Community//

5 Tips for That “Other” Kind of Protection

How To Protect Yourself From Other People's Energy

Karen Siff Exkorn and Tree.  Photo by Lisa Green
Karen Siff Exkorn and Tree. Photo by Lisa Green

There’s another kind of protection that no one seems to be talking about these days.  It goes beyond wearing masks and gloves and even social distancing. 

It’s called Energy Protection.

Energy protection is something that everyone needs, especially with what’s going on in the world right now.  It’s even more crucial for a large subset of the population–people whom I refer to as being “ultra sensitive.”

Ultra sensitive people experience the world in a more intense way.  They are the elite athletes of emotions.  Sometimes referred to as empaths, they have a highly attuned inner radar that allows them to be both intuitive and extremely sensitive to their environments. Ultra Sensitives have a heightened perception that can even allow them to “feel” others’ emotional states.  

How do you know if you’re an ultra sensitive person?  Here’s a simple way to find out.  Do you constantly get “gut feelings” about things or people?  Do people ever describe you as being “overly sensitive?” Are you affected by life events or others’ emotions in a way that seems exponentially more extreme than most people?

On the bright side, being an ultra sensitive person allows you to be exceptionally compassionate and empathetic.  You easily form connections with others and understand people on a deeper level than most.   People love to share things with you and value your insights.  You give great advice because you have a high level of emotional intelligence.  When it comes to feeling happiness and joy, you experience it in a profoundly uplifting way.

On the not so bright side, you can be overly sensitive to your own and others’ feelings.  You may experience hurt, stress, anxiety or other emotional states on a heightened level–even if they’re not your own.  In your attempt to connect with others, you might find yourself overly connecting to the point where it feels like you’re actually taking on other people’s “stuff.”

Being ultra sensitive in today’s world can feel especially overwhelming.  It’s hard enough to be experiencing your own feelings right now, but to experience what the rest of the world is feeling (even if it’s simply the world of your immediate family) can lead you to feeling exhausted and depleted. 

So how can you take care of yourself without taking on everybody else’s stuff?

Here are some simple and powerful ways to protect your energy.

1. Eat a Potato. Hug a Tree.

We all know that food can affect our physical and emotional states.  But did you know that food can also affect your energetic state?  In order to feel less hypersensitive, ultra sensitive people need to feel more grounded.  Even if you’re not ultra sensitive, eating grounding foods can help you reduce your mental clutter.

According to Eastern philosophy, all root vegetables are grounding. Grounding foods include: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, radishes, pumpkin, squash, onion, garlic, and ginger. According to Western philosophy, the best grounding foods are: potatoes, meat, bread, pasta and cheese (the perfect excuse to eat mac and cheese!).  But, even though potatoes are ideal grounding foods, sadly, potato vodka is not.  Neither is wine or gin or any other alcoholic beverage. Alcohol can actually increase your sensitivity to others and make you more vulnerable to their energy.

Need another quick fix when you’re feeling overly anxious or experiencing mental clutter?  Take advantage of what nature has to offer.  Hug a tree. A big healthy tree. Or place your hands on a tree.  Trees are deeply rooted into the earth and can provide you with grounding energy. You can even close your eyes and meditate while you take in the tree’s energy.  Tree hugging can help ground you and release negative energy. 

2. Take Another Cold Shower or A Bath With…What?

If you read my recent piece, “5 Tips to Feel Good Now,” you’ll know that I recommended taking a 30-90 second blast of cold water at the end of your shower to boost your mood and your immune system.  Now here’s another reason why you should do that.

In an interview with therapist and Reiki Master Elizabeth J. Nahum, she explains that a cold blast of 30-90 seconds in your shower can actually get rid of other people’s energy that may have attached to you during that Zoom or in-person meeting.  The cold water can actually “de-slime” you (my word, not hers!). You can even visualize the shower washing away the slime. 

Another way to use water is to take a bath in baking soda, sea salts or Epsom salts.  Yes, you can use warm water!  These are all detoxifiers, and baking soda is a natural alkalizer. Adding one cup of baking soda, sea salts or Epsom salts to your bath can help rid you of others’ toxic energy.  You can also try a bath with ½ cup of apple cider vinegar (if you can stand the smell), or combine all of these!

3. Use This Body Language Secret

We all know about the importance of using open body language–when you don’t cross your arms and legs so that your body sends both a physical and psychological message of “openness.”  When I coach clients on public speaking or media training, I encourage them to use open body language as a way to connect with their audience. 

Now I’m going to encourage you to do the opposite.

I’m not suggesting that you sit or stand with your arms and legs crossed when you’re meeting in person or on a group chat on Zoom.  That could still be perceived as a defensive posture.  What I am suggesting is that you try something a bit more subtle.

Instead of positioning yourself so that you’re facing people straight on, try to sit so that your body is on an angle.  Your head can still be looking directly at your audience, but your heart is not.  That way, your heart is protected.

Because ultra sensitive people are often “open-hearted,” they can easily pick up on others’ feelings that go beyond reading others’ body language.  This can be a distraction both in person and in a Zoom meeting.  It can also lead to unnecessarily taking on others’ emotions, and feeling “heavy-hearted” after these encounters. 

But take heart.  By closing off your heart to others during these meetings, your heart will still be open to the people you love…

4. Talk to Your Inner Puppy

Have you ever paid attention to your inner self-talk?  Chances are, as an ultra sensitive person, you have different voices inside of you that send you messages.  Hopefully, one of those voices says things like “Yay you!” and “You’re wonderful!”  Sadly, one of those voices might also be saying, “Why are you still feeling like that?”  or  “Are you really wearing the same sweatpants three days in a row?” 

These days, you may find that you’re feeling stressed, fearful and anxious.  That’s natural, given the current state of the world.  But what may make you feel even worse is when you criticize yourself for having these feelings.

When I first learned to speak to the internal critical part of myself, I was taught to kick it out of my head.  “Get out!”  I’d shout.  And my inner critic would shout back, “Nope!”

Then I discovered Thich Nat Hanh, a brilliant Zen Master and humble Buddhist monk whom Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “an apostle of peace and non-violence” when he nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.   Thich Nat Nanh’s approach was a kinder and gentler one.  Instead of harshly judging unwanted feelings, he suggests we look at our feelings with a neutral recognition.   If you’re experiencing fear, instead of saying “Go away, Fear.  I don’t like you,” say “Hello, Fear. How are you today?”

By neutralizing the feeling state, you can emotionally detach in a healthy way. 

Then you can go one step further.  Imagine holding the emotion the way you’d hold a puppy.  Speak to that inner emotion gently and with kindness—as if you’re trying to soothe the puppy.  Imagine yourself stroking the puppy and offering reassuring words like “Everything is okay” or “I’m here for you.”  Then allow yourself to let the emotion go. 

By doing this simple and powerful exercise, you can release unwanted emotional states.

5. See it–Don’t Be It

Have you ever wanted to connect with someone so much that you found you could actually feel what they’re feeling?  Or maybe you didn’t want to connect with that person but found that you took on their feelings anyway?  Have you ever been in a situation where you’re trying to help out a friend and your friend walks away feeling so much better while you walk away feeling so much worse?

Often times, in an attempt to help others, many ultra sensitive people over-identify.  By trying to connect as a good friend/co-worker/therapist, they take on other people’s feelings. The technical term for this is “over-identification.”  The non-technical term is “getting slimed.” 

In an interview with Rachel Hott, PhD, co-director of the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Center of New York, she acknowledged this phenomenon that ultra sensitive people experience.  “This wonderful empathy can become overwhelming for them and they easily feel depleted.”  In the world of NLP, ultra sensitive people are referred to as “Kinesthetics.” Dr. Hott suggests creating boundaries, and she offered some creative ones.

“You can imagine wearing a beautiful cape or surrounding yourself with a Plexiglass shield” to protect you from absorbing others’ energy.  There are also other visualizations and mental imagery you can use.  I advise clients to imagine they are surrounded by a waterfall or a bright white light.  

Can visualizations really help you in these situations?  The answer is yes.  Visualization is a powerful tool used by elite athletes. Since we know that ultra sensitive people are the elite athletes of emotional states, they too can benefit from using these visualization techniques.

One More Thing…

You have superpowers.  As an ultra sensitive person, you have the gifts of sensitivity and compassion that allow you to tune into others in a profound way. Just remember to use your gifts on yourself. Be the caretaker to yourself that you are to others.  Use your superpowers to take care of you!

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