These Feelings, This Heart : On Being An Empath

In a conversation I had with my sister, I shared how as an empath, I get very anxious in crowded spaces like grocery stores, crowded rooms, even busy streets. My fight or flight instincts amp up and I find myself on the edge, ready to react to something.

Trips to these places are never just trips to these places. They are trips into humanity. Trips into places with people who are hurting, lost, lonely, afraid, and yes, also joyous, excited and curious.

But being an empath means that I pick up on these things more easily. One minor encounter or even just passing by someone, has the potential and power to affect my spirit and activate my fight or flight instincts, causing me to react in physical ways. Some of these ways include shaking, crying, shutting down, hyperfocusing, blacking out for a few seconds and panic attacks.

For so long, that’s all I have been able to experience. The panic attacks, the “dramatic” emotions, the fear, the anxiety, the mystery of a large part of me.

There have been a few times when I could unintentionally control my reactions and do something about them but 7 times out of 10, it was fight, flight or freeze.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to noticeably and intentionally tap into the opposite reaction.

As a counter for the extreme anxiety I often feel, I spend a lot of time by myself. This retreat into a room, into a corner, into myself, allows me to recharge and reconnect with self. It is a space where I can process my feelings and emotions, I can analyze what my spirit has sensed and I can make peace and give it all to God.

This retreat is the most peaceful place in the universe.

While doing some research, I learned.. or relearned that fight or flight instincts are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system, while its opposite, the relaxation response, is controlled by the parasympathetic system. Two completely different systems that can not exist at the same time.

Anxiety and peace can not coexist.

I've always heard of empaths but it wasn’t until last week that I was compelled to do some research. I had been feeling vulnerable all week from a previous environment but at the time, I was unaware of the cause of my sensitivity. I decided to watch a movie called “Brain on Fire”. The movie is about a young woman whose mental health randomly and rapidly declines, causing seizures, manic outbursts and paralyzation.

There came a scene where the woman was mumbling in her sleep. Her boyfriend rolled over to find her in an almost possessed state, shortly followed by a severe seizure.

Leading up to this scene, I felt my body going into fight or flight mode. When this scene came up, it triggered my sympathetic nervous system, causing my body to tense up and become physically in pain. I had the urge to vomit but I was fighting so hard not to, which only made my feelings worse.

I paused the movie, took a couple deep breaths then pressed play. I couldn’t shake the feeling. I skipped ahead a few scenes but nothing changed. (spoiler alert) Finally, I came to the scene where her doctor explained what her body was experiencing and that it was curable. I immediately felt the tension in my body loosen.

Although the tension left, the anxiety lingered for hours. I couldn’t shake my emotions and disrupted spirit. I texted my parents and told them to pray for me then I began researching empaths.

My whole life began to make more sense.

The overwhelming emotions in public places, the inability to intake violent or demonic content, the taking on of others pain and emotion, the feelings.. oh man the FEELINGS!

I know that these feelings and this heart are gifts from God. For so long I thought it was a flaw to be able to feel so deeply and connect so strongly but with divine wisdom, I have come to realize that these feelings and this heart are my superpower.

The beauty of intentional isolation is that my body and spirit know when it’s time to take what I’ve processed and apply it to the world. I begin to crave connection and insight.

Back to what happened yesterday, while I was scrolling through facebook, I began to feel burdened and had the urge to offer relief. So I asked the question “if you could ask for one thing right in this moment, what would it be?” It was a serious question but I thought people would respond jokingly. To my carnal surprise (my spirit knew what it was doing), people answered wholeheartedly. People were honest and serious.

With this, of course I began to feel for the people who responded but something that I’ve been learning my whole life as a Christian is that it is not my duty to carry the burdens of my friends and loved ones forever.

Jesus only carried mine for three days.

As an ambassador for Christ, it is my duty to bring these burdens to him on their behalf. I believe that is the key to being a healthy, light, effective empath. We must bear the burden AND give it up to a higher power when the time is right. If we carry it for too long, it becomes ours and we become just as heavy as the people we are trying to relieve.

So I took all of those desires to God to make them known before him and retreated back into my relaxation state.

Because, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” – 2 Corinthians 1:20

To my empaths, keep on feeling, keep on loving, for your heart was built to carry the weight of His love.

My Eyes are Set On: working and living in my relaxation state.

Helpful Websites :

Empaths :,According%20to%20Dr.

Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic :,a%20calm%20and%20composed%20state.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published