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Surviving to Thrive As An Empath:
Energetic Boundaries

Do you avoid crowds because you feel overwhelmed by energy? Do you intensely feel emotions—yours and others? Do you avoid watching or hearing about the news because it’s too sad and/or because you feel bombarded by negativity? Do you feel what someone is saying to you? Do you energetically feel emotions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably empathic. An empath—also known as clairsentient (clear feeling)—is someone who feels energy, which, as you may well know or can imagine, has unique challenges.

As humans, we are feeling—sentient—beings. If we are not allowed to feel our own feelings, we develop—sometimes at a very early age—the ability to feel other people’s feelings. We become “empathic.”

Untrained empaths—those without energetic tools to protect themselves—typically live in their second chakra (just below the navel), which stores information and pictures about feelings and sexuality, or their fourth chakra (heart), which is affinity for self and others. Empaths spend most of their time in the two chakras that deal with feelings and affinity because they have an affinity for others and their feelings.

Untrained clairsentients or empaths are relentlessly bombarded with the emotions of the masses—sometimes all at once—with no means of escape. They are energetically overwhelmed with emotions that are not theirs and, as a result of taking in and feeling others’ feelings, they often manifest physical discomfort (pain) and eventually dis-eases that are not (energetically) theirs.

I grew up being empathic. My innate state of being—from the time I was born—was one of joy. I’m basically a happy person who is consistently optimistic. However, from the time I was about ten years old, I often felt overwhelmingly sad and even despondent. And, although my childhood was far from perfect (of course, I now know that it was perfect for me), it did not warrant the degree of sadness and despair I felt so often. What was happening I wondered? I didn’t know and I was frightened by the increasing sadness that consumed me. I often felt consumed with emotions and am sure I cried at least one ocean of tears by the time I was 20.

I spent many years learning how to function in the “real world” while literally crying my way through floods of emotions—sadness, despair, pain, grief and sometimes joy. I intensely felt all emotions and I felt them for everyone else, although I did not understand that at the time. In my mid-twenties, a friend told me I was the most intense person she had ever known. When I asked her what she meant, she said you feel everything so deeply, and you feel the extreme ends of the spectrum—utter despair and ecstasy and everything in between. I knew she was right. I did feel that much and that intensely—all the time.

When I was 40 I met Carla McLaren, an empath who lectures, teaches and has since written several books about how to survive—and eventually thrive—as an empath. I listened intently through my freely flowing tears as Carla talked about what it meant to be an empath, about how we live our lives and about what we can do to “protect” ourselves from the incessant barrage of feeling the pain of the world. My tears turned to sobbing as she talked about how untrained empaths—including those who don’t know they’re empathic and what that means (like me)—choose partners who are at the opposite end of the spectrum—withdrawn, unable to connect with their feelings or anyone else’s, and basically unable to communicate—and how and why this was damaging to an empath. She was right. I wondered how she could know my husband so well, never having met him. I wondered how I would survive the pain. I wondered when I would decide to end my marriage. I cried.

Empaths cry a lot, which makes most people, including the empath, uncomfortable. Because our culture does not embrace or value emotions, there’s not much permission to cry. As a result, when people see someone crying—emoting their feelings—they touch or hug the person, hand them a tissue, or offer “words of comfort,” all of which serve as a distraction that will usually stop the flow of emotions and, thus, the tears. (Why people are compelled to do this is different article in the making.) To give someone permission to feel what they feel—sadness, anger, fear, joy—and validate them by energetically holding space for them to keep feeling (and emoting)—is one of the most powerful, loving and healing acts (for both people) we can perform. For an empath, it’s a key to our survival. Being allowed to feel is a key to our survival. Talking about what we feel is paramount to our survival. Being able to cry about what we feel is mandatory for our survival.

So, after spending many hours with Carla McLaren over those three days, I came to understand—for the first time in my 40+ years of life—why I was literally overwhelmed with sadness when I was young. I was, indeed, feeling the pain of the world and it was just too much for one person—one body—to feel much less process.

Since meeting Carla McLaren, I’ve learned a lot about how to successfully function as an empathic. Several years later I discovered the Berkley Institute teaches a psychic program that uses the same energetic tools Carla McLaren taught. And, after three years of classes based on the Berkley Institute Psychic Program, I continue to learn how to safely function as an empath in a world overwrought with pain and suffering. I have learned simple, easy, powerful and incredibly effective energetic tools to clean out, create and protect my energetic space—and, therefore, my physical body—from being bombarded with the feelings of the world. I have learned how to move from my fourth (heart) chakra where I was overcome with emotions and feelings to my clairvoyant center (sixth chakra) where neutrality serves me well. I have learned how to command my empathic abilities so I don’t feel raw, exposed and bombarded by others’ feelings. Clairsentience is now one of three clair senses I use when reading and healing.

Through Sacred Spaces, my center for spiritual growth and psychic development in Aurora, Colorado, I now teach those energetic tools in a five-week class called Energetic Boundaries . These simple, easy tools are incredibly powerful and highly effective for every being in a body. For empaths, they can mean the difference between barely surviving and thriving.

Rev. DebraRae, Sacred Spaces, teaches Energetic Boundaries, How To Read, Clairvoyant I: Psychic Exploration and other classes that support spiritual growth and psychic development. For more information about classes, call 720-485-2057 or email

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This site last updated July2015