7 kinds of Energy Ick that can drive you nuts when you’re Highly Sensitive and Intuitive

by Caroline van Kimmenade

Nobody likes ick, am I right? But when you’re highly sensitive and intuitively aware of subtle energy, you will be confronted with energy ick on top of regular human ick. The problem is, nobody is (probably) telling you about it or what it is. So chances are you feel kind of crazy even daring to think that it might be real.

I wrote this article to validate and help you start distinguish between the things you may be picking up on. Yes it’s real and no you’re not crazy.

Your Energy Ick Radar

If you’re clued in to your body, your solar plexus (stomach area) will try to tell you when something is off. Yet, just like getting into the cabin of a high-tech truck is confusing for newbies (something’s blinking, what are all these dials, I see a number??), your own intuition is complex too. Yes, if you dare trust what you’re feeling, it sure seems like something is off. But what exactly is off and what do you do about it?

Unfortunately, there are many kinds of energy ick. For those who thought improving their intuition would allow them to hear the angels play harp all the time, I have some bad news. Your intuition is there to guide you to what is joyful, yes. Yet in order to do that, it also has to tell you about everything that is messed up and that needs addressing.

Yet to get to that point of actually addressing things is quite the journey! For one, even for people who are interested in woo-woo topics it’s often hard to take it seriously. Seriously as in: this could be affecting your day to day life way more than you think. I’ve had many clients over the years who would tell me that they had no idea how much all of this energetic ick was affecting them, until they started learning more about what they were intuitively picking up – and how to address that.

The ick – why oh why? 😭 😭 😭

Before I get into the different kinds of energy ick that are – unfortunately – quite common, we need to make a little detour into why there is so much energy ick in the first place. This is because the why and the what are pretty much the same thing. Understanding why energy ick exists makes it easier to understand the different kinds.

As Forrest Gump might put it: “ick is as ick does mam”

Energy ick is in many ways the result of real issues that are being ignored or shunned. How issues are handled, what is done, determines the kind of ick that does or doesn’t form.

“I don’t believe in it, so it can’t touch me”

When folks don’t really take energetic ick seriously, they tend to either assume it doesn’t truly exist at all and it’s just a figure of speech, or it does exist, but it’s safely locked away in some separate reality. Something like Netflix: you can watch it and it’s entertaining, but it has nothing to do with your real life.

In reality though, energetic ick is a part of everyone’s life, but people differ in their sensitivity, and hence their awareness of it. Just because some folks don’t notice it at all, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them though!

Energetic ick is there because we live in a society that pushes much of what is going on away, to ignore what is uncomfortable and keep going. It doesn’t have to be this way. Yet the reason there is so much energetic ick, is because of the mainstream attitude we’re all encouraged to have.

Energetic ick is a like a trash dump site. The inconvenient leftovers that need to go somewhere, but that nobody really knows what to do with except pile it on one big heap.

The world we live in encourages energy ick

Wait, we live in a world that encourages energetic ick? Why would I say that? Well, because we live in a world that sweeps many things under the carpet, creates many elephants in many rooms, hides various heads in various deserts, beaches and other sandy places and has lots of superstition but little real knowledge about energy phenomena.

In a way, energetic ick is the subconscious shadow of the things our society actively acknowledges and puts a spotlight on.

Since that spotlight is shining on just a few key things, the shadow is very big.

We live in a world that prioritizes both rational thought and getting things done over pretty much everything else. Makes sense right?

If you’re an intuitive person then you probably worry (at least sometimes) about being crazy, while you try your hardest to make sense to others. Meanwhile, you worry about all the ways that your life is not one straight and efficient get-it-done line.

That’s because you’re comparing the realities of your life, to society’s ideal.

In many ways, the archetype of the navy seal is our society’s ideal:


No, not like that. I apologize for my brain.

Let’s try that again:


It’s an ideal that is unattainable for most, but still an ideal. The height of rationality and getting things done (using rational thought, muscle power and technological advances).

Yet, having spoken with plenty of sensitive adults who have military dads, I’ve heard countless stories about how the navy seal archetype comes at a huge price. The only way you can keep on going the way a navy seal does is if you stuff your feelings away deep inside. Not just at work, but also at home.

A lack of contact with your own feelings, creates a lack of empathy. A lack of connection. A lack of feeling seen and a lack of seeing others for who they are. When feelings are not allowed to exist, this creates many social problems.

There are plenty of people who think this doesn’t matter.

For one, there are the people who think that feelings, subtle energy and intuition is just weirdo b.s. and that if you can’t see it, or at the very least scientifically prove it, it doesn’t exist. For them, rational thought is all that should exist, and good riddance of everything else!

However, there is also a large group of intuitively-minded folks who – while believing intuition is important – believe that intuition is a third eye affair and that feelings don’t come into it. In this take on intuition the focus is on what you see and know. Seeing and knowing things is also considered to be a “higher” kind of knowledge than other forms of intuitive sensing.

What these folks don’t understand is that a finely – and correctly – tuned intuition is all about understanding and feeling all your feelings as well. Without that, there is too big of a risk of confusing the mind (and its endless ideas, fears and judgments) with true intuition.

(article continues below video)

video: What Strong Intuition is Really Like || HSPs and Empaths

We’re talking about being holistic, not hole-istic

Hole-istic approaches are straightforward and rational. Hole-istic approaches are very popular! For one, they are easier to explain, with simple hard and fast rules. No complexity, no “it depends”, no inner balance necessary. “Just: I see yellow in their aura, that means they think too much!” It’s a paint by numbers approach to intuition.

In a hole-istic approach the only thing that really matters is thinking rationally or – in the case of intuition – using your third eye. The rest of the body is just a big hole where some organs are doing whatever they are doing.

Where the military has Navy Seals, many spiritual communities have Navy Seeing: “Keep it rational. Engage your third eye only. Emotions are for unspiritual people.”

(reminder: “Love and Light” are not emotions!)

The Price of Rationality

The price we all pay in a society that prioritizes rationality over everything else is that we learn:

  • my feelings are not important
  • I can’t trust myself (because I’m too strange, sensitive, emotional etc.)
  • if it doesn’t make perfect rational sense, it must be wrong
  • I have to do more to be valuable
  • emotions are just annoying things getting in the way of my work

Oh no, it’s everywhere!

It’s not just daily life that is affected by navy seal and navy seer thinking. Much “therapeutic” work is too. The current dogma is that your thoughts create your emotions, and your emotions your actions. In other words, your thinking reigns supreme and is the only thing you need to concern yourself with. If you just fix your thinking – to be more rational and productive – then all else will follow.

Same thing goes for many Law of Attraction teachings. There are some that include the importance of feelings, but many just go all-in on vision boards, mantras, positive thinking and trying to boss the universe around.

Do you see how this overtly and covertly perpetuates the navy seal archetype?

There is a reason “mindset” is the generally accepted inner work you “should” do. Just work on your mindset and all else will sort itself out! (And while this is definitely a good starting point if your mindset is like a flock of yapping vultures…


…all in all, it’s not that simple! More on that in the video below)

(article continues below video)

video: How to Heal Trauma – especially when you’re sensitive and working on mindset disappoints

The Price of Rationality and Productivity

As intuitive kids in military families tend to discover, all this rationality and toughness and productivity comes with all kinds of elephants in the room. I’m not saying the navy seal archetype is bad, what I am saying is that it is very one-sided. If you are a sensitive and intuitive person, the navy seal archetype will crush, invalidate and ridicule everything that is effective and on-point about you.

After all, there are different ways to be effective and on-point aren’t there? In a military operation, it might be building a temporary bridge in an efficient and stealth way. In the land of sensitivity and intuition, being effective and on-point is different. It can be:

  • the school counselor who notices the kid that isn’t o.k. (when nobody else sees that)
  • the therapist who feels their client is covering one emotion with another and who guides their client to dig down deeper to what is really causing all the stress
  • the teacher who can intuit how to explain things to kids who each think very differently
  • the writer who moves some chapters around without quite knowing why until they hit upon the perfect ending sequence
  • the massage therapist who can sense exactly how and where someone needs to be touched
  • the project manager who needs to interview 50 people to find the one right person for the job
  • the mom who has amazing timing and seems to know just when her kids need her
  • the athlete who can pick up how to do movements simply by observing and imaginatively feeling into what someone is demonstrating
  • the artist who keeps tweaking their work until it feels right
  • the chef who cooks without recipes

In other words, there is a time and place for the navy seal archetype, but it’s unhealthy to have it be THE model we’re all supposed to aspire to. More than that, there are plenty of things navy seals are terrible at precisely because of what they prioritize and how they deal with situations.

How does all this relate to energy ick?

The energy ick in our society is the collection of:

  • all the paranormal occurrences that are ridiculed, ignored and not dealt with
  • all the emotions that are suppressed (and then tend to leak out in all kinds of icky ways)
  • all the inner conflicts people have that lead to pretending and denying
  • all the fears about what we’re too afraid to acknowledge and discuss openly
  • and all the egoic fantasies that bulldoze reality for the sake of putting in a Perfectly Pleasant Fantasy Shrubbery.


It’s precisely because our collective “go to attitude” is try harder to be rational and productive that there is so much energetic ick. Ick that you start to notice when you begin to take your intuition more seriously.

Let’s go through these kinds of ick one by one. (finally!)

Energy Ick 1: Inner conflicts

Everyone has some inner conflicts.

Inner conflicts arise when one part of you wants and believes one thing, and another part of you wants and believes something else. No, I am not talking about Multiple Personalities Disorder!

Your insides are layered and unfortunately, the more you expect yourself to be perfectly rational, the less in touch you will be with this inner diversity.


The drive to be super rational all the time creates an attitude where conflicting emotions and intuitions are not allowed. And what tends to happen to things that are not allowed? They create their own secret subculture. Or build their own maffia network.

Our inner selves are no different. The more you expect yourself to be a perfectly explainable and perfectly rational robot human, the more your insides will gather together into some kind of mob.

Now, just like with the regular mob, that inner mob is a source of chaos and mayhem. In other words, energetic ick. Someone may be keeping themselves perfectly “in line” on the surface, but you can be sure that deep inside, all kinds of conflicts are brewing. These conflicts tend to look for other outlets. Since these feelings and drives and motivations are not overtly acknowledged, they will show up and express themselves energetically.

When you are sensitive to energy, you may feel that energetic mayhem. Even though someone is perfectly pleasant superficially, it doesn’t feel good to be around them. Maybe having this person on your team at work somehow leads to a lot of frustration and chaos, even though they are well-behaved and polite.

You might recognize this as the non-violent communication trainer who says all the right things while fire is shooting from their eyes. You can’t quite prove it, but it’s subtly tangible in a very disturbing way.


In helping clients decipher their intuition and lower their stress levels, solve life problems and understand what the heck is happening and why, I do a lot of guided meditations to help sensitive people connect with those diverse inner parts and get them to all ‘play for the same team’ (meaning, you!).

Life feels chaotic and overwhelming when there is inner, misunderstood conflict. Bringing those inner parts into alignment naturally, helps bring your life into alignment too. In doing that work clients are often surprised at their own wisdom, just waiting in the wings!

Unfortunately, the number of people willing to do this kind of work is quite small. As a result, most people you meet will just push all their inner conflicts down and muscle through so that they can be rational and effective. Then – while they’re busy being model citizens – what happens is they start to project their deeply buried inner conflict onto others.

An Anger Example of Inner Conflict

For example, someone who is very out of touch with their own anger, may believe that they are very intuitive about knowing if someone else is angry.

That anger that they don’t see in themselves, they see it in others, all the time.

If they’re very full of themselves, they’ll walk around telling everyone around them to not be so angry all the time. If they’re less cocky, they may constantly worry about why everyone is angry at them all the time… The reality is though that their own anger is trying to get their attention in this roundabout way.

After a while, the people around them will start to notice this pattern “oh yes, he thinks everyone is angry all the time but actually, he doesn’t realize the way he’s constantly snapping and glaring at us.” After a while, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, people around this person probably do get fed up and prickly when he is around!

Anger is a very judged emotion, especially in spiritually-minded circles. There are many many many people out there who are terrified of and out of touch with their anger. This can lead to projecting those emotions onto others, and it can also lead to emotional leaks.

Related article: Are Negative Emotions Bad for Your Health?

Energy Ick 2: Emotional Leaks

Think of emotions as water. They are constantly on the move, looking for a way down the mountain. When we push them down into a cave and try to stop our feelings existing, there can come a point when those feelings start to find their own way “out”.

When someone doesn’t consciously process their anger for example, this can lead to the anger ‘leaking out’ energetically. Unfortunately, many sensitive people who are out of touch with their true feelings do this! They have so much built up fear and judgment about their own repressed feelings that instead of owning and feeling them, they very much want to get rid of them.

Since they don’t allow this energy of e.g. anger to move and exist inside of them, they end up “leaking it” to the people around them. This leads to very confusing and frustrating situations where someone will – in their mind – be all love and light, but in reality, they are spewing fire all around!

The tricky thing about this though is that there are different things happening at different levels. There are the conscious words someone says – which may be very very kind. Yet then there is also the subtle energy that they exude and this can spell a very different message.

Subtle energy takes practice to notice and understand. So all you may be left with initially is a sense that something about this person isn’t right, isn’t 100% honest, but you can’t quite identify how or why.

Clients who experience this kind of energy leaking at them often describe it as a kind of gut punch. Obviously, this is very confusing! You might be having a perfectly pleasant conversation with someone, but at the same time, you have this subtle yet intense sensation of being punched in the gut.

Energy Ick 3: Emotions as Weapons

While there are plenty of people who leak their emotions without realizing, there are also folks who semi-consciously use their emotions as weapons.

There’s a scene in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie where both women are discussing dealing with difficult feelings. Grace says something along the lines of: “I just save up all my anger and throw it at people!”.

If you’ve watched the series, you’ll know that the character of Grace is very much the “rational and effective” type. I thought it very interesting that the writers put in this scene acknowledging that there are in fact people who throw their energy at others and that they know they do it, and they keep doing it because it effectively intimidates others and makes themselves feel better.


Along those same lines I received a disturbing email from a young man a few years ago. He described how he’d always kept his feelings “in” but he was discovering now how good it felt to just blast his feelings at people. He seemed to think it was a kind of spiritual breakthrough (instead of the subtly abusive behavior it truly is!).

(I’m not saying you should never hurl an ugly insult at anyone. I’m not saying you should always take the high road. But as an emotion-management strategy in general, unleashing is a big no no. For detailed tips and strategies on how to handle emotional energy well, dive into the “difficult emotions made easier” resources in the Happy Sensitive Library here.)

So, long story short, while some folks leak emotional energy without realizing or intending to, there are also people who spread around energetic ick on purpose because it makes them feel better, they can get away with it, and it intimidates other people into doing what they want.

If you’ve never been blasted with someone’s hatred or blame energetically, I can tell you it leaves you shaken, confused and scared. All the while, the “blaster” can maintain that they didn’t “do” anything, because the ick was invisible and impossible to prove to anyone else.

(Which is why I teach my clients energy strategies for dealing with these kinds of issues hands-on. No impossible conversations necessary)

Energy Ick 4: Paranormal Ick

You’ve seen the scary movies. Most of them contain just a kernel of truth, and lots and lots of drama that is not accurate. However, there are plenty of things that do in fact go bump in the night.


There are places that have heavy, dark creepy energy from collective unresolved trauma.

There are all kinds of energy beings that “any sane rational person” would “of course” poohpooh away as ridiculous superstition.

All those monsters underneath the bed are not real of course, except that there are plenty of kids who can sense actual ghosts. They just don’t know what it is and let’s just say that while most ghosts are technically harmless, they do not make for pleasant company.

There is in actual fact a whole host of energy phenomena and beings that you may or may not sense. When you sense them though, it can be incredibly creepy, especially when you don’t know what it is or what to do about it.

(There are things that can be done about any beings that are truly icky, but as with all things, you need to know what you’re doing. I’ve heard too many amateur psychics proclaim that they had the solution for something when in actual fact, they didn’t see the problem for what it was).

If you’re a sensitive person and you had a lot of fears about all kinds of monsters in your room as a kid, chances are, there actually was something there. Probably not an actual monster – I haven’t come across those in all my years of learning about the wondrous world of energy – but likely something that, were you to come to me with it, I would clear out in one way or another and acknowledge as real.

Energy Ick 5: The Big Fantasies

To be clear, there is truth to the Law of Attraction. However, it’s not some kind of trick to get what you want. In reality, all of what and who you are, all your conscious and subconscious desires, emotions, thoughts and feelings play a role in what you create and attract in your life.

It’s cute that your mind gets up to stand in front of the impressive powerpoint to tell the rest of you what to “attract”, but it’s not that simple.

While you may get busy trying to consciously create one thing, your hidden fears and shadows are also creating things 24/7. The healthy way to deal with that is observe. Learn to observe what is happening in your life, develop more compassion for yourself, and learn to be present with and heal whatever surfaces – no matter how unexpected.

The unhealthy way however – which is much more popular – creates a lot of energy ick.

Big Fantasy Example 1:

I was on an online zoom group call once, taught by a lady who proclaimed herself a master in freedom and abundance. She showed up way late (half an hour or so) for class due to technical issues on her end (she was constantly traveling – because: freedom – and having tech issues galore as a result) and then spent about 20 more minutes fretting out loud about everything that had gone wrong. What followed after that was one of the most bizarre “vibes” I’ve ever experienced from someone.

On the surface, she was sending out thoughts like ‘I am abundant’ and ‘I deserve good things’ but also ‘everyone has to give me what I want’. Meanwhile, emotionally, she was sending out of waves of worthlessness, blame and depression.

While she was so busy telling the universe how great her life was and should be, her emotional vibe was the complete opposite. Oh, and she was subtly bullying and manipulating people.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you’re afraid to be honest about where you’re truly at. The fantasies about who and what you should be may trick the mind into believing you made it, but what you actually send out into the world is a jumbled conflict of everything you’re desperately trying to avoid, suppress and get rid of.

Big Fantasy Example 2:

A less complex example of this was a man I once sat next to in a local energy healing class. He was very convinced that he was a very calm and serene person. He loved to talk about how zen he was in fact! Yet sitting next to him, I’ve rarely felt so anxious around anyone!

As it turned out, his emotional state was one of massive anxiety, but he tried to “override” those feelings in his mind by putting the thought “I am calm” on repeat.

By having his attention in his head only, and ignoring his body, he tricked himself into believing he was calm when in reality, he wasn’t and he was beaming out lots of energetic ick.

Energy Ick 6: Energetically Loud and Dominant People

Just like people can be physically loud and dominant, some are very good at being energetically loud and dominant. I know, it’s an odd phenomenon.

When someone is physically dominant they’ll tend to stand way too close to you (to intimidate). When someone is energetically dominant they will tend to get energetically close. This means they either expand their aura to take up their own space and much of yours as well or they kind of fly out of their own space into the spaces of other people.

In other words, you find yourself feeling “backed into a corner”, but it could be happening while the other person is literally – physically – across the room from you. Very confusing when you don’t know what this is or how to check for it!

Some nuance to make things more complicated: sometimes people who seem to fit this category just have a strong presence. They’re not actually trespassing, their energy boundaries are healthy and they are not butting into your space in any way, but they are just very convinced of themselves.

This latter phenomenon is not a bad thing at all per se, yet for those who are anxious and insecure and easily feel intimidated, this kind of inner strength is easy to confuse with the energetic “closeness” that is backing you into a very real, yet subtle energetic corner.

Energy Ick 7: The Burden of Telepathy and Clairaudience

There is a scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she temporarily is able to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Think that’s cool?

Think again and watch the scene:

There are many things about this scene that are on point:

  • It’s disturbing to hear what others really think. For one, it’s just too much info.
  • Some people say what they think, some say the opposite, how do you respond?
  • 99% of the time it’s not fun to pick up on men’s sexual fantasies in any way, because – from a woman’s perspective – many of them are disrespectful, violent and/or disturbing. (I teach some of my clients who pick up on this a specific technique to deal, because it’s no fun hearing/seeing/sensing porn universe, especially when you’re cast as a character in it!)

For the caring, sensitive folks out there, telepathy and clairaudience can drastically increase your sense of responsibility and daily burdens. You may feel that since you know about something, now you’re responsible for helping in one way or another. Meanwhile, you can get hurt by all the things people are not saying but are thinking very loudly. I mean, one of the reasons they’re not saying it out loud is probably because they know it’s not a nice thing to say.

Some definitions: clair-audience is the ability to hear energy. Telepathy is the ability to have some kind of mental communication with others that is unspoken. This can be one-way or two-way.

If you clair-audiently pick up on something then you’d actually hear the sound of the words. If you telepathically pick up on something then you may hear the sounds (clairaudience) but it’s also possible to just “have a thought” that isn’t yours. What that means is that the information is processed in your system in the same way your own thoughts are, so it is the same experience, except the content of it may tip you off that this is coming from elsewhere.

This is one of the reasons telepathy is more complicated to deal with than clairaudience by the way. At least when you suddenly hear something, it catches your attention, while telepathic thoughts just slip in and mingle with your own thoughts, potentially unrecognized.

The above are just some examples of the many different kinds of energetic ick. If you’ve read this far, chances are you believe me. Yet I know there are many many people who think this whole article is total b.s. and there is nothing I can do or say to convince them otherwise.

Share to spread the happy sensitive inspiration
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on google
Share on pinterest
Share on print

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: