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Should You Practice Empathy?

Empathy, or the ability to feel what another is feeling, is regarded as positive. Some people believe it is more enlightened if you can 'stand in someone's shoes' and feel the way they do.

This ability is what I would call a 'crossover' psychic talent. Most psychologists regard it as necessary for proper emotional development. They don't call it a psi power.

Many definitions of empathy focus on consciously feeling another person's condition emotionally or physically. Some psychologists have created the term 'emotional contagion' to describe unintentionally taking on the emotions of others. To me, it seems to be a subset of empathy in general.

In our line of work, we perform energy clearings and psychic healings on people and animals, and even on places. Our experience shows that it is very easy to take on the nasty energies of another person or place without meaning to.

Read on for details how this can be detrimental to your health, and how we suggest you practice empathy safely.

The Down Side of Empathy

I clearly remember an old Star Trek episode where James Kirk is repeatedly beaten and hurt and then left with a woman who has the ability to absorb all his wounds and thereby heal them.

The only problem is she has to experience his wounds herself to heal him. His tormentors harm him in various ways, increasing the pain and suffering, and each time, she takes on his pain and heals him.

Finally, they hurt him so badly that to cure him, she becomes quite harmed herself. The tormentors come in and reveal to Captain Kirk that she is being trained as an Empath, and that she had to learn to overcome her fear of pain so she could help heal her people.

Why did this episode resonate so strongly with me so many years ago, before I knew about my own psychic abilities? Because I am an empath myself.

After I became a Reiki Master Teacher and trained in several other psychic healing modalities, I began to work with people and animals.

Sad ManI found, to my surprise, that I took on the negative energies people had just by talking to them on the phone. I discovered this because I developed a pattern of having to run to the bathroom after each conversation or healing session.

I realized what was happening, and I tried to make a habit of setting my intention NOT to take on other peoples' stuff. But sometimes in an emergency, I would forget. Or maybe if the energy was particularly noxious, my intention was not strong enough to overcome it.

My husband Nigel does not have this problem. But I have talked to other healers who do.

I have found that chakra imbalances can lead to this syndrome, and in fact, many psychic healers have this problem. By balancing the chakras, one can avoid taking on the 'stuff' of other people.

Another possible factor is if you had one or more past lives as a shamanic healer, then you may be at risk if you are doing healing work now. If you are connected to that lifetime, you may automatically take on other peoples' stuff as a way to heal them.

This is potentially quite harmful if you don't know how to deal with it. Unless you are a trained shamanic healer, you don't have the capacity to process negative energies for other people or animals without becoming overloaded or toxic. This leads to imbalance and illness.

I have done much clearing work to disconnect myself from those other lifetimes, but I still see occasions when I unconsciously take things on that are not mine. Apparently I was a very strong empath at one time.

Even if you are not a healer, you can be troubled by unintentionally using empathy. Counselors, ministers, teachers and anyone who works with people who are sick, troubled or very negative are at risk if they over-empathize or do so unconsciously.

I personally feel that job burnout in part relates to toxic overload in such circumstances.

Toxic Overload via Empathy

The good news is that you can protect yourself from being harmed by over-empathizing. First, become aware if you are an empathetic person. People who are naturally more empathetic are more at risk, as are unaware people.

Next, evaluate your level of risk. Most professions and pastimes that deal with people or animals are a risk factor. Mothers, police, doctors, psychiatrists, customer service reps, sales people: all are dealing with lots of different energies each day.

As you contact another person with a desire to create a certain outcome, you set yourself up to empathize and then suffer.

Why is that? Because when you have a goal in mind, you unconsciously desire to know what the other person feels or thinks, so that you can create the outcome you want. This causes empathy to kick in, whether you intend it to or not.

This simple intention often connects people energetically in a way that negative stuff is downloaded from one to the other. If you deal with lots of people each day, you can reach capacity rather quickly.

DepressionSymptoms of toxic energetic overload vary, but include:

  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Addictive behavior (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Cravings
  • Personality changes
  • Physical symptoms

I get diarrhea when I take on too much you-know-what. Your symptoms will be unique to your body and emotional condition.

Watch for symptoms that you don't like, don't feel are like you, and otherwise are unexplained.

And guess what? Your children and pets are naturally inclined to empathize and pick up stuff that is not theirs.

Misbehavior and illness often are symptoms of toxic overload in children or pets who are soaking up negative energies from their environment.

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

key to successIt is very troubling to think that your child may be ill or misbehaving in school due to picking up energies that aren't hers. Your pet's illness may seem totally physical, but with dogs, it can represent the dog attempting to process harmful energies herself to protect her loved ones.

We have seen cases of this a number of times. Or maybe you don't have kids or pets, but your energy level is low and you are always irritable or angry, and don't even know why. It could be too much empathy.

When these symptoms are caused by over-empathizing, they can be relieved by clearing the energies involved. Usually, clearing them is not too hard. The challenge is to prevent the human or animal from doing it again.

When I was a child, I was a sponge in our family for processing toxic energies. I was sick most of my childhood, sometimes very ill. I didn't know I was an empath, and I had no way of protecting myself.

Convincing a dog NOT to take on stuff to protect her family, or clearing the root cause of a human taking on garbage from others is not always simple or straightforward. Remember I said that I have been clearing myself of these root causes for years now.

Although I am MUCH better, I still have times when I unintentionally take stuff on. That tends to happen more when I am very concerned about someone, like a family member.

Being able to dowse is a great way of determining whether the symptom is related to picking up outside energies. Read more about dowsing here.

If you can dowse, you can find out the cause of the over-empathizing and also use dowsing to determine the most effective way to clear it. If you can't dowse, then it is worth seeing a professional with your problem.

There are some simple things you can do that will help prevent empathy overload. Doing one or more of the following can be very helpful. If you can dowse, you can determine what will be most effective for you. If you can't dowse, then use whatever methods attract you.

  • Prayer of intention NOT to take on other people's stuff.
  • Work at setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Learn to say NO.
  • Learn to balance your chakras to avoid sponging up negative energy and trying to process it.
  • Wear a protective amulet for this purpose. Crystals can be very effective.
  • Symbols can likewise be very helpful. Create and wear one that represents protection to you.
  • Color can be useful, if worn with intent.
  • Affirmations can be helpful, but we have found they aren't as effective if used alone.
  • Aura protection through visualization, if done regularly, can also help.
  • Change your viewpoint: don't regard taking on the junk of others as your mission or a positive thing.

Just doing the above one time won't help. You need to 'recharge' the method daily for best results. It is always wise to consult with a professional if you can't resolve the issue yourself.

Our perception is that being aware of the feelings and conditions of others so that you can help them or relate to them is safe. But taking on their 'stuff' through empathy can be harmful to your health.

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