This morning, while enjoying my first coffee, I looked outside and noticed the bird feeders were empty.
I totally got caught up in my daughter leaving for college, the latest Netflix series, and you know, eating and other life stuff.
If it sounds like an excuse, it is.
I’m thinking what you’re thinking, is it my job to take care of the birds? Unless it actually is my job, and I am getting paid to feed the birds, the answer is no. Still, they’re helpless creatures and in a roundabout way, I signed up for the job because I put up the bird feeder.
Grabbing the bird seed bag, I hastily filled each feeder, and sent the birds a silent apology. After a few minutes, I peeled myself away from the trees and walked into the bathroom where my husband was shaving. “The birds are mad at me. I haven’t fed them in weeks. I filled the feeder this morning but they’re not coming by to eat.” I looked up at my husband who was now brushing his teeth.
“Birds don’t think like that, honey.” He smiled at me, but also peered in closer to see if I was serious.
I was serious. And yet, I wasn’t.
I knew the birds weren’t mad at me, but when you’re an empath, you feel everything. And sometimes, without realizing, you project.
In other words, someone, somewhere was mad at someone and I picked up on it.
I don’t remember when I first felt that someone was angry. It could have been yesterday, or last week. It could have been a second ago. And I didn’t realize it.
What we take in, needs to come out.
And when we’re not aware, it comes out in a whole bunch of strange ways, like me and the birds.
There’s a benefit to staying awake as an empath. Like a tick: if you find it within 24 hours, you’ll probably be okay. In other words, if you catch it, name what you’re feeling, or move through it—it ends fairly quickly and innocently. If you don’t, and it builds, it can wreak havoc both emotionally and physically.
A spiritual teacher once told me, “As an empath, you need to take out the trash.”
This is why a mindfulness practice for empaths becomes just as important as a healthy diet.
It is not just empathic adults who need to know what it means to be an empath. Many children are empaths and have no idea.
My son, often distracted in school, is exhausted when he returns home. He has been feeling for everyone else—all day, every day. He has no idea why. He just feels and releases. It’s why he goes into the woods as soon as he comes home. He unwinds with the salamanders and frogs. It calms him. He also likes dim lights, soft music, and time alone.
I’m the same, although I can do without the amphibians.
It’s also why we live on six acres and I work from home. As an empath, being around people can be exhausting. We can feel like rubber balls being bounced around by other’s emotions. We don’t know that it’s happening until one day, you look up and think the birds are mad at you. And you realize that something else must be going on. You’re too smart to think the birds are really mad. You know if you wait a little longer, they will begin feeding.
So you laugh at yourself, often.
And you spend time alone.
And you avoid the news.
And you make it daily habit to name what you’re feeling, and you ask often if it’s yours or someone else’s. And you begin to get used to not knowing why you’re feeling whatever it is you are feeling. And it starts to not matter.
And you even laugh, if you can, at some of the labels you and many other empaths have unknowingly taken on: depressed, anxious, ADHD, ADD, paranoid, phobic, introvert, and agoraphobic.
And you think, if they only had one label for all empaths it would be ESEP, Energy Sensitive Empathic People or ESEC, Energy Sensitive Empathic Children.
And you hope one day that all empaths will realize what is going on, and know that being empathic is a gift, not a curse. That being sensitive can have its perks.
You hope that others can see how empaths are helping others—by feeling the feelings for them.
And that spending time alone can lend itself to an active imagination, creative endeavors, and the time for self-reflection, a necessary and often eye-opening part of a life journey.
So the next time you think someone is mad at you, stop and think about the birds.
And then let it go.
After all, it was never yours to keep.
This article was also published on Elephant Journal. You can find it here.