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Dealing with the Challenges of Being an Empath (or highly sensitive)


Let me begin by saying I am not an empath. I am a catalyst, but I do have emapthic tendencies. The work here at Openhand draws plenty of empaths (and highly sensitive people) naturally, by the Law of Attraction. Perhaps then, there's something an empath can learn about their gift from a catalyst? (and of course vice versa). Perhaps there's something a catalyst naturally does, which is inherent to their nature, that an empath can develop inside themselves? And maybe this can make living in this complex and diverse world a whole lot easier? That's the purpose of this exploration which I invite you to join...

How the catalyst might help the empath

An empath is someone who can - and naturally does - take on the feelings and emotions of others as their own. It means they can literally feel what another is feeling. But this gift can sometimes become a helluva nightmare until it's properly developed. In taking on the emotions, thoughts and feelings of those around you, and society, you become awash with convoluted energy that can batter you around like a small sailing boat in a storm. It raises enormous levels of anxiety and fear, a near constant fight/flight mechanism, which can drive the empath to despair - even sometimes suicidal tendencies.

    But it needn't be like this. There is a solution.
    There is mastery of one's gift, of one's art.

I am a catalyst, but when I sit with people, where given to, I can literally feel what's going on inside their field. I can feel their blockages and know their karma like reading a book; I can see entities and implants. The field is awash with this density - people's fields are. And I can see that if I couldn't switch this gift off, then I could potentially take the world upon my shoulders, have it tidal wave through my emotions.

You have to be able to always find your vibe,
no matter what it going on.

The point is, I actually don't have to switch these feelings off - that just happens. It's like my consciousness hones in on what it's supposed to, works with it, but then literally drops it like the proverbial hot coals. Once more, I find myself resting in the purity of my own vibration. So maybe there's a clue here for an empath? If I could share how this works for me, then maybe it could help the catalysts divine complement - the empath?

Feeling into Blockages

Let's look at the beneficial nature of being an empath, or having empathic qualities, for a moment. Because to truly unleash beingness and shed distortion, is to express the truth in the distortion - you're activating the distortion because the soul is trying to break through an area of limitation.

    In having empathic tendencies as a spiritual catalyst, means that you can feel into and harmonise with the feelings of another - especially their density. In the Facilitator Work we do at Openhand, I get the group to practice expanding their field out to embrace their partner within, then to explore exactly what they're feeling.

Then, as the catalyst, you bring attention - energy - to the places you feel are blocked. You literally direct your focus to these places. And it helps also to direct the partner to those feelings. You can use intuitive questioning to explore why the blockage is there... "tell me what the word 'worthlessness' means to you?" for example. In this alchemical cauldron, merely the use of such a word, delivered intuitively, can be enough to spike an outburst, an unwinding, a release.

    It's like you're reaching inside your partner, harmonising with them, then resonating a frequency of realignment. The blockage unwinds and falls away, that blocked aspect of soul is reminded of itself; the soul then integrates; miraculous alchemical healing and transformation takes place.

None of this could have been possible without the empathic qualities. Paradoxically, a really good catalyst, also has really good empathic qualities.

The Canary in the Coalmine

But empaths have something much deeper than what a catalyst can truly express. They can take on all the nuances of another's energy, which could even be the planetary system such as Gaia for example. Such a gift has the capacity to manifest the unseen - that which is repressed and hidden from clear sight. By revealing the density in this way, means that people - such as catalysts - can begin to work with it.

    I've sat in many spiritual groups where somebody is sitting peacefully and in harmony, feeling very evolved, and yet the empath next to them is in emotional agony, expressing that which the other isn't yet willing or able to express.

That's why I often consider the empath like the proverbial canary in the coalmine. That's what makes their gift so valuable to the world and the evolving group. That's why we should cherish these people and their gifts and not see them as some kind of affliction.

Yet before they're developed, they can indeed manifest as the most terrible affliction - fear of the world, reclusiveness, hyper sensitivity, listlessness and directionlessness, lack of motivation, stress and anxiety.

So how to deal with these challenges?

I'd say the key lies in the reflection the catalyst can offer.

The vital importance of setting effective boundaries

A catalyst inherently sets boundaries effortlessly. For me, it just happens. You could sit me in the middle of an emotional hurricane, and I will still find my own vibration. So here's the first key - knowing your own vibration.

    You have to keep exploring your own vibration as much as possible and in your own space as much as possible - especially if you're in partnership - especially if you're in partnership with a catalyst (which by the Law of Attraction can tend to happen - opposites attract!).

So this will involve developing your own rituals and practices: your own spiritual practice like meditation, yoga or tai chi for example; what you eat, when you eat, what NOT to eat - you can easily override these boundaries with a partner when they're less effected by the 'microclimate'.

    Sensitivity is the key here. An empath is highly sensitive, and in order to centre in your vibration, you have to focus on the things that truly serve you and those that don't. Just because your loving partner 'gets off on something', and just because you feel a yearning to compromise behaviour, doesn't mean you should compromise your soul!

You see that's one of the other big hurdles for an empath to overcome - they have a highly active ray 4 - the diplomat aspect of the soul. They want to harmomise. But often overstretch the boundary so they dissolve into the other person's/people's vibration. And here's where the tragedy so easily begins.

You've got to embrace the sense of focus of the catalyst. Not close down on the world no. But just be really clear about your boundaries.

When you know your boundaries, then you can start to have a positive effect on the world through the field. Less and less, you stop being washed around by all the flotsam and jetsam. You become increasingly centred.

Then when an inflow of negative energy begins to invade you, you can work with it. How?

Assert yourself: breathe in, impart your energy, breathe out

The best way I have witnessed, is to breathe it in and relax, hold the breath, radiate it with light, then breathe it back out again, in the direction from whence it came.

    You're accepting the energy, feeling into it, but being really clear it's not you. Then having a positive impact on it, by bringing your soul vibe to it, before breathing that back out again.

You're not rejecting your gift in this way. But neither are you getting lost in the external vibration. You're having a positive influence on it by asserting yourself. And in asserting yourself - your highest vibration of truth, love and light - then you're breathing that back out into the world and having a positive impact on it.

    There will be places where this incoming energy gets stuck first though - it happens where there's (understandably, subtle judgment of the energy). Maybe slightly veiling your incredible discernment of the energy, is subtle judgment of the impact it has on you? This is where there might be some reaction to the world by an unrealised aspect of your soul. This is what you'll first have to work with, by softening into the contractions you feel - the reactions. But softening into them doesn't mean accepting them as you. It means surrendering to the truth of them, but then working to release them - by bringing light into them in the way I've described.

So feel your contractions, soften into them, unwind them, become as One in them, and then allow your higher self to infuse them with your own higher vibe. Then release them back out into the world from whence they came.

    You might also have to raise the warrior in this experience, especially if the energy is particularly dense and clingy. I know this part is not always easy for a sensitive empath, but you have to be clear about your own vibe, the importance that you stand assertively in your own truth.

Keep developing the Gift

I welcome the involvement of empaths in the Openhand healing work. It's an amazing gift you have. We've been blessed thus far that so many of you have found your way to our shores. Long may it continue.

    Remember to look at the reflection your divine counterpart - the spiritual catalyst - might be able to offer. The universe put us together for a reason!

Hopefully, this approach might help ease and integrate the wonderous gift that you empaths embody. I feel for you. My heart goes out to you. I encourage you to master your gift for the good of all people in these challenging times. You are truly special.


(on behalf of Openhand)
(Publishers - please publish with links intact and the Openhand brief biog. Thankyou <3)

About Openhand
Openhand is a unique approach to spiritual evolution: integrating enlightened wisdom of spiritual masters through the ages, it is a way of tapping into the Benevolent Guiding Consciousness of the Universe and aligning with it in your life. It helps you unveil your True Self, remove karmic blockages and unfold your Divine Destiny. It leads to authentic, resilient and truly successful living.
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Thanks Open, insightful!
I can't relate very well - I say with much respect. My guidance in this sense has been to drop any notion of 'being an empath' or to see it as a gift. 'Just be'. It calls for some deep level of surrender and that's all it requires from a mental exploratory perspective- for me on this journey. Boundaries are being continually pushed to broken down and that's been the greatest thing. What is liberation if we are all creating shields and hiding in the corners? (I see you are not advising this ) Doesn't seem like a fun journey - can't we turn this on it's head and see that we are urged to develop some deep inner alchemy that works continually and in the deepest of 'overloads' isn't that the journey? If the furnace is on then the rest is mind stuff and subtle judgement getting in the way?

And I see here that these pointers are great and invaluable - and will no doubt help many but I do find it hard to relate. Probably because there's a configuration here that can't grasp it? I don't know?

I do honestly tire a little at reading how empaths are all so drained - and fighting off everyone else's stuff, just doesn't feel ok. And so everyone else is treading on egg shells round them? I've not enjoyed witnessing people do that around me, thankfully that's stopped :)) I thought maybe I shouldn't share what I feel about this but it's just another perspective. I feel like there needs to be a change if script around this?

With loads of gratitude k x

Jean-Michel.'s picture

Thank you Open again for the important insights u have described in this article about the Empaths and it`s divine counterpart the Spiritual Catalyst .
I am very aware of being a deep empath for many years . This powerful gift has certainly not been easy to use at its full potential - it needs more mastery , that`s certain . On the other side , it has brought incredible understanding of the human nature / the path to follow / feeling deep resonance with Mother Gaia and nature / and the development of psychic abilities . To protect myself from very heavy densities , people and places has often been a challenge . I still see that i do pick up from others lower vibrations at times , less than years ago . I still do often feel the need to take a shower to release any densities left or breathing exercices . Its getting more balanced with maturity and the years of practices . I will surely do the exercices explained above - i love its preciseness and trust it`s efficiency .
I came also to realize that there is some aspect of the catalyst within as well - it`s exploration is very interesting and has been very useful this year . Both have somehow worked together at times in a magical way and offers a new perspective on those formidable Soul gifts . My dear wish is to use them to work with people in a near future - A knowing is constantly reminding me of this inevitable path yet to unfold .
Much love ,

Open's picture

Thanks for the resonance Jean Ok

Katie, go for it girl, absolutely nothing like putting the cat amongst the pigeons! Smile

You said...

    Can't we turn this on it's head and see that we are urged to develop some deep inner alchemy that works continually and in the deepest of 'overloads' isn't that the journey? If the furnace is on then the rest is mind stuff and subtle judgement getting in the way?

Woohoo! True Openhand style.

But there is a slight catch maybe - are you not a catalyst too? (I mean aswell as an empath). I strongly sense that you are - then maybe there's less of a problem in blazing the furnace?

With some though, they get battered around with emotional flotsam, and the furnace gets waterlogged too. So a little firing might be necessary.

I think that was the main point really.

But the warrior in me, sees the warrior in you.

Open Ok

Jetster's picture

I feel I am a Catalyst more than an Empath, recently looking back on world events with some of your Intuitive guidance I realized this now; but I have sooooo much work to Hone my skill set, I am at the very tip and beginning of discovering all of this. It feels like I am at the commencement of sharpening a dull knife Smile

Cheers Smile

Heather M's picture

Open this is so timely as always. Wow – what an exciting journey of self-discovery. I recognise the empath within and your description of the energy that can “batter you around like a small sailing boat in a storm” really fits. I understand my learning needs as it is difficult sometimes to recognise which emotions, pain and fear are my own or others. The mental exhaustion and fog that can follow a ‘normal’ working day or a simple trip into a supermarket can be debilitating, equally the confusion that can arise when I enter the Tor for example and experience a sense of fear. So knowing my own vibration and being able to set boundaries is clearly key for me. It is often difficult for me to connect to my own soul, which emphasises the sense of separation if that makes sense? Yet somehow, it is exciting and joyful with that ‘knowing’ that I am moving forward. As Carl Sagan said, “I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.” Awesome!

OK - thanks Open, I get that 'catch' that makes the difference. I can feel the catalyst arising, I'm thankful. But not forgetting that I've been bought to the threshold of energetic overload too at times - but by testing yourself and getting the encouragement to throw yourself into highly energised environments - there's the potential to unleash something new - right? ok over and out and big love from Kiama Smile

Thanks for this awesome article! So many key things that I can relate to!!

For one I feel it is so important, if one is sensitive to get clear on what it means to push the boundaries. In the past there was a resistance within myself to honor the individual expression and so there was this willingness to always let down all the boundaries that might serve to separate 'this' from 'that'. There was a misunderstanding that pushing boundaries meant to also let go of any sense of the separate self. It's become clear over the last several years how important honoring the unique expression and centering in my own vibration then allows me to be in any circumstance and push the boundaries of conditioning, but not the boundaries of my own vibration... To feel centered in my own feeling no matter what is happening. Something in the words "but not the boundaries of my own vibration" is not feeling right to me though... Like there could be a limiting potential in holding on to how one's own vibration feels.

I can relate with the feelings you list here of feeling directionless, anxiety, fight or flight, lack of motivation. There is such a natural urge within to join with the other, to blend and kind of swim alongside each other, but when I am not centered in my own feeling I actually lose total site of what feels right for me... There becomes no preferences... I can have whatever, I can do whatever. We can go wherever because on one level, it really is true, I don't really need to make it go one way or another, but the point would be what am I truly feeling inside and when I am so overly blended with another I can't feel myself at all which of course feels directionless and unmotivating as well as stressful as you are riding on the waves of the externals without a true center.

So yes Kd1 I totally resonate with what you share here:
"If the furnace is on then the rest is mind stuff and subtle judgement getting in the way?"

The key for me at least was even recognizing my own furnace. It was very much like ohhhh! Here I am! And now as you said Open "embrace the sense of focus" - focus within on my own inner furnace and then the rest now feels entirely different.

I would also like to mention that there is also the other side of feeling others energy as your own... I have been realizing that at times I am around people whose energy feels great, uplifting and powerful. I am recognizing the tendency to "wear" it as mine rather than feel it as a mirror and tune into how my own vibration feels in their presence. It's easier to feel motivated to stay in your own energy when things are heavy - but there is also the dependency that can grow from needing to be around certain people to feel a vibe within yourself.

Thank you so much Open for bringing light to these experiences!

Thank you Open for a very enlightening article which really resonates with me. I have for many years taken on the feelings and energy of other people and find it very difficult to set boundaries. This has led me to being very drained in the company of certain people especially a life long friend who as you say "opposites attract," . I feel that there is an enormous "block" on my life and I can't seem to break through and find my "life purpose" so I just retreat into my own bubble where I constantly search for answers that will remove the block and lead me to that sense of purpose.. Strangely I am never more happier and content than when I am alone with my thoughts. But understand this can't be healthy retreating from the world back into my shell. I know that I am on the right path and will breakthrough in time but it can be quite painful at times not living in the "real world".
Thank you again for your insights and your help along the path.:)

Open's picture

Hi Gamble,

Yes I know it's tough sometimes when you have empathic tendencies - my thoughts are with you <3

You said...

    "I feel that there is an enormous "block" on my life and I can't seem to break through and find my "life purpose" so I just retreat into my own bubble where I constantly search for answers that will remove the block and lead me to that sense of purpose.

In the Openhand Approach, life's purpose is not something we're supposed to do. It's finding your authentic way of being, upon which, a path of light unfolds before you.

I'd say mastery of your empathic skills is going to be a significant part of your purpose. From which, everything will flow.



Open thank you for this insight it has helped further my understanding and I do believe I am starting to live my authentic way of being. However The path of light unfolding before me is where I am struggling. I suppose I have to further surrender to what is and let life take its course? I hope to join you again sometime again in 2016. I have attended your Gateway 1 teachings a few years ago . Any thoughts on the next step would be appreciated.
Thank you again for your teachings and guidance.

Open's picture

Hi Graham,

The path is all about commitment and trust. You're asked to let go of trying to shape and control events. You're asked to trust in the step you're being guided to, without knowing whether you'll get it 'right' or how it will unfold. That's the trust!

In taking such steps - as guided by the soul - you'll start to react/respond to the situation life then puts you in. In this approach, you're always looking for the tightness it creates, then to unwind through that unleashing the lightness of your being - the path then chooses itself.

But it'll only choose itself because you unleashed the lightness of being.

We get into this in great detail on the 5GATEWAYS retreat (which is to become our new level 2).

This video gives an insight into what we're talking about...



Thank you Open. That is of tremendous help.
Hopefully see you and Trinity next year

Ben's picture

Hi Jen

I was resonating with a lot of what you said.
One thing I found interesting that you wondered - "Like there could be a limiting potential in holding on to how one's own vibration feels". I think its one to bear in mind that I'd not really thought of. I understand why you'd say that, that to see yourself as a fixed/boundaried vibration might limit you from reaching out beyond that and expanding. I imagine there's a point at which if you identify with that vibration then it limits you, yet it still feels real and valid. So I think the 'key' is in not "holding on", yet its tricky not to if you're trying to attune more to that energy. I think as one of the challenges is to bring one's own vibration through around louder energies, until you are really stable in that and 'know yourself' - which obviously doesn't mean 'thinking yourself' (e.g. living out ideas of yourself, patterns, wants etc), perhaps a degree of 'holding on' (identifying) is necessary. Its like perhaps you're trying to reach right through to Presence without recognising that Presence is experienced in (or in relation to) relativity, and to indivuality in a sense. Don't know if that makes sense, just think it'd be a bit pointless if you don't feel/express your own essence. and if you feel overwhelmed by others energies then its worth working to amplify that (you). plus feels good.


Hi Ben,

Thank you for the reflection- it is so appreciated. Yes there is this bit of resistance within around the fixation on ones felt vibration. I suppose it is the same as honoring ones individual unique expression, yet not being identified with it. The question that comes up for me relates to a perceived boundary between feeling ones own vibration and Pure Presence...perhaps it is just that there is for me still identification with the feeling as who I am, rather than the sense of nothing through it and I trust this unfolds naturally as we walk the path. For now attuning to my own vibe feels key. Thanks Ben!

With love,