This blog should have been written on Saturday, instead it incubated until today, Monday.
As an empath, I experience my feelings as both a blessing and a curse. The blast of them, while leading to great aliveness, is at times of imbalance, just way too much. Learning to discern which are mine and which aren’t, helps immensely.
I’m suspecting I’m not alone in saying that life has been full of changes lately. On Thursday, it was time to just rest, which I continued through the weekend. Today, Eren’s comment on my blog gave me the idea to write down self-love ideas that help me with self-care during these times of rapid change.
What does self-love in action mean to you, in the midst of your changing life?
To celebrate that, I am publishing my first piece of empath exploration, although it feels very vulnerable. I will publish one illustration of my empath experience, every Saturday, while they last.
The first ten watercolors in the series are painted while I was studying with Caroline van Kimmenade in her excellent program From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant. She has also graciously allowed me to use the phrase “Untrained Empath”, which in my opinion summarizes the overwhelming experience of being one and the potential we can embody once we learn to understand our gift. Having said that, I want to add that there is no affiliate program involved, I only mention this program because I liked it.
I notice words elude me now, this is very much still a work in progress. But feel free to share what the images evoke and awaken in you, if you feel like it. <3
June was chock-full of client work with interesting, dedicated people who threw themselves into making art and learning about their creativity. Now I’ve been winding down to holiday mode, spending time in summerland with my children. Time is starting to loose its meaning and I have difficulty remembering what day it is. Lovely!
On a more personal note, I have been exploring what it means to be an empath. This year, I’ve been working with Molly Gordon and Caroline van Kimmenade, both of whom I can heartily recommend. It all started out with the intention of checking out what is going on with the profitability in my company, my sense of having one foot on the break and the other on the gas and the recurring phenomenon of ending up either broke or exhausted.
With Molly, I have learned to instantly access my core, my deep trust in the goodness of life. I am now able to look out into the world and feel supported. No matter what is going on, I KNOW it is all alright. Nothing has gone wrong, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
The program “From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant”, that I’m enrolled in with Caroline is a bit different than traditional coaching. This is pure training for an empath. I’ve learned to understand my ability of being able to viscerally feel what others are feeling, discern what is mine and what isn’t and what to do with inner phenomena that originate from someone else.
So far, I feel like someone has given me an encryption key to my life experience. Everything makes so much sense now. So, I’m vacillating between accepting where I am and making small changes in my everyday life.
The changes I’m noticing this far are:
– It’s easier for me to make art, take&make time for making art and hear what I need [as opposed to taking care of everyone else and ending up resentful and exhausted.]
– Although I am still super-sensitive and aware of emotional fluctuations, I am able to discern what is mine, what isn’t and I know what to do in both cases.
– I now KNOW, beyond all doubt that I was never broken.
– The exuberance, joy and lightness that I remember from my childhood grows stronger every day.
– Being with my own intense kids is so much easier, because my inner clarity is now a stable flow. I can maintain the loving kindness that they thrive in.
The challenges I’m aware of are:
– It’s a LOT of work. I get immobilized with an influx of emotional static and it takes a whole lot of sifting, sorting through, writing, jogging and breathing to organize all the sense-material coming in [but it is infinitely better than it used to be].
– It’s lonely. I used to morph out to meet people, like an emotional Barbapapa, always finding the facet of my own experience that fit what my empath senses were telling me was appropriate. Now, I’m getting used to a whole new way of communicating and just being me. Scary!
– I’m way off my comfort zone, practising something completely new and not doing it particularly well.
But you know what? It’s so worth it. Because for the first time in my life, I can genuinely say that I am starting to feel this affectionate regard for myself. Not awash with the feelings of others anymore, I can differentiate who I am and I like what I see. There is a sense of inner logic to my past, I can see how things have led up to this point.
I’mwishing you a sunkissed summertime, with lots of goodness and gentleness.
This empath elephant is the first in my SummerFreeFlow 2014 collection. I have also started to post progress pictures of my watercolors, on Instagram, Flickr and Pinterest. Some lovely people have been telling me it’s nice to see how the paintings are born, impulse by impulse.
In my job as a life art coach, I have learned to create spaces of being fully present between myself and the client. Now, being coached by wonderful Molly Gordon again, I notice how rarely I choose to be fully present for myself. Too often my days are spent feeding inner static.
“Should I take care of accounting, or go for a run? Eat lettuce or make couscous? Should I rest when I’m sick or just work a little? Is it my fault that I don’t know what to do? Am I lying to myself? Should I do better” On and on it goes. Every decision has a loooong story attached to it, that confuses both my inner wisdom and common sense.
Yesterday in coaching, I realized that the static of my repetitive thoughts does the same for my inner senses that an amusement fair does for my outer ones. Instant overwhelm. But just as the clamor in a shopping mall is nothing personal, the inner stories that I run with about my choices isn’t either.
There is nothing that needs to be done about static. It consoles me when I remember that static, no matter how uncomfortable it is, does not need to be fixed, understood or analyzed. Awareness is enough. Of course, in coaching it embarrasingly enough means I sit before my red mini I-Pad, staring blankly at Molly in the Skype window, because suddenly I have no more words.
When you realize you’re immersing yourself in the story about what you should do, just recognize it as noise. Impersonal, neutral noise. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself in worldlessness for a moment, the state where you just are – feeling, sensing and existing.
What are you noticing about your inner world right in this moment?
It’s been a bit quiet for a while here on the blog. I have been dealing with some suprising and sudden changes. So I thought this blog post could be about dealing creatively with adversity.
– Allow yourself to feel everything, uncensored, no matter how conflicting, crummy, hateful, wallowy, self-pitying or bitter the thoughts may seem to your rational mind. Let the feelings move. You do this by simply observing and feeling. When you feel tempted to judge yourself, go back to sensing what your ear feels, what you see around you in the room, how the soles of your feet move on the floor or in your shoes.
– When your thoughts are racing over hurful comments or rehashing what has happened over and over in a hamsterwheely fashion, choose a word that’s neutral to you and doesn’t awaken any strong feelings (oatfield, cucumber, rice or truck work for me) and repeat it to yourself, fast, over and over again. This reboots the thinking process for a while. You may need to do this a few times to change tracks.
– Allow many versions of reality to be true at the same time. The adversity you are facing may be a closing door and an opening window to a new opportunity, at the same time as it pisses you off.
– Take lots of naps, use all of your relaxation techniques and tools, read uplifting books that you can connect with, listen to angry music, break a few dishes in the sink, watch movies where people go through big challenges and come out on the other side.
– Move your body. It doesn’t matter if it’s yoga, running, dancing, walks or horseriding. Your body wants to help you get through this.
– If the adversity you’re facing pushes your money buttons, try two things: Write a to do list about everything you need to do financially, the bills you need to pay, the people you need to contact, everything. Then take a time out. When panic hits, look at the to do list and reassure yourself that you are taking the situation seriously and responsibly. Then, with a conscious choice, move your awareness to your now moment and your basic needs. Are you bodily safe? Is your belly full? Do you need to sleep? Take care of your immediate needs and reassure yourself that this moment, you are in a safe space.
– Ask for support. Dare be vulnerable. Say no to obligations first and then share as much as you want about what has happened and how you feel about your situation in this moment. People will support you more than you can ever believe.
– To the people closest to you, describe what you are doing to cope. Sometimes we look perfectly competent on the outside, although every moment is a struggle. When you tell your loved one what you are doing to remain active solving problems and not crashing, it is easier for them to support you in loving yourself, because the inner work you’re doing becomes visible to them.
– Remember that your point of power is in the present. No matter what has happened, right now you can choose to be your own friend. You can appreciate yourself, take care of yourself and let yourself feel whatever it is that is happening in you.
– Last but not least, remember that you can always draw, paint, write, mold, sing, dance, vocalize or in other ways express what is happening inside of you. The mere act of getting it outside of yourself can give you clarity.
Do any of these tips resonate? Is there anyone you know, who is facing difficulties who could find this blog post useful?
One of the most liberating insights of my life came at a point in my life when I had studied therapy, coaching and been through various self-developmental processes. I was confused, because there were still times of absolute darkness and inner pain. Although they were shorter, they were no less intense. They were also less easy to pinpoint, didn’t seem to have any substance at all, except the emotional pain they contained and gave rise to.
At that point I started finding literature about empaths, about being so sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions that you start trying to process them in yourself. I started asking myself: “Is this mine?”
If I had that rootless feeling of not being able to feel the feelings in my body, I started to just let them go. I told myself: “Not mine, not mine, not mine.” Doing something physical helped, running or vacuuming the apartment.
One day, while walking around the small lake near us, I felt awash with joy, this simple exuberance of being alive. Memories of childhood and feeling this same feeling started to jump up like happy puppies and I was filled with the certainty that this joy was mine, had always been mine and would never leave.
So still, at times, when my boundaries start leaking, the human sponge effect starts. With good self-care, equilibrium returns, step by step.
How about you, are you carrying stuff that isn’t yours in the first place?
World, make sense
Sometimes it seems I’m permeable
Every mood and emotion floating through me
which is okay,
just as long as I remember to let them. Move.
Getting stuck is when
I start holding on
Soon everything flows over
Too big to contain
It is not mine not mine not mine
I keep telling myself
I feel everything, I own nothing
Get on the track
Let my running feet move everything
Let my words touch what they may
What comes out of me does not belong to me anymore
It touches, flies west, leaves nothing, sticks on
depending on who it encounters.
None of my business. None of my business.
I am here to create and let go. Create and let go.