This year our team is making big shifts to step more into our purpose to give you the tools and the power to help you dive deeper into healing yourself and feeling your best. Our column, Unraveling, focuses on a new topic each month that we believe is important to address when you’re trying to navigate all the different stages of growth in your life. The purpose of this column is to help you drop the identity of all the programming and conditioning you’ve taken on throughout your life that’s negatively (and often silently) impacting your health and wellbeing on the physical, emotional and energetic layers of your body.
I never would have classified myself as highly sensitive because I’m a pretty tough cookie.
I also didn’t know what an empath was until my 30s, so I just thought that everyone could always feel what I feel, see what I see, hear what I hear and so forth.
I had NO CLUE that this wasn’t the case.
Hence, I now realize why I’m different than the majority of people who don’t fall into these two categories.
What’s interesting is that there are people who are highly sensitive and others who are empaths and then there are highly sensitive empaths. And by golly, I’m swimming in the soup of the latter.
The Highly Sensitive Empath
Here are a few things I’ve learned about empaths throughout the years.
- Empaths absorb other people’s emotions. We’re highly attuned to what other people are feeling such as anger, anxiety, and negativity. This can be exhausting because we’re taking on what’s not ours!
- Empaths have highly sensitive senses.
- Empaths need a lot of alone time. Whether that’s going to a party by ourselves in our own car so we can leave when we need to or going on a vacation alone, we can’t always be around people because it’s too draining.
- Empaths reset themselves when we’re immersed in nature.
- Empaths are highly intuitive.
- Empaths can get overwhelmed in intimate relationships.
- Empaths are usually introverted and prefer one-on-one relationships or small groups instead of being immersed in crowds such as the mall, concerts, and parties.
In many ways being a highly sensitive empath is a gift because my intuition is so strong that’s it’s alarming at times and I often just know things when others can’t see or hear or feel what I can. It’s almost like having a sixth sense that is built into me. I thought everyone had it but it turns out they don’t.
I tend to attract other people who are highly sensitive empaths because we tend to be interested in the same activities and the same things, which has been quite exciting and fun because it’s made me feel less alone and like an alien, thinking no one else feels as deeply as I do.
Perhaps you can relate?
Protecting Your Energy
It’s taken me many years (36 to be exact) to learn how to protect my highly sensitive empathic self from other people, situations and events that are energy vampires and drain my energy. I’ve had to stop watching the news, stop reading the newspaper, stop listening to commercials on TV, stop watching scary movies/TV shows and so forth because the negative programming is so strong that it drains me like a dead battery. I’m sure many of you reading this understand while other people who aren’t empaths or who aren’t highly sensitive just roll their eyes because they can’t feel what we feel – perhaps their constitution is different and they have more armor than we do.
Whatever the case may be for why some people feel deeper and have an inner knowing/intuition deeper than others, if you are a highly sensitive empath, it’s a wild thing to embody. While it is a gift because it helps us navigate our lives in a very clear way if we listen to what our body is trying to tell us, it can also be difficult because going to BBQs, concerts, weddings, parties, etc., can seem incredibly exhausting, draining and overwhelming. Learning how to manage this and make yourself a priority is key. KEY!
I recall an interview with Oprah and Amy Schumer (two women who we would think were outgoing and extroverted) and they talked about how they’re not extroverts at all. They went on to discuss how they’re sensitive to energy and too much stimulation that others find enjoyable. I could not agree more. I’m in their category for sure and you probably are too if you’re reading this!
The Empath & Adrenal Fatigue Connection
Most people think I’m an extrovert but as I slow my life down more and more, I realize I’m not. At all. I’m an introvert who needs so much quiet time… more than the average person. I need alone time and my nervous system can’t handle the constant pumping out of adrenaline/cortisol from being around people all the time. I wish I could. In my 20s and when I was younger, I was able to go go go, push push push. As I think back to those times, I was sensitive back then as well, but I didn’t listen to myself or my body and the signals it was giving me. I ignored every signal! I pushed through any headache, fatigue, pain, exhaustion, etc., and just kept going, which explains the adrenal fatigue I’ve had for years that sparked many of my health issues.
It’s funny, isn’t it… how we’re not taught to listen to ourselves and the obvious signals from our bodies? Why is that? Why are we not taught this in school? I find that odd. I could have saved myself years of suffering from health issues if I had learned how to actually stop and realize I was burned out and to try to slow myself down. But no, I kept going and pushing harder and harder because as a society that’s what we’re taught to do: to push ourselves and keep going despite what symptoms pop up. We’re taught to band-aid our symptoms with a pill or a potion and hope for the best. Sadly, that’s the quickest way to become unwell and burned out.
Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Empath
Despite being a highly sensitive empath, I’ve found a way to live and thrive in Manhattan that suits me. Now, Manhattan, NYC, is not the easiest place to do this folks, but if I can do it here, you can do this anywhere. I repeat ANYWHERE. I’m not out at bars or clubs or partying… that was never my scene. Instead, I take care of myself, I cook my meals, I say NO a lot. A whole heck of a lot. I get 8 hours of sleep. I surround myself with loving people who have my best interest in mind. I stopped being a people pleaser. I set strong boundaries with other people, my friends, and my family. I stopped pushing and started to trust life a bit more by BEING instead of DOING all the time. Was all of this change scary? You betcha. Did I lose friends? Yep. It was hard but I did it and so can you.
When I think about… “Amie Valpone slowing down?” That just doesn’t belong in the same sentence. But, I made it happen because if I didn’t slow down, take time away from social media and the non-stop pace of life, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I made it work and my entire life has transformed because of it.
So, no matter how sensitive you are, no matter how empathic you are, there are ways to pull yourself out of the craziness of life to get yourself to a more grounded place where you can feel like yourself instead of being pulled in a million and one directions. We’ll be diving into everything about empaths and being a highly sensitive person and how to manage it so it doesn’t negatively affect your health in my upcoming retreat in Santa Cruz in August. Think of this retreat as a gift to yourself. I hope to see you there. xx