Discussing anything in terms of phases is always a bit of a hit-and-miss. Phases can overlap, and there is no right or wrong order to things. Nevertheless, I’ve found that there often is a certain order to how clients go from being an overwhelmed empath to becoming a skilled empath. The phases outlined below are intended as a helpful indication, but they are not in any way strict rules about how things “must go”.
1. The Burdened Phase
Your sensitivity feels like a deficiency, a burden, something you need to get rid off. You try hard to prove to the world and yourself that you can toughen things out, not care about how you’re feeling, and “be like other people”. You’re fighting yourself because that’s what you learned you were supposed to do somehow. You may or may not know about empaths at this point but, either way, you’re convinced it’s doom and gloom from hereon out.
2. The Basic Self-Care Phase
You’ve taken measures to take better care of yourself. These measure are very much in line with the kind of self-care generally recommended for HSPs (empath or not). You take time to rest and digest things. You avoid overstimulating environments. You’re doing what you can to make peace with your “introversion” and your sensitivity.
You may be familiar with the concept of Highly Sensitive People at this point, or you may simply, intuitively have come to recognise that you function better and are more productively when you limit your daily dose of stimulation. (note, most empaths are also HSPs, but not all!)
3. The Energy Research Phase
You’re researching energy phenomena and energy tools and practices. You may have a meditation practice that helps you, visualisations that you use to cleanse your energy field and “root” into the ground. You may even be experimenting with shielding in an attempt to keep other people’s energy out of your own space.
Some of your practices may be somewhat helpful or successful. Yet, you’re left with an overwhelming sense that it’s not enough. You can’t see yourself muddling on like this the rest of your life, and you sure as *bell* don’t want to do all kinds of visualisations all day just to get by. Despite your increasing awareness of what is up with you, things are also looking somewhat bleak.
4. The Empath Training Phase[Warning: shameless plug!] You’ve enrolled in the empath programme and are learning about how to reprogramme your subconscious to stop absorbing everyone’s stress and pain.
You know you still have a ways to go, but are starting to see definite improvements. You may feel clearer and less foggy, feel less overwhelmed in groups, more comfortable in your own skin, or simply strengthened by the knowledge that you are learning how to take control of something that previously felt so completely out of control.
5. The Gaining Control Phase
You’ve practiced the empath tools to the point where you can apply them quickly. As the daily energy load on your system decreases, you are starting to get glimpses of ways in which you have unique gifts that could help others. You also come to understand that you have no obligation to the world at large in any way. The gifts within your empathic ability are yours to use, or let be, as feels right to you.
You are taking control of your daily life, and your long-term life plan. You are no longer a moon orbiting around others. You’ve found your own inner place to BE. That sense of your own core may still be somewhat shaky, but it’s definitely coming into focus.
6. The Increasing Clarity Phase
You’ve practiced the empath tools and done the subconscious reprogramming to the point where you can now be in crowds without being overwhelmed at all. You can be present to other people’s intense emotions without taking those emotions on. You may need to check in with yourself after exposure to intense energies from others but, if you did pick something up, you’re able to let go of it easily and quickly.
As you keep applying these skills, you find that you absorb energies from others less and less in the first place. More and more, your are still aware of the energy around you, but only in the way you’d be aware of the air conditioning humming at a distance, in the background.
If you want to (re)-open your own practice, you now can. Clients will benefit from your ability to stay present with them without suffering along with them, and yet you’ll also have the uncanny ability to feel exactly what they are going through. You now have the ability to consciously decide whether you want to intensely “feel along” with people, to help them better understand what is going on, or whether it’s best to stay more detached and be a supportive neutral anchor instead.
Most of the day, you don’t have to consciously think about being an empath, at all. Most of your old sponging habits have been completely rewired to the point where you can just focus on being you, without getting distracted and de-railed by other people’s energies.
7. The “Oh yeah, I totally forgot I am an empath” Phase
You continue to work on any areas in which you may be absorbing other people’s emotions. Currently, it’s more of an incidental practice than a very regular one. Most days, you don’t need to do any energy work at all. Every now and again you’ll go through an inner purge of sorts where deep subconscious energies come up to be released. The work isn’t completely over but, really, it’s more a matter of “up-leveling” rather than “working hard to stay afloat”.
Now that you have so much more time to “just be” you’re increasingly interested in learning how to get better at receiving more of the good stuff that life has to offer. The sacrificial days are over. You are no longer acting out of a deep sense of guilt. Rather, you want to discover more about how you can use your energy skills to create and receive more of what you love.