Feel my own feelings. That may sound strange. I mean, who’s feelings was I feeling?
I first learned that I may be empathic when my preschooler had bomb threats at his school. I was literally paralyzed with indecision and could not decide whether to take him to school or not. Part of me thought “It’s only preschool–who cares if he misses?” and the other part thought, “Nothing will happen, it’s okay to take him.” I finally came up with the plan to go to the school, get information, and then make a decision when I was there.
When I went to drop him off, I felt a strong sense of panic and decided to keep him home for the week to be on the safe side. By the time I got home, I felt overwhelmed and perplexed because I had felt paralyzed by the fear. I have been in scary situations before and usually my mind will become calm and I will feel a sense of what to do.
Read Related: Who was the voice that said you won’t make it home.
Now a bomb threat is scary. All we were told is that it was an email from an overseas account. Was it a terrorist threat? We didn’t know. But this fear felt different. It felt BIG and like I was having many thoughts at once. I felt like I was looking at people calmly walking their kids into school and the image in my mind was of me carrying my child running down the street as the school was exploding. How were people so calm? How did they look so put together when I felt like everything was crumbling???
I have a person who does intuitive readings for me. I had her do one to see why I couldn’t feel my intuition and make a decision like I normally do. “What was blocking me?” I wanted to know. I understood why I was fearful but it didn’t FEEL like me, is the only way I can explain it.
She said I was empathic and taping into the collective fear of the parents at the school. I was what????
I looked up what it meant and it really made sense. At home I was calm, had decided to take him to the school, but when I got there I had felt like a wave of fear had washed over me and I couldn’t think. I had felt completely overwhelmed. Like a million thoughts were going through my head when at home I had been clear – “take him, see how you feel when you get there, then decide.”
That week I reached out to friends and family and everyone had a different take on how to handle the issue, so he and I spent the week at home together.
I did not feel it was a decision I was making from intuition. I was okay with being cautious since it was preschool and he wouldn’t really end up behind or anything, but it bothered me. When I took him back, it was because he was really dying to go back to school and be with his friends, not because I felt comfortable.
Some parents kept their kids home, and some took them. Both decisions made sense, not knowing the severity of the threat and having little information about who made the threat. As time went on, we all took our kids to school and thankfully it all worked out for the better.
But for me, it really got me thinking about being empathic. Was I? How many other times was I feeling feelings that were not my own?
In my Human Resources career, I frequently used my “gut” instinct to keep the companies out of law suits. I literally felt like I could feel who was likely to sue and who was not. I kept meticulous files for everyone, but there were certain people I would just know we needed to be extra clear in emails or to write up if they were not following the policies. Inevitably, years later those people I had that feeling about would try to say they were wrongfully treated, and thankfully I would have that email where they had signed off on the policy they were questioning, or we had written them up for the exact thing they were claiming and they would have no case.
I wondered, after that day, hearing that word empathic, why was that? Why did I know when employees were about to quit, when managers were not being forthcoming, when decision makers weren’t entirely honest. Does everyone just know that too?
Was it “gut” instinct?
Or was it something else?
Was it this ability to feel what others were feeling?
After that day, I spent the next few years learning to decipher which were my feelings, and which were not.
I kept thinking, “I just want to feel my own feelings for a while.”
The thing about being empathic is that you are not doing it on a conscious level. There is part of you that connects and feels others emotions without being aware of it. It takes effort for the opposite to happen. I use reiki to shield my energy, I’m constantly sending back energy that is not my own, especially after being in crowded places, and I make an effort not to take on the emotions of others. I cut cords before bedtime, take salt baths, and sometimes even cover my solar plexus chakra with my hand if I feel my energy is wanting to get out there when it shouldn’t be.
I can still walk into a room and sense the tension or emotions in the room, but I do not absorb it. I notice it, see if there is anything I need to do (like are my son’s about to melt down because they are hungry?), and I let it go.
So as not to be weighted down,
By emotions that are not mine.
Which is easier said than done, but I’m learning, practicing, and getting better at it.
How about you? Are you discovering you are empathic? How do you know when to feel others emotions (if ever) and when not to? I would love to hear about it in the comments.