You know I lost count of the times in my University and Counselling training that I scoured the books in the ‘quest’ of trying to understand what was actually ‘wrong’ with me. Surely I must have something in the 'Psychiatric Manual' (the DSM) to account for my ‘symptoms’….Sure I knew I was different. I only had to look back on my school days to know that. Perhaps if you relate to having high sensitivity and emotions you can relate to the following.
"Empaths and sensitive souls often feel like they are different or don't belong". "Empaths are multi-sensory beings who see beyond the veil of people's persona's and inner most emotions, sensing and experiencing them as their own'. (unknown)
The many days of felt alienation at school because its hard to relate to peers when you as an empath have a maturity that goes beyond your chronological age. Then there is the all too familiar dread of peer conflict that upsets you horrendously, if peers around you are in battle. Empaths dislike conflict immensely and they struggle with their own and others trepidation and anxiety, whether it be sitting tests or awaiting inoculations.
Then there is the sensory onslaught at school- teachers talking, peers talking, the energy of every one…and let’s not start on the harsh fluorescent lighting in the classrooms. Then for me personally, the day I just simply couldn’t dissect the frog in Science, because my heart hurt to see it lie there. How could a school system collude with this? I sat bewildered and nauseated. But I sucked up my question asking, it appeared no one else was impacted. So again I sat there feeling different and alone.
Then there was the subjection to the nightly news over our family dinner….I only recently realized my tendency to ‘eat quickly’ came from my strong desire to eat and run…. away from the continual emotive stories that featured on the news. The quietness at the dinner table only made for the intensity of the news stories to scream louder that no amount of food could soothe.
As an empath you may be so deeply moved by movies and music but you hold back tears in a desperate attempt to ‘look normal’ in the presence of peers, despite feeling anything but ‘normal’. In other cases, you may even avoid the movies or evocative shows because of the emotional reaction it creates.
Empaths spend considerable time pondering quite deeply about life, people, the universe and animals. The continual comments of ‘You think too much’ or the classic “Whats wrong with you’? ‘Why are you so deep”? does nothing to assist a person who has high sensitivity and emotions. It just leaves us feeling alone and emotionally and socially fractured.
The sad thing is that in those formative years the empath or highly sensitive child starts to quickly interpret that the feelings of ‘difference’ are often equated or internalized as ‘being too much’ or ‘burdensome’ or ‘unwelcome'and 'not okay'. And there lies the commencement of the ‘internal battle’- the desire to ‘fit in’ (but not having a clue really how to do this) whilst simultaneously divorcing oneself from their empathy and sensitivities. And yet we wonder why so many empaths have gravitated to the temporary relief in substance abuse or emotional eating to try to cope.
Is it really any wonder, when more often than not, empaths as children and young people have been extremely misunderstood, their sensitivities have been used against them rather than nurtured or even never recognized.
I feel such deep gratitude that my counselling role in schools enables me to help raise awareness in identifying and supporting the younger sensitive and empathic ones who walk among us. Furthermore I am thrilled to have created 'The Sanctuary for Sensitive Souls Studio'- a purpose built 'cottage' located in The Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne Victoria where I provide counselling sessions in a non clinical environment especially for sensitives/ empaths. It is an ideal location for those who prefer to be seen in a less stimulating environment