There is a little bit of a misunderstanding of what it means to be an empath. An empath, originally popularized by Dr. Judith Orloff, does not mean one is just sensitive to others. It means that they have healing gifts. An emotional empath will pick up on the thoughts and emotions of other people and experience them in their own bodies. A physical empath will pick on the physical pains of others and take that into their own body. A food empath is sensitive to the energy of food. Because of our confusion, we have now equated being an empath versus being emotionally centered as a dichotomy of “good” versus “bad” or, even worse, “awakened” versus “unawakened.”
There is no such thing and it misses the point of these sensitivities as gifts that are eventually meant to serve the community. For centuries we have created a culture that is scared of emotions because we do not know how to process emotional energy in healthy ways. We have taught empaths for far too long to simply avoid the emotions of others rather than see the emotion as energy that can be dealt with safely and effectively (we need an empath school of magic). We have also taught empaths to see emotionally centered people as “less than,” “not spiritual enough,” or “needing to open their heart” — a phrase that will drive an emotionally centered person cray cray because they have often closed their heart in order to protect you from fearing the power of their own emotions (we also need the emotions school of magic).
I have a newsflash for empaths who are not experts with emotions — the heart is about connection with ourselves and others but our emotions are stored elsewhere. In yogic terms, we associate emotions like pleasure, desire, passion, joy, anger, rage, depression etc… as manifestations of blockages from the solar plexus downwards. In traditional Chinese medicine, we may speak of the liver being related to anger or the kidneys related to fear. In modern neuroscience, we connect the amygdala and our nervous system to our emotions. No matter which way you learn about emotions, the majority of our emotions are not found in our heart center. The healing of the heart — grief — therefore needs to happen after we have rediscovered the connection between our mind and our body so we learn how to regulate all our emotions. We are divided as a world because we erroneously think that connection is easy and we just “need to open our heart.”
We need to heal trauma, heal our bodies and heal our nervous systems first. We are being kept apart for a reason…
Artist as Healer
People who are true experts in the deep, deep dive into their emotions have always been artists. While they may become somewhat imbalanced without understanding the process of channeling their emotions (because, yes, we neglect to teach them about their gifts as well), most artists have access to using their passions and desires to give birth to creative projects, money, and a healthy family. The myth of the starving artist is really a joke — when an artist realizes the true power of their emotions, they realize they have been spiritually gifted the power of manifestation. Empaths are often the experts of liberation and the time for liberation is now done. We can’t just have an open heart to be spiritual and create a better world. We are being called to go further into our healing in 2021 and that means getting super intimate with all our emotions, clearing the blocks and preparing for the physical manifestation of a better world. We are not ready for re-connection yet.
North American culture has done severe damage to people who have strong emotions. Empaths are often confused as to why people choose emotions over logic, conspiracy theories over science, and feelings over rational thoughts. Empaths are confused because they have not owned their gifts and learned that it is not the fault of the emotional person, per se, that triggers your inability to handle emotional energy. It is the lack of education and stepping into a place of empowerment that makes you think you can’t. Likewise, our culture has devalued artists, performers and musicians to such an extent that those that have the gift of emotions do not know how to use their gift to make the world a better place and so the gifts serve the ego and lead artists to addictions. Our lack of education across the board has led us all to a place of toxic insecurity rather than abundance.
I am both an emotionally centered person and a physical empath. I was taught to repress my emotions, just like you, and had zero clue that I absorb the physical and sometimes the psychiatric conditions of others (it is why I no longer work in a hospital setting). I didn’t have the benefit of being exposed to creativity very seriously as a kid — with the exception of music.
My parents often think that these are nice hobbies rather than a vital lifeline for emotionally centered kids. So, when we moved while I was in high school, music went out the window. Then the push for college and choosing a profession happened and I was told my interest in ballroom dancing was not important. Fast forward to a spiritual awakening that forced me to face who I really am. I am more emotionally centered than I was taught but in the end it makes sense. Yoga, tango, singing and writing have become a lifeline as I step into my authenticity. Being emotionally centered is like being more JLo when you were raised to wear JCrew. The healing necessary to authentically reclaim oneself as emotionally centered is not often done in a therapist’s office for the simple reason that you are often (not always) taught to “control” or see your emotions as “bad.”
Human Design and Emotions
I learned about the concept of being emotionally centered through the exploration of human design — a system of self inquiry based on multiple spiritual systems like the IChing, Kabbalah, astrology and the chakra system. Learning that I was an emotionally centered person who channels not only my emotions but the emotions of my community and the collective was a game changer. I realized why talk therapy was not working for me and followed my intuition into creativity and movement. You can check on whether you are emotionally centered via this system by simply doing your own chart. It is a useful tool for contemplation after a meditation practice.
What to Expect in 2021
As we are about to enter a new year, the division between the classic empath and the emotionally centered person will come into focus. Choosing our healing journeys will also be a priority. While many therapists are now facing a popularity contest and speak of being emotional experts — many are the empaths who are healers trying to help (thank you). Emotionally centered people, in particular women, need a different paradigm of healing and a hell of a lot less judgment about who they really are. We won’t be quiet any longer and if you have a problem with the strength of our emotions, it will be time for you, empath, to learn to step into your own power so that between the two of us we can find Universal balance. For when empaths avoid emotions, hide themselves behind their spirituality, and slip into spiritual mansplaining about just being open to the light they forget that that the wisdom of feminine energy is emotions.
2021 is not about women — it is about true spirituality that honors and respects the creative gifts of balanced feminine energy. It will be about honoring all of emotions and stopping the judgment related to how they are expressed. Emotions are not pretty but you can’t expect a culture that has repressed its emotions and sexuality for centuries to learn to be emotionally balanced overnight. We will learn but those gifts that empaths have will be needed. We will not find balance between those who absorb and those who transmit without working together and those with emotions deserve a moment to be honored and respected for their passions.
How do we do this? No more trigger warnings — the empath will learn how to advocate for themselves and make a choice that is in alignment with who they are. No more asking emotionally centered persons to tone down their emotions to make you more comfortable — the empath will learn how to assert their needs and step into their boundaries. No more expecting others to care for your emotions or listen to you verbally process your emotions for more than 20 minutes — emotionally centered people will learn how to channel their powerful energy into something that makes the world a better place. Psychotherapy will likely change as will other healing modalities in the future. The needs of the emotionally centered person to find balance so they can step into their leadership roles with the values to make the world a better place will need to be re-assessed.
I believe that we can achieve a great level of love and connection in this lifetime but it will not come if we continue to suppress, deny, or judge our emotions. We will need the healing gifts of empaths and the creativity of emotionally centered persons now more than ever. It will be the empath-healer and the artist-as-healer that will bring balance to a society that has lost its moral compass and forgotten the importance of living a passionate life with heart-centered connections.