Practicing self-care as an empath
Are you highly attuned to the emotions of those around you? Have you noticed that you sometimes sacrifice your own needs to help someone else, even those with whom you don’t have close personal relationships? Do you often put yourself in another’s shoes and intuitively understand their feelings?
What is an empath?
If you have a profound ability to sense the feelings of others, you may be an empath.
Merriam-Webster defines an empath as “one who experiences the emotions of others” and “a person who has empathy.” In an article for Woman’s Day, Karen McLaren, M.Ed., the author of “The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You,” defined empathy as the “ability to read and respond to the emotions, social signals, thoughts, and intentions of others.”
Many people are empathetic, but empaths have a heightened awareness of the emotions of others. According to author Mary Rosenlund (pen name Josie Barrett):
“An empath is someone who not only feels what another person is feeling, but experiences it as if it is their own experience. It is common for the unaware empath to mistakenly think what they are feeling is their own emotion.”
Being an empath is not the same as empathizing with others. You will naturally show support and understanding when you help a friend through a loss when you’ve experienced a similar situation. As an empath, you don’t need to experience what the person is going through to feel their pain.
It is not always simple to recognize that our feelings are not our own. Getting curious about what you’re experiencing can help shine light on how you can best care for yourself while staying true to your values. You can also ask your higher power/guides/angels/ancestors for guidance on what is behind your emotions.
Self-care is not selfish
Am I gaslighting myself?
Empaths are often told we are “too sensitive” and questioned about what we are feeling and experiencing. Perhaps you’ve internalized this and begun questioning your own experiences. This can be a form of gaslighting – Merriam-Webster’s 2022 Word of the Year.
Gaslighting is a type of emotional abuse in which someone manipulates another to make them feel or seem “crazy.”
As empaths, we may experience a storm of positive and negative emotions, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, when we aren’t self-aware. Taking time to replenish your spirit can help you move toward a healthier relationship with yourself, so you can be part of the movement to spread the healing light of reiki within yourself and around the world.
Tools for energy clearing
While being an empath is a unique gift, it can be unsettling to feel another person’s pain. Many empaths quickly become burnt out when they stop caring for themselves. Because emotions are energy at work, being an empath can be overwhelming, and we can’t always discern what is and is not ours.
The most helpful technique I have found to support me as an empath, reiki master and QHHT practitioner is Usui/Holy Fire® Reiki, which serves as a one-way channel for healing energy and keeps clients’ energy from returning to me. It is also intuitive and has protective properties.
In addition to reiki and other healing modalities, there are many different ways to practice self-care, using energy-clearing techniques to cleanse and protect your own energy. The primary goal is to become more grounded and present in our bodies. We’ll touch on three simple strategies anyone can do, followed by a list of other techniques.
Place your bare hands against a tree and attune to the energy inside it and between you. You can also walk barefoot outside. When standing still, imagine an intense beam of light rising from the earth’s center into the bottoms of your feet and through your chakras.
Kenyoku – dry bathing
The Japanese term “kenyoku” means “dry bathing,” a technique of purification incorporated into reiki. It involves using your hands or an actual brush to move and cleanse the energy in your body.
Movement – dancing, yoga and more
Don’t you feel better when you dance? Moving your body in a way that feels good is an effective way to release energy. Go for a brisk walk, join a dance or yoga class and find times to move your body regularly. Movement helps us stay centered within our bodies and transfer energy outside our bodies.
Crystals – hematite, black tourmaline, garnet, jasper and onyx are all excellent grounding crystals
Epsom salt bath – sea salt cleanses and purifies
Shower or other flowing water – water has been used since ancient times for religious and spiritual blessings
Prayer, meditation or journaling
I recommend camphor incense to clear your aura and prepare for a meditative or prayerful state. Hold a stick of incense in one hand while swirling it around your body throughout your auric field. Visualize a bright, white light surrounding you, and take several deep, equally timed breaths (in, 1, 2, 3, 4; out, 1, 2, 3, 4) – known as boxed breathing, a form of breathwork.
When bathing, you can select tools such as candles and crystals to help clear your aura. Play calming music or crystal singing bowls, and give yourself the gift of time.
I’d love to hear what tools you use to practice self-care as an empath!