Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People
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Self-care is essential for all empathic people to thrive. When you mindfully and lovingly practice it each day, your sensitivities will flourish.
The self-care practices, perspectives, and meditations I present as daily offerings in this book will support you in being a compassionate, empowered empath without shouldering the suffering of others or trying to “fix” them. All people deserve the dignity of their own paths. Day-by-day, I’ll offer gentle reminders about how you can be loving without becoming codependent or a martyr.
How to Use This Book
The daily passages in Thriving as an Empath provide a practical kind of prescience. Reading them sets the tone for how you face each day and outlines ways to attract positivity and deflect stress. For instance, to offset overwhelm at critical times (such as before an intense meeting), insert a self-care practice in your schedule. Even a few minutes of meditating can center you. A little self-care goes a long way. Honoring your sensitivities is an act of self-love.
To receive the full benefits of practicing self-care for a year, start at the date you obtain this book and continue to read it chronologically. Each morning, take a few minutes to sit quietly and reflect on the message. Apply its teachings throughout the day.
I invite you to take an incredible journey around the sun together. I’m excited that we can gather as empathic souls on a daily quest to be more loving with ourselves and to empower our sensitivities. I hope this book will be a friend to you and that you draw on its daily readings to thrive.
SAMPLES OF DAILY PRACTICES
Note: Dedicate yourself to one self-care practice per day to experience the benefits and depth of meaning it offers in your life.
Treasure Your Sensitivity
The first day of the year is a magical twenty-four hours. It’s a wide-open portal into new beginnings and new possibilities about how you view yourself as a highly empathic person. Take some quiet moments to reflect on your empathic gifts: your intuition, depth, creativity, compassion, and desire to better the world. Let yourself experience their worth.
The new year is a perfect time to re-commit to your self-care. Ask yourself, “What lifestyle changes can I make to better support my sensitivities? How can I be a caring person, but not burn out? What practices can I use to replenish myself?” Clarifying your goals sets a positive tone for change.
I love the Zen concept of “the beginner’s mind.” It allows you to see your yourself with new eyes–not through the lens of old ideas or preconceptions. Starting at this moment, make it a priority to treasure your sensitive soul and the power of your loving heart.
Set your intention. Today and throughout the year, I will embrace my empathic gifts. I am proud of who I am. I want to grow into my strengths and become an empowered empath. I will practice self-care techniques to protect and nurture my sensitivities.
Dealing with Overwhelm
The secret to reducing overwhelm is to notice it quickly. Many empathic patients have come to me saying, “I’ve felt overwhelmed for years.” They live in the persistent, uncomfortable state of sensory overload or else have become exhausted, burned out, or sick. Happily, you don’t have to let this experience get the best of you.
Each day, treat yourself with kindness. If too much is coming at you too fast, make time to decrease stimulation. Notice when you first start feeling overwhelmed. Did a colleague or family member ask too much of you? Did you overcommit yourself? Most importantly, catch the feeling as fast as you can before it gathers momentum. Then take at least a few minutes to unplug from stimulation. I often retreat to a room without sound or bright light. I rest or meditate to recalibrate myself to a more balanced state. You can use these strategies too.
Set your intention. To prevent or reduce overwhelm, I will plan short or longer periods to reduce external stimulation. Learning to deal with feeling overwhelmed is an essential part of my empath’s tool kit.
It’s Not My Job to Take on the World’s Pain
As an empath, you have an open heart. You don’t have the same emotional guard up that many others do. You feel people’s pain–both loved ones and strangers–and you instinctively want to take it away from them. In fact, many of us have been taught that being compassionate means it’s our job to remove other people’s pain.
This is not true. You can hold a supportive space for someone without absorbing their distress in your own body. Finding this balance is the art of healing. Inwardly you can say, “This is not my burden to carry.” It is impossible to fix someone and it is really none of your business to try. More than twenty years of being a physician has taught me that everybody deserves the dignity of their own path.
Set your intention. I can be compassionate without becoming a martyr or taking on another person’s pain. I can respect someone’s healing process without trying to “fix” them.
My Past Doesn’t Control Me
Many sensitive people have had challenging upbringings, early trauma, and difficult relationships. Growing up with the sense of not being “seen” by your family may have injured your self-confidence. Perhaps no one ever stood up for you or said, “This sensitive soul deserves to be appreciated.” Also, getting used to feeling alone and unsupported might have spilled over into your adult relationships. So, you choose difficult partners such as narcissists who are incapable of giving unconditional love or respecting your sensitivities.
No matter what has happened in the past, now is your time to shine and thrive. Each day brings new opportunities. Seek out positive people and situations. It is never too late to create a wondrous life that supports you in every way.
Set your intention. When negative stories from my past resurface, I will tell myself, “My past doesn’t control me. I am in my power now. I deserve to be happy.”
Research has shown that the average American spends over ninety percent of their time indoors. Instead, go out in nature. Being in the presence of trees is healing. Plant empaths–people who have a special affinity for green growing things–know this well.
When you need to recharge yourself or simply want to be touched by the serenity of trees, let yourself experience Forest Bathing. This is the Japanese healing tradition of Shinrin-yoku, the rejuvenation that comes from simply being in the woods. Forest Bathing has become a health prescription and part of preventative therapies in Japanese medicine.
If you live close to the forest or even a grove of trees in a park, spend regular time there. Open your senses: your sight, hearing, smell, and touch. Tune into the myriad sounds in the forest such as birds singing and the rushing of water in creeks. Savor the fragrance of pine needles or eucalyptus, the colors of leaves, and light dancing on the branches. Inhale the pure oxygen that plants so generously share. Let yourself daydream and experience the spirits of the trees.
Set your intention. I will soak up the healing atmosphere of the forest or even of a a single tree. I will let it help me relax and think more clearly.
All is Well (and Getting Better in Every Dimension!)
In the Buddhist tradition, Hao-la means “all is well and getting better.” You can use this mantra to release worry and fear. In quiet moments repeat “hao-la” (pronounced “HOW-LA”) inwardly or softly chant it a few times. I learned this inspiring practice from Master Ming-tong Gu as he led us through the ancient movements of Chi-Gong practice at his center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
There is no need to worry or be afraid. Keep shedding layers of concern and anxiety. When you encounter obstacles and fear, keep breathing through them. Don’t give them any power. Keep opening to your intuition and all your empathic strengths for guidance. Your growth process is underway. Be happy with your destiny and your life. All is well and getting better in every dimension.
Set your intention. I am excited about what my life will bring and my ongoing learning as an empath. I will focus on the brightness of my future and the surprises that lie ahead.
Pre-order on Amazon US, Amazon Canada and B&N
Sounds True Publishing, October, 2019