Within us all lies the dormant ability to feel other people’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Yet within our loud, busy, and energetically frantic world, our sensitivity is often forced to shut down.
The daily stress that we deal with in our 21st-century lifestyles plays a major role in our ability to function as healthy, mature empaths. Overeating, under-eating, binging on entertainment, excessive multitasking, smoking, overworking are all modern habits that bombard our minds and bodies with too much stimuli. The more stimulated we constantly are, the more distanced we are from ourselves.
Stimulation-seeking itself is usually a sign of escapism. We escape from reality because deep down we feel as though we can’t deal with it — and most of us actually haven’t been taught by our parents, teachers or anyone else how to deal with it. In fact, as children we may have grown up in emotionally dulled, immature or wounded families that shunned any form of sensitivity. Unsurprisingly, this caused us to block out and suppress that vulnerable, but gifted, place within ourselves to fit in. This was not really a bad thing, instead, it served as a necessary survival mechanism to help you adapt to your surroundings.
As an adult, you might be wondering whether you are continuing to block out your empathic abilities. After all, the mark of a vibrant, skillful and self-expressive human being is the ability to access emotions, and thus empathy.
While you may consider yourself to be an empath, it is still possible for you to actively block out overwhelming and negative sensations. While it’s important that you learn how to establish boundaries, it’s also essential that you permit yourself to consciously process uncomfortable stimuli. This will help it to be released, so that you can move on.
Empath Training: Have You Blocked Out Your Sensitivity?
Deep down you might suspect that you are hiding from the world due to your intense sensitivity. In fact, it’s very likely that a part of you is skeptical, cautious and unconvinced about the necessity of “opening up” to your sensitivity again. Why the hell would you want to do that when it could potentially cause you pain, rejection or rile up old wounds — the very things that you’ve been unconsciously hiding from?
The answer is simple: without consciously allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you will forever live in a state of emptiness. Without allowing yourself to be sensitive again, your life will be nothing but a vacuous, grey, emotionally numb existence.
Exploring the ways in which you’ve unknowingly suppressed your sensitivity is the first vital step in reclaiming your personal power as an empathic being. This empath training article will open a few doorways for you to explore. Below I’ve provided some common ways in which people suppress/block out their empathic sensitivity, but this list isn’t exhaustive.
I also encourage you to introspect in a journal. Ask yourself, “What ways am I hiding/avoiding/suppressing my sensitivity and why?” You may like to start by writing down each heading below to categorize your thoughts like I have:
Physical Forms of Empathic Suppression
- Addictions, e.g. to sugar, caffeine, food, alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, adrenaline
- Emotional eating, i.e. eating to soothe your anxiety, anger or boredom
- Binge-eating or under-eating, i.e. eating a lot in one go, or depriving yourself of food
- Avoidance of certain people or situations
- Chronic unexplained fatigue
- Fibromyalgia (chronic aching muscles)
- Headaches and migraines
- Constant colds and flu
- High blood pressure
- Dizziness (frequent)
- Shaking (frequent)
- Knots in stomach/butterflies (frequent)
- Desire to scream
- Digestive problems
- Over-sleeping or insomnia
Emotional Forms of Empathic Suppression
- Adopting the role of care-taking martyr
- Exaggerated emotional reactions to the losses or traumas of acquaintances, strangers, fictional characters or animals
- Feigned positivity
- Inability to express emotional vulnerability
- Decreased empathy and heightened self-centredness
- Persistent anger issues or rage
- Apathy or lack of emotion (“numbness”)
- Constant unhappiness/depression
Mental Forms of Empathic Suppression
- Neurosis or obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Negative self-talk
- Criticizing others
- Deeply ingrained cognitive distortions
- Inability to concentrate
- Mental fog
What to do next …
Remember, having a few of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily prove that you’re an empath in hiding. It also doesn’t prove that you’re emotionally or sensitively repressed. But it does mean that you should introspect more and examine the possible reasons why you experience such things.
As an empath, I’ve found that consciously permitting myself to experience discomfort, without attachment, has helped me to become so much healthier, energized, and psychologically balanced. There are so many things I’d like to share with you about training yourself to become a robust empath. If you would like more in-depth guidance, check out our empath book.
(For the time being, you might like to read deeper into this topic with some tips I wrote here.)