A few weeks ago, at the Assemblage, I interviewed my friend Sydney Campos about her new book "The Empath Experience." It was a joy to share the stage with a fellow empath, who's making a name for herself by owning the power of her sensitivity. She lit people up with her enthusiasm for self-healing and empath-ing.
Sydney's book is full of wonderful tips, tricks and tools for how to navigate life as an empath (and more broadly, how to heal yourself as a human). But it was one idea that screamed out at me the loudest and continues to resonate with me as I write this.
Put yourself first. Put yourself first. Put yourself first.
For Sydney, that meant reordering her life around healing, around the needs of her body. It meant setting boundaries, reconnecting with her inner child, and striving to love herself completely, to love even the part of herself that couldn't do all that loving.
Isn't that selfish? To focus so much on yourself?
It depends on what you mean by selfish. It's selfish to the extent that you're asking, "What do I need?" before asking, "What do you need?" But in another sense, it isn't selfish at all. Because you'll be able to meet others' needs that much more when you're whole yourself.
How to square this idea with the urge to do whatever the hell you want, no matter who it hurts? Does this mean that you can just take, take, take? Not at all. Try it, and you'll learn that now you're hurting even more. You haven't put yourself first all. You've sacrificed yourself to your urges.
To put yourself first means meeting your needs, not satisfying your whims. If you don't know what those needs are, it means creating the time and space for your heart to tell you. When you do that, Sydney and I agree wholeheartedly, your gifts will emerge all on their own, awkwardly at first, then joyfully and, ultimately, selflessly.