Empath -  a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.

My whole life I have been an empath.  I have to admit, I never really understood that or what it meant until the last handful of years.  As a child and young adult, I always had the ability to feel out someone's energy and what it is they needed without even speaking to them. It made me, and still does, physically uncomfortable to see others suffering or sad.  I was always like Switzerland, trying to fit in with everyone, never wanting one person to feel more important than another.  This landed me lots of friends and accolades like, friendliest person in my class.  Yet, I never really knew what "it" was that drove all of this.   This thing that made me able to feel so deeply what others were feeling, sometimes to even know what they were thinking.

Since learning about empathy and what it all means I have swung from seeing it as a divine gift to a painful curse, depending on how I am feeling in my life at any given time.  Of late, I am able to see it as a beautiful gift, but let's back up for a moment.  Everything, and I mean everything, has a light and a shadow side.  Empathy is no different.  

The shadow side of being an empath is that if one is not in integrity with themselves and those around them, they can use their gift to be manipulative.  Let's face it, when you have the ability to know what someone is feeling, to feel out an entire room without much effort, you can use that information however you would like.  If your intent it control a situation or create a certain outcome, you can manipulate the people involved or situation at hand to do just that.  I have seen other empaths do this and I am sure I have done it myself at some point.

The opposite of this is the light side of empathy.  An empath can use their inherent spidey senses for the greater good.  They can help and support others.  By knowing how others feel and even being able to feel it in their own body, they can offer help in ways that others cannot.  In this way, the gift is used to help others heal and transform their lives.  This can be a very big responsibility and feel overwhelming at times.

I get to choose if I want to go deep with someone in this way.  It's a conscious choice. 

When I, or any other empath, choose to go deep and use our gifts to serve humanity and those around us, it is imperative that we take exquisite care of ourselves.  By putting ourselves first, engaging in lots of self-care and nurturing,  we can truly honor and utilize our gifts to their fullest.

When I take exquisite care of myself, I am able to see my empathy as a gift.

Deep and consistent self-care allows me to set and maintain clear boundaries around myself and my energy.  I am more radiant and a vibrate at a higher frequency.  I can truly be of service by coming at my life from a place of being filled up and turned on.

When I choose not to take care of myself first and put others ahead of me, that is when my empathy becomes a burden. I allow others to feed off my energy.  I begin to feel depleted, resentful and sad.  I want to be sure you heard what I said.  I choose whether or not to take care of myself.  It is a choice.  I get to dictate whether being an empath is a gift or a curse based on my own behavior and actions.

Realizing that all of this is a choice has been a HUGE awakening for me.  I am finding it especially important in these times of intense energy shifts and upheaval to choose wisely, both for myself and those I am here to serve.  My deepest desire is to be of service in a way that shares my gifts with those who need them.  This means making a commitment to myself to choose what lights me up and keeps me tapped into my own radiance and intuition.  

What are you choosing?  If you are feeling like your empathy is a burden or a weakness, how can you choose differently?