One area of spiritual health that is near and dear to me is that of being Empathic or a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). An Empath or HSP is someone who deeply feels what another person is feeling by taking it into their auric field. Empaths are highly sensitive, often with very big emotional and energetic bodies which can act as sponges, absorbing the emotions of the people around them and then experiencing those feelings as if they were their own. They can also literally “throw” their energetic body out at another person in order to feel into that person’s own energy and emotions. Sometimes it even goes so far as an Empath feeling the other person’s physical pain and/or taking on the other person’s issues into themselves. If you work in a healing profession that last fact is especially relevant!
Being an Empath or HSP is a gift! You have the potential to spread an awful lot of love, hope and compassion in this world. A lot of people can experience it more as burden however, until they learn how to balance and manage it. Let me explain...
Most Empaths have no idea that this dynamic of carrying other people's emotions is in play. As a result, they are often plagued with the consequences. Things like feeling emotionally unstable, feeling very tired and drained or even depressed for “no reason”, having difficulty with stress and anxiety in crowds, having a feeling that they need to help other people before they help themselves and being uncomfortable with intimacy.
I myself am an Empath, and spent many years taking on other people’s feelings and pain because: a. I didn’t realise I was doing it, and b. I subconsciously felt that if I helped people, they would value and 'like' me. I struggled with crowds, and I especially struggled with social interactions where a person would be telling me one thing, but I would 'feel' their emotions were the complete opposite. I also had a lot of people in my life who subconsciously knew that I would open up and take on their burdens for them, so would always contact me when feeling angry or upset and dump it on me – feel much better in themselves and then walk away leaving it all on my plate! This is called a 'toxic relationship'!
Once I became aware that I was Empathic and that this was going on – my first step was to just observe myself. I was astonished to notice that I would actually lean forward or get closer to people as I was 'feeling into' their energy, while making myself very open for them to 'deposit' their unwanted emotions into my field. I came to understand that for ME (and it’s not the same for everyone) I had been using my Empathic abilities as a form of protection. Meaning – that if I could feel what people were feeling, I could identify whether or not they were dangerous or a threat to me – and therefore keep myself safe. OR it meant that if I was taking on other people’s burdens for them – I was making myself someone that they wouldn’t want to hurt because I provided this service for them. These psychological reasons for my thoughts and behaviour stemmed from traumatic experiences in my past, a lack of self-worth and no real trust that the Universe is safe and loving.
I began to address and heal those wounds in a very intentional way. While it's possible to make changes very quickly, to really change the patterns behind them does take time and commitment.
Over the years, I learned how to keep my Empathic abilities in balance and not always open and chaotic. One thing about being an Empath who has worked to balance that ability in a healthy way, is that it makes me very good at working with clients to help them understand their own feelings. When a client or friend asks me to work with them to process their emotions, I am able to connect my energy with theirs very easily to help them reach deeper insights into their feelings and listen to their inner guidance. And importantly – I don’t take any of their feelings into ME or carry it around in myself after the session is over. And I certainly never open up that mutual energetic connection without them first asking me to!
Aside from learning how to shied myself and work on healing the parts of myself that felt unworthy and unsafe – a HUGE help for me in learning to balance Empathic abilities has been essential oils.
Essential oils have physical as well as vibrational healing properties. Different oils have different 'personalities' – just like people, and they will work with people in various areas to help heal their life.
There are a couple of essential oils in particular that are VERY helpful for Empaths and those working on bringing their abilities into more balance. Below I have made a list of a few oils for different areas you may be working with. It’s always important when working with oils to chose ones that resonate with you. So for example, if you are very put off by the smell of Sage – choose something else
To use any of these oils, simply pick one or two that appeal to you and put 1-2 drops of oil per each teaspoon of a carrier (like almond or grapeseed oil). You can then anoint yourself with the blend as a perfume, or carry the bottle with you to inhale the fragrance when you feel you need the extra support.
Shields – Sage, Patchouli, Frankincense, Bay Laurel.
Shielding essential oils support us to keep our own energy bodies closed, keeping our energy to ourselves and not allowing other people to penetrate and drain us energetically. Empaths have a tendency to attract psychic vampires into their lives until they can learn to properly shield. If you are feeling that you need help keeping your energetic body closed, or that you are dealing with a psychic vampire – choose one of the oils from this list and ask that it work with you on shielding.
Self-love boosters – Jasmine, Neroli, Rose Otto, Sandalwood
Many Empaths take on the burdens of others because they have a core belief that they aren’t worthy of receiving their own healing or of being accepted for who they are as opposed to what they can do for others. These oils will work with you on opening your heart to receive back from the Universe and heal the parts of yourself that feel undeserving of love.
Grounding – Ginger, Black Pepper, Rosemary, Vetiver
Because so many Empaths spend much of their time projecting themselves outside of their own bodies, it can be difficult at first to stay grounded and present in your own physical body. Any one of these oils will work with you on feeling safe and rooted to your own physicality.
You can experiment with any of the oils outlined here but stick to the dilution that I mentioned above and never ingest or apply near infants or children.
Or you can book a private consultation with me and I will help you with this process personally.
I'll be hosting a workshop on Aromatherapy for Empaths in The Hague in November. Full details and tickets here!