Do you tend to absorb other people’s feelings and pain?
Does it feel like there’s no membrane separating you from the world?
Do you ever feel depleted or sick from taking on other people’s energy?
If you answered “yes”, then you’re probably an empath.
In The Empath’s Survival Guide, Dr. Judith Orloff, M.D. says:
“Empaths don’t have the same filters that other people do to block out stimulation. As a consequence, we absorb into our own bodies both the positive and stressful energies around us. We are so sensitive that it’s like holding something in a hand that has fifty fingers instead of five. We are truly super responders.”
I resonate deeply with this visual of having ten times as many feelers as a “normal” person! If you do too, know that you’re not alone. Research shows that about 20% of the population displays this trait of being energetically sensitive.
After decades of absorbing the emotions and pain of my family – and friends and colleagues and strangers and everything everywhere all the time – I am SO relieved to finally have practical and uplifting tools in my toolkit to protect my energy!
Being energetically sensitive is a huge asset when you learn how to manage it. Shielding is a basic skill that empaths can use to prevent empathic overload.
Here are 4 steps to shielding your energy:
1. Mantra: Stay on your own journey.
When you notice yourself getting caught up with someone else’s emotions, use this mantra: stay on your own journey. It’s a reminder to stay on your own mental, emotional and spiritual journey, without crossing a boundary and wandering into someone else’s journey.
You can also say it “out loud” in your mind, to the other person. On an energetic level, you’re reminding others to stay on their own path, and not to give you their burdens.
This mindset will naturally start to shift your perspective on relationships. Using your voice (even the voice in your head) is empowering and has the effect of creating a healthy boundary.
2. Grounding: anchor your spiritual energy in your physical body.
Grounding is the most important step to self-protection.
If you’ve ever tried to visualize a protective bubble around you in the middle of a stressful situation and it didn’t work – it’s likely that you missed this crucial step.
Before we build a shield around our body, we need to be INSIDE our body. A house is only useful for protection, if we’re living inside of it.
When our spiritual energy is rooted in the physical body, that’s called grounding.
The problem is that sometimes we will ourselves right out of our body – consciously or unconsciously – to escape feeling our own pain, emotions, vulnerability and humanness.
Empaths are particularly challenged to stay grounded, as we are sensitive to harsh physical world energy and much prefer to hang out in the lighter, gentler energies of the mental plane and the spiritual plane.
But we are at our most powerful, healthy and safest when we are grounded in our body. Living “in” the body means that we have present-moment awareness of our internal sensations. There are the denser sensations in the body such as pain and there are subtler sensations in the body like tingling, buzzing, coolness, warmth, expansiveness, heaviness, lightness. When you become aware of this field of vibrations in your body, you’re in touch with your own life force energy.
The best grounding technique is the one that works for you. Simple ways to ground your energy include bringing your attention into your feet, noticing your breath, and doing a body scan. I love walking barefoot on the earth (or simply imagining that I’m walking barefoot) and letting the soles of my feet open to receive the delicious texture of the ground.
3. Shielding: Visualize an energetic boundary around you.
Once you’re grounded, make sure you stay connected to your body as you build your shield.
There are many ways to build a shield around you. One of my favorites comes from Karla McClaren’s book, The Language of Emotions:
“Reach your arms straight out to either side of you. Imagine that your fingertips are touching the edges of a lighted bubble that encompasses your personal space. Reach your arms out in front of you, and then raise them above your head. Feel how far your personal boundary is from your body. It should be an arms length away from you at all points – in front of you, behind you, on either side of you, above you, and even underneath you. When you can imagine this area all the way around you, drop your arms and let them relax.
Imagine that this oval bubble, which is around and above you and even underneath the floor, is now lit up in a bright neon color, such as lime green or electric magenta. Make your boundary quite obvious in whatever way you can.”
I love her suggestion to breathe with your boundary; imagining the boundary expanding a few inches in diameter in all directions as you inhale (just as your torso does when it inhales). On your exhale, the boundary returns to the arm’s-length distance from your body.
Another way to create a shield is to build a ball of brilliant white light in your belly, and then let it expand outwards so that it completely surrounds you.
Once you have a boundary, get a visceral sense of safety inside your boundary. You can bring to mind a place or memory where you feel safe, and fill up your bubble with a tangible feeling of coziness and comfort.
4. Practice shielding when you don’t need to.
Get used to the sensation of the shield protecting your body. It’s crucial that you practice it when you don’t need it. That way, whenever you suspect that you’re absorbing someone else’s emotions, creating a shield will be easy.
When you DO take on someone else’s negativity or pain inadvertently, remember to have self-compassion. You’re learning a new skill and if you’re not “failing” regularly then you’re doing it wrong J It’s going to happen sometimes, and that is absolutely OK!
Be loving with yourself as you play with these techniques (emphasis on play). Love is the highest of vibrations. And anything that raises your vibration will organically shield you from lower frequency energy. Self-love is grounding, shielding and healing. It’s the perfect medicine for all humans, not just empaths.
Do you have a favorite shielding technique?
Would you like to learn how to be more grounded?
Join me for Shield Your Energy – a free 5-Day challenge for women.