Are You An Empath?

Sep 5, 2010 by

(Spongebob Psychic?)

By Lisa Campion

Just the other day, I was up at The Lake hanging with my peeps from the Energy Medicine Institute. We were having one of our yearly retreats at Rhys’s summer house and it was really great fun, a totally amazing experience. We played in the water, the tubing was fabulous, and I particularly enjoyed sun tanning on the dock. We did some great healings on each other too. There is nothing groovier then doing healings outside on the lake shore, just feet from the water, under tall and shady pine trees.

One morning I was sitting on the dock just looking for a moment of peace and solitude. It was gorgeous weather, warm, sunny and the lake was flat and calm. Not a ripple in it. Somewhere a loon was calling and sounding loony. And I was hiding out. There were twenty people in a pretty small house and not much privacy. Even with my beloved family of choice, I still needed some alone time.

I knew it was bad when I took refuge in the porta-potty. I was pretty sure it was the one place no one would come looking for me. It was an executive porta-potty so it was a pretty fancy one. Even so, I could only imagine the conversation in the kitchen.

“Where is Lisa?”

“She is hiding out in the porta-potty. She needs a little alone time.”

“Ohhhhh…. Snicker, snicker….”

Why was I contemplating these drastic measures? Because I am an empath, a “highly sensitive” person and a crowded environment like that can be tough for us empaths, even though it was a smooshy love fest.
For being such a people person I can be pretty antisocial. And being packed into a smallish house with twenty other folks for five days really had me practice my empathy skills. Thank God I had some! If I hadn’t known what to do about being so sensitive, I might have been a basket case. But I have been teaching empaths all kinds of groovy tricks to manage their sensitivity for a long time now, so I had some tools up my sleeve.

What is being an empath you ask? I am so glad you did. Empaths are highly sensitive people, the psychic sponges of the world, soaking up all the psychic and emotional static that other people give off. Being an empath is one of the most common and most challenging of all the psychic gifts. Life for the unshielded and unknowing empath can be pretty tough. It’s really an amazing gift but until you learn to manage your sensitivity it can feel more like curse. The good news is that with a little knowledge and training, an empath can improve their quality of life quite dramatically.

How can you tell if you are an empath? Ask yourself these questions…

• Do you feel what other people are feeling as if it is happening to you?
• Do you feel overwhelmed in crowded places like the movies, the mall, airports or hospitals?
• Are you prone to anxiety and/or depression?
• Do you prefer to be alone, out in nature, or around animals than around people?
• Do you feel “sucked dry” by the people in your life?
• Do you have trouble with boundaries and saying no to people?
• Do other people tell you that you are too sensitive?
• Do you feel like most of the “stuff” you are carrying around isn’t yours?
• Are you drawn to helping, healing and care giving?

If this sounds like you, then you are probably an empath. Here is a classic example of an empathic experience.
Imagine arriving at a party. You were feeling great when you arrived, but after a few minutes you start to feel horrible. You may feel suddenly very sad or depressed. Or you may feel something in your body that you didn’t before, like a headache or a pain somewhere. After a while the depression and sadness becomes overwhelming. Your friends might think you are nuts as you decide to leave the party early. Then someone in the room says something like, “I’m so depressed, I lost my job today. And my girlfriend broke up with me. And my dog died. I can’t get rid of this killer headache. Maybe I’ll just go jump in front of a train…”

And you realize (if you are lucky) that you are either listening to a country and western song, or that the pain and sadness you were feeling was not yours at all. It was some one else’s!

The sad part of this story… er… besides the actual story, is that you might think those are YOUR feelings and wonder why you are so crazy and over-sensitive all the time.

What is an empath?

The psychological quality of empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and sympathize. Most people have the capacity to feel empathy, it’s a normal human emotion. The kind of empathy I am referring to is different and far more intense. It’s when you pick up other people’s thoughts and feelings and feel them like they are your feelings.

Non-empathic people have a nice solid barrier layer to their energy field, like a shell. This naturally filters out other people’s stuff and gives the non-emapth a feeling of safety and separation. Non-empaths automatically have a sense of- “This is me in here and that out there is the world.”

Empaths miss this, since they have no definitive boundary layer on their energy field, which is more like a sponge then a shell. (Think Spongebob.) Empaths tend to have very big auras too, so an empath picks up and absorbs the psychic static, thoughts and feelings from everyone around them, even everyone in a big room. So basically, you are big sponge sucking up all the people goo around you. Fabulous, right?

So say you are in a room with Cranky Sally. You know her, we have all met someone like her. She is cranky! Like before coffee cranky and YOU have to deal with her. A non-empathic person just rolls their eyes and pours her a cup of Joe. They don’t FEEL the crankiness, the might observe it and sympathize, but they don’t feel it like it is their feelings. They have that nice big boundary that lets Cranky Sally’s bad mojo just slide off them like water off a duck.
But an empath has that squishy, spongy energy field so Sally’s cranky vibe will go right through them. You will FEEL it, like it’s wave washing over you. You see the problem here.

Empathic Overload

Because empaths are very sensitive to their surrounding and to other people’s feelings, they can become easily overwhelmed in stimulating environments. For example, a trip to the mall can blow your circuits pretty easily.
A psychically stressed environment is any place where a lot of people congregate and the energy never gets cleared away. So you can get this nasty, negative psychic static in any place like a hospital, a jail, court house, morgue or a divorce attorney’s office. Feels good in there, right? Or my top pick, the in-laws house during the holidays. Get the picture? Yeah.

A good example of this is a hotel room. Think about all the crazy, whacky life that happens in a hotel room, good and bad. The energetic imprint of all the people and events that occupied that room may still be hanging around. Additionally, all the feelings they had and the dramatic events that took place in that room leave a residue that an empathic person can easily pick up on. Never mind that the maid has been in, unless she is packing some sage –there is going to be leftover people gunk in that room, even if the sheets and towels are clean.

All this psychic stimulation will quickly put an empath into overload. Their sponge is full! Once on overload, you will feel very tired and drained. As the psychic senses shut down, you might feel disconnected, floaty, spacey or in extreme cases, actual dissociation. (Feeling like you are outside your body or completely disconnected from your body….) Empaths in overload may also feel irritable or pop out a good-sized headache.

I don’t know about you guys, but a half an hour in Wal-Mart leaves me feeling limp, spacey and reaching for the Tylenol. Or worse yet, looking for the nearest porta-potty to hide in. Lord knows, if I don’t bring a list, I am doomed. Somewhere after I get to house wares, I usually just do an emergency eject and leave my body. I will come to half way through the parking lot and wonder why I got ten things I didn’t need and didn’t get the two things that I went in for. Superstores are not for the faint of heart, people with weak stomachs and empaths. Ugh.
Empaths learn very early in their lives to pop out of their bodies when overloaded. It becomes an energy habit that is difficult to break. It’s a powerful and effective defensive measure, but has unwelcome side effects. (It’s hard to really enjoy life when you are not in your body!) That is why learning to ground is so essential. It is important for empaths to learn to get back in their bodies and stay there!

The truly ironic thing here is that empaths are very caring, compassionate and big-hearted people. Most are drawn to the helping and care giving fields, which puts them right in the psychically stressed environments that are the most damaging to them. Many empaths find that they can’t work effectively in these arenas until they learn proper shielding techniques.

Once you know how to manage your energy field, you can then go do your life’s purpose. I have seen many empaths move into a space where they get jobs doing some kind of service work, which is really what we are meant for.

Grounding, Clearing and Protecting

So the good news here is that it is fairly easy to create some change pretty quickly here. Grounding is one of those words that you hear bantered around a lot in spiritual communities, but what does that actually mean?
Grounding comes down to three qualities.

• Being in your body
• Being firmly in the here and now in your mind
• Being energetically attached to the earth.

This can be really challenging for empaths who tend to pop out of their bodies when they get overloaded and also to jump out of themselves and get pulled into other people’s experiences.

Empaths need to ground spiritual and psychic energy through their bodies and down into the ground, like a lightening rod. Often psychic energy gets stuck in the head and it doesn’t move down through the whole body, and that adds to the spacey feeling. If it’s “negative” energy then the empath is going to feel pretty funky. To ground you can:

• Use visualizations techniques
• Be outside in nature, especially sitting or laying on a rock or the ground.
• Hug a tree
• Walk around or get some exercise
• Do some deep belly breathing
• Eat something or drink a glass of water
• Rub your hands together, or rub the souls of your feet on the ground
• Do something ordinary, like housework
• Watch out for meditating! It can be pretty ungrounding unless it’s the right kind of meditation


Clearing is when we get rid of energy we don’t need or want in our energy field. Sometimes it is our own energy we need to clear and sometimes we need to clear away other people’s stuff that we have picked up. To clear your energy:

• Breath up through your feet and exhale out the top of your head
• Take a bath in water with sea salt or Epsom salt, lavender and/or rosemary
• Take a shower and imagine “dirty” energy flowing off you (or you can visualize this…)
• Go for a walk or be in nature
• Use sage, sweet grass or incense to clear both you and your space. That is why they use it in church!
• Steaming and sweating is great for clearing too
• Reiki, energy work, crystals, flower essences and essential oils work great! Any kind of vibrational medicine works very well.
• If you really need extra clearing get some help and get a energy session


Protecting is putting up a shield around your energy field to keep you from absorbing other people’s energy. There are two ways to do this, one is to work with your energy field and the other is create healthier boundaries and doing some psychological work.

Visualizations work great for some people!

• Imagine white light, or a bubble of energy around you
• “Zip” up your energy field with your imagination
• Visualize your own core expanding out through your energy field, like a force field
• Pray! Ask the deity of your choice for help
• Use salt, sage, sweet grass and blessed water
• Use crystals, flowers essences, power objects and amulets
• Take Lisa’s “Managing Your Sensitivity” teleclass!

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