martha dawson

errant inspiration

the extraordinary lives in the ordinary

the giggling empath

Girl on swing under mushroom

Empaths live life intensely……and usually VERY seriously. 

Our brains are wired to receive larger amounts of information, both from the physical and unseen dimensions. (They’ve even got pictures to prove it, thanks to the wonders of MRI.) We aren’t special, just different. Also, empaths are givers by nature, are usually shy about receiving, and often have lousy boundaries. Being unaware of one’s empathic nature can be a recipe for exhaustion, confusion, and overwhelm. 

Like most, I ended up stumbling upon this nugget of self-knowledge after years of cycling in and out of a state of utter depletion that made me feel like I was somehow defective. It left me with a rather negative view of being highly sensitive because I equated it with suffering. You add to the mix that, like most empaths, my favourite hobby is self-improvement and I have zero interest in small talk, and it’s easy to see what makes us a pretty intense and serious lot. 

Thankfully over the last ten years valuable information has been published that assists the highly sensitive in living healthy, fulfilling lives in a noisy, over-stimulating world. We now know that clearing and grounding our energy is as important as brushing our teeth. We understand we require regular solitude and good sleep to be centered and present, and it is necessary to build good boundaries and speak our needs honestly to have truly loving relationships.

It is all good and effective knowledge, and it has transformed my life, but I have noticed that it  predominantly focuses on what needs to be fixed. I am very grateful for the tools, but crave more conversation about the gifts and strengths of sensitivity.

The truth is empaths do not just intensely experience the pain in the world. We also deeply feel the happiness, beauty, humour, joy, and love that surrounds us, and this often gets overlooked when we are hyper-focused on that which causes us discomfort. This creates an adversarial stance where we feel the need to constantly protect ourselves from others for fear they will hurt or overwhelm us at any moment. We develop a lopsided view of our environment, believing it to be unsafe and hostile. Yes, there is darkness in this place of duality, but there is also an amazing amount of light.

So to maintain a more accurate and balanced view, I like to recognize the gifts of my empathic nature. By sharing a few examples, I hope to inspire other empaths to find the strength and beauty in their own lives.

Here we go:

  • I experience colours as emotions. I gravitate towards turquoise because it makes me instantly happy and opens the door to inspiration. Practically every shade of blue makes me feel serene and the yellowy green of early spring leaves feels like home.
  • Tuesdays always feel full of endless potential.
  • The scent of lilacs puts me into a state of euphoria.
  • Antique and thrift stores are like amusement parks – endless options to feel the thrilling roller coaster or gentle merry-go-round ride of any object’s history. 
  • I am a skilled Armchair Traveller. I can vividly re-experience a place I have been just by seeing images of it or touching an object like a stone that came from there. I can again smell the scent of hops from the breweries wafting through the streets of Edinburgh, taste the salt in the fog when it swaddles my hometown, and hear the snapping of shrimp at night as I fall asleep on a boat anchored among the mangroves in the Florida Keys. Most importantly, I feel how I felt when I was physically there.
  • When I eat a particularly good meal my toes curl, I wriggle in my seat and groan with pleasure with each mouthful. It is exquisitely enjoyable for me, but can be either entertaining or embarrassing for friends when dining out!
  • Books are a chance to completely disappear into other worlds. Remember how Mary Poppins, Bert, and the children jumped into a chalk drawing and had a full blown adventure? That’s what it’s like. 
  • I’m never bored or lonely. Everything is living consciousness and usually likes to interact. The english ivy on my bookshelf refers to itself as Mr. Simon, and the stones in my living room are always happy to impart their wisdom, request to share a bath or the bed with me to offer healing, and on occasion they announce they want to go home with someone who is visiting. I really get a kick out of a particularly boisterous amethyst cluster named Godfrey that sits next to the salt lamp. And then there are always fascinating chats with loved ones on the other side. This is just inside my apartment! When I go out into nature there is a whole other range of beings to get to know. There is the breeze that lovingly caresses my cheek, the trees that so generously share their strength and grounding energy, and the tiny, luminous ones that do this beautiful dance in a friend’s yard.
  • Small things give me great pleasure. I am always enchanted when I see a ladybug. I marvel at soap bubbles, and I’m just plain gleeful when I catch my kitty sleeping with the tip of her tongue peeking out between her little, furry lips.
  • I am particularly fond of the relationship I have with water. It heals, nourishes, and soothes me. It magnifies energy amplifying my connection with spirit, and when I submerge in it, my edges disappear and I experience oneness.
  • It is also my sensitive, empathic nature that allows me to connect with other people’s energy to do the work I love so much.

These are just some of the ways my high sensitivity enriches my daily life. The pain in this world can be intense, but so is the joy! Being aware of this balanced, truer picture has taught me a lot and vastly improved the quality of my life. Even sobbing uncontrollably  when faced with footage of a mother orca howling in grief when her calf was taken from her or unexpectedly experiencing the severe neck pain of a woman passing me in the grocery store reminds me of the interconnectedness of all things. There is an elegant beauty in that truth. Those painful events no longer scare me because they have helped me to hone my self-care skills which has given me the courage to be more open to all life has to offer.

Self-knowledge is empowering. Embrace who you are and celebrate it. The world is a better place because you are in it.

From my heart to yours,


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