Dear Sensitive Soul,

February is here, and with it a new name. Initiating dialogue with all of you in my last e-zine has inspired the new title: “Sensitive Living.” Who knows, perhaps someday it will be a “real” magazine. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

I also wanted to share with you a picture of my new kitten, Millie. She is wickedly cute. And although she has a propensity to bite too much, we love her dearly. She is only five weeks old in this picture, and is much older now. But I had to share this one with all of you!

This month, enjoy my new article, “Understanding Empathy.” I’d also love to invite any SF Bay Area Sensitive Souls to join me in a weekly walking group at Inspiration Point – let me know if you’re interested!


Feature Article
Understanding Empathy

As a sensitive soul, you are likely to have a high degree of empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel another person’s emotions as if they are your own. In many ways, being empathic is a gift, because it allows you to fully experience, understand, and support others. In other ways, it can feel intrusive, overwhelming, and frustrating to have your personal space be “invaded” by other people’s emotions and energies – and sometimes, even their physical symptoms.

Recognizing Empathy
Even if you’re highly sensitive, you may not fully recognize the extent of your empathy yet. To start, try paying attention to how others affect you while staying open to the idea that not all the emotions you’re feeling may be your own. I, personally, have experienced the good fortune of validating my empathic nature first-hand. Although I’d always called myself empathic, it wasn’t until the last few years that I truly began to understand what that meant.

I was with a friend who, in all outward appearances, was in good spirits. I found myself suddenly and abruptly lost in a quagmire of negative thinking about my life, my work, and my relationships. I thought: “Wait a minute. Just a minute ago I was feeling fine and uplifted. As soon as my friend sat down, I went into this downward spiral.” And before giving it much more thought, I said to him: “Hey, are you okay? As soon as you sat down I started feeling really depressed.” Being the gracious, open, sensitive soul that he is, he responded with the truth. He and his girlfriend had just ended their relationship only moments before. Although I felt so sorry for him, I was also elated. Here was real and tangible evidence validating my experience! I quickly began to reframe my past experiences of sudden, inexplicable depression that came on from as if from nowhere. It was a huge relief to shift my thinking about it.

Since then, I have put a great deal of effort into understanding and working with my empathic nature. What I’ve found is that we experience emotions that we have an internal resonance with. In other words, we’ve felt the emotions before, so we recognize and feel them within ourselves. Along with other factors like getting overstimulated and having low self-esteem (more about this in a future article), I think our empathy is part of why many sensitive souls are susceptible to feeling depressed.

Latest Science
Interestingly, in a Science Now program that aired Jan. 25 on the PBS series Nova, the recent identification of “mirror neurons” was presented. These neurons fire when we move or emote, or see someone else moving or emoting. They can’t tell the difference between us taking action and someone else taking action, which means that we have the experience of doing it ourselves even if we’re just watching. (I guess this is what makes virtual reality a real possibility!) Have you ever watched people dancing, skating, playing sports, or being emotional, and felt as if you were moving or crying yourself? These neurons mean we may be capable of feeling motion and emotions even if we haven’t had a first-hand experience of them ourselves. Further, Nova’s research indicates that we are more likely to resonate with those we’ve already experienced. I can’t help wondering if sensitive souls have more greatly developed or expanded mirror neuron systems.

Psychic Development
Some schools of thought hold that empathy is a form of psychic ability, but my training has led me to believe that empathy is actually a form of having weak boundaries. Clairsentience is the fully developed and highly functioning form of empathy and is a psychic ability. Clairsentience, when it’s working properly, allows us to experience the emotions, energies, and physical sensations of others, without being personally affected by them ourselves. This state is an advanced skill – the ultimate form of empathy. The first step toward harnessing it is learning to balance and manage our empathy.

How Do We Get There?
I teach a number of skills in Phase II of my Embrace Your Essential Self program that focus on developing stronger boundaries, as well as other essential skills for sensitive souls. Here’s a look at some of what I teach to get you started:

* Try flower essences. Yarrows sold by Flower Essence Services are great for helping you be less susceptible to the emotions of others and for differentiating your emotions from others. Different yarrows are available for different states, so be sure to explore. Walnut sold by Bach Flower is great for “protection from outside influences.” I’ve created a custom blend of yarrow, walnut, and purple monkeyflower (for psychic or spiritual discomfort) for myself.

* Use the elements as support. You may want to try using water in your home and workspace to help protect yourself. Water is the element of emotion, and strategically placed bowls of water throughout your space can become repositories for emotional energy. I created a simple tabletop fountain so that my water would be constantly moving, to keep the energy and emotion moving through my space and not stagnating.

* Practice the art of self-defense. Karate, capoeira, kendo, boxing, and tai-chi are a few of many forms of self-defense training that will help strengthen your energy field and personal power, which are key aspects of strong boundaries. My personal experience with this is that it is very empowering.

* Love yourself. Seems simple to say that, doesn’t it? But self-care and self-respect – along with the ability to protect yourself and the ability to say, “No thanks!” – come from a place of deep self-love. Aren’t you worth it? When you get down to it, aren’t you the most important person in your life? And you deserve to be loved by the most important person in your life!

So next time you experience a sudden emotional shift that seems to come out of the blue, in addition to checking with yourself about what’s going on, take a look and see what might be happening all around. You may be experiencing something that isn’t yours!

Supporting Your Essential Self

If you’re interested in taking your empathy, self-care, self-love, and energy skills to the next level, you might want to consider my Embrace Your Essential Self program. Phase I of the program – Essence – is the perfect place to get started knowing and loving yourself in a whole new way. Because when you know yourself to be who you TRULY are, you’ll find a deep sense of inner rightness that allows you to open up to the magnificent being you are here to be.

In Phase II of the program – Enhancement – you’ll learn valuable skills to help you fully support your Essential Self as you learn to live fully in the world as a sensitive soul. These skills include both practical and spiritual techniques for happy, healthy, highly sensitive living.

If you’re interested in finding out if one or both of these phases of the program is right for you, please call 510.528.1696 to schedule a free consultation session. Past clients may be interested in just exploring the second phase!

More Information on Empathy

You can learn more about empathy from these authors. While their information doesn’t always agree with my training, I’ve found them to be both interesting and useful in working with empathy.

Becoming an Empath: How to Develop the Power of Your Emotional Intuition by Karla McLaren (audio)

Energetic Boundaries: Practical Protection and Renewal Skills for Healers, Therapists, and Sensitive People by Karla McLaren (audio)

The Sensitive Person's Survival Guide: An Alternative Health Answer to Emotional Sensitivity & Depression by Kyra Mesich


Sensitive Living
February 2005

feature article

supporting your
essential self

more information
on empathy

upcoming events

web site resources

tips for
sensitive souls

sensitive souls
walking group

call for input



Upcoming Events

Thursday, Feb. 17
4 p.m. PST

TeleGathering for Sensitive Souls
A free gathering with like-minded souls. Third Thursdays of the month. Sign up for details and announcements.

Thursday, Mar. 17
11 a.m. PST

TeleGathering for Sensitive Souls




Web Site Resources

The Embrace Your Essential Self Program

Other Services

Five-Star Products for Sensitive Souls

Resources & Articles

Calendar of Events

Centering for
Sensitive Souls




Tips for
Sensitive Souls

Listen to Your Body

Your body (and your sensitive nervous system) has a great deal of valuable information for you. One thing that I find frustrating about our society is the focus on working no matter what. I find that one of the most important things I can do for myself is to take breaks when I need them.

Just this past weekend, I came down with a cold. It didn’t surprise me much, because I’ve been pushing myself too hard lately. So it was a great reminder to me that: a) I have to remember to pace myself no matter how excited I get about my projects (A future article will be “Walking the Tightrope: Thriving as a Sensation Seeking Sensitive Soul”); and b) I have to listen to my body when it tells me that it’s time to rest.

I always think of getting sick as a message from my body that reads something like “LAY DOWN RIGHT NOW.” It’s my body’s equivalent of shouting. So I know that by the time I get to that point, I really better pay attention fast. In response to this latest missive, I promptly cancelled my plans for the weekend and my work schedule for Monday, rented a bunch of movies, and focused on chicken soup and healing.

I also know that messages from my body come in other subtle ways, including sensations like a tightening in the pit of my stomach when I’m asked to do something that isn’t right for me, or a giant “Yes” surge of energy when something is right. Other examples include a feeling of resistance, or a “No” feeling, and sometimes even boredom. My feelings, my nervous system, and my body, in concert, always let me know what’s up.

** How are you listening right now? **

Sensitive Souls Walking Group

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are interested in joining a walking group of sensitive souls, you’re in luck! I’m about to start a weekly group at Inspiration Point in Berkeley. Please be sure and let me know if you are interested in finding out about the details. There will not be a fee for participation – this is just for fun, exercise, connection, and nature. Join me.

Let me know if you’re interested: ->


A Call for Input

What would you LOVE to see written about in this e-zine? What are your burning questions and curiosities? Your feedback is welcome and desired! Please e-mail me your thoughts or ideas for future issues.

E-mail me: ->