Ever feel like you're reading the minds of everyone else in the room? Like you actually experience what they're thinking and feeling, sometimes to the point that it feels like you ARE them? Do you ever feel immensely drained after conversations with certain people or with big groups? Maybe you've always felt like you pick up on energy in an instant and read people right away—almost as soon as you come into contact. If you answered yes to any of the above, chances are you may be an empath.
Empaths are people who can feel what other people are feeling and experiencing without actually being in the same circumstances themselves. It's like being a psychic of sorts but with more emphasis on experiencing others' emotions.
Before I knew I was an empath and before I came to learn about all the tools and practices that help me feel balanced and taken care of on a regular basis, I used to feel like I was going crazy. How was it that I could feel so deeply and so much at once? Under the guise of having fun and partying, starting at the age of 14 (when my sensitivity began to heighten), I turned to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. I didn't want to feel so much.
That worked for a while. Until one day, about a decade later, self-medicating simply stopped making a difference. So, I sought support in finding and forging a new, better path. Initially, getting sober opened the floodgates to feelings I had repressed for years and years. Everything flowed in at once, making an already arduous lifestyle change even more challenging. But eventually I evened out and began to explore alternative healing modalities and transformational work for further clarity.
Learning that I am an empath changed my life forever. I know myself. I love myself. Most of all, I understand how profoundly useful my abilities can be in helping myself and others heal, transform, and grow. I often wonder how many people, in any given moment, are struggling with their own empathic abilities, unaware of their gifts and their unique capacity to connect with the world.
Here are a few life-changing practices and tools that have made all the difference to my efficacy and well-being as an empowered empath:
1. Treat self-care like it's your job.
Because it is. Getting pumped about self-care will change your game. Treat yourself like your own favorite project. How well you take care of yourself is how successful, connected, happy, and free you are every day.
Care for yourself on every level: mind, body, and spirit. Nutrition and healthy eating are huge. The cleaner you eat and the better equipped your physical body is for optimal performance, the clearer your intuition will be and the stronger your abilities will be. Physical activity is also crucial for moving energy and releasing any buildup or blockages that you might be storing from absorbing other people's "stuff" along the way.
There are plenty of options, there's no one-size-fits-all method. But the baseline routine is striving to eat organic, to consume more plant-based foods than otherwise, to take in less sugar and fewer processed foods, to eat only consciously raised animals (if you eat any), and perhaps to switch to minimally processed dairy (if you use it at all).
Moderation and balance are key. Self-care should never feel like a limitation. It shouldn't induce stress or anxiety. It should be fun, creative, expansive, and supportive. And if you ever need help with this, there are plenty of resources to turn to, including yours truly.
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Get into YOU time.
Even if you've never meditated before, there's no better time to start than right now. For so long, my empathic nature made me want to take care of everyone else first. I thought that as long as the people around me were happy and taken care of, I'd feel that way, too. I found it unbearable to sit still—being alone with my thoughts wasn't even an option.
Think of meditation as YOU time. It is a catalyst for clearing out everything that is not yours and strengthening your connection to intentions and intuition. It's training time for your empathic abilities and provides a space in which you can release the energy you may have absorbed during the day. Whatever you do, commit to a practice. This is your time to refuel and nourish yourself after you've given a lot of yourself to others.
3. Give aura cleansing and visualization a try.
Next-level guided meditations rocked my world as soon as I became curious about trying them. Plus it helped to listen to someone else's guidance, especially as I was getting comfortable with my own practice. You can try searching YouTube for "Empath Meditation" and "Aura Cleansing Meditation" to get started.
For aura cleansing, set a timer for a few minutes and get comfortable in a seated position. Start envisioning a cleansing white light dripping over you in all directions. Picture the healing light removing anything that no longer serves you, clearing your energy field of anything blocking you from connection with your true self. Consciously release anything that is not yours, whether it be thoughts, emotions, or experiences that feel like they originate from elsewhere.
4. Get in touch with your own feelings as much as possible.
This is how you'll start to discern between YOU and everyone else. You can start by asking yourself (as often as possible but especially in social situations), "How am I feeling right now?" "How is this situation affecting me?" "How are the people around me interacting with me?" "Do I feel nourished?" "Do I feel drained?" This simple practice will strengthen your connection to yourself and to your intuition. From here, you can start to separate your own experience from everyone else's while also discerning whether the people you're associating with are nourishing you or draining you.
5. Cleanse your life of toxic, draining relationships, activities, and environments.
What brings you down? Can you stop doing it? What do you do that leaves you totally exhausted and empty? Who makes you feel this way? As I became more aware of my empath tendencies, I noticed that I attracted energy vampires—people that exhausted me. Are you going anywhere on a regular basis that makes you feel drained, where people take more from you than you get in return? Identify these places and people and begin to erase them from your life. Say "no" more often.
6. Reject things that don't align with your spirit.
Anything that doesn't feed your soul, that you might be doing to please others, has to go. If a single bit of you feels unaligned with an activity or plan, say, "Thanks, but no thanks." I used to be so uncomfortable turning down invitations. I wanted to say yes to everything because I was so grateful to even be invited, and I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out on anything. Well, news flash—FOMO is not a real thing. Practice saying no more often, and it'll become much easier for you to respect and tend to your own wants and needs.
I've deeply connected with the beauty of my empathic inclination to help everyone, to feel deeply connected to humanity and all living things, and to want to use my abilities and experience to help as many people as possible live incredible, fulfilled, happy lives. That intention has manifested in magical ways—some of which I could never have predicted. When I reflect on all I've accomplished in just a few short years, my life sometimes feels like a dream.
So let me ask you: How do you want to show up in the world? What is your gift? How are you called to make an impact? Your unique talent—your vocation—is utterly, urgently needed.
Know that by simply living in an optimal state of well-being your presence is healing and brings a vast lightness to everyone who comes into your path. By embodying your most authentic self and living vibrantly and happily you inspire others around you to do the same. And just like that, we stop pulling everything in from elsewhere and instead start pushing authenticity, healing, and our true power out. Together we create an immense ripple effect of empowerment, healing, and connection that elevates everyone and lights up the world.
Sydney Campos is a Los Angeles-based visionary coach, energy healer, and intuitive strategist who supports clients with comprehensive holistic wellness and vision building. She studied to become a Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and also holds bachelor's degrees in political science and latin american studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Campos is passionate about making the world a better place, which she knows starts with individuals thriving from the inside out.