Do you ever feel like you are suddenly drained, disoriented, or depressed for no apparent reason? Have you been labeled by coworkers or family members that you are “too sensitive” or “overly emotional”? Do you often feel overwhelmed when working with certain people or being in groups, and need time alone to revive?

Many times we may not understand why we are feeling so overwhelmed by things that other people don’t seem to be impacted by. You may be what some are now calling a “Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and/or an empath. What is more, you may be picking up and feeling emotions and thoughts that may not even be yours!

Dr. Elaine Aron has coined the term “Highly Sensitive Person or HSP” and states they make up 15-20% of the population, both human and animal. You can check out the full Self-Test, but here are some key features:

- easily overwhelmed and stressed by outer stimuli, like loud noises, strong smells, chaotic environments
- extremely perceptive
- very sensitive to pain
- have rich and often intense internal lives
- need plenty of quiet time to maintain their equilibrium

Oh how I wish Dr. Aron was around when I was growing up! I certainly fit the category, to a T. And it has been a blessing and a curse. Growing up, I was often labeled as too sensitive, too emotional, and too introverted or “shy” as I needed lots of alone time. I even took to hiding in the bathroom so I could lock the door!

I quickly learned to stuff my emotions and toughen up my skin. I was so good at repressing emotions, once in an argument with a boyfriend years ago, he was demanding I tell him how I feel and I couldn’t even respond! The feelings were so buried I had no clue how to unearth them. Unraveling this pattern of trying to manage my overwhelming emotions and inexplicable sensitivity has been the focus of much of my personal healing journey, and is very often the main (and often hidden) struggle for many of my clients.

On the positive side, my own personal challenges learning how to manage being a highly sensitive empath has led me to develop and refine energy tools to help many healers, bodyworkers, therapists, coaches and intuitives stay balanced and centered. Through my own trials, I have learned many great ways to decipher what is happening, and then manage and clear energy so you can become more detached when other people’s thoughts and emotions are bombarding you.

The good news—you can do this without shutting down your own feelings, or cutting off your connections and relationships. I am now able to clearly identify and voice my feelings as they are happening in present time—quite an achievement for me.

But now comes the tricky part. Is it heightened sensitivity or heightened awareness? Or both?

Now that we have defined what a “highly sensitive person” is, you need to distinguish that not everything you are feeling is yours! As your awareness grows, so does your sensitivity, and this can be both very helpful and extremely challenging.

Several times in my spiritual journey I have been in extreme states which are marked first by tremendous expansion or opening to higher states of awareness and consciousness. It is as if an old cloudy layer peels away, and everything seems to scintillate with a diamond-like clarity, and a great sense of deep peace, overflowing love and enormous well-being engulfs me.

Then the other shoe falls quickly afterward. My already extreme sensitivity climbs to a new high—every day happenings feel like nails on a chalkboard. I feel like one big raw nerve, and everyone is on it with broken glass. I am unusually exhausted and want to be hiding out in a cave. Even worse, some people feel like they are vampires, draining my energy.

The last time I recall this transition, I was at a fire ceremony about 9 years ago. We were chanting and I felt something like a peeling of saran wrap from my skin. Then everything felt exquisite—like I could “see with new eyes and hear with new ears”.

Only a few moments later however, someone left the circle and sang separately, with a bit of attitude. I literally felt his energy like a butcher knife in my heart! I had to leave the circle and walk away as I could barely breathe. I even knew it was nothing aimed at me personally but it didn’t matter. The energy was unbelievably sharp and cutting and took a while to soften and release.

Later on I queried my spiritual teacher about it and she explained: “Whenever you reach a new level of awareness, you have heightened sensitivity to both positive and negative experiences, until you acclimate.” While it took several weeks to “acclimate”, it helped to know that ultimately I would learn to breathe easier in the upper stratospheres.

How to recognize when you are being affected by other people’s energies

Why would anyone feel other people’s energy and emotions? Well, several reasons come to mind. My first response would be my favorite teaching:

- Everything is Energy: even thoughts and emotions have a signature frequency and can be discerned by many people, and all animals. As you grow in awareness, the subtler realms of sensation and feeling energies becomes more heightened, and you become more feeling and empathic.
- Compassion: You have chosen to help/feel/heal others.
- Protection: You wish to have a “heads-up” of what is coming your way so you can prepare/protect yourself.

How Do We Feel Other People’s Energy and Emotions?

It is actually quite natural to feel others’ energies. All life forms have a subtle energy field, also known as the aura or bio-field, which picks up many stimuli in the environment. Our personal energy field acts as a communications device, transmitting and receiving energy and information about our surroundings.

The natural distance for our personal energy field is approximately an arm’s length out in a circle all around us. However, it is not static and can be extended much farther than that, or retracted very tightly right up to the skin. We can learn how to play with our energy field and make it more appropriate for different situations.

How Do We Know What We are Feeling is not Ours?

This may take some practice. For me, an extreme empath, it has taken many years of consistent application of techniques to first become more aware, then to manage and clear my energy and my field, and ultimately to reset my energy boundaries and spiritual agreements on how I choose to be an empathic healer in a physical body.

Accept that everything you feel is not about you. Some people may have trouble with this but it is essential to begin to have more discernment and detachment.

Awareness. Notice the circumstances. If a feeling comes on quite suddenly, without any supporting reason, that could be a clue. Of course, our mental/emotional bodies are quite changeable and the reasons we feel things are not always rational and logical. If you are serious about your personal and spiritual growth, you do need to honor what you feel as that can be a signpost that something is amiss and you need to explore a bit deeper.

Ask for Clarity. Many years ago I was noticing I was getting depressed quite suddenly and often after visiting a supermarket or other public place. As a dedicated spiritual warrior/healer I thought my purpose was to diligently unearth more layers of stuff I felt I had to “work on”.

Then I had a major “aha” – what if all this sadness wasn’t even mine? I sat and meditated on the question and got a very clear message that much of it in fact was not. I was often feeling someone else, and as a healer felt compelled to take responsibility and begin clearing it. What a relief! I was working overtime on everyone else—and it was such a comfort to have this understanding that I was not so sad after all!

Use Energy Clearing Techniques to begin to sort out what is you, and what is not you. There are many modalities to choose from, and whatever works to help you feel more centered, balanced, stable, clear and lighter is extraordinarily useful. This makes up the bulk of my energy alchemy practice. These techniques are a daily self-care practice, not a one-time deal. It is not unlike needing to change air filters regularly. We are all impacted by all energy all the time, even our animals, and it is necessary to find practices that you can do regularly to support filtering out the toxic energies.

Intention. A great place to start shifting your experience is always to set a clear intention. Try this for a simple yet very potent energy clearing:

“I release any energies that are not mine.”

Author's Bio: 

Kumari is an internationally acclaimed intuitive healer and master coach, best-selling author, spiritual evolutionary and animal mystic, Kumari's deepest joy is empowering healers, coaches, health professionals and conscious leaders to unwrap their innate intuitive, manifesting and healing gifts.