Empaths or Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) tend to have a lot of feelings. We notice subtleties more, we pick up on what others don't, and we often feel overwhelmed by the feelings other people are having, taking them on as our own.
But did you know that you can never actually feel someone else's feelings?
I've been an HSP all my life; I got told I was "too sensitive" ALLLLL the time. I had a ton of anxiety, and fear, and stress, and it felt like I was being buffeted around by the feelings of everyone around me. It sucked. I never wanted to go malls or busy restaurants or even parties, because the sheer volume of the energy of other people overwhelmed me within minutes and honestly made me act like a socially awkward weirdo.
But as I learned how to be responsible for my emotions, I found out that I can't feel anyone else's feelings. Ever.
It kind of blew my mind.
And at first, I didn't want to admit it. I told myself that my coach just didn't understand, and she had no idea what it was like to be me, and then I took my toys and went home because HOW DARE SHE tell me I wasn't feeling what I was feeling.
But here's the thing...she was right.
We can only *ever* feel our own feelings.
Each of our feelings is the product of a thought. So when we have a feeling like "sad," it's because we're thinking a thought that creates the feeling of sadness in us. Whatever situation we make the thought about is actually a neutral circumstance outside of ourselves, some fact that has no meaning until we make a thought about it.
It's always, always the case - we never jump into someone else's body or brain and feel their feelings, just our own.
What we DO do is SENSE their feelings. It's just like any other sense - sight or hearing or taste. So when someone around us is sad, and we feel sad, it's because we sensed it, then we had a thought about it that made us feel sad. But we can also have a thought about it that doesn't make us sad. We can still feel love and compassion for other people and not "feel" what they're feeling.
This is going to be unwelcome news to some people. That's okay. I promise it's actually the best news ever.
See, empaths and HSPs and intuitives and other woo-woo folks are told that we have to watch out for "toxic people" and "energy vampires," and that we have to protect ourselves by putting up energetic shields and avoiding parties and other human gatherings. It's very disempowering to walk around in the world defensively because you believe you're not in charge of your own feelings.
But we actually don't have to do this. Even we sensitives can learn how to manage our own minds so that those "toxic people" are just people. We can be around them or not, but we don't have to be afraid or on the defense because they're trying to suck our energy.
You still don't have to go to the mall if you don't want to. 😉 But isn't it nice to know that you could?