1) Figuring out that I am a Highly Sensitive Person/Empath:

One of the major ‘ah-ha’ moments in my life occurred during an Intuitive Development workshop when I realized that my entire physical and emotional experience would shift and change as I directed my attention to the person I was partnered with for the exercises. Receiving feedback from other people that I was experiencing exactly how they were feeling, was a major eye opener. These were people that I did not know before the class and rationally could not know what was going on in their world. So it could not just be my rational mind making up a story or filling in the details based on what I already knew.
I realized that my most dominant intuitive sense was feeling the emotions or sensations of others (often referred to as being empathic). Suddenly my own emotional ups and downs over my lifetime began to make a lot more sense. It wasn’t all mine.

2) Learning to recognize and let go, when I was picking up others’ energies:

Even with the awareness that it wasn’t all mine, it still took practice and learning how to actually manage this so that I was not at the mercy of the energies around me all the time. Studying energy healing modalities and learning to work with energy and intention was life changing for me. It gave me the tools to learn to check in if something was actually mine or not, and how to release something if it wasn’t mine. Working with energetic hygienic tools such as protecting, clearing and grounding were a huge help in my experience of the world and continue to be a part of my daily spiritual practice.

3) Doing my own deeper healing work to continue to strengthen my energetic boundaries to protect myself, while still engaging deeply in with others and the world:

Even with the awareness that certain energies were not actually mine, some energy was still more difficult to release and protect myself from, with energy hygiene tools alone. At these times I personally found that it was essential to develop strategies to assist my own deeper healing work. I needed to bring healing to the parts of myself that felt the need to take on others’ energy or felt responsible for ‘saving’ or ‘healing’ others on a deeper, and often on a subconscious or unconscious level.

It has been my experience in my own journey, as well as in working with hundreds of sensitive and empathic clients that we are often so good at sensing how others are feelings and in taking on the expectations of others, it is often to our own detriment. For most of us to survive the world as little energetic sponges we can become very good at taking care of others and become good little helpers. Often we had to be, as it was often the only way to feel good (or even ok) when we have little to no control over our external world and situation.

As children it was often adaptive to help others to feel better. If everyone around us feels ok, we can finally relax and feel ok too! Often this was the most adaptive way for us to survive without totally shutting down. We also can take on others’ pain out of love and trying to protect them. Often these younger parts of us need healing and a new model of operating to continue to love, protect and care for others without having to sacrifice ourselves.
This can involve layers of healing from our personal development history, to even ancestral or deep soul healing. There is no one right way. But finding strategies and approaches that target the subconscious and unconscious mind, is often what is needed to reach the depth required of this type of healing and transformation.

What have you found to be helpful in recognizing when you are picking up others’ energy? How do you protect yourself while still remaining connected and engaged with others and the world?