May 6, 2011

Stories from Empathic People

Emotions such as fear, anger, and frustration are energies. Like a virus, you can potentially “catch” them from people without realizing it. Empathic people can be psychic sponges that absorb energy everywhere they go. In my twenties and thirties, I was so energy sensitive that if I heard an ambulance siren, I would feel instant panic. If I came upon an accident scene or a homeless person, I cried. If I saw an open wound, I would feel something like an electric shock all over my body. In traffic, I felt the anger and frustration of my fellow drivers so keenly that my throat would close up and I could not swallow. When I was in my prayer closet, I would cry, groan, shake, and travail on behalf of others. These and similar scenarios were so common for me that I thought everyone felt this way. I had no idea that I was an empath. I had never heard of such a thing.

But I quickly learned that I am not alone in my empathic abilities, which can be both a gift and a curse. In chapter 2 of my new book, Whose Stuff Is This?, I share stories from the empaths I interviewed as part of my research. There is a wide variety of situations in which folks have found themselves as a result of this intuitive gift. Some of these people have just realized they are empaths; others are veteran empaths who are using this intuitive gift as part of their healing practice.

One person I interviewed said that it has both saved his life and broken his heart. “I thought I was an agoraphobic for the longest because when I was around a lot of people I felt overwhelmed,” said Jonathan. “I thought it was anxiety, but then I began to be able to tell when someone was lying to me. It can hurt to know someone you love is lying to your face.”

One person I heard from said she if she drove past a serious car accident, she would feel all the emotions of the people involved, including the confusion of the person who had just died at the scene. If there was someone in the car with her, she felt embarrassed about crying and having to explain why she was crying.

Samantha says being an empath is generally draining. “You may feel dread or have to prepare yourself to be around people. It makes it impossible to get down to what you truly feel instead of what others are projecting to you,” says Samantha. “There are a few people who are very good at disguise. Their energy may feel positive at first, but they can’t keep up the wall very long.”

Julie Isaac says she has always known that she picked up people's emotional energy, but she didn't know she was picking up their aches and pains, as well.

“For years I thought I was a hypochondriac until one Thursday night when I knew with every fiber of my being that I was going to have a heart attack. Going to have! There was no pain, so there was no reason to go to the hospital to tell them that I would soon be having a heart attack. I decided to watch TV and relax until I felt something that would tell me it's time to go to the hospital. Then, in an instant, the feeling/knowing lifted. It was so bizarre. The next day, Friday, I went to work and my boss was out sick. On Monday, they told us that she had had a heart attack on Thursday night. That's when I realized I wasn't a hypochondriac; I was picking up on other people's physical energy.”

Fortunately, the gift of empathy can be developed and used to help others without causing harm to yourself. Hillary Raimo is the founder and author of the signature UNtraining™ series. As an empath she feels energy and can tune in to the emotional energy of another person, animal, or event in order to read it. She says the gift can often be dismissed by others or mistaken for psychological issues. Hillary pursued psychology in college so she could better understand herself, but when she began to explore shamanistic and psychic studies, it clicked that she had been empathic all her life. She now uses this gift in her work as an intuitive healer.

Since so many empaths are natural healers, I decided to touch briefly on this topic in Chapter 11 of my book in case some readers want to go a step farther and seek training as a natural healer or psychic practitioner.

PURCHASE paperback book, Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings,and Energy of Those Around You at The e-book version is now available for Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and other digital reading devices.