Empaths can often lose a sense of self in relationships and more broadly in life. It is because we tune so strongly into what others need and often confuse their needs as ours.
In my own life I could fit into many situations, I was so flexible I could fit in with many people and their lives, I could fit in with different jobs and become what those around me needed me to become. I was praised for how flexible I was. The problem is that in this long-lasting act I profoundly abandoned myself. I ended up taking a massive detour from my true self! We pay a price – it is energy draining and there are moments where frustration and feeling unheard are unbearable, at least it was in my case!
Can you imagine a reality where you have a strong sense of self? What is this world like?
You gain authority over your life. You shine your own light and you no longer stay in the shadows of others. What you want and need becomes crystal clear. When you choose to be or do something with others, you differentiate between your and their wants and you meet others half-way. You create win-win solutions. You care more about what matters to you; you no longer silence the voice within that whispers your desires to you. In this reality there are more aligned actions, fulfillment and bliss. There are healthier relationships. There is more peace.
I wanted to share with you five things that helped me gain a strong sense of self.
1) I found more time to get in touch with the essence of who I am
I made meditation and contemplation part of my daily life. In time, I began reaching a sweet spot where I would realise the truest essence of who I am (it feels to me pretty much like basking in the sunlight, if you love sunshine that is). I also realised that I need more alone time for self-reflection than I used to give myself! In the past I could go on for weeks without any thinking space. When you stop and tune into yourself you are no longer running on auto-pilot, you are clearer about who you really are.
2) I started to unapologetically meet my smallest needs
I make it my priority to meet my smallest needs and wants. If my need is to take time out from 24/7 family gathering I excuse myself politely and retreat to a quiet spot or to nature. I used to feel guilty and afraid of being labelled antisocial and uncaring. However when I understood that I am completely miserable without a break and when I recharge I can be present and connect with others better, I cured myself of this guilt!
3) I learned to value the aspects of me that I did not like in the past
Things turned around for me when I discovered research about highly sensitive people and empaths. It gave me validation I needed and it explained a lot about myself. For many years I was crippled by thoughts that there was something wrong with me. Since I understood my traits I have learned to appreciate my qualities. I no longer feel that I need to change or discount my inherent qualities such as the ability to deeply feel and care (they are considered a weakness in the business world for example).
4) I started spending more time and energy on what matters to me
I started being super choosy about how I spend my time. I tune into what I really love and what interests me and as a rule I try not to do anything that is not corresponding with these things. It means sometimes passing on movies, people, social events or other things that I would engage with in the past, which didn’t really bring me joy. Instead, in that time I purposely choose to do what I love and it feels amazing. Because empaths tend to prioritise others’ needs, making a conscious choice to prioritise yourself is an act that is very healing!
5) I made lifestyle changes that help me feel more grounded
As someone with highly attuned nervous system I often felt anxious. Making some lifestyle changes helped me get rid of anxiety, feel more solid and enjoy being myself more. I discovered that eating regularly, plenty of veg and fruit and as little processed foods as I could, really makes a difference to how I feel. I also started to move my body in ways that resonate with me (no forced exercises there!); I’ve grown to love yoga and I can’t imagine my daily routine without it. Finally, one of the most essential lifestyle changes is connecting with nature as often and for as long as I can. In fact, I am writing this post from my garden on a warm Easter evening surrounded by the singing birds (when I listen to them chirp so beautifully I think it must be heaven on earth…!)
I am curious, what helps you gain authority over your life?
[blog from former The Sensitive Kind Coaching business]