"Everything I experience, hits deep, raw and intense. As an empath, I feel the energy of myself and others. As I age, this ability only grows deeper and stranger." - Sylvester McNutt III
Energy and the Empath
Generally, people may think of an empath as one who is empathetic toward others or can embody empathy. While this is most often true, existing as an empath comes with a whole host of blessings and curses wrapped up within the slice of the population, with this particular, “special gift."
We all have the ability to navigate through this world, reading energy, however, many individuals chock it up to woo-woo or that it simply doesn’t exist. Every person has their own unique energy signature, and this is what is perceived when you meet someone for the first time. It presents itself when you get the heebie-jeebies from someone across the room from you, or when you leap for joy, seeing a long-lost friend. It is a felt presence, and empaths have the ability to interpret energy both near and far; across space and time. It took me close to 40 years to realize I’m on empath, have always been one; needing to step it up towards bracing and cultivating my gifts, to work in my favor.
The dichotomy of the empath is they are actually an archetype of strength, resiliency and grit. Although the empath may appear otherwise, underneath is a reservoir of quiet power.
Trauma, Sensory Processing and Empathic qualities
I worked for close to ten years in pediatrics with special needs kids and one parallel I drew, is more than half of them are empaths, woven in with sensory processing challenges, autism and / or other da, da, dum….diagnosable DSM developmental disorders. If you think about it, the empath is struggling to take in information from the external world which comes in the form of touch, seeing, smell, taste, auditory, pressure. This, in turn impacts sensory registration (over or under) and directs the outcome of self-regulation.
The central nervous is the processing center for all stimuli coming into our body and energy fields, however, when not adequately processed in a way which makes sense for us, it takes on a monster of its own: anxiety, depression, sensory processing difficulties, oversensitive, overwhelmed, hypervigilance. As a traumatized child with repressed sexual abuse trauma until a few years ago, I was a sensory mess my whole life. I, however, somehow made it through childhood and adulthood, finding coping strategies to muddle through. I should’ve been in OT (Occupational Therapy) back then, but in the 70’s this wasn’t the norm and I didn’t have a formal diagnosis. I guess I didn’t realize I was using maladaptive coping mechanisms, nor did my parents. I was definitely quirky, creative, and silly, but I was also severely uncoordinated with multiple sensory challenges, painfully shy, and introverted.
Trauma as a catalyst
Trauma is quite often a catalyst for developing high intuition and becoming what one society labels as an "empath." Trauma is frequently laced with sensory processing challenges, anxiety, depression, sleep challenges, and compromised social relationships. Since trauma severely impacts the central nervous system and hormone levels within the body, traumatized child often grow up with their empathic gifts severely underutilized, understood or completely dismissed. Empaths face challenges such as difficulty regulating emotions, thriving in unpredictable or chaotic environments, appearing lazy or moody, extreme fatigue, difficulty leaving the house, addictions in all forms (drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex), challenges with commitment to initiating projects or completion. In neuropsychological terms, this is interpreted as decreased executive functioning skills; difficulty initiating a task, working on or completing a task. The break-down may occur in any part of the chain of sequence.
Empaths may be impacted by intense emotional or graphic scenes in movies or television, as they take in, or process extreme visual / auditory stimulation. They are astute human lie-detectors. If they’re pretending to go along with the lie, rest assured, they know the real story.
Frequently, empaths are not able to distinguish between their own emotions and the emotions of others, regularly taking on other people’s energy. Large crowds are extremely draining to the empath and thus, require alone time to recharge. While empaths may be extroverted in social situations, it is for short bursts of time and will require the adequate time, afterwards to process. As adults, we have the luxury of taking charge of our lives and building in the time to replenish our energy, recover and implement tools to assist us with navigating through our day. Developing an understanding of energy, allows the empath to develop a system which will work for him/her to assist with self-regulation and remedy depletion. One of the most basic things I ensure, is to drive myself to social gatherings where I can leave, when I've met my maximum amount of "socializing."
To the child who struggles with being an empath, it will take the vigilant eye of the parent to help the child successfully navigate through their day. Many kids will “fall apart” after they get home from school because it's safe in the home to finally let go. The melt down or “losing it” is not just about sensory issues. It’s the length of the day, a reverberating, loud cafeteria, not enough recess time, sitting in a hard chair with little movement breaks, getting bullied, and the list goes on. Who wouldn’t have a melt-down, or be plain crabby, at the end of the day?
There is another gift(s) an empath may possess, which is that of a claire. Not all empaths are clairs, but most, if not all claires, are empaths. I had a multitude of supernatural/spirtual experiences as a child which I didn’t know what to do with, and therefore I pushed it down. It lay dormant for more than half my life. I caught glimpses of it during junior/high school and college but I wouldn’t allow my natural gifts to come forth. As an adult, I have the gift of possessing all the claires and the past ten years I’ve worked diligently to embrace and cultivate them.
Clairsentinent is “clear sensing” or the ability to interpret emotional energy, often interchanged with empath.
Claircognizantis “clear knowing” – knowing information without a clear path as to how the knowledge came about. I usually refer to this as a "download", as it’s often brought to my attention in a way which will serve me best.
Clairaudient is known as “clear hearing.” I will often hear spiritual guidance in succinct sentences or a few words – from both male and female voices. It’s important to distinguish that true spiritual guidance comes without “you” or “you should” in the message.
Clairvoyanceis “clear seeing”. This is one of my favorites. I call these mini-movies as it often appears as an image through meditation or a short glimpse of something with a purposeful message. To clarify, this is not active imagination or creating a fantasy in one’s head. A true message in the form of clairvoyance is viewed in the “third eye”; the pineal gland regulates melatonin, however, is also the spiritual activation center. One of my favorite stories was a few years back. I was shown a hamster running on a wheel and I heard a male voice clearly state "the mouse is a distraction. Keep moving forward." This important message was given, as I was getting ready to transition from outpatient clinics into private practice. I was questioning everything and the proverbial "carrot" was being constantly dangled where I was employed. In this particular instance, clairvoyance and clairaudience was combined. Developing intuition comes from a wide range of senses – beyond the five senses into the unknown. I’ve learned to tune into my gifts and embrace my power, which has led me on a spiritual, mind and soul-blowing journey.
Do genetics play a role?
Both my children are empaths, and I have witnessed one or more of the claires come forth within each of them. One evening, we were driving home on the freeway during the middle of a snowstorm. I was only going 20 miles per hour in the right lane, taking extra time and precautions. My then 17-year old son, was in the front seat. He calmly said “Mom, stop”. Right then, I obeyed and just stopped the car on the freeway. At that moment, out of the blue, another car came flying up on the shoulder, crashed into the side rail, spun out in a 360, and landed directly in front of my car. Because I had stopped, there was plenty of space between myself and the car that was originally in front of me. We came out completely unscathed. My son, had sensed something was about to happen and gave me a warning. As an empath myself and a parent to empaths, it’s important for me to allow them the room to breathe, have personal time to themselves, to fully express themselves and believe them when they tell me things. They love to share their night dreams, as they're full of important messages, as mine are. An empath's dreams are filled with deeper meanings, beyond just the unconscious brain settling down for the day.
The issue with heightened "spidey-senses", is you’re not always given the correct time or time frame. This can be frustrating to know information about loved ones or other individuals, which may serve to assist them. Keeping secrets is a cost an empath-claire takes on. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to know your hunches you would like to freely give, as highly sensitive matters are sometimes at hand. Some of my clients will ask me if I’m getting messages, while I’m working with them. I will often receive snippets, later in the days following, when my brain is loose – during yoga or meditation.
Through my time in working with both adults and kids with trauma and/or sensory processing challenges, I have the opportunity to assist people with not only healing their trauma, but helping them to express their intuitive gifts. Trauma lowers one’s vibration. The more a person clears out trauma, limiting patterns, and self-sabotaging patterns, their ability to tap into their intuition is easier to access. Not everyone who is an empath has past trauma, however, most individuals with trauma may have underdeveloped intuition, which possibly expresses itself, latent in life. Developing intuition is not a cookie-cutter format. It is based on the individual, life experiences, and willingness to access this higher power within themselves. Understandably, I wish the sexual abuse didn’t happen as a child, I now comprehend and appreciate the gifts, which came about as a result of it. I am now healed, whole, peaceful and happy. Although being an empath-clair takes its toll, there are far too many positives which tip the scale favorably. Life is much more interesting and fluid.
© 2020 by Jodi Lawyer, M.A., OTR/L. Helix Healing Path. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.