March 14th, 2011, by Shelley Riutta
Claire came to see me because she was on break from college. She was confused because she had a strong desire to spend time alone. She said “I don’t want to talk to any of my friends or even my boyfriend who I really like–I just want to hang out in my room and read–I’m not sure why.”
We explored what things had been like for her over her semester at school. She said that a lot of her friends were struggling with some pretty intense issues—depression, relationship issues and family conflicts. Claire is energetically sensitive–meaning she is very sensitive to the energy around her–particularly the emotions that others are feeling. Because she doesn’t have tools to handle this sensitivity and buffer herself from the energy of those around her–she did what seemed to make sense to her at the time–which was to try to help her friends feel better. If they felt better than the energy around her would feel better—therefore she would feel better. She became the resident therapist and everyone would come and talk to her about what was going in and she would try and help them.
Instead of her friends getting support from her to figure out their own problems—they instead began to rely on her to figure these problems out for them. In the language of Inner Bonding she was playing the role of the Loving Adult for them. The more she was playing the role of this for them–the less they were playing it for themselves and they began to flounder even more. They felt better temporarily and maybe got some ideas to handle the current situation at hand—but the next issue that would come up—they would go right back to asking Claire about what to do. Instead of having time and energy to focus on her own life she felt consumed by the needs and issues of her friends.
The other thing that she was doing, which is very common for sensitive people to do, is that in her effort to help her friends she was energetically taking on their emotions and running them through her system. Almost like an unconscious way of saying “I will help you feel better by taking this from you”—and her friends were unconsiously handing these emotions to her because they felt they did not know how to manage them on their own. After they would talk to her–her friends would feel better—lighter and Claire felt more agitated. It is no wonder that by the end of the semester she was exhausted.
Claire was relieved to understand why she was feeling so exhausted and it now made sense why she had the strong desire to be alone. She was nervous about going back to school and getting into the same situation all over again. What we did first was help her develop ways to protect herself energetically from the strong emotions of those around her. I had her imagine a protective shield around her own energy field—which extends about two feet around the perimeter of her body. I had her just feel herself nestled in her own energy field—letting go of any outside energetic influences.
Sometimes people who are energetically sensitive will expand their energy field throughout the whole house so that they are in tune with everybody in the house. So I had her practice bringing her energy field in so that is just surrounding her own body.
The other thing taught her was how to ground herself. We are designed to have a strong continuous connection with the Earth–when we have this we are grounded. When we are grounded we are able easily discharge energy that we pick up from others. If we are ungrounded we just hold this energy inside and it starts to feel very uncomfortable–oftentimes it feels like anxiety or even a panic attack. Many people that I work with that are anxious are just very energetically sensitive and haven’t learned how to manage this. To ground I had her imagine roots extending down from her feet—through the floor into the earth—with each exhale imagining those roots extending deeper and deeper. I also had her imagine a root extending from the base of her spine into the earth as well. I suggested she walk outside regularly–ideally in nature–which naturally would ground her. We can also ground by physical movement—like dancing or running—we can ground through singing. Cooking food and eating can be grounding.
Sometimes very energetically sensitive people who haven’t learned to consciously ground or how to protect their energy will use eating food as a way to ground themselves–the extra weight can both serve as an attempt to ground and provide a buffer to the energy they feel so strongly around them.
The other thing we needed to address was her belief system around her friends and their problems. She felt that if she didn’t help her friends that they wouldn’t like her and that she wouldn’t be considered a good friend. We talked about trusting that her friends had incredible inner resources inside of them that they could tap into to help with their problems. Claire could stay focused on this while she was with them—being more of a support for them to find their own answers rather than figuring it out for them. She could also reassure herself that she was a good friend–even if they were mad at her. We defined a good friend as someone who supports the highest good of another person. By her not caretaking the other person and their feelings she was supporting their highest good as well as her own. We discussed how it may take time for her friends to adjust to her new behavior but that ultimately her changes were helping the friendships to become healthier.
The other thing she could do was to stay focused on her own life and her own self-care. If she developed a schedule for the day and one of her friends asked for support—if she didn’t have time she would have to lovingly say to them “I would really love to talk with you but my schedule is full today—I would have time in the morning to talk.” By honoring her own life and schedule she was engaging in good self-care—and actually strengthening her own energetic boundaries.
People who are energetically sensitive have to have really good self-care to stay balanced. They need to have enough rest, enough quiet time, enough exercise, eat the right foods and make sure they are around people and situations that aren’t jarring to their energy–plus regularly ground and protect their energy field. The earlier they recognize this and know that this self-care is essential and not optional–the easier their life will be.
If you are energetically sensitive—what do you do to take care of yourself? We would love to hear from you!