Not an Empath’s World

It’s recently come to my attention that it’s really not an empath’s world. It’s also not easy for the highly sensitive person, or HSP. I fit the criteria for both of these categories, and it’s been challenging to navigate for as long as I can remember.

Lately I’ve been a bit flabbergasted by the amount of people who seem to be completely smacked out on their smartphones almost all the time. Every single train, tram, bus, public street, cafe or workplace is crawling with people frantically texting, emailing, calling or just scrolling mindlessly through their instagram and facebook feeds.

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I often walk away from a busy train feeling drained, frustrated, angry or just plain annoyed. I realised that the empath in me struggles in this scenario, especially in this day and age where increasing numbers of people seem to be endlessly yapping away about every last triviality of their day.

I understand that sometimes you just need to talk to someone, but I just don’t really want to hear about most of the things people discuss on my daily commute.  I’m also well aware that we live in a free society in the West, and that the onus is on the individual to look after themselves. So if someone wants to chat away on their phone for the whole train trip,  they have every right to do so, and those of us who don’t like it better invest in some noise cancelling headphones, or end up feeling like this..

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This is all very well and good, and I am truly grateful for the standard of living that we enjoy in the West, including access to fundamental human rights, adequate health care and an abundance of food and water. I feel extremely fortunate to live in a society where I feel safe the majority of the time, and I have access to education and employment.

We are are also fortunate to have increasing levels of awareness around diversity  including a greater understanding of the LBGTI and CALD communities, people living with an intellectual or physical disability and people struggling with mental health issues. We definitely still have some way to go in terms of providing adequate support in these areas, but overall, there is an increasing level of recognition and understanding.

This brings me back to the empath issue. I was sitting at a previous workplace one day, and couldn’t help but voice my frustration around a particular staff member in the adjacent office who slammed the door loudly every time he left the room. The sound was so jarring that it sent shock waves through my system, and he completed this exercise in excess of fifty times that day.

Another staff member insisted on pacing up and down the corridor whilst he spoke loudly into his phone. Meanwhile, the girls in the lunch room screamed like hyenas while bragging about their drunken Saturday night antics. Hard to stay sane, let alone focus on work  with all of this going on..  And how is one supposed to make work calls with all that commotion? Ahhhhh! Where are those noise cancelling earphones again??

When I made note of this to the girl sitting opposite, she looked disapprovingly at me and told me how judgemental I was. It got me thinking that the lack of understanding a lot of people have for sensitive empaths and HSPs is not just a woo woo concept, it’s a real thing, and it can be really hard to deal with. I feel shamed every time I recieve a comment like that in regards to my sensitivity. I have lost count of the number of times I have been blamed in this way for something that is not of my choosing.

Highly sensitive people are too often perceived as weaklings or damaged goods. To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the trademark of the truly alive and compassionate. It is not the empath who is broken, it is society that has become dysfunctional and emotionally disabled.

– Anthon St. Maarten

There are several different methods that have been recommended for empaths and HSPs to help protect them from excessive noise, light and negative energies. Some of these include carrying crystals for protection, epsom salt baths, sage smudging, energy shielding visualisations and burning essential oils. All these things can be great, and different things suit different people (I am partial to sage smudging and salt baths), but all the techniques in the world won’t change the dominant attitude towards empaths.

I am not suggesting that non empaths are at fault for these frequently painful empath experiences. It really comes down to a big difference in the lived experience of human beings, and, in particular, a general lack of awareness and understanding of the empath’s experiences. And who could find fault with the non empath’s responses? Our society does not shed light on this essential difference. Not only are we not encouraged to develop our empathic nature, but we are not taught to recognize these gifts in ourselves and in others. The huge potential positives of the empathic experience are essentially neglected and treated as though they did not exist.

As part of my service, I will offer support and encouragement to those experiencing empath related issues. My sessions will provide support, awareness and understanding of the empathic experience for empaths, their loved ones and their families. An intimate understanding of the differences between empaths and non empaths is the essential first step. My service will also offer face to face appointments for clients in the Melbourne metropolitan area, as well as counselling via Zoom, Google Hangouts or phone. Stay tuned for further developments.

In the meantime, I hope that this article has provided some comfort for empaths who are feeling isolated in their sensitivities. You are not definitely not alone – I have walked a similar path for many years, and I know how it feels to be slighted for having a trait you did not consciously choose. Please don’t beat yourself up beautiful empath, this world is a much better place because of your heartfelt sensitivity.

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