I had a crappy weekend.
One of those I'm-not-okay-in-the-head type weekends.
More on that later...
If you’re like most Empaths, Sensitive Souls, or HSPs (highly sensitive persons), just the act of living your every day life brings all kinds of "NOT OKAY" moments for you.
Being sensitive, you pick up on EVERYTHING and feel it DEEPLY.
Trust me, I know. I'm particularly sensitive to hearing. I hear everything, and more. I hear the things people are not saying. I hear their feels, and then I FEEL them for myself.
I know that you know what that's like.
It's hard enough to live your everyday life with all these tiny "not okay" moments that you pick up everywhere.
And then something big happens.
And it totally knocks you off your center.
Because I have tools and techniques and practices that I have developed over YEARS. (I'll share my "empath preventative protocol" steps below). It's rare anymore that these big things knock me down. But when they do, they take me by surprise.
I had that happen this weekend.
My 2.5 year old corgi Tosha had knee surgery to repair a CCL tear (equivalent of ACL for humans).
I thought I was ready for it. I took all the necessary precautions.
And yet, I had one of those days, those empath sensitive soul days where EVERYTHING inside of me went into freak out mode.
It made no sense. I spent the weekend cuddling my best four-legged friend on the couch. The surgery went well, and she is healing exceptionally well. I should have been in heaven. A whole weekend of couch cuddling, no other responsibilities beyond a few good Netflix limited series and a lot of Reiki energy work on the pup.
But my mind went to that dark place.
Not about the pup.
About me. And my work. And my place in this world.
Completely irrational stuff.
All the internal negative self-talk that I haven't heard between my ears in months!
It was so ugly, I don't even want to re-write it here.
But you get the drift, all the not-enough, failure, self-doubt yadda yadda yadda that so does not match who I really am and what I really believe about myself.
In 20/20 hindsight, I know it was shadow-work process detox of some old crap I had hidden in corners I didn't know were there, but got stirred up by feeling the feels of my pup's pain. I should've seen it coming the moment I got woozy enough to have to sit down at the animal hospital when the surgeon was giving me the good news report of her procedure.
But in the moment of not being okay, you don't *know* that it's okay to not be okay.
Every fiber of your being says "FIX THIS!" and "MAKE THIS PAIN STOP NOW!" And then I get all down on myself because I did EVERYTHING I could in my power to prevent that not-okay energy from taking me over.
The good news is that it only lasted a day, and then I felt the cloud lifting. By my first client call on Monday morning, I was feeling like my normal rock-star self again.
How did I make it through the not-okay phase?
Why didn't it last as long as in the past?
The answer is two-fold.
ONE - Because I had a solid Empath Preventative Protocol in place, my not-okay space doesn't ever last long, or happen as often, or go as dark as it had in the past (the dark days of my 20s and suicidal ideations and SSRI side effects is a whole other story for another Tuesday Tale).
TWO - The only way out is through. I breathed through it. I let myself feel it. And I tasked my Hobbit to remind me over and over again "you are okay, this too shall pass...you've got this, like you always do...AND...this means that better is on its way!" (more on this later).
Here's my 6-Step Empath Preventative Protocol - everything I could do in my power to prevent my not-okay energy from taking over.
Get Good Sleep
Eat Nourishing Meals
Let’s take a look at each of these steps in a little more detail...
Tip 1: Get Good Sleep
For empaths, sleep is vital. It is where we recharge, where we connect with Spirit, where we process all the deep unconscious stuff that we absorb all day long.
Protect your sleep, like your life depends on it. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, make your sleeping space a sacred space where sleep (and sexy time) are the ONLY things that happen there.
Tip 2: Eat Nourishing Meals
For sensitive souls, taking care of yourself first, before you take care of others, it crucial to your everyday function in a highly energetic and often volatile world. While it doesn't matter as much what you eat, it matters HOW you treat your food because the energy you give to your food is the energy you give to yourself.
Eat breakfast. Every single day. Nourish yourself before you provide energetic nourishment for others.
Sit down when you eat. EVERY SINGLE TIME FOOD PASSES YOUR LIPS. Sit down with it. Respect it. Put it on a plate. Honor it. Be grateful for it.
Only eat food that FEELS good. On your tongue AND in your body.
Tip 3: Spiritual Practice
Take time every single day, preferably multiple times a day, to connect with Source. Here are a few simple ways you can connect with Source that don't take a lot of time, but bang and lot of punch.
Say a little prayer
Offer your first bite of food to your ancestors
Take a moment to appreciate nature
Hug someone you love for more than 10 seconds and Thank Spirit for them
Talk to an ancestor as if they are in the room with you
Tip 4: Gratitude Journal
Keep a tiny journal, the size of a checkbook. Carry it with you and write bullet point notes in it of something that moved you, made you smile, or brightened your day anytime they occur. Take a moment with each item you write to FEEL it and BREATHE it as you write it. Absorb the gratitude into your whole being.
On the not-okay moments, sometimes reading the gratitude journal is really helpful to jar you out of the dark spaces. (it's okay if the gratitude journal triggers you and pisses you off and feels really not real during the not-okay moments too...that happens...it's just an energy detox and that too shall pass)
Tip 5: 10-Second Hugs
Research has proven that a hug that lasts more than 10-seconds causes a gush of the love-hormone oxytocin to flood your system. Oxytocin is the healing hormone that not only heals your physical wounds and tissues, but soothes all the emotional aches, pains, owies and boo-boos too. (FYI - cuddling pets counts).
In addition, positive social interaction is KEY to maintaining positive mental and emotional health. Something we learned the hard way during the pandemic.
Tip 6: Mindful Movement
How you hold and move your body is a direct reflection of how you feel in your mind and heart. For example, when you cave your chest and round your shoulders and cross your arms, it is a loud non-verbal cue of being closed off and avoidant of social connection. On the other hand, when you stand tall, look someone in the eye, and open your arms, it is a louder verbal language expression of connection and openness.
If you take time every single day to teach and train your body to hold the postures and movement that match the energy you want to bring to your life, you can "fake it to become it" as Harvard Researcher Amy Cuddy says in her famous Ted Talk.
Plus, 30-minutes of mindful and moderate exercise gives you all the benefits of one dose of Prozac (or any other anti-depressant) without all the nasty side effects.
The key to this Empath Preventative Protocol is DISCIPLINE. While none of these practices is difficult to do once in awhile. The key is to do them consistently. All the time. Make it a habit.
And, as my story of this weekend proves...sometimes LIFE HAPPENS...and no matter how much you discipline yourself to prevent these not-okay days from happening. They happen.
What I suggest you do when they happen is you task someone very close to you (preferably another empath) to remind you of the temporary nature of all things. Keep them on-call. Instruct them (when you are in the good-day space) that you have these not-okay days and you need someone to HOLD SPACE for you when you are in them. To remind you that these not-okay moments are energetic detox, and that the only way out is through, and they you are strong and powerful and you can and will get through it.
And...the really good news is that on the other side of a well-processed not-okay-day-detox is an amazing EXPANSION of life into a better than status quo state.
Becoming a butterfly can't be comfortable.
The not-okay days are the ugly uncomfortable growing pain space of getting ready to step into a new level of awesome.
and for those of you who have had a few not-okay days yourself...I'm super excited for you!
p.s. if you want help with the discipline side of this protocol, or you want someone who has been-there-and-done-that and really understands the ugliness of the not-okay-space to be your space-holder...might i suggest my 9-month chakra immersion program...