In order to take compassionate care of ourselves, the best care of ourselves, we must know ourselves. This includes likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, favorite things.
But it also goes beyond—and really beneath all of that.
We must know who we are, on a cellular, soulful level. Because when we know our needs in this way, we can truly meet them. We can respond specifically and directly, and we can be proactive, too. We can structure our days so they honor us.
For instance, one essential, significant piece of information is knowing whether you’re an empath (or have some of these traits), which colors and heightens how you see and feel the world. According to coach and fellow empath Sydney Campos in her book The Empath Experience: What to Do When You Feel Everything, an empath is someone who has the innate ability to feel and understand what other people are feeling.
In the book, Campos shares these common signs:
- you feel other people’s pain, and take it on as your own
- you can read the energy of a room
- you might get easily overwhelmed in a crowded space
- you have powerful, emotional responses to TV, film, live performances
- you’ve taken on other people’s symptoms (e.g., someone near you has a headache, and suddenly you have one, too; you feel overwhelmed and chaotic when many people in the same place have physical ailments)
- you feel intense fatigue after being with certain people
- you feel the weight of the world and are highly attuned to the emotional consequences of oppression, violence, natural disasters
- you know when people are lying
- you are sensitive to sirens, noise, traffic, bright lights and anything that feels chaotic
- you feel healed and restored by nature—more than anyone else you know. “For you, nature is like medicine.”
- you might’ve learned from a young age not to say what you’re really feeling because it makes others feel uncomfortable.
When you know that you are exquisitely attuned to someone’s energy—so much so that you feel what they’re feeling, whether it’s an emotion or a physical ailment—you can find the right ways to care for yourself, ways that genuinely help you restore and protect your energy and even more so, your heart.
For example, Campos suggests taking yourself out on solo dates to do whatever you love and to simply be, to “really connect to your intuition to guide your decisions and actions.” This might mean, she writes, exploring the outdoors, painting, molding clay, being spontaneous, journaling for hours, listening to a guided meditation, dancing, and creating your own mantras and supportive statements.
Campos also stresses the importance of exploring your relationship with alcohol—and completely cutting it out of your life. “For empaths, clarity and groundedness in your own being—two things alcohol robs you of—are paramount to living a happy, fulfilling life.”
Of course, it’s hard to give up something you’ve used as a coping strategy. Maybe for years. Maybe you’ve used alcohol to help you socialize, or to numb the pain (because it feels like the pain is everywhere, and because it’s exhausting and overwhelming living without, what feels like, a layer of skin).
“There are days when it can feel incredibly heavy and seemingly impossible just to be—to be a human, never mind an empath,” Campos writes. “In the past I used to check out (using alcohol and other substances) to avoid feeling whatever was coming up and wanting to be released.”
But when you get honest with yourself, really honest, when has alcohol brought you (or anyone) genuine peace?
As Campos writes, “While it may have seemed to mute my senses and prevent me from experiencing the apparent pain and dis-ease I felt subject to, alcohol and drugs actually heightened these sensations. My alcohol consumption also ultimately created a deep sense of repression of everything I was feeling, so the looming discomfort not only continued but worsened over time.”
If you’d like to stop drinking, give it a try. Do an experiment. Maybe you quit for a week or a month and see how you feel. There’s also a lot of excellent support out there for examining your relationship with alcohol and for quitting drinking (like here, here and here).
And, whether we’re empaths or not, it’s absolutely vital to be kind and gentle with ourselves. “One of the biggest transformations I’ve experienced and continue to experience in my journey as an empowered, empathic soul who has abstained from alcohol for a number of years is to take it easy on myself, celebrate how far I’ve come, and have a high degree of compassion for how challenging my experience can be at times,” Campos writes.
Take some time to dive deep and discover and rediscover who you are and what your heart and soul really need. Take this time regularly. Take the time to check in with yourself. To listen to yourself. It’s one of the best things we can do for ourselves.