Last Updated: November 6th, 2019

The gift of being different


Like many empaths, you may feel as if you don’t belong in this world. You experience life so intensely, and love so deeply, it’s sometimes hard to find kindred souls to whom you can relate.

As a child, I always felt “different” from my peers. Other kids loved going to crowded parties and shopping malls, whereas I preferred climbing trees with my best friend or writing poetry.

As an only child, I was alone a lot and found companions in the moon and the stars. Often, I felt like an alien on Earth, waiting for a spaceship to take me to my true home.

Similarly, Albert Einstein said, “I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have

never belonged … I have never lost … a need for solitude.”

As I’ve grown as an empath, I can appreciate the gift of being different. I’m moved by this anonymous quote: “If you feel you don’t fit into this world, it’s because you’re here to create a better one.”

Sensitive people are meant to bring light into the world. Empathy is a strength, not a weakness. I applaud everyone who looks different, feels different, or thinks different. The world needs the difference you will make.

Set your intention: I will honour the gift of being “different.” I will
fully be my unique self and not let anyone take my power away. I will shine my light brightly.

I am not “too sensitive”


Many of us have received messages from parents, teachers, friends or the media that being sensitive is a fault or weakness. It’s important to gently re-evaluate old ideas about yourself such as, “I’m too sensitive,” “There’s something wrong with me,” or “I must develop a thicker skin.” These shaming messages are not true. You are a strong, compassionate person, a blessing to others.

Empaths often have low self-esteem because they believe society’s putdowns. Whenever someone criticizes your sensitivity, don’t believe them. You might even respond with kindness: “I value my sensitive side. Please respect this.”

Or, if these critical voices arise in your own head, take a breath and regroup. Simply say to them, “Stop bothering me. Go away!” Then immediately tell yourself, “My empathy is a strength.” Saying no to these inner and outer negative voices will build your self-esteem.

Set your intention: I will not buy into any belief that doesn’t affirm the worth of my sensitivity, compassion and love. I will be empathic in my own life and advocate these values in the world.

Intuition is an empath’s best friend


Thinking woman

Intuition is the still, small voice inside you that tells you the truth about life. It manifests as gut feelings, hunches, ah-ha moments, knowings, dreams and sensing energy.

Also, listen to the messages that your body sends. Ask yourself, “How does my body feel around someone? Am I energized or tired? Does a decision feel good or tense in my gut?” Empaths can have strong intuition, so it’s vital that you follow it.

You may find that you second-guess your intuition or that your logical mind tries to talk you out of it. For instance, you’re offered a high-paying job but your body feels exhausted around your new boss. Or, you’re attracted to this “amazing person” but your gut says “beware.”

If you’re unsure about how to proceed, at least go slowly and observe what unfolds. To make the best decisions, always factor in your intuition. It wants you to survive and thrive. Learning to trust it is crucial to your self-care.

Set your intention: Today, I will pay special attention to what my inner voice is communicating. I will be aware of the messages my body sends. I will follow my intuition’s advice and notice the results.

Carve out alone time


A secret to an empath’s happiness is creating adequate alone time. This soothes your neurological system and reduces sensory overload so you can feel more inner peace. Taking a break from the busyness of life is good medicine. After you decompress, the world won’t seem as overwhelming and you can have more fun when you’re with people.

Reflect on what kind of alone time appeals to you. Do you want to relax in a comfortable chair, in silence? Would you like to close the door to your bedroom and journal about your day or meditate? Would you prefer taking a slow walk in nature? During cold weather, do you like curling up by the fire with a cup of hot tea? Reflect on how much alone time you need to feel replenished.

If you have a hectic schedule, be creative. Sometimes I meditate in public bathrooms, if that is the only retreat space in my day! Even a few minutes of alone time can quickly restore your energy.

Set your intention: Today, I will plan some alone time to wind down. I will take a break from daily demands and be quiet and still. I will commune with myself and the universe.

Be in the now


Being fully in the present is a way of slowing down time so you can savour it. The moment, the eternal now, is the miracle we’ve been given. You can find safety and comfort there.

Still, we may get trapped in obsessing about the past or the future, which causes us to suffer. Why did I stay in that job for so long? Will I be healthy? Will I find a soul mate or have enough income to feel secure?

Also, you might conjure worst-case scenarios about some area of difficulty in your life — a psychological process called catastrophizing. Recognizing this pattern and gently redirecting your thoughts to more positive ones will lessen your tension.

Mindfulness, which is the practice of consciously being in the moment without judgment, is about focusing on what’s happening in the here and now. If your attention drifts, mindfully bring yourself back by refocusing on the rhythm of your breath.

Also, focus on your senses. Being aware of the sights, sounds, smells and beauty around you gets you out of your head and into the Now. As D. H. Lawrence wrote, “The living moment is everything.”

Set your intention: I will breathe slowly and deeply to calm stress. I will not focus on the future. I will tell myself, “I can handle anything one moment at a time.” Staying in the Now is my path to freedom.

Divine timing


Lone man next to water

There is a flow to life that you can intuitively tune in to. When you surrender to this, you will be carried toward the people, places and situations that you were meant to experience and learn from. Divine timing happens when you stay in touch with this flow.

Sometimes, though, divine timing may differ from your ego’s timing. If, according to your ego, a goal isn’t materializing quickly enough, be patient and trust the rhythms of your life. Trying to force matters or pressure people will usually backfire.

Empaths sabotage their goals with anxiety. When you’re anxious or overwhelmed, it’s not the best time to make decisions. Once you’ve done everything to further a goal, for instance, in your career or a relationship, let go and be open to divine guidance.

Take a sacred pause. You simply wait and watch for signs on how to proceed. With an open heart, you’re inviting the universe to work its magic.

Set your intention: I will identify a situation in which I may be pushing too hard. For the next week, I will just let things be. I will become a loving witness to my life, rather than pressing forward. I will see what the flow brings.

The beauty of sensing energy


Empaths speak in the language of energy and can sense its subtle force around people. It’s exciting to frame your interactions and the world in this way.

We’re all composed of vibrantly coloured energy fields that penetrate our bodies and extend inches to feet beyond them.

We’re all composed of vibrantly coloured energy fields that penetrate our bodies and extend inches to feet beyond them. Though they’re invisible to most people, you can feel them with intuition.

To Hindu mystics, this is called Shakti. Chinese medical practitioners call it “chi.” In Western health care, the sub-specialty of energy medicine recognizes our bodies and spirits as manifestations of this energy, which transmits information about our thoughts and emotions.

It’s fun to practice sensing energy around various people. Throughout the day, pay attention to what positive energy feels like. Does your vitality increase around certain people? Do you feel relaxed or uplifted?

Then notice what negative energy feels like. Ask yourself, “Do I feel tired, anxious, sick, or overwhelmed?” Get in the habit of noticing the energy people emit. Factor this into your choices about work, relationships and all areas of your life.

Set your intention: I will be aware of how subtle energy affects my mood, body and well-being. This is a way of respecting my intuition and how I empathically perceive the world.

Front cover of Thriving as an EmpathJudith Orloff, M.D., is a New York Times best-selling author, is a member of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty and has a Facebook Empath Support Community with more than 6,000 members. She has been featured on The Today Show, on CNN and in Oprah Magazine, The New York Times and more. In her new book, Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People (Sounds True, Oct. 22, 2019), she draws from her own experiences as an empath to share the secrets to well-being. Learn more at drjudithorloff.com.


Excerpted from Thriving as an Empath: A Daily Guide to Empower Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, M.D. Copyright © Judith Orloff. Published in October 2019 by Sounds True.  

image 1: Pixabay; 2: Pixabay