Are you one? Do you know one? Do you come from a long line of them, or does your family tend to treat your sensitive nature like a foreign concept?
I know it differs for all of us, but as I’ve developed my abilities over the years I’ve found the immense need for more information about ways to navigate through life while being such a sensitive, perceptive, emotional sponge. Even if you’re not an Empath, I’m sure you’ve reached a point in your day, your week, your month, maybe even your year that you just feel burnt out. Emotionally, physically, spiritually zapped. Sound familiar? I mean, I’ve felt tapped out since the year started. I think I’m still recovering from 2018 to be completely honest. While also trying to navigate through the muddy ‘shit parade’ 2019 has thrown at many of us.
Something I’ve come up against with many of my clients lately is the “need to get away”. Keep in mind, I live in Montana and my local clients are getting bombarded with negative temps and several inches of snow on a weekly basis. Unless you’re a die hard ski bum who lives, breathes, eats Montana winters; this can be a bit of a rough adjustment for you. I’ve lived here 25 years and it’s always a tough transition from fall to winter. So I can relate to the vacation mindset, simply to free myself from the weather. What about those of you who live in warmer climates? Maybe even tropical settings? I have clients experiencing the same “need to get away” even in sunny, beautiful Hawaii. What’s been their common denominator for this spontaneous ‘vaca’?
Even while writing this, I’m having to pull my own shoulders down from my ear lobes. 2018 was such a full fledged shit parade for so many people. There were insane highs and even lower lows. For us Empaths, we got to experience not only our own interpretation of this crazy 365 day trip around the sun, but for some of us we got to experience the MASSES as they navigated through their own version of success and turmoil. This is exhausting. It can lead to illness, anxiety or depression. Or a glorious combination of each. As we entered 2019 and throughout this year it seemed we were experiencing some very familiar ups and downs in our lives. These last 2 years have been pivotal for many of my clients and I know for a fact they have been two of the MOST pivotal years for myself personally. Although it’s been challenging and there have been so many days where I honestly felt like I didn’t want to continue this human experience, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would go through each trial and tribulation repeatedly to learn the lessons the universe has placed in front of me.
Now for my ‘sponge’ analogy. If as an Empath we view our entire body as a giant sponge that is soaking in our surrounding environment; everything from sounds, visions, conversations, vibes, energy you name it. Imagine each of these experiences being made of some form of liquid. That liquid enters our sponge and it just sits there right? That’s what a sponge is designed to do; hold liquid. As our day proceeds we continue to absorb more and more liquid. By lunch time, many of us are at least halfway full of our surrounding environment’s liquid. Maybe we get to go to a lunch, a session of yoga or even just enjoy some tea by ourselves and we can squish out just a little bit of that liquid. (Self Care is KEY in wringing out your sponge). Keeping in mind it’s only lunch time and many of us still have several hours to go before we classify our day as ‘over’. Even when our work day is over, we then have to inspect our home and living environment (we’ll look deeper into that momentarily).
So you’ve made it past the halfway mark, maybe you’ve dispersed some of that liquid…maybe you haven’t. Now you’re back at work or back with the kiddos and you’re just adding more and more liquid to that sponge. The news that’s on in the background is adding cup by cup. Your social media stream is constantly trickling more fluids in. Your text thread with everyone from that random person you haven’t seen in 6 years, your boss, your mother, your spouse; you name it, they are all pouring more and more liquid into your sponge. So you’ve finally reached let’s say 5 o’clock (margaritas any one? - just kidding, let’s not start a coping train; I’d rather get you real results that last). Let’s say by 5 p.m. your sponge is now 90% full. But wait…I hear a few of you whispering to yourselves, “I still have to go home and deal with family, pets, my other job, groceries, meal prep, showering, laundry”…the list goes on. Well, you’re not wrong. You’ve got maybe 10% capacity of your ‘sponge’ remaining by the time you get home at the end of your day. Now this may not be the case for everyone, but it is a trend I see in my practice quite often. Here’s where it gets tricky. You’ve only got 10% of your energy and will power remaining, yet how do you properly distribute that among all the tasks at hand? Some of them being your MOST important tasks. You’ve given 90% of your ‘battery power’ and 90% of your “sponge capacity” to your day job and now you don’t have hardly anything left for what most of you enjoy 50 times more than that day job. (Those of you that turned your hobby or passion into a job and don’t fit into this particular category - PROPS to you, I commend you for your hard work and dedication because it was no easy feat to get there).
Instead of taking the time to go wring out our sponge a bit so we can give more of our love and attention to those who have been waiting for it all day, many of us choose to just give our remaining selves away in fractions or rations. Our spouse can’t figure out why we’re being short with them. Our pets may be excited to see us, but quite frankly a small piece of us is annoyed by their excitement (this stems from jealousy - we often just wish we had even a tiny portion of the energy they reserved for our return home). Our kids have questions for us and instead of sitting down and explaining things to them, it’s just easier if we do whatever the task is for them, so they can go sit down (preferably somewhere away from us) before they add any more liquid to that remaining 10%.
Once you’ve cooked the dinner, switched the laundry, fed the critters, cleaned the cat box, vacuumed the floor, packed away lunches for tomorrow, then it’s time for a bedtime routine right? (Keep in mind this list looks different for everyone and certain people can be more impacted and overwhelmed by different things. I’m just providing you a list of the most common things I see with my personal clients.)
You’re now maybe at about 3% remaining space in your sponge and things can be feeling grim. By the time you’ve gotten the kids to bed or the pets to wind down, you still need to embark on your own bedtime routine. Shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, maybe even shave your legs or trim your nails. Now you’re at 1% or less capacity to absorb any more liquid for your day. What about those of you in a relationship? You’re at less than 1% absorption rate and/or battery power and I would almost be willing to guarantee you, your partner wants that 1% for either some much anticipated ‘nooky’ or even just conversation about how their day as a sponge went.
Now stop. I mean it. Stop for just a moment. How are you supposed to give that last 1% away to them? Then you’d be left with nothing right? Many people don’t, they sacrifice their sex lives because they don’t know what will happen if they give that last 1%. Some people do give that final 1% away and the act of sex can actually help to wring their sponge out a bit and provide a little more room for absorption. Other people try to ‘detox’ their sponge rather than ring it out and choose to UNLOAD on their partner (this is something I highly recommend NOT doing - it’ll resurface with other issues down the line). Others give away that last 1%, they leave their partner feeling satisfied, yet for themselves they are left with this sense of darkness or gloom. They’ve just given every piece of themselves to their day and have no idea how they will ever recharge enough to make it through the day that follows.
Does this sound familiar? Is this like I just ripped a chapter out of your own personal day book? If so, and this frustrates the absolute HELL out of you, I want you to know that life does not have to continue in this fashion. You can finish your days with a LOT more than 1% capacity remaining in your sponge. I’m going to give you 5 tips as to how you can wring out your sponge in the morning, throughout the day and especially in the evening time.
Are you ready for a change?
5 WAYS TO WRING OUT YOUR SPONGE
Don’t add liquid to your sponge before the day has even begun. Start grounded and fresh.
For the first 30 minutes of your day, stay off that DAMN phone, tablet or computer. If you just cringed and all your internal organs threatened to shut down (I’M ESPECIALLY TALKING TO YOU!) As tempting as it is to pull out that device and see what the universe around you is doing, I challenge you not to. Why? Simply because it is already beginning to fill your sponge and drain your battery and you haven’t even had the chance to get your feet underneath of you and truly start your day. If you’re still feeling drained from the day before you’re already not starting things off with an empty sponge, ready for a day of absorption. The black hole of social media and news will only take away from what you are already lacking. Now for those of you who are racking up every excuse in the book as to why you need to jump right on that cell phone race track (job, hobby, boss, nanny…the magical unicorn you summoned in your last meditation…) I don’t care what your excuse is for needing to check your phone first thing, my answer is DON’T do it. Even if this means you have to get up 30 minutes earlier to accomplish this time to yourself, I promise you will thank me later.
Physical hydration is the key. Being mindful is the doorway.
Drink a glass of ACTUAL liquid. Some coaches are particular on what you should be drinking first thing in the morning (with good reason) but where I change things up, is I don’t particularly care what you drink; I care HOW you drink it. Whether it’s water, tea, coffee, protein shake, soda, milk (including anything of the nut variety), fruit juice…you catch my drift; it’s how you drink it that I want to bring your attention to.
I want you to ENJOY it. I mean it. I want you to take whatever amount of time it takes you to ingest this beverage and I want you to ENJOY it. Be present with it. Think about what it tastes like, how it feels on your tongue. Is it hot or cold? Maybe it’s room temperature. I want you to think about what it’s doing for your physiological body. How it’s providing you with hydration and nourishment on some level. I want you to feel satisfied after you drink it.
I want you to see this as one of your first forms of ACCOMPLISHMENT for the day. Treat it as though you’ve officially checked off at least 1 item from your to-do list. By taking the time to bring your attention to the current moment and the task at hand you are actually triggering some of the same key components in your brain as meditation. Sure, this is a very MILD form of meditation, but it’s all about taking the reigns of your mind and giving it a little soft direction.
As you swallow those last few drops of liquid, I want you to envision any heaviness or darkness washing down with it. Imagine sending it directly to your body’s waste dispensary and allowing your body to do with it what it will. This is a fantastic way to empty out your sponge from yesterday’s crap and it helps free up plenty of space to absorb what’s important today.
Mind Full vs. Mindful
Now for a little more in depth meditation. Don’t worry, we’re not rushing into anything that requires too much commitment or knowledge around meditation. It’s time for a little game of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. I want you to envision your body parts from top to bottom. That’s it. Simply close your eyes and envision them from head to toe. I don’t want you to hold any judgement towards any piece of yourself either. (Yeah you, the one who immediately thought of your belly or thighs. This activity is not to pass judgement, it’s to make you aware and live in the present moment for just a little while.) Here is my personal run through: top of my head, forehead, nose, lips, chin, neck, chest, shoulders, arms, hands, belly, pelvis, thighs, knees, shins, ankles, top of my feet, toes. As I go through each body part I think of how each one feels. Am I carrying any tension, is anything painful or out of alignment? As I assess each one I let those feelings go. If there’s pain I choose to thank my body for bringing my attention to it, and I ask that it let it go. Then I keep swiftly moving down my list.
Once you’ve mentally walked yourself down your body I want you to take 3 slow deep breaths. With each exhale I want you to push out any negativity, darkness or excess mental weight. Push it all out with the breath and inhale new, clear, clean invigorating air. After your 3rd and final exhale in this exercise, I want you to thank your body. Just simply thank it for being your home and vessel while on this planet, experiencing this particular life. Tada! You did it! Feel a little lighter, brighter, better? Good!!!! You’ve just made some more room in your sponge for the remainder of your day.
Lunch? What is this mythical creature you speak of?
How about an afternoon whole-body check in? This should take place around your lunch time. Let’s look back at Step 2 where it’s not as much about what you eat, but rather HOW you eat it. Lunch can be such a positively impactful time when utilized to it’s full potential. I don’t care if you eat at your desk, in your car, at a coffee shop, in the break room, or in the middle of the cement in the parking lot; it truly doesn’t matter where you eat either.
What I want you to focus on is how you eat whatever that glorious meal consists of. Hell, you could be eating a bag of Donuts for lunch and I still want you to draw your attention towards how you ingest those donuts. I want you to be present with your food. Even if it’s for 5 whole minutes. I ask that you pay attention to what your body is doing. Are you sitting? Standing? Leaning on the wall? Take a moment to pay attention to how your body feels in that position. Is there any pain present? Anything that could be more comfortable in your body position in that moment? I want you to shift and adjust until you reach a little more comfort-ability.
Next, before you even take that first bite I want you to literally say to yourself; “Okay, we’re about to eat. Let’s enjoy this.” You can say it in your head, you can say it out loud, you can shout it from the rooftop. I simply want you to verbally prompt your brain that you’re about to ingest a meal. This may sound rather silly, you might be thinking to yourself…"Shouldn’t my brain already know that by this point?” The answer is, not always. Sometimes we’re so engulfed in our daily tasks that our body may be hungry, it may have smelled the food, and it may be begging you to take a minute to eat something; but that doesn’t necessarily mean it knows you are about to ingest some form of nourishment.
Now that you’ve prompted your body that it’s time to eat, I want you to focus on the first 3 bites of your food. I want you to think about all of those first 3 bites in great detail. How does the food taste? Is it hot or cold? Is it chewy or crunchy? Sweet or salty? After those first 3 bites you can do whatever your heart desires. You’ve already cascaded a chain of events within the body and brain that will subconsciously continue to take effect with or without your full cognitive presence. Your body will already have sent chemical messages throughout telling you it’s time to digest and distribute the nutrients properly as well as what to do with any remaining waste.
Now comes what I like to call the “closing of mealtime”. As you take that last bite, I want it to be intentional about it. I want you to thank your food, thank your body, and thank your brain. That’s right. Tell all of those things thank you. (In your head or out loud - this will always depend on your comfort level as well as your surroundings.) Once you’ve thanked the whole system you can tell your body it’s time for transition. Let it know that you are ready to get back to the task at hand with more focus and enthusiasm than before that glorious lunch (even if it was a bag of donuts!!). Tell your body it’s time to let go of anything from the morning, from breakfast, from the night before. Learning to do a ‘mental reset’ during your lunch will help wring out that emotional sponge even if just a little. Regaining focus and redirecting your attention is always a great way to be mindful and open up room in that sponge for the rest of the afternoon’s tasks.
That’s a wrap! Wait…no it’s not.
Not quite the “End of Day” wring out. This is a multi-step process and can be done in whatever way best suits your commute home. This includes those of you who work from home (yes, being a stay at home parent is in fact working from home). This is looking at yet another transition.
When you're finished with “work” for the day, I want you to physically tell your brain and body that exact message. I want you to say something to the effect of “Okay, we’re done for the day. It’s time to finish the rest of our daily to-dos.” Those verbal prompts are highly effective for helping your body transition and for helping your stress levels drop even a minuscule amount.
I want you to focus on grounding yourself. Before you get into your car, before you walk down the stairs of your home or from one room to the next. I want you to look at your feet, look at the ground and focus on the two objects touching.
Envision tree roots stemming from the bottom of your feet. Imagine those roots shooting through the floor, the ground, whatever you’re currently stepping on. Now picture those tree roots shooting straight to the center of the Earth. Right into the hot and melty core.
Take 3 deep breaths in and out. On the 3rd exhale say to yourself “I am connected.” Now we’re going to use your new tie to the center of this planet. I want you take all of the chaos from today and imagine sending it through those roots and into the Earth. Just like little electronic universe messages, I want you to push all of that nasty crap into a metaphorical email to the Universe and send it right through those roots and allow the Earth to disperse it elsewhere. It’s no longer your responsibility to carry those weights or burdens. It’s time to let go and move forward with your next tasks.
With each bit of chaos you send through those roots I want you to envision water draining from your sponge, allowing new room for what the remainder of your evening has to hold. Creating more space for you to give to not only those you love, but more importantly to YOURSELF. Once you feel that little bit of weight being lifted you can continue with your evening routine.
BONUS Before Bed Wring Out
If you notice anxiety beginning to build up right before you’re about to hit those sheets, let me tell you right now that you are far from alone. Most of my clients experience this. (Even I have days where I haven’t felt much for anxiety all day long and as soon as I’m supposed to be winding down for the night, my body decides it wants to shove more energy through my veins than I’ve had all damn day.) Our brain tries to use this time for reflection, which is totally fine as long as we don’t let it spiral out of control. It’s perfectly okay to reflect on one’s day; however it’s not productive to let those thoughts and unfinished to-dos spiral around in your head until you feel nauseous, amped-up and exhausted all at once.
I want you to focus on being grounded once more before you even let your feet touch those sheets. I want you to push any extra heaviness out the bottom of your feet, through those roots, and into the Earth. Make that metaphorical universe email a GOOD one. Then I want you to grab a journal, a pen or pencil and write down 1 thing you are grateful for. Just 1 thing. It can be big or small. It can be seemingly insignificant to those around you, yet if it matters to you…it matters.
Once you’ve written your one thing, I want you to envision tiny little holes in your mattress and that once you lay your body onto that bed your sponge is allowed to just freely drip all that water through the bedding and into those tiny little holes. All that chaos filled liquid just draining out of your body, and through those holes, into the Earth.
As you begin to free your sponge of today’s liquid I want you to focus on how freeing that sensation is. This freeing you up for anything that could come up in the next handful of hours. Whether it’s sex, waking up to deal with sick or sleepless kiddos, getting up for a late night treat…you name it. I want you to envision that you’ve freed up enough room in that sponge for not only restful sleep but also for some kick ass “nookie” if your heart desires.
**End of the week tip.** Sunday evening I want you to collect each one of your daily grateful sentences. Before bed on Sunday evening, go ahead and read your week of gratefulness. Notice how these things make your body feel after a long and taxing week. I want you to take those same 7 grateful items and read them to yourself again first thing Monday morning. This is a magnificent way to begin your next work week with positivity and productivity.
Interested in learning more about wringing out your Emotional Sponge? Sign up for a coaching session and we’ll work together to facilitate a happier, more productive internal and external environment for you to THRIVE in, rather than just survive in.
With love from your coach,
(Photo Credit to the INCREDIBLY Talented: Stephannie Camosse Photography)