bright side. If you are an empath who finds his/herself around energy zappers, now is the time to re-claim your time and spend it doing things that fill you up rather than empty you out. Wouldn’t it be nice to vicariously feel other people’s GOOD feelings instead?

 

After all, it’s your life and only you can live it.