I’m an empath, and I think I’ve known that since I was in elementary school. I remember walking through Wal-Mart with my mom, you know, just being a kid, and we walked down an aisle meeting another child, around my same age who was disabled. I immediately melted into tears. And while, I didn’t understand it at the time, I eventually realized that I have the unique ability to deeply feel energy and emotions, good and bad.
Growing up solitude was my best friend. While most people would consider me to be pretty popular, I really didn’t say much and my friends list was pretty much non-existent. Although “loner,” has so many bad connotations, I was okay with doing my own thing.
In college, the perception was that I thought I was “better than everyone else,” but really, it all circled back to needing the space that I subconsciously understood was important to be operating at 100 percent. Most days it left me internally screaming, “Why am I like this?!?!”
Accepting the accusations that I was anti-social didn’t happen without some age under my belt. I continued to keep my circle small and avoided large gatherings unless I absolutely had to be there.
Although challenging, working in public relations helped me grasp this phenomena a little bit more, but launching Black Girls RUN! truly helped me uncover what was really going on.
After events or meet and greets, I’d leave feeling completely exhausted and depleted. It was literally as if all of my life force had been sucked out of my entire being. After a few days of rest and deep sleep, I’d feel back to normal, but at the height of our growth, the frequency of events and appearances increased so much that some weeks (and months) I was never able to really re-charge.
And then one day, I had an “ah ha” moment. My personal energy levels were directly influenced by the amount of external stimulation I experienced from situations and people.
I started to become even more aware of how I felt after leaving certain situations or being around people. But even more importantly, I started to make subtle shifts, eliminating circumstances and people that tended to drain my physical and mental energy.
Have you ever met someone and you were immediately turned off, but not sure why? Or have you walked in a room and immediately felt overwhelmed, trying to find the first excuse to escape?
This is your internal wisdom telling you to run! If only we would listen to that voice a little more.
But it’s more than tuning into the people or things that are energy suckers. Could it possibly be key to your success?
The article, Why Is It So Hard for Women to Be Selfish?, suggests that protecting yourself of these energy suckers is the major key to being successful. The author says,
I have always believed in adopting a giving attitude toward relationships. Never keep score. Expect the ebb and flow of changing life circumstances. But, especially during life’s most taxing periods, you must get a return on your investment in order to stay sane. As the saying goes, “Givers must set limits, because takers rarely do.”
It all comes down to setting limits and boundaries. Knowing when to give, but being honest about giving too much. When you can put in those few extra hours of work, or when you need to end the work day early. When you need to pass on a night out with your friends and when you should give yourself a day to do absolutely nothing but sit on the couch with a good movie.
It’s putting yourself first…..always.
Toni Carey is the founder of Keeping Balanced, a place where women can learn how to keep it all together, while living their best life possible. When she's not writing, you can find her running or practicing yoga in and around Washington, D.C.