Nature is Where My Soul is Happiest

One characteristic of an empath is that we take comfort in nature. This describes me more than some people will ever realize. I can go into nature by myself and not need anything. I could wander for hours simply taking in the nature around me. I love stepping out of a vehicle into the forest or hiking up to a waterfall. I could drive through the mountains for days and be happy listening to the birds and other sounds. Not only does me time recharge me, but time in nature does as well.

Nature is a place where life is typically abundant. There is much more than what meets the eye. If there was a way to simply and comfortably lay on the ground for hours and listen to everything, I would do it. But, for me, it is much more work to be comfortable laying around in nature. That work is one thousand percent worth it.

Every time we go offroading in the mountains or take the trailer out to the remote areas of the mountains, I am recharged, even if I get annoyed about things not being setup right or asshats leaving ash all around the fire pit.

For me, nature takes many forms of recharging me. Simply pulling weeds in my grass or tending to my flower gardens is nature enough for some days. But my happiest place in nature is in the mountains with the fewest mosquitoes and some kind of creek or water nearby. When people talk doomsday and what they would do, my mind always goes to the most remote parts of the mountains.

If taking comfort in nature is something that describes an empath, then I absolutely resonate with that and have no quarrels about it.

My Intuition Has Served Me Well So Far

Intuition is defined as the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. In more simple terms and how most of us refer to intuition, it is a thing that one knows or consider likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning. Some people simply refer to intuition as their gut feeling.

Some people don’t know how to differentiate their intuition (or gut feeling) from simply making a decision. But there are those of us that feel sick if we go against our intuition for a lot of decisions. These decisions can be as simple as “do I buy that new purse?” or as complicated as “is this the end of my relationship?”. There are an infinite number of reasons our intuition will tell us what to do, or what not to do.

I haven’t always listened to mine. I ignored mine for a lot of my life so I could push myself to be someone I thought would be liked by others. I ignored mine so I could be who I thought others wanted me to be. I’ll tell ya, I had some amazing times during those years. I had a lot of fun and I pushed myself socially more than I ever had. But I also had a lot of walls up and I was living by the seat of ‘when is the next party’. Instead of listening to my intuition, I made a lot of mistakes.

Over the years, my focus has changed. I no longer live for the next party. I have become more true to who I am and I have worked to accept who I am. Part of who I am is my intuition. My intuition is LOUD.

Let me take a step back for a second. Intuition and the subconscious mind are two completely different things. Some people don’t know the difference. My intuition tells me whether or not I should buy that thing (in very simple instances) or if I should accept that invitation or not. My subconscious tells me that the person who invited me will be upset with me if I don’t accept the invite. The intuition and the subconscious mind have two very distinct voices in my life and more often than not, they are contradictory.

Take for instance this past weekend. It was a holiday weekend where family and friends get together. Eddie went out of town to assist his cousin with moving some furniture so I had the entire four days to myself. As soon as this plan was made, I could NOT wait for this weekend to get here. This weekend was going to be a recharging weekend of pure me time. Then I received an invite from one of my dearest friends to hang out for the holiday. My subconscious told me I better accept that invite or that friend is going to be pissed at me. My intuition told me that I should not accept the invite because I need the me time that I have been looking forward to. I need that recharge time. Many times throughout the weekend prior to and during the holiday day, my subconscious chimed in and told me that I needed to make it work. My intuition gave me that sick gut feeling every time my subconscious brought up breaking my me time.

My subconscious and my intuition often fight like this. It is very confusing and if I don’t listen to one, I regret it in one way or another. I am still working through my emotions of regret for not accepting my friends invite because my subconscious is still telling me how horrible of a friend I am. All the while, I feel more refreshed and ready to take on my goals, my work, and be around people again.

My intuition looks out for me and makes sure that I do things to take care of myself. My intuition makes sure I am safe, I recharge, and that I don’t spend when I shouldn’t, among so much more. My intuition screamed at me for quite a while before I listened and quit drinking. Every time my subconscious jumps in to remind me how good wine tastes, my intuition reminds me about my health and my goals.

Being connected to my intuition also helps me to pull out of my emotional pits of someone else’s problems. Being an empath means that I absorb so much of the world around me. My intuition helps me to decipher those emotions.

Intuition is here to keep us safe, just as our subconscious tries to. But our intuition, in my opinion and from my experience, has a more unbiased opinion. I will keep listening to my intuition, to my gut, for as long as it continues to serve me well.

You Are Too Close

Part of who I am yearns for closeness and feeling love from others. But the rest of me yearns for solitude. It is a difficult balance that I used to ignore by drinking alcohol to be more social. Alcohol released my feeling of overwhelm or nervousness when around others, especially large groups. I used to think I was weird or had something wrong with me. I mean, there are lots of things wrong with me, but this isn’t one of them.

As I continue to grow as a person, and as I continue to research and learn more about who I am and the emotional and psychological dimensions impacting my life, I have discovered that I am easily overstimulated. Once I discovered this, I had a direction in how to adjust my life so I can recover from over-stimulation a lot easier than relying on alcohol to relax me.

One of the effects of being an empath is that we get overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much physical contact or too much time spent with others. Those who aren’t empaths and may be extroverts don’t understand this at all. They take offense to us needing to distance ourselves and take me time. My husband is one of those extroverts. He lives to have a lot of people around him and thrives off of the energy of other people and large crowds. I thrive off of alone time and no contact with other people. We are very different and once I stopped drinking and these needs became more prominent, it was a bit of a shock. We had to learn to function together with our different personalities while also learning to honor each other’s needs.

This quarantine and social distancing has affected both of us very differently. In the early months, he was driving me absolutely crazy. We were following the stay-at-home orders very closely and weren’t seeing local friends or family. Eddie has been working from home consistently and had no human contact other than me. I was losing my mind. I got to the point that I told him he needed to go to someone else’s house so he can get his energy out with other people. Since he didn’t have any interaction with other people outside of Zoom calls for work, he was driving me insane. Eddie is a fun guy who likes to pester and annoy me. It’s all loving, but I had hit my capacity for handling it. We had no time away from each other, even with him now having an office in a basement room.

As for me, well I’ve been generally perfectly fine staying home and not seeing people. I struggled when we had a friend here for about a month and then my mother-in-law right after, but it wasn’t anything to do with them. My struggle was primarily around having too many people around me. I didn’t feel as though I had any separation from people. As long as this quarantine/stay-at-home/social distancing continues and as long as I can get Eddie out of the house and in contact with other people who are staying home too, I could stay home forever. Yes, I want to travel, but without other people around.

I foresee that once life starts getting back to normal and we are able to be around larger groups, I’m going to have to slowly re-integrate myself into groups. I’m going to have to be more prepared and plan for giving myself the time and space I need to recharge. I’m going to have to be able to identify my reactions that indicate I am overstimulated. I’m going to have to relearn how to stand up for myself and my need for space and quiet. It won’t be easy, but to preserve my sanity, it will be worth it.

I Have a Lot of Empathy

What is empathy and how do I know if I have it? Is it really something I can “have?”

According to Psychology Today, empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person, animal, or fictional character. Empathy is not to be confused with sympathy. Sympathy is the feeling of concern for another person or a desire for the other person to be happier. When a person exhibits empathy, they are feeling the grief or sadness or angst of another person. When a person is sympathetic, they are recognizing the feelings the other person is having and are wishing that person well. You can by both sympathetic and empathetic at the same time, but they are not interchangeable.

Yes, empathy is something that every person can have. Empathy is something that is generally developed as children. There are some people who do not know how to be empathetic and then there are the empaths who are so empathetic that they sometimes aren’t able to distinguish an empathetic feeling from a personal feeling. People can have a lot of empathy and still may not be true empaths.

Those of us who are empaths struggle with the feelings of others’ situations taking over our life. We may end up with anxiety or depression. For example, I am an empath who has to cautiously determine what shows or movies I watch because I take on the stress or pain of the characters. I really enjoyed watching Sons of Anarchy years ago, but my empathetic response left me feeling extremely stressed the rest of my day. I had to stop watching the show. This was the first true example of recognizing what was happening to me that I could identify as a trigger. Even still today, I started watching Outlander and had to pause and maybe even stop because of the reaction I was having to the show.

Shows are just one example. When my friend lost her father recently, I took on the pain and feelings and emotions of losing a wonderful father. It was as though I personally lost a father. Maybe it didn’t help that my dad had just overdosed and proved how far gone he is. Either way, I had a rough few days around my friend’s father’s passing.

When my friend’s are going through hell, I am right there in hell with them. When family is struggling, I am struggling too. I absorb the feelings of what other’s around me are experiencing and experience it with them. This is not something intentional that I do. In fact, I don’t know how to minimize it or even prevent it. I have not learned of any method of potential control over my empathetic response.

So, how do you tell the difference between having a lot of empathy and being an empath? It may be simple, it may not. I truly believe there are different levels of empathy and different levels of being an empath. If you are at all concerned that your level of empathy for others is causing issues in your life, I recommend speaking with a professional. As for me, right now I can generally identify when it is happening and I can work with it.

Empathy is important in our lives and in our society. I wish more people were just a bit more empathetic towards others. We might see more people caring for other’s and helping each other more.

I’m Sensitive

For the majority of my life I put on a front and pushed myself to be a badass who isn’t sensitive. I may be a female but I’m not a girl! I had no intention of being viewed as “just a girl” or as a sensitive person. I was taught those were negative and weak.

There is so much negativity in our society around the term sensitive and the phrase “like a girl.” I think one of the most common statements I can think of is “she/he throws like a girl.” I can rattle off a bunch more statements, but I think you already get the point.

I was taught that being sensitive was unacceptable and you better not cry or I’ll give you something to cry about. Sensitivity was a derogatory reference and I wanted no part of it.

So I really tried and pushed to be a badass who could lift this or dig that or take care of this or a woman who was strong and never cried. I never wanted to be viewed as sensitive or weak.

Until I couldn’t hide my sensitive side anymore. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but there was some kind of switch that was flipped and I think it was around the time that I fell in love and all of my barriers were crushed. I had no walls to hide my sensitivity anymore. Over the years, I have become more and more sensitive and more and more introverted. Especially since I quit drinking.

I’ve struggled with being sensitive and overcoming the negative connotation that I grew up with. And then I heard someone refer to themselves as an empath. It intrigued me. And once I started hearing it more, I finally decided to look into it. What exactly is an empath?

I found an article on healthline.com titled 15 Signs You Might Be an Empath by Crystal Raypole which references work by a couple of different people. Just reading through these 15 signs opened my eyes to more of an explanation of who I really am. Yes, I am sensitive, but even more so I am an empath. I feel like I finally have a description to a lot of my feelings. The 15 signs included in the article are:

  • You have a lot of empathy
  • Closeness and intimacy can overwhelm you
  • You have good intuition
  • You take comfort in nature
  • You don’t do well in crowded places
  • You have a hard time of not caring
  • People tend to tell you their problems
  • You have a high sensitivity to sounds, smells, or sensations
  • You need time to recharge
  • You don’t like conflict
  • You often feel like you don’t fit in
  • You tend to isolate
  • You have a hard time setting boundaries
  • You see the world in unique ways
  • You sometimes find it tough to cope with sensory and emotional overload

Almost every single one of those describes me without any further detail. If you do want further details, the link to the article is above.

Personally, I’m going to be reading the book she references next and I think I might share a series here about each sign. I feel like there might be some of you out there who could be inspired to hear that you are not alone in some of the feelings that go into each of these characteristics.

Being sensitive is truly just fine. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I simply have to keep reminding myself of this.