Recently I created a tea for a group of empaths which gather in south east London as part of the Art Licks festival. They wanted something to heighten their empathic ability but I argued this wasn't needed. Instead, I put together a tea which helps to combat the side effects of being an empath so that you can really hone your abilities.
Some of the pictures are from that event.
I don't like to call myself an empath as I think it implies some kind of magical power. It often feels more like an affliction than a strength most of the time. But I guess, in my head, it's also a magical power. You see, for all the side effects it brings I wouldn't trade it for the world. Some might see it as something to separate themselves from, an obstacle to over-come. I like to see it as something worth embracing and to embrace it you need to understand what it is. Perhaps through reading this you'll come to think of yourself as an empath too.
The following is my current concept of being an empath. No more. No less.
What is an empath?
Having empathy means you can feel what another person is feeling. But, the way I see it, being an empath means you can't help but feel what others are feeling. Whereas, some people find it difficult to notice things like body language and the meaning of differing tones of voice, the empath is hyper-sensitive to such things. You pick up on the minutia of these things. It can affect how you feel around other people as well as how different environments make you feel. You will find it easy to pick up on the hidden truth behind what someone is trying to say, or the way they are saying it. But be careful to fine tune this skill or you may find you think you can read someones mind, when in fact, you can't. You'll find it very easy to "read a room". In fact, it's often hard NOT to feel the atmosphere of a place. It's hard NOT to feel what someone else, close to you, is feeling. It's hard to watch negative things on the news every day. We don't tend to enjoy horror movies, thrillers or gorey things as it's hard not to feel what they're going through, even if it is fiction. Some empaths are so sensitive they literally experience the sensation of someone eating just by looking at them. This is actually called mirror-touch synesthesia and is seen as a medical condition because it is so prohibitive to "normal" day to day living.
Because you can feel what others feel you will naturally feel compassionate toward others. This usually spans across the natural world, not just humans.
This will also make you want to give to others and help them with their troubles so that they feel better. When other people around you are happy, you feel happy in yourself.
Your ability to identify with differing points of view makes you very useful to navigate arguments and disagreements. You can be very good at alleviating tension without having to acknowledge the problem externally.
While there are many benefits to being an empath (or even just a bit empathetic) there are also side effects. These need supporting if you want to work with your abilities rather than spend your life trying to escape them.
The Side Effects
It seems that it is often hard to switch off your senses when you're an empath. Unlike others, who are good at honing their senses to focus on one thing you seem to pick up on the tiniest of sounds, changes of temperature, lighting etc. all the time. This makes the day quite tiring sometimes. You will find, as I do, that quiet is something you thrive in. I have found that putting headphones in my ears on the way home from work (without any music on) helps me to rest on the way home. I've got a few herbs which are safe for anyone to take in a special recipe I made (see below).
Out of exhaustion often arises anxiety. It is hard to control negative thought patterns when you are very tired. If you've been stressed for a long time you might not even realise how tired you really are, and out of this arises anxiety. You can read about the stages of stress and its symptoms here. It's important to prioritise self-care as an empath. It's hard when you're always thinking of others to remember to think of yourself. Just like they say before a flight, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you can put on that of your child's. You can't expect to keep being able to help everyone else if you don't take some time to first look after yourself. I've got some herbs up my sleeve to help with this (see below).
It's common as an empath to be very welcoming and friendly with others. You are a natural helper and will usually find it hard to say no to someone. This can land you in a fair bit of trouble. It took me a long time to learn to say no to people. I've come to realise that by never saying no I was devaluing my yes. Now I don't see it as a bad thing to say no to people. In fact, it's often a service to them when I do choose to say no as I know something better is available to them instead. I also had to realise that I'm not Jesus Christ, I'm just Natasha and I can't save everyone from everything! To strengthen boundaries I'd recommend using visualisations such as imaging your core wrapped in red ribbon, or imagining a hedgerow around you every morning. These visualisations allow you to protect yourself while also maintaining sociability and approach ability. But I know a few herbs that are also good for this (see below).
There are many things you can do to find balance as an empath. Some of which I've spoken about already but I have also devised a tea. To get an explanation of each ingredient just fill out the short form below. You'll also start to get my newsletter. If you're not interested you can always unsubscribe once you've got your info on the herbs.
To make your tea mix equal parts of each and use a teaspoon of the blend to every cup you have. You can have as much of it as you want but aim for 2-3 cups a day to get the full effect.
You may feel like I've described you perfectly in this blog or you might only recognise parts of yourself in my definition. We are each individual after all. I would love to hear your experiences and understanding of the term "empath" and what it means to you. Please do leave your comments below.