Every now and again, I get the question: “are there any empath books you’d recommend?”
And the short answer is no.
Here’s why (the long answer): A few years ago, when I was on a very serious search for empath solutions, I read more than my share of empath books. Yet none of them proved truly eye-opening or life-changing for me, and neither did the suggested solutions for empath overwhelm truly work – they were bandaids at best.
Some of those books – and many of the online forums addressing empaths do this too – skip the core of the issue altogether and skip right ahead to all kinds of “feel better” remedies (crystals, flower essences, massage, energetic jewelry, magnets, you name it). Others have complicated meditation practices that involve building shields and/or giving strangers energetic flowers to keep them at bay.
Don’t get me wrong, I love building things. As a kid, I was a lego savant. I also like giving things away; I was literally handing out free flower photos during my prolific photography phase, but not because I had to.
Sandbagging people with shields to “stem the energy tides” or handing out “free flowers” out of fear, it paints a pretty bleak kind of overal picture, and not one I really wanted to ascribe to.
Yet, I wasn’t a sceptic, not at first.
I tried all those things that the “experts” suggested. I did the shielding, the grounding, the expanding your energy, the cleansing your energy, the chakra healing, the remedies you carry in your pocket, the positive affirmations, the attunements, the visualising energy moving through without sticking, the yoga, the tai-chi, the green-juicing, the detoxing, reiki, massage, imagining “closing” energy access points, the breathing practices, the filling yourself up with good vibes, the setting of intentions, the scraping (yes, scraping) away of negative energy, the shamanic journeying for solutions…
Yet, more often than not, my shields just dissolved. The aura cleansing was never ending. The “this should help you” never helped much. When I closed energy access points, they would just open right up again. There was always more massaging, reiki, detoxing, meditating, visualising, journeying or grounding to be done – apparently.
Yet, it is what the books prescribe. It is what the courses teach. It is what the experts proclaim.
Granted, we are all different in terms of what does and doesn’t work for us. Some people claim to have success with shielding. Others swear by their particular “light bubble” visualisations.
Yet in figuring out why all those things didn’t work for me, I hit upon something that throws some dubious light on all those practices. (I also met a lot of other people for whom those common practices didn’t do much, but that still doesn’t explain why)
What I discovered was that the root of empath suffering lies much deeper than the level at which most self-help and healing work takes place.
In other words, most solutions and approaches barely skim the surface of what is really going on.
Simply put, other people’s energy is overwhelming your system because you are somehow letting it in. On some deep level, that door is wide open, and unless you find and identify that original door and heal it to shut it gently, it doesn’t matter how many barricades you construct.
What’s more, this door has a purpose. It’s open for a reason. Unless you dive deep and discover why it was opened in the first place, your other techniques won’t be successful. Your inner gate keeper won’t close that door, until you get intimately acquainted with its reasons for being there, and then take executive control of the situation.
This means there are no accidents. You were not handed a random card of suffering.
Your open door policy is however, no doubt sorely outdated and in need of reprogramming.
I had an outdated opendoor policy running, based on a deeply embedded ideal that I needed to revisit.
That’s why my shields kept dissolving and the energy points (chakras) that I closed kept opening up. Part of me was convinced that it was necessary to be an empathic super sponge. That part of me was in control, no matter how much I tried to override it.
Doesn’t it make a lot more sense that we are not “fighting an overwhelming world” but instead, have somehow co-created it?
Sounds like this would make an interesting book, right?
Yet, the work I needed to do to get in touch with that deeper part of myself far surpassed anything that anyone would have been able to teach me in a book. There are step-by-step teachable pieces to this approach for sure. Yet, ultimately, it’s a very personal journey. It’s a journey that goes deep. There are no standard templates. You need to really come to a deep understanding of how things work, and then also what your personal intuitive method is for making changes at this deep level.
There is a system to this work, but it needs to be put into practice, and honed from there.
“Uhuh, so, is there a book you’d recommend?”
For us sensitive types, books are often our go-to comforters and escapes. You can snuggle on the couch with a book, disappear into the world of the writer, forget about your own concerns and take your mind off of things. And if you’re reading a book that is somehow about your life, then it will give you a bit of a detached bird’s eye view of things that can be enlightening and – let’s face it – is a lot more comfortable than the messiness of our feelings.
Yet books can also keep you stuck. Especially when it comes to empath experiences, our language doesn’t really do them justice. We need to speak in metaphors, or use existing words that have a more general meaning. In this way, our empath experiences are hard to grasp adequately in words. In words and books, there is ample space for misinterpretation or ignoring anything that doesn’t fit our current mindset.
In this way, books are great for giving you very concrete action steps, or making sense of experiences after the fact. They are not however such a useful medium for initiating you into a truly new way of seeing and experiencing the world.
Yet, when it comes to ending empath suffering, an initiation into something new is exactly what is needed.
To know what it’s like to be an empath without drowning in other people’s pain and feelings, is something of a foreign land. You have to travel there to experience it.
But what if you want to visit the land, without doing the traveling?
We live in the time of amazon.com, where well thought out book titles suggest that the solution to all our problems is just 50 pages away.
So I understand why people ask me for a book.
I even understand why at the end of a conversation or email exchange about how overwhelmed and burned-out someone is from all their empathic sponging, they’d prefer a book.
Heck, I would have prefered a book at the time when I was drowning in empath overwhelm.
And so there is never a right time. Or if the time is right, my guess is that you’d prefer spending that time on something else. Something more fun or comfortable.
It would be so nice to have a book that you can read and that just deals with all the empath overwhelm for you by giving you that one big aha that magically puts everything in the right perspective. In many ways, mental learning is just so much more comfortable.
Reading a book can also seem like a good preparation strategy: “I’ll read the book now, to get my bearings, and then I’ll decide whether I want or need to do anything more.”
Yet ultimately, there is no real way to ease into this new territory, just as there is no way to ease into any foreign land. You can pack your bag ahead of time, but unless you actually hit the road, nothing changes.
Back when I was struggling and looking for help with my empath gifts I was pretty desperate. I knew I couldn’t keep going like that, and sure enough, half a year later, I completely burned out. (meaning, I couldn’t go back to work, and eventually lost my job due to a lengthy sick-leave – talk about turning up the desperation heat another notch!)[so yeah, when someone tells me that they feel they can’t cope like this much longer, I get it! And I also have a vivid sense of how you may quite literally not be able to cope like that much longer]
Piecing together how the empath gift works, and how we can “reprogramme” it to take out the suffering, took me several years to put together. I read everything I could find, took any and every relevant workshop (psychotherapy group work, pranic healing, quantum touch, massage, shamanism, tai-chi – to name a few), enrolled in an alternative healing school: all to put together the pieces that would get this part of me to work in a positive way.
There was no single place where I found the answers. Sometimes a sentence in a book would give me an idea, sometimes a technique sparked an idea for a process that I could tweak. I was gathering bits and pieces from everywhere and anywhere to build a system of tools and approaches that was dependable and as simple as possible. I was my own labrat. If something worked, I wanted to know why. If something was hailed as the holy grail of grails, but it didn’t work for me, then I either tweaked it, or tossed it. This wasn’t a search for The Truth, it was a search for my truth.
In the end, it turned out that my truth was something that could help other empaths too, but that’s not how I started out creating this work. I wanted something that would give me the kind of life that I knew had to be possible. I relied a lot on my intuition, and I fumbled and fell a lot along the way.
Along the way, this work completely rewired my worldview.
I consider this worldview change a good thing.
Many clients tell me how this work is the “missing link” and so many things finally make sense. Not just “on paper” but also that they now have practical tools that bring noticeable change (their friends and family also notice positive differences in their overal mood, energy levels and ability to handle previously difficult situations).
So ofcourse it would be nice to read a book that has the answers and magically rewires your system (plug-and-play, yay!) but I know that it just doesn’t work that way. Hence, I’m not going to send you on a wild-book-chase. There’s no empath books I’d recommend.
For anyone wanting to go the route of shielding, and massage and visualisation and crystals and remedies etc etc. Yes, there are books. I’m sure you can find some that you like. They often have very nice pictures, seriously.
And if things aren’t so dire, those practices probably will help – at least somewhat.
But for someone looking for that core transformation that will teach you how to truly let go of the old sponging patterns (so that you don’t have to fight huge energy tides, but instead, find that the overwhelm oceans retreat naturally), I built the From Suffering Sponge to Sensitive Savant Programme.