I was already planning to blog about self care for empaths when I heard of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide only days after Kate Spade’s, as well as another person’s husband who had just killed himself. Along with the obvious opioid epidemic and high usage of brain altering prescriptions for everything from sleep assistance to anxiety, I believe there are some other factors contributing to the rise in suicide.
A close friend of Tony Bourdain’s described him on CNN as being a highly sensitive and nurturing person. He was also born in the sign of Cancer, which I often refer to as the empathetic sponge of the universe. (I’m Cancer rising so I know it well!)
In the United States, we have a hostile president intent on stimulating reactive and divisive interactions in our own country and the world. A daily assault on truth has dislodged our moral compass and we now live in an emotional and psychological climate more prone to hopelessness and helplessness.
Now consider the lives of the “sensitives”, the empaths. Those of us who feel the suffering of others and absorb it (until we learn to observe it). Those with heightened intuition who pick up on vibrations of thought and frequencies of the fear-based collective consciousness. Those who are healers and those who are in committed service to others in ways that utilize their highly sensitized perceptions.
For these people, it’s like being a roaming processing plant for humanity. Wherever they are, the energies of suffering and darkness are drawn to them and through them, for they are the ones who can perceive its existence. Their empathy is a gift of healing, but without self awareness and care, without proper boundaries, without balance in giving and receiving, they absorb the negativity without even necessarily knowing it. Every day then yields an accumulation of these energies which, if not processed or cleared, become burdens no one person can carry on their own. It’s easy to see how depression could breed so quickly as to overtake one’s life when the scales tip in this manner.
If, throughout your life, you’ve heard over and over: “You’re SO sensitive!”, as if there’s something wrong with you or something is your fault… then you know what I’m talking about. And if you have not yet identified with being an empath, you are likely quite overwhelmed at this point in time.
Your sensitivity is a gift when you learn to use it effectively, purposefully, and with integrity. It is a burden when you don’t. It took me a long time to realize that when I go to the grocery store, I need to just get the groceries, without glancing at everyone that passed me. I used to get to the car with my bags and sit there wondering why I was so exhausted, until I understood how many more bags I left the store with. Bags of emotion, despair, and fear…. simply by looking at everyone.
Once I became aware of this, I learned to maintain a stronger focus on myself, my destinations, my errands, my work, my intentions. This isn’t easy or automatic for an empath, who is designed to perceive others in order to administer light, and that’s the point we miss if we’re not taught. Now, when I do see someone and perceive pain (or even a dead animal on the road) I send a blessing or an angel to help them, or place them in the care of the divine. By giving out that energy I am not absorbing theirs, rather, I’m providing needed assistance.
For me, self care as an empath also involves maintaining a lifestyle that affords me the time to meditate and connect with Mother Earth, physically exercise and rest in order to assimilate and replenish, and utilize practices that keep me connected and receptive to assistance and wisdom from higher dimensions.
As the highly sensitive are often misunderstood, our relationships can be challenging. Until we learn to take care of our “more-transparent-than-most” needs, we often look to others to be there for us and are blindsided when they aren’t. That can become a life-threatening rabbit hole in and of itself, depending on the experiences in our formative years. We are much more affected by the relapses or collapses in our connections with others.
There is a purpose to the insanity we are in the midst of, which I believe to be transformation. Those of us who have been hidden, put down, ignored or neglected due to our sensitive nature and less-traditional talent, are actually the healers for, and leaders of, this transformation.
We must learn to support ourselves better so we can not only survive, but contribute wholly. We must “come out” and join in support of one another to grow stronger in our unification, whether online or in groups we create in our communities. And it is my hope that as we recognize and claim our worth, others will come to recognize us with greater understanding, appreciation, and considerate support.
Life can feel isolating, but we are not in it alone. There are others feeling as we do in our darkest moments and, knowing that, we can summon the help we need – through a prayer, a phone call, a revealing to someone, a stepping out and being real about what we are going through. WE ARE NEEDED and Anthony was needed…. because we connect with others and help others connect – through heart and soul – through compassion and love. And that is the manna of life.