Over the years, I’ve come to realize something about myself. I am very sensitive to the thoughts, feelings, and even physical pains of others. This has been both a gift and a burden. It is a burden when you don’t realize what is happening, why you are feeling the way you do in the presence of others. It is a gift when you do realize it, because you can turn it off quite easily.
I first realized my ability to feel other people’s emotions and feelings during my career as a school teacher. All those little bodies would enter the classroom, and I would become overwhelmed by their emotions. Mostly they were good emotions: excitement for the day, happiness at seeing their classmates, happy anticipation to learn more. But I would also pick up on the child who had a fight with their parent, sibling, or friend that morning. I could feel the sadness of a child whose family was going through hard times. And the most difficult emotion in the classroom came from the manipulator. They were so busy plotting and planning their interactions with others, they would physically drain me.
As a classroom teacher, I didn’t realize that I also could pick up the physical sensations of the students. At school, everyone is sick, sore, in pain, and so anytime I got sick or had a pain, I just chalked it up to the job environment. It wasn’t until I became a yoga teacher that I realized I picked up other people’s physical ailments. I would walk into a yoga class, settle on the mat, and then start to feel a pain: maybe the knee, maybe the shoulder, perhaps the feet. And I would think, “Now where did this pain come from?” After a couple of years of noticing the pain, I started asking the class if someone was feeling a pain in that particular area. I learned that I felt their mirrored pain. In other words, if they felt the pain in their left shoulder, I felt it in my right shoulder.
This ability to feel others thoughts, feelings, and physical pains was a burden to me until I learned to protect myself from it. There are a few ways we can do this: put the person into a bubble, so their energy stays within their own perimeters and they can’t give it away; physically or mentally brush off any attachments they have made to you, imagining spider webs left on you, you brush them off; or just saying, “This is not my pain/ issue. Release me from it.” All of these are very effective.
Many of us are sensitive to others, but so unaware of it. Take the next few days to notice if you pick up on others thoughts, feelings, or physical discomforts. Ask yourself, “Do I own this pain/feeling?” If you get the feeling you don’t, release it.