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. Read More

Sparkly Yet Spiritual

Truth Byte #51

“You can’t move forward with a split mind.”

 

For years, we have wanted things. New houses, cars, fancy clothes, the newest tech gadget, a happy wife, a thriving career, a caring boss, a baby, or the next child, or a pet. Some of us get these things and are thrilled. Some of us get these things and they are not enough to fill the longing.

 

Why is it that some people are satisfied with their lives while others are not? What makes some of us content with very little while others have a lot of stuff and very little happiness?

 

And the reverse is true too. There are those without all they want and need who are miserable and also those who live abundantly and thoroughly enjoy their lives.

Acquisition of things does not equate with happiness.

 

And yet we are wired to want.

 

Some spiritual and psychological traditions encourage us to be critical of this impulse to want, to learn to curb our desires and attachments and teach our selves to want less. People who follow these paths speak plainly and sometimes disdainfully about things and argue that the acquisition of things is our first and foundational problem. These traditions teach that it’s better to have experiences and relationships rather than things, and since we are all going to die anyway, none of this stuff actually matters in the long run.

 

I tried following those paths, and fell flat on my face.

 

Because I like stuff.

 

I like sparkly stuff, fancy stuff, decorative stuff, pretty things – just because they light up my space and bring a beautiful tone to my day. I like big things and small things and new things and plain things and bright things and things that make my life easier or trendier or just more fun.

 

I like stuff.

 

Going to the mall, for me, is like going to a museum. All those beautiful things to look at!

 

So when I stumbled upon the Law of Attraction, I felt like I had finally found a metaphysical system that works with my love of stuff. The Law basically says that whatever you focus on you attract to you. In it’s simplest form, the Law teaches that if you focus on what’s working, you get more of that. If you focus on what’s not working, you get more of that.

 

It even works for little things: if you focus on yellow flowers, you will start to notice them everywhere. Caterpillars? Same thing. Choose any physical object and focus on it, and it will start to appear more frequently and obviously in your life.

 

And of course, you would want more of the good stuff, so the teachings of the Law of Attraction helps us train our body/mind to focus more on the good stuff. Our spirit doesn’t need stuff, but enjoys the process of making thoughts into things, so there is no dichotomy in this system between wanting stuff and being in alignment with our own true spiritual nature.

 

So what about happiness? Well, many people think that getting the stuff is what will eventually bring happiness. But we can find hundreds of examples of how that is simply untrue.

 

Here’s an alternative approach: If we can learn to be happy first, then the stuff is just a bonus.

 

So what if we applied the Law of Attraction to happiness? That would mean the more happy we were, the more happiness would come to us.

 

And this totally works.

 

I have seen it dozens of times.

 

But only if you don’t have a split mind.

 

A split mind is where one voice in your head says, “Yes! Go for it? You can do it!” and the other voice in your head says, “That’s impossible. That will never work. You suck.”

 

Yes, you have voices in your head. We all do. And many of us believe the second voice because that is the voice that has evolved with us over centuries to keep us safe.

 

And for the masses, safety is the goal.

 

But then there are those of us that want something more than just survival. There are those of us that want richness and texture and complexity to our lives. We want adventure and thriving relationships and deep down joy. Some of us want to live loudly and vibrantly and totally immersed in this human experience. Some of us want to dance when we hear a drum beat and sing at the top of our lungs to our favourite songs on the radio. Some of us need that shiny, eye-catching centerpiece on our kitchen table to remind us that life is meant to be lived fully, not just tolerated. Some of us are willing to forgo order and discipline to be able to feel the cool dew of morning grass on the soles of our feet, or feel the gritty rhythm of live jazz pulse through our chests in a fringe club in the wrong part of town.

 

And we don’t get to live that kind of a life by listening to that second voice.

 

The only way we get a sparkly life is to believe that voice that says we are limitless, timeless, spiritual creators having a physical experience. That this life was meant to be lived to the brim, and that the only thing stopping us is our choice to believe that “life is hard” and “good things take time”. We have to believe that voice that tells us we are worthy, loveable, and unstoppable. And that life is supposed to be easy, fun, and free.

 

When we repair the split and start focusing on only that first voice, life becomes really shiny, really quickly. And while there may be moments of self-doubt, we generally move our “normal” up a few notches, and find ourselves happier. With or without the stuff.

 

Tell me about your Law of Attraction stories! When have you wanted something and it came to you quickly and unexpectedly? Leave a comment below to start the conversation or send me a note at connect@talktosaira.com

My Two Voices

Truth Byte #31

You are being too hard on yourself. 

 

Judgment is a curious thing.  Very little children don’t judge.  They ask questions (Mommy, why is that man wearing a dress? Daddy, what is that chair with wheels for? Grandma, why doesn’t Maya have a dad?) but until they are taught, they don’t really know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, what is the “right” answer and what is just plain wrong.

 

Adults and older children teach them that. 

 

Not too long ago in Western history, children were taught that people of certain skin tones were naturally inferior to others.  They learned that “fact”, grew up believing it, and then their actions as adults demonstrated those beliefs.  It was their children and grandchildren who challenged those judgments and their great-grand children who are still advocating for ethnic minorities and people of colour in the West.

 

Not too long ago we believed that it was dangerous to women’s health and the family’s stability to teach women to read.  When I told my seven-year old that little historical tidbit last month, he laughed out loud in disbelief.  “If moms and teachers aren’t allowed to read, who is going to teach the kids and help them with their homework?” he asked, incredulously.  He then told me that there is only one male teacher in his entire elementary school, and he is a substitute.  “Boys and girls both need to know how to read so they can understand life and not be tricked,” he said, with finality.

 

Judgment has a very dark side.  We have been reeling from the intergenerational impact of mistaken judgment.  For decades we have been trying to dismantle the institutional discrimination it supported.

 

So what happens when we turn that judgment inward?

 

Too many of us live our lives with a toxic inner critic as a companion.  Sometimes it feels like we can never get it right, never do it right, never be or have enough. When that happens, know that you are listening to that Voice.

 

I was looking around my home the other day, and it seems no matter where I went, there were things out of place.  I would finish with one part of my house and the other part of the house would be a mess.  My friendly inner critic showed up, never missing a beat, and went on to explain to me how I was a failure, and how if my single mom who worked three jobs could keep a tidy house, why couldn’t I, (an entrepreneur who makes my own hours and has a loving, supportive husband at home) have a presentable home?

 

Within moments of that corrosive inner talk, I was hollering at my young children about how I am not their maid and I am going to donate all their belongings to kids who deserve them if they can’t keep their spaces tidy.  They cleaned up slowly and silently, without making eye contact, and I internally kicked myself.  I should have just put on the “clean up song” like I do every afternoon when I want them to put their things away, and they would have known the drill.  Instead, my own inner judgment seemed to make it okay for me to lash out and act like a ten-year old.

 

We all felt terrible after and I went to bed that night with a migraine.

 

The critic thrives on comparisons, and won’t quit until you have lost it.  Which will give you one more thing to feel bad about.

 

There is always someone that Voice can find who is managing better than me.  Someone who is in a tougher space yet is somehow seems to be coming out roses.  And when She can’t find someone real, She will start making comparisons to caricatures and Hollywood/Bollywood starlets who seem to have it all and not be breaking even the smallest sweat.

 

(Speaking of sweat, when I first started attending Zumba regularly, my inner critic told me I was clearly not doing it right because everyone else was sweating more than me. It’s always something!!)

 

I have tried all kind of strategies to deal with my critic.  And I have found only one that works:

 

Listen to a different voice.

 

Alongside my Critic, there is another voice.

 

This voice is quieter, more loving, and always gives me the benefit of the doubt.  This voice reminds me that everything of this Earth will perish, and there is only one vibrant part of my that will survive after my last rites: my soul.  I like to think of this voice as the voice of my Spirit, that voice that speaks to me through the breeze in the trees and the waves on the sand and the twinkle in the eyes of my children.

 

This voice reminds me that even in my weakest moment, I am strong. 

 

This voice reminds me who’s child I really am, and that my true Mother/Father can never leave me.

 

This voice is much softer than the critical voice, and so it’s often harder for me to hear.  I have to be still to hear this voice, and I have to be willing. But once I notice it, the voice of my Spirit is persistent.  It points out all the things I am doing right, and reminds me that even if I did nothing “right” for the rest of my days, the fact that I am kind and caring is enough.  More than enough.

 

This voice reminds me that whether anyone else knows it or not, I am loveable. 

 

This voice makes it easier for me to breathe.

 

Today, I challenge you to get still, and to be willing.  You have this voice too, (you have probably already heard it once or twice) and it has something to tell you.  I know that other voice, the critical voice, seems more real most of the time, and it’s easy to join in the self-attack wholeheartedly. And yet, that is not making you happy, is it?  Make the switch today, and let me know how you do listening to this new voice.

 

To access this other voice, and be able to listen to it more regularly, it helps to be around others who are on the same path.   Join our tribe by subscribing to my newsletter or attending a workshop. Email me for more information at connect@talktosaira.com