Are You or a Loved One a Sensitive or Empath?
by Mark Pitstick, MA, DC
Martha came to me with a long list of symptoms: depression, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, a lack of purpose, and feelings of isolation. At age 25, she was thin and not focused on dress and make-up like many her age. I quickly realized what I was dealing with and asked, “Are you more sensitive than most people, what some call an empath?” Her eyes filled with tears as she shook her head affirmatively. Her relief to talk with someone who understood was palpable.
I’ll tell you how Martha did later, but first, let me define some terms. Empathetic means, “identifying with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of others.” In common usage, empathic is used as a synonym for the adjective empathetic. A dictionary definition of the noun empath is: “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.” This source commented that the word “empath” is usually used in science fiction writing.
Huh? But wait, there’s more!
Used as an adjective, the word sensitive is defined as: “quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences.” As a noun, the same source described a sensitive as “a person who is believed to respond to occult influences.” And how is occult defined, you ask? “Involving or relating to supernatural, mystical, or magical powers or phenomena.”
When will our language evolve to keep up with contemporary understandings? As many people now know, being an empath is not limited to sci-fi books and films. And being a sensitive is not magical or mystical. However, both empaths and sensitives are paranormal, that is, beyond the normal. And both are supernatural in that their senses exceed what is natural or normal.
In this article, I will use the nouns “a sensitive” and “an empath” interchangeably. Both describe, in my usage, a person who can use more of their senses than the ‘average’ human.
It’s a scientific fact that certain individuals can detect more of reality than normal. University-based, double-blind, journal published, and peer-reviewed scientific experiments have made this abundantly clear. These heightened abilities may include clairvoyance (sight), clairaudience (hearing), or clairsentience (feeling).
A sensitive or empath is a person who has increased abilities to sense the emotions and energy of others. There’s nothing occult or mystical about it.
As you might imagine – or perhaps have personally experienced – it’s not easy seeing, hearing, feeling, or otherwise sensing more of reality than most people. At first, such a person usually thinks they are the only one like that. Depending on their home environment, they may fear that they are weird or going crazy. They wish they could be “normal” and try to ignore their extra-sensory powers. If they are raised in a fundamentalist religion, they may believe that “the Devil” – that huge, red-skinned, powerful, and horned rascal with a pitchfork – is influencing them.
In my experience, empaths are especially prone to:
- Developing physical and “mental” symptoms like Martha
- Having difficulty fitting in and enjoying close relationships
- Succeeding in conventional schools and jobs
- Struggling with drug and alcohol addictions as they “self-medicate” in a misguided attempt to numb out and feel more peace
- Become suicidal because they just can’t take living here anymore
That’s why it’s so important for more people to understand what sensitives are, what they go through, and how they can reach a balance. They may represent an evolutionary step in human development and the potential to be incredibly gifted.
I’ll share a few questions from sensitive individuals and my responses that collectively provide much information and strategies for balancing and coping.
Q: Where is my tribe of people who know how much of life is BS? I don’t care about superficial stuff and my worldview is very different, so small talk is difficult. Any suggestions? – Sarah
A: Yes, Sarah, just act from love. Know who you are and live accordingly. Remember that others are doing the best they can given their current state of awareness. Remind yourself that we each are spiritual beings who—at least on some levels—want to awaken, grow, serve, and love. Some people are imbalanced and/or have been confused by past religious teachings. They need compassion, not rejection.
Here are several suggestions for moving beyond superficial conversations. Learning this skill will help you find your tribe and expand your support team.
1. Start with a little “small talk” to build trust and rapport.
2. Follow up on matters of more substance, for example, ask more about a pet or family member who died or a recent challenge.
3. If you feel that they are open to it, ask how they are doing with their changes. Very few people ask important questions and then really listen.
4. Once you have gone deeper and demonstrated that you care, mention some of your understandings and strategies about the topic. Don’t be “preachy” – just share what has worked for you. Then, before you know it, you’re having a meaningful interchange.
Q: I’m not suicidal, but I am just not comfortable in this physical world. There’s more to life than just what we SEE. I feel lost because I don’t agree with many ideas that society feeds us. I am seeking spiritual knowledge because I feel lost and really don’t have anyone I can talk to about all this. Thanks for listening. – Nancy
A: Thanks for being so open and honest, Nancy. I know and have heard from many people who feel the same way. I definitely used to. When I was young, I thought there must have been a mistake that I was here. On several occasions, I stood in an open field and sent telepathic messages to friendly ETs to beam me up because I felt like such a stranger in a strange land here. Over time, however, I’ve realized that I can enjoy a heavenly state of being whether I’m here or elsewhere. I now feel much more comfortable in my body and on this planet.
It’s good that you don’t agree with society’s ideas since those are often/sometimes off-base. Inquiring hearts and minds like yours are needed to evolve society for the better. One key is to remember that your consciousness/awareness/energy/spirit is your authentic self. Your essence is only visiting planet Earth for a very short while. For those who know they are eternal parts of Source Energy, it’s natural—at least initially—to feel out of place here.
The Bible speaks of being in this world while knowing that you are not solely of it. Various native cultures have shamans who teach how to live with one foot in the physical and the other in spiritual dimensions. So welcome to the world of awakening humans! You are learning firsthand that, as the saying goes, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.
More people are waking up to the fact that they are much more than their five senses can detect. You can learn to comfortably and effectively live in two dimensions simultaneously. Your current angst is just part of birthing the highest version of you, just as a new software upgrade involves change or a newborn baby has to struggle to come into this world. Don’t be afraid of the process or get discouraged.
So take a few deep breaths and begin grounding and balancing your self. As you do, you can see increasingly past the veil of illusion that physicality is all there is and relax into this brief earth-visit. You can be grateful for being different and use that to positively transform yourself and our world.
Q: I am very sensitive and empathic. That makes it tricky to participate fully in this world. Part of me really doesn’t want to be on this planet. What can I do to get more grounded, fulfill my missions, and enjoy this earth journey? – Gail
I know it can be difficult to be on Earth, Gail. I get it. I also know, from firsthand experience, that you can find your way to honor and fulfill the reasons that you, as a soul, chose to come here and now.
Recommendations for a more optimal earth-walk include:
1. Educate yourself about the evidence that you are a wise, infinite, special and powerful being. My website has free articles, radio shows, special reports, and newsletters. My book and documentary film Soul Proof also teach the evidence and many benefits that accompany this realization. Eternea is another excellent source.
2. Fine-tune your body/mind. My book Radiant Wellness shares seven keys to optimally caring for the temple of your soul. The word “radiant” is an acronym for those keys: renewal, activity, diet, inner cleanse, awareness, natural care, and transcendence. I especially recommend balancing your brain and body with a personalized nutritional healing program such as Nutrition Response Testing (www.unsinc.info or Applied Kinesiology (www.icakusa.com).
3. Enjoy fellowship with kindred spirits. There are many people like you and me who think differently than those still deluded by spiritual amnesia. These more enlightened souls tend to congregate at predicable places such as Unity, Unitarian-Universalist, Centers for Spiritual Living, and other more love versus fear-based churches. Also consider attending yoga and meditation classes. Drumming, dancing, and chanting groups are replete with free spirits who think for themselves. People involved in the arts and natural healers are often more sensitive, intelligent, and open to the richness and diversity of life. Start with this list and develop a spiritual family of kindred spirits in addition to your beloved family and friends.
4. Take time to enjoy the beauty. Yes, there are earthly difficulties and problems that need improved, but there are also exquisite opportunities for enjoyment here. Enjoy each day since this earth-experience lasts only a blink of an eye. Spend time in nature, appreciate the changes of each season, the smile of loved one, a great healthy dessert . . . the list of unique experiences to cherish is endless for those who view life without fear’s blinders.
5. Trust your inner voice. You have an innate intelligence, an inner wisdom that knows what is most true for you. Many elders have told me that, as children, they never believed archaic and erroneous religious teachings such as a fiery eternal hell, only one way to heaven, born into sin, a vengeful God, etc. You also can disregard societal messages that you can’t have it all, that you are only human, you have to suffer, or that this life is all there is. Instead, listen to that still, small voice within that will guide you toward the greatest life you have envisioned.
6. Regularly enjoy centering practices. Proven ways for grounding incongruous energies, quieting your mind, and soothing your soul include: meditation, prayer, chanting, worship, ritual, tantra or sacred lovemaking, serving others, playing with children or pets, etc. Transformational Breathwork is one of the most powerful techniques for releasing old wounds and stuck energy. Take time to enjoy whatever helps you remember who you are, why you’re here, and Who walks beside/within you always. You deserve it!
7. Ask for assistance in shielding yourself. Pray and intend that you are always surrounded by love and light, a literal cocoon of higher energy that grounds and protects. This prevents you from being zapped or sapped by people with lower energy emotions such as despair, bitterness, anger, etc. It can also help you function more fully in the world while remembering you are not solely of this world.
8. Take time to serve others. Doing so is a wonderful opportunity for sacred alchemy as you transmute lower-energy emotions like discouragement, anxiety, and fear into higher ones such as gratitude and enthusiasm.
What ever happened to Martha and her long list of symptoms? She applied the advice above, including Nutrition Response Testing, and was feeling like a different person within a few months. She now sees her sensitivity as a gift, not a curse, and is using it to improve her life and help others.
You can do the same!
Practice these steps or others that make sense for you for just 90 days and let me know how it’s going. The world needs your light, love, and greatest gifts. And you deserve the joy and peace that naturally flow when you know this earth-experience is a totally safe, meaningful, and magnificent adventure amidst eternity.