I think it’s interesting how our childhood experiences have such an impact on how we perceive and react to things so much later in life, don’t you? The state of our environment in those early years has so much to do with our perspectives, our temperament, and our ways of dealing and coping with life.
In a recent post I wrote about how “different” I felt from other kids growing up. One of the differences seemed to be that I was always quite sensitive to the feelings of others—as well as my own. If one of my classmates was angry, sad, or afraid of something, I immediately related myself to their situation and almost felt their emotions myself. If I saw someone who was ill or injured, I seemed to feel at least some of their depression or pain. And if I saw someone suffering from abuse or the loss of a loved one, I somehow felt I was experiencing their suffering or grief—whether they were a stranger or not.
Whenever I felt emotions of my own, I’ve always tended to feel those quite deeply too. Growing up rather unhappily as an only child in a dysfunctional family (until a new sibling arrived some years later), I would often wallow in my own miserable silence for hours—or sometimes even days. With few constructive examples available to help teach me otherwise, I eventually learned to develop and rely on my own inner strengths to carry me through such challenging times.
I never fully realized that these feelings were so much of a problem or made such a difference until quite recently, when I began my journey of spiritual discovery in earnest. After reading a number of articles from other “sensitive” people who shared similar experiences, many things finally began to make sense to me. Like me, many of these people not only naturally “picked up on” others’ emotions and state of mind, they actually felt them in some manner. I even found out that there is a term used to describe those who have such experiences—they are said to be “empathic”.
To some, this may not be such an important revelation, but it made a great deal of difference to me. I realized that many of the feelings or stresses I had felt for years may not have even been entirely my own! I suddenly understood that, with some diligent effort at changing my own habits, I could eventually learn to separate my own emotional “baggage” from that of the people around me. This new understanding and a newfound ability to resolve and release my own stresses has allowed me to find much greater personal freedom, a growing sense of self-acceptance, and much needed inner peace.
So if you find yourself suddenly feeling a growing sense of tension, anger, fear, or any other strong emotion for no apparent reason, it could very well be that you are “empathic”. And if that’s the case, it means that you can learn to lighten your emotional load too. All it really takes is an understanding of the dynamics, a willingness to identify the possible sources of disharmony in your life, and an intention to let go of the emotions that don’t really belong to you. In this way it becomes much, much easier to focus on and resolve the issues that really are yours!
It’s amazing to see how much emotional baggage we can wind up carrying through the years. Sadly, many never truly understand quite how much—and they are burdened with it their entire lives. I’ve decided that, when my time comes to depart this world for the next, I’ll be traveling light.
After all, how can one’s soul ever hope to soar among the stars when it’s held down by the weight of yesterday’s suffering, worries, and regrets?
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