One of the things that contributed to my burnout was being stuck between two different worlds: the seen and the unseen. Let me explain it. Basically, and thanks to my upbringing and childhood environment, I developed a few skills that allow me to be sensitive and very perceptive. I can see someone inside Starbucks siping their tea and immediately know what that person is feeling – even if there’s a window glass between us and I’m on the other side of the road. I can identify when someone is being authentically genuine or just acting to fit a specific role, and I can also sense when people’s egos are feeling threatened or ready to attack.
I was not always aware and conscious of these skills. I didn’t even know that having such skills, which many call gifts, was a possibility. I always assumed I was simply weird, different, and probably just a very difficult person to be with. I struggled throughout my teenage years and as a young adult too. Relationships were sources of intense hurt and pain. I could always guess that I was putting myself in a bad situation and yet my rational brain never allowed my intuition to take the lead. At work, I could see how people create unnecessary toxicity. However, as no one seemed to be able to detect the early symptoms, I used to assume I was just seeing things where they didn’t exist.
They always existed though. Visible proof would eventually start to show up. Instead of assuring myself though, I would engage in a self-incriminating talk: Why didn’t I listen to myself? I should know better. It’s always the same thing! This kind of self-talk only meant one thing. I didn’t know how or even that I could validate my feelings, thoughts and actions. I didn’t know that I only needed my own validation. In other words, I didn’t know that other people’s support shouldn’t make any different on whether I believe, or not, what my intuition (or gut!) tells me. Once I deeply learned this though, the way I lead life and myself changed completely.
Life has become less and less stressful since I tuned into my empath skills and learned to accept them. I can prevent problems and, most of all, I can create an environment around me that promotes wellbeing. I can protect myself better from emotionally abusive and mentally manipulative situations, but I can also know when it’s the right time to speak up for myself and when it’s the right time to minimise a relatively unpleasant situation. When I’m with my students, for instances, I know when it’s the right time to raise up my voice and do a mean face, but also when to be kind and nurturing.
None of this happened overnight, of course. I didn’t press a button and became magically attuned. I had too many dark nights of the soul, too many headaches and health problems. Sometimes I still fail to listen to my inner guidance as well; I’m far from perfect. However, holding the intention to learn, and become more and more aware of that inner voice that keeps telling me what’s going on and respond to it, rather than react, have been life saving. Getting to know the work of authors such as Dr Judith Orloff and Dr Margaret has also contributed a lot to my personal development and wellbeing