This is a sample chapter from my book titled Inspiration: A to Z.

Some sources define empathy as “the ability to share and understand the feelings of another.” If you feel empathy to the extreme, you could be labeled an empath. It’s a word that’s regularly tossed around spiritual and metaphysical circles because being an empath is actually a form of intuition – it’s a type of psychic ability. Nearly everybody possesses empathy on some level, but being an empath is a whole other ball game. It comes with benefits and drawbacks, but when empathic abilities are used correctly, they can be tremendously beneficial in being of assistance to those you love.

I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions. They’ll help you determine if you’re an empath, and to what extent you possess the ability.

  1. Do you often feel fatigued or drained after being around a large group of people?
  2. Do you often have mood fluctuations?
  3. Do you generally avoid conflict and confrontation at all costs?
  4. Do you ever have random or unexplained pains throughout your body that quickly go away?
  5. Would you consider yourself an emotionally deep individual?
  6. Do you have a high level of empathy and compassion for others, easily putting yourself in their shoes?
  7. When it comes to spending time with people, are you very particular about which friends and acquaintances you’re around?
  8. Do you find it hard to watch gruesome or violent movies?
  9. Do you find it hard to watch the evening news?

The more you answered “yes” to questions 1-9, the more it increases the likelihood you are an empath. An empath can literally feel pain, emotions, energy, moods, and vibes from others around her. It can affect her in very real ways, both physically and emotionally. It’s possible for this to happen because we are all more connected than we realize.

We are beings made of pure energy, and energy exists everywhere. If your friend is sitting in a chair ten feet away, she is not separate from you in a spiritual sense. There are always tunnels, pathways, and channels that link us together. It’s through this energetic highway that feelings, aches, pains, and thoughts can travel.

If it’s dawned on you that you’re an empath, allow me to pat you on the back and smile, as I say, “Welcome to the club, my friend.” Being an empath isn’t all that bad. Literally feeling what someone is going through gets you one step closer to knowing how to help them. When a person is in pain, it’s important that other people acknowledge her pain. We have an inner desire for someone to look us straight in the eyes and sympathize with our situation. It’s not for attention, and it’s usually not because we’re looking for special treatment. We want others to sympathize and/or empathize with our pain because it makes us feel understood, less afraid, and more connected.

Empaths are sensitive, peacekeeping creatures who don’t like conflict. Empaths avoid confrontation like businesses avoid tax audits. Seeing real-life trauma and brutal imagery is likely to take a negative toll on empaths because they have a hard time disassociating themselves from what they’re watching. An empath will inadvertently place herself in the shoes of the person being harmed, and identify with the victim to such an extent, she will take on the pain herself (emotionally or physically). I know many empaths who refuse to watch the evening news. Can you blame them? News stations often air content that’s more depressing than the county morgue!

Empaths rarely like scary movies, but I’ve met a few empaths who do enjoy a good scare. Empaths typically avoid intense horror flicks because they feel the anxiety of the main character, who is of course being attacked by zombies, vampires, or ax wielding murderers. Empaths will generally internalize the fear of the character in the movie, as if they were in that situation.

Kryptonite may have been Superman’s weakness, but conflict is the Achilles heel of empaths. Empaths would rather handle a live tarantula than be involved in a heated argument. Being in an environment filled with anger, negativity, or aggression can suck the life right out of empaths. They take it to heart when others are upset with them, and inevitably tend to be what you might call people-pleasers. Empaths are compassionate people who make the world a better place; all the while wishing everyone could just get along.

Empaths carry inside their chest a heart of gold. They are sensitive and typically choose their friends wisely. The awkward, hormone-filled atmosphere of junior high and high school can be a treacherous gauntlet for empaths to navigate. The good news is that empaths usually find college much more manageable. The college experience is typically filled with less judgment, bullying, and pettiness.

Empaths may sound like nothing more than emotionally sensitive people. However, being an empath is a legitimate psychic ability. Highly intuitive empaths can sense the emotions and pain of others so well and so precisely, it leaves no doubt that humans are energetically connected to one another. Empaths can perceive information about total strangers they have never met, and this is accomplished by using a sense outside of the five scientifically explainable senses.

The aches, pains, and sensations I feel throughout my body while giving a psychic reading are authenticated and validated by my clients. One time, I was literally squirming in my chair, doubled over in agony as I experienced searing pain in my left hip. I assured my client I have no issues with my hips.

She conceded that she, however, did. Although she didn’t walk with a limp or have any noticeable health problems, she said she shattered her left hip in a car accident the previous year and had been in physical therapy ever since. My client explained she still has pain in her left hip when the weather gets cold. Looking out my window at the falling snow, I pleaded with her to follow up with her doctor if the discomfort in her hip got any worse. This is just one of many examples I could give.

In readings, I physically feel dull aches, stabbing pains, and twinges of discomfort. I experience these ailments in very specific locations of my body that correlate to what my client has experienced in the past or is currently experiencing. It could be a headache in my temples while reading a client who suffers from migraines. It could be sinus pressure near my eyes and ears if my client is prone to sinus infections.

I’ve felt knots in my lower back while reading someone who has lumbar issues, and I’ve felt fluttering muscle twitches near my shoulder blades when a person has upper back muscle spasms. My stomach will turn like a cement mixer while reading a person afflicted with digestive problems. After mentioning a “pins and needles” sensation in my feet, my clients have informed me they suffer from circulation problems in their lower extremities.

I’m not complaining. I love my profession and don’t mind the aches and pains that come with it. Every job description comes with small print that reads other duties as assigned. I guess being an empath is my other duties as assigned. Besides, the pain I absorb from my clients is often short-lived and usually goes away before the conclusion of the session. Again, when I intuitively and literally feel the discomforts of my clients, it gets me one step closer to knowing how to help them.

I’m obviously not a doctor and I never claim to be a replacement for one. However, empathizing and sympathizing with a person’s situation makes them feel less afraid and more human. Temporarily hurting with them and walking a mile in their shoes is my way of breaking the ice and asking my clients what they’re doing to keep their health problems under control. It’s my way of holding them accountable for their well-being and reminding them they do not have to suffer in silence.

Here’s some advice for you if you’re an empath. First of all, choose your company wisely. When it comes to your friends, you don’t have to spend time with someone unless you want to. If a particular friend sucks the life out of you like an emotional vampire, then perhaps it’s time to cut ties with that friend. It could be time to reevaluate your social circle. You owe it to yourself to be surrounded with good company. You should not feel emotionally drained after spending time with a friend. You should feel energized and uplifted.

On the other hand, there are some people you’re obligated to be around, whether you like it or not. Maybe they’re your in-laws, co-workers, or your spouse’s best friend. Although hanging out with some people is about as fun as getting a colonoscopy, sometimes you must “play nice”. Then again, sometimes it’s hard to play nice when you’re surrounded by not-so-nice people. What’s the best way to cope with negativity if you’re an empath?

Bubble it up, my friend. Surround yourself with an imaginary, emotional bubble of protection. This spiritual hamster ball will contain all your positive vibes and prevent bad energy from penetrating your space. It’s a type of on-the-go, visual meditation and prayer. If you’re not a visual person and cannot imagine this bubble around you, fear not. Simply ask God, the Universe, your guardian angels, or your loved ones in Heaven to surround you with a loving cocoon of protection. It usually works.

If a bubble of protection is not your cup of tea, there are other options. You can choose to surround yourself in a wall of empathic protection. Think of yourself as a princess in a castle, fortified by stone walls on every side. Heck, visualize a moat around your castle and a fire-breathing dragon for good measure. After all, we’re talking about your energetic and emotional well-being here. You can’t be too careful.

Yes, this world is sprinkled with negative individuals. Don’t let them storm your castle of happiness without a fight. Keep your defenses up when in potentially draining situations. Retract your emotional drawbridge so you’re not empathically attacked. If this visual barrier doesn’t work as effectively as you would like, I have one last piece of advice.

Try not to take things personally. If you find yourself among conflict and confrontation, the issue may have more to do with your adversary than yourself. People tend to project onto us the irritation and unhappiness they’re feeling. Please keep in mind, others can only drain you of energy and put you in a bad mood if you let them.

Happiness is a choice. Rather than getting upset and defensive when you feel attacked, try responding to the person with empathy and compassion. Returning negativity with more negativity creates a vicious cycle. Trust me, you don’t want to ride that merry-go-round.

If you find it hard to respond with compassion, then at least try to emotionally disassociate yourself from the other person and the situation. Keep things in perspective. Remember that nothing can ever damage our souls or our spirits: not conflict, not anger, not pain, judgment, gossip, pettiness, or draining individuals. Rise above this nonsense and the people who perpetuate it. Hold your head high and embrace your empathic abilities. After all, it’s more of a gift than a curse.

Written by Andy Myers

If you enjoyed this sample chapter from Inspiration: A to Z, you can download the complete audio book via my website.