If you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or empath, you are not alone. There are an estimated 40 million HSPs in America alone. HSPs often face unique challenges; mainly, healing modalities that work for most people don’t always work for us. Many of us are still dealing with fatigue, lack of focus, anxiousness, heavy-heartedness (what some call "depression"), tight muscles/unexplained pain (what some call fibromyalgia), or various other forms of pain and illness. Even if we're relatively healhty, it is still very difficult to thrive in a culture where our sensitivities are seen as something to cure or repress – rather than be embraced. Yet, when understood and used appropriately, our empathic abilities can be a divine gift – one that allows us to heal, thrive, and to better serve all humankind.
I was a successful medical intuitive and energy healer for years but in denial of my extreme sensitivity to others’ energies. One day, I had a most unusual wakeup call. The catalyst was an atypical evening out with friends, visiting several bars. I drank no alcohol, only water, the entire evening; but because of my sensitivities, I found myself getting drunk – yes, drunk – as in slur-my-words, unable-to-walk-a-straight-line drunk. Even in this empathic stupor, I knew this was a message not just for me but also for thousands of other highly sensitive people.
As a way of training me to better handle being an HSP, the Universe then sent me a string of highly sensitive clients. Moreover, these clients had some astonishing similarities:
- They had done a large amount of self-growth and healing work, yet nothing had permanently shifted their emotional or physical pain or illness;
- They had an inflated sense of responsibility; and
- They were all highly sensitive, intuitive, or empathic.
My job? To teach them what I had not yet understood myself.
Fortunately, my intuitive abilities let me clearly hear and share what I now call The Five Steps to Healing for the Highly Sensitive Person.
While some people can do these and get spectacular results quickly, others need more time and patience. If you don't get immediate results, think about it as if you’re learning a new language. The effects are cumulative; just do your best each day!
Here is a short summary of the steps I've been working with for the last four years. They've raised awareness of empathic illness and have helped thousands of people heal and thrive when all else has failed.
1. Determine True Responsibility
Too many HSPs feel responsible for healing the emotional or physical pain of others – either a loved one, a social issue, or the world. This is the metaphysical equivalent of carrying a loved one (or several!) on your back. How long can you do that without getting fatigued?
When an HSP operates from this paradigm of responsibility—and its associated guilt, fear, and shame—(s)he becomes resentful, as it is against the HSP’s higher knowing. In turn, resentment reduces the strength of both your immune system and your energy field, leaving you more susceptible to absorbing and keeping other people’s pain and illness.
Taking on another person’s issues—even with the best of intentions—is often an unhealthy attempt to heal or connect with those persons. Sadly, this is cleverly disguised by the ego and supported by many cultures as a good deed. This action is unhealthy because it burdens you with what isn't yours. Others need what is theirs; their soul signed up for it. Even worse, perhaps, this is a missed opportunity for the other person. Our job is to be compassionate but not take on other’s stuff—to embrace each person wherever they are on their journey, guiding them from a higher place than our own egoic needs.
Even if you are being paid to be a healer, your responsibility is not “to heal” others (by absorbing what’s not yours) but to create safe space for healing by loving them unconditionally. This, ironically, is what leads to healing—for them and for you.
Whenever possible, slow down and ask yourself if you are coming from your subconscious mind (patterned, conditioned belief system) or your higher self (truth). More succinctly put, "Pattern or truth?" With practice, you'll become more aware that most of our actions are coming from the pattern. Our job as seekers and healers is to notice this and then ask ourselves, "What is my higher truth looking to accomplish now?" and then act from that awareness. This will minimize your perceived responsibility, better allowing you to be in the flow—your truth—and be safely open to life rather than contracted.
2. The Keyhole
A trained empath’s gift lies in their ability to tune in so that they can see what is needed in a particular situation, elevating their awareness of -- and compassion for -- the other person. That is why HSPs are such wonderful healers, friends, and intimate partners! Empathy—when used well—is your divine gift! But many HSPs block incoming energy out of fear of empathic overwhelm. This blocks the good as well as the bad, because it’s very difficult to allow one while denying the other. If you’ve been wondering, “Why have I not yet healed?” or “What is my right livelihood?” or “Where is my soulmate?” trust that the answers are just on the other side of the very wall you’ve put up for protection. Opening up to this information, while EFFECTIVELY letting other people’s negative energy go through you, is the difference between a skilled empath and a walking sponge.
3. The Body Scan
I’ve broken down energetic blockages into two categories for the Highly Sensitive Person: what’s yours and what’s not yours. You can’t get results addressing what is not yours using the tools for what is yours. (The reverse is also true.) This is why so many of the HSPs I worked with hadn’t experienced permanent results, even after seemingly trying every practitioner and modality available.
Go slowly inward and ask your body what type of energy you’ve absorbed, whose it is, and where it is being stored—and be open to hearing or feeling something unexpected!
4. Return to Sender
Once we know what we’re dealing with, we must metaphysically return it to the original person we’ve absorbed it from. We do this with love and compassion. “Cord cuts” and random “Sending it back to the Universe” techniques are all very well; however, they do not teach you how to become a strong, connected empath, capable of opening up your heart at any time without fear of energetic or emotional overwhelm.
Typically, after doing the first four steps, you will find yourself feeling alive, open, and spacious. This can be disorienting, as feeling so good may be unfamiliar! Recalibration is a form of energy medicine that anyone can do. Sitting in silence after each Body Scan and Return to Sender helps you integrate any shifts and remain permanently at a higher vibration.
In closing: know that you are not crazy and that there is hope. By practicing the five steps summarized above, you can prevent and heal empathic illness and finally begin to thrive. For more detailed instruction, check out my book, Self-Care for the Self-Aware: A Guide for Highly Sensitive People, Empaths, Intuitives, and Healers.
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