Are there some days when you come home and feel more exhausted than usual? Are there some clients (or even family members) who, during or after being in their presence, you feel sick, exhausted or even pains in certain parts of your body?

What do I need to know about this? And how can I protect myself from this?

Perhaps you are an empath. This is when you are affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others.  Perhaps your life is unconsciously influenced by others’ desires, wishes, thoughts, and moods.  But even more importantly perhaps you are what we call physically suggestible.

Being an empath is much more than being highly sensitive and it’s not just limited to emotions. Empaths can perceive physical sensitivities and spiritual urges, as well as just knowing the motivations and intentions of other people.  You are always open, so to speak, to process other people’s feelings and energy, which means that you actually feel, and in many cases take on the emotions of others.

Empaths may experience things like chronic fatigue, environmental sensitivities, or unexplained aches and pains daily. Essentially you may be walking around in this world, gathering accumulated karma, emotions, and energy from others – into your own energy field.

As a therapist, this may happen most often when you are sitting with a group of people or in your therapy office and having close interpersonal conversations. Empaths are often quiet achievers. If you are an empath, you may have difficulty accepting a compliment since you are much more inclined to point out the positive attributes of others. Empaths may be highly expressive  and enjoy talking openly.

You may even have problems talking about your own feelings and may even experience that others don’t really seem to care to listen to you (regardless of how much you listen to others).

However, ironically, empaths may seem to also be the exact opposite: reclusive and apparently unresponsive. Many empaths are often accused of not caring or not being emotionally available to others in relationships with them. This is often an unconscious protective mechanism to block out what feels like a barrage of emotions.

Empaths have a tendency to openly feel what is outside of them more so than what is inside of them. This can cause them to ignore their own needs, their emotions and their bodies. In most life situations, an empath is non-violent, non-aggressive and takes the stance of being the peacemaker.

Any situation or encounter filled with disharmony creates an uncomfortable feeling within an empath. If they find themselves in the middle of a confrontation, they will endeavor to make peace in the situation as quickly as possible. If that doesn’t seem possible, they will leave in order to avoid these uncomfortable feelings all together. If any harsh words are expressed towards them, in defending themselves, they will likely resent their own lack of self-control, and have a preference to peacefully resolve the problem quickly.

Empaths are most inclined to internally take on another’s feelings and project them back without realizing its origin in the first place. In relationships, the empath has an overwhelming need to talk things out in order to release these overwhelming emotions. The reason this need is so strong is because the empath is physically and emotionally feeling their own emotions as well as that of the others in the relationship. Often they talk things out ad nauseum. However they often need to do this in order to find peace in most situations.

The downside of this as a relationship pattern is that empaths may wring the cloth dry for the other person to get out all their feelings, they themselves, often bottle up their own emotions and build barriers sky-high so as to not let others know of their innermost thoughts and/or feelings.

This withholding of emotional expression is most often the direct result of traumatic experiences, an expressionless upbringing, and being told as a child, “Children are meant to be seen and not heard!” It may also be the result of a very authoritative parental or religious figures who shamed the healthy expression of emotions.

The pattern of emotional withholding is most often detrimental to one’s physical, mental and emotional health. The longer one’s thoughts and/or emotions aren’t released, the more power they build. The thoughts and emotions eventually become explosive, if not crippling.

The need to express oneself honestly and in a healthy manner, is an essential form of healing and is a skill as well as a choice open to all. To not do so, can result in an emotional breakdown of the person and often results in mental/emotional instability and/or the creation of a physical ailment, illness or disease. Unless these emotions are released in a therapeutic manner, they become repressed within the body and continue to cause increased levels of irritation, pain and then dis-ease.

Empaths are sensitive to TV, videos, movies, news and broadcasts. Violence or emotional dramas depicting shocking scenes of physical or emotional pain inflicted on adults, children or animals can bring an empath easily to tears. At times, they may feel physically ill or choke back the tears.Some empaths will struggle to comprehend any such cruelty, and may have grave difficulty in expressing themselves in the face of another’s ignorance, closed-mindedness and obvious lack of compassion. They simply cannot justify the suffering they feel and see.

You will find empaths working with people, animals or nature with a true passion and dedication to help them. They are often tireless therapists, counselors, teachers and/or caretakers for our environment and everything within it. Many volunteers are empathic and give up personal time to help others without pay and/or recognition and often to the detriment of their own mental, emotional and physical well being.

They have a broad interest in music to suit their many expressive temperaments, and others can query how empaths can listen to one style of music, and within minutes, change to something entirely different. Lyrics within a song can have adverse, powerful effects or exquisite emotional effects. The music can bring tears to their eyes often from nostalgia and also if it is relevant to a recent emotional experience.

Empaths are just as expressive with body language as with words, thoughts, and feelings. Their creativity is often expressed through dance, yoga, acting, and bodily movements. Empaths can project an incredible amount of energy portraying and/or releasing emotion. Empaths can become lost in the music, and are in a trance state, thus become one with the music through the expression of their physical bodies. They describe this feeling as a time when all else around them is almost non-existent.

People of all walks of life and animals are attracted to the warmth and genuine compassion of empaths. Regardless of whether others are aware of one being empathic, people are drawn to them as to a magnet! Many empaths enter into the fields of psychology, social work, therapy and other people helpers.

Even complete strangers find it easy to talk to empaths about the most personal things, and before they know it, they have poured out their hearts and souls without intending to do so consciously. It is as though on a sub-conscious level that person knows instinctively that empaths would listen with compassionate understanding. Then again, for empaths, it is always nice to actually be heard themselves!

Empaths are the listeners of life and the friends to many. They can be outgoing, bubbly, enthusiastic and a joy to be in the presence of, as well as highly humorous at the most unusual moments! This may be their “outer personality.”

However in the privacy of their own homes, empaths can be weighted down with mood swings that will have others around them want to jump overboard and abandon ship! The thoughts and feelings empaths receive from any and all in their life can be so overwhelming (if not understood) that their moods can fluctuate with lightning speed. One moment they may be delightfully happy and with a flick of the switch, miserable and reclusive.

Abandoning an empath in the throes of alternating moods can create detrimental effects. A simple return of empathic love–listening and caring compassionately without bias, judgment and/or condemnation–can go an incredibly long way to an empath’s instant recovery.

Many empaths don’t understand what is occurring within them. They literally have no idea that another person’s emotions are now felt, as one’s own and reflected outwardly. They are confused as to how one moment all was well, and then the next, they feel so depressed, alone, etc. The need to understand the possibilities of the empath’s connection is a vital part of the empath’s journey for themselves and for those around them.

Empaths are often problem solvers, thinkers, and studiers of many things. As far as empaths are concerned, where a problem is, so too is the answer. They often will search until they find one – if only for peace of mind. This can certainly prove beneficial for others in their relationships, in the workplace, or on the home front.

Where there is a will, there is a way and the empath will find it. The empath can literally (likely without the knowledge of what’s actually occurring) tap into Universal Knowledge and be receptive to guidance in solving anything they put their head and hearts into.

Empaths often are vivid and/or lucid dreamers. They can dream in detail and are inquisitive of dream content. Often they feel as though the dreams are linked to their physical life and to their personal transformation. This curiosity will lead many empathic dreamers to unravel some of the “mysterious” dream contents from an early age and connect the interpretation to its relevance in their physical life. Dream psychodramas (DreamDramas) are a positive way from empaths to embrace and grow from their dream symbols. This is due to the experiential nature of dream psychodramas.

Empaths are daydreamers with difficulty keeping focused on the mundane. If life isn’t stimulating, off an empath will go into a detached state of mind. They will go somewhere, anywhere, in a thought that appears detached from the physical reality, yet is alive and active since they really are off and away. If a tutor is lecturing with little or no emotional input, empaths will not be receptive to such teaching and can (unintentionally) drift into a state of daydreaming.

Give the empath student the tutor who speaks with stimuli and emotion (through actual experience of any given subject) and the empath is receptively alert. Empaths are a captivated audience. This same principle applies in acting. An actor will either captivate the audience through expressing emotions (as though they really did experience the role they are portraying) or will lose them entirely. Empaths make outstanding actors.

Empaths frequently experience déjà vu and synchronicities. What may initially start as, “Oh, what a coincidence”, will lead to the understanding of synchronicities as an aspect of who they are. These synchronicities will become a welcomed and continually expanding occurrence. As an understanding of self grows, the synchronicities become more fluent and free flowing. The synchronicities can promote a feeling of euphoria as empaths identify with them and appreciate the connection to their empathic nature.

Empaths are most likely to have had varying paranormal experiences throughout their lives. NDE’s (Near death experiences), a past life experience, and/or OBE’s (Out of body experiences) or any type of awakening can catapult an unaware empath into embracing a life of self-discovery and provide the momentum for a journey of transformation. A path to personal transformation, being whole again, becomes evident and a search for more meaning in one’s life becomes the only raison d’etre.

These types of experiences appear dramatic, can be life-altering indeed, and are most assuredly just as intensely memorable in years to come. They are the voice of guidance encouraging us to pursue our journey in self-awareness. Sometimes, some of us require the extra assistance of someone who recognizes the qualities of an empath and how best to use this skill without becoming overwhelmed.

For some empaths, the lack of outside understanding towards psychic or paranormal events they experience, may lead to suppressing such abilities. (Most of these abilities are very natural and not a coincidence.) Empaths may unknowingly adopt the positive or negative attitude of others as their own. (This, however, can be overcome.) Empaths may need to follow interests in the paranormal psychology, transpersonal therapy and the unexplained with curiosity so as to explain and accept their life circumstances.

It is most important for empaths to know how to protect themselves so as not to be overwhelmed with the emotions of others. It is also important for them to be a member of a healing community where they feel safe, understood, spiritually connected and supported.