Energy Earthquakes – we all experience them and as an empath, I tend to feel them more acutely than other people. They vary on the Richter scale from slightly annoying to downright hurtful. They are generally precipitated by a run-in with an energy vampire but anyone and anything can trigger one when I am not emotionally prepared. They start with a sour taste in my mouth and a knot in my gut and if not immediately addressed sometimes turn into a full blown emotional meltdown or panic attack.
In fact this past weekend when I was taking notes in preparation for writing this piece a political email chain was circulating amongst my family. And of course because the content was political in nature, it brought out the divisive beast that lurks in the dusty corners of our beings.
As an empath I usually steer clear of negative news, negative people, and highly divisive topics, but I also understand that unless I want to live my life as hermit, (which I definitely do not), I have to engage with life and the people that populate this planet. So, with this particular email chain I chose to engage. I centered myself through meditation, I thought about how I wanted to respond and chose my words carefully and with intention.
I wrote about how life will change regardless of all our human efforts to keep things the same and that it’s not our beliefs that make us great nor our ability to defend them, but the wisdom that comes from understanding our shared humanity that does. And WHAM! not 30 minutes later my stance was lambasted (politely of course) and I just felt the wind knocked out of me. An energy earthquake had struck. Years ago, before I consciously walked my path and began practicing emotional health; this type of interaction would have rendered me inert for days. Feeling victimized and powerless I would have lashed out at the offender. I would have told my siblings to leave me off their email chains. I would have even changed my email address. What I have learned over the years is these types of actions are not freedom.
Freedom for me means being grounded in my own truth, my own wisdom. Freedom is not taking things personally. Freedom is the knowledge that we are all doing the best we can with the tools and examples we’ve been given. Freedom is not assuming that everything is somehow about me.
Difficult to do, I know! My life is about me and too often I translate that into, “everyone’s life is also about me” forgetting that others’ lives and their reactions are about them. There is a saying that I love: “What you think about me is none of my business” and visa versa.
It’s difficult as an empath not to take things personally. We feel the suffering of the world and want to ease it, forgetting that suffering is the yang to joy. We are often burdened by our belief that we must own the suffering of the world in order to make a positive difference, and it’s here where we need to create strong boundaries.
We can’t own the suffering of the world without suffering ourselves. By trying to own the suffering of the world we not only disempower ourselves, we disempower others; we rob them of their right to choose how they show up in the world.
When people lash out at us or behave with less empathy and humility than we would like it’s important to remember they do it because they are suffering and the greater the suffering the bigger the emotional earthquake.
To keep my emotional earthquake experiences to a minimum I know that first I have to take care of myself in ways that feel good and prepare me for the unexpected chaos that makes up a portion of my everyday existence.
While each person has things that work for him or her, I have found over the years that what works best for me is having a solid morning routine.
I wake up at the same time everyday and begin with 30 minutes of silent meditation. Then while I’m sipping my morning latte, I set my intentions for the day. I have a gratitude jar at work that I encourage my co-workers to contribute to and if I’m having a particularly challenging day I can always re-center myself by focusing on things that I’m grateful for. I eat healthy and nourishing foods, drink a ton of water, and get plenty of rest. I have a regular yoga practice and spend as much time as possible outside in nature; walking, skiing, riding my bike. As I mentioned earlier, I do my best to limit my news intake and steer clear of toxic people and situations.
While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, occasionally, I do experience that emotional earthquake that just shakes me to my core and have found it’s just as important to have a recovery plan in place for those moments that nearly take me off my feet. And I have found that many of the same practices I have in place for prevention also are terrific curatives. Exercise, yoga, and meditation all relieve the physical stress that often accompanies emotional earthquakes. Even a short walk around the block can help re-set the Richter to zero. Journaling my feelings also helps me process emotional zingers and helps me react in the moment with love and compassion. And naps are never a bad idea!
The important thing is not really how you take care of yourself emotionally but that you are taking care of yourself. Being vulnerable in the world takes a great deal of strength and courage.
Acknowledge yourself for this, and give yourself a pat on the back and a huge hug. And know that this too, whatever it is, shall pass.
For more emotional freedom tools, read the tips from doctor Sarah Schewitz to use when heavy emotions come knocking at the door.