Sage Spirit Blog

a gathering space for conscious, creative, intuitive, fun, loving earthlings and their ideas. if you’re here, you belong.

Discernment for Empaths and Energy Sensitive People


Denise & Dana – Photo by Terri Anderson Mills, Bob’s 60th Birthday Surprise Party. Lots of Shiny, Happy People!

Discernment is the capacity to identify the difference between what is truth and what is illusion, or a lie, or just the result of chaotic thinking. ~ Caroline Myss

The topic of empathy has been big lately, for me and others. Empaths can be a sponge for the energy of others. Upon the news of Robin Williams’ suicide, a wave of grief and depression flowed across the world, and especially the United States. For some, we felt much more than our own sadness. We felt the enormity of that which belonged to the collective. That’s big. Ever since I began writing this piece a few weeks ago, most of my sessions have involved some discussion of empathy. We are not alone! If you want to know more about empaths and to see if you are one, this article from The Mind Unleased has more information.

As an empath, I have navigated the world in unusual ways. I overwhelm easily in crowded, chaotic places. I taste the energy of foods even more than the flavor. A stranger sitting next to me in a theatre can have a profound impact on my quality of life in that moment. I had ulcerative colitis by about age four, internalizing the stress and emotions of others and my environment.

Being an empath has led me to learn and practice discernment. I like to be where happy people gather, and I choose my friends carefully so that there’s a healthy balance between giving and receiving. I require lots of sleep and solitude to clear my energy field and to discern what energies, thoughts and emotions are mine rather than those I picked up elsewhere. Empathy can drain me. Drama unravels me. This knowing is a gift, in that it’s forced me to become ever more conscious of what I choose to create in my life and where I choose to go. Discernment is great. Judgment is not, for it does not allow me to stay in integrity with who I BE. What’s the difference?

I have pondered the roles of judgment and discernment in my path as empath. Webster defines judgment as an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought. Discernment is the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. The distinction is subtle for me. When putting the terms into the context of my life-experience, here is a working definition (always subject to change at any moment): Judgment is when I think I know what’s best for another, while discernment is when I know what’s best for myself and I align my choices accordingly. I find that discernment is essential in my path of keeping my energy field clean and clear, and to allow me to show up authentically. Judgment, in this sense, just muddies everything up and keeps me separate from others in an unhealthy way.

In my coach training, we learned never to assume what’s best for another person. Instead we ask questions to help others to find their truth. This helps me to maintain objectivity and to hold the agenda of others with integrity, without trying to influence them in a way that reflects my ideas and values rather than theirs. At the same time, I am compassionate for the trials and pains of others. In our community, an acquaintance committed a crime. Not long before this occurred, I ran into her at a networking event where she shared many of the trials she recently faced. Even though our conversation was brief, it was very deep and full-of-heart. When she revealed her crime to the police weeks later, many judged her harshly. I could not. In fact, my compassion created an empathic bridge, and perhaps she also reached out to me energetically. It’s quite possible. I kept having flashes of her pain, confusion, regret, and deep, deep sorrow. I could feel the pronounced awareness that her life would never feel normal again. It was as if I shared her consciousness, even though we barely know each other. Part of the hook, for me, is that she liked and trusted me with her story, her pain. My compassion naturally blossoms into empathy. It’s an inevitable route for me, at least so far in my story.

But this connection with her was not healthy for me, and I worked energetically to clear it lovingly. My empathy helps me in my work and life, but I must remember to always maintain healthy boundaries so that I keep my body-mind-spirit in full vibrancy.

Boundaries help me to maintain objectivity and detachment, to experience my groundedness and centeredness in a way that keeps me fully-functioning and vibrant in this life. I still experience harsh reminders at times, but I am learning and expanding with each year of my life in this earthsuit.

Even further, boundaries contribute to my integrity. On August 4, Caroline Myss shared this on discernment on her facebook page in a way that takes the discussion further and links to integrity.

A discerning vantage point is one in which you make a conscious effort – and it is an effort – to stay as detached from emotional reasoning as you can in order to view the order of life with compassion. This is a Buddhist approach and it makes sense to me. This is how I would like to be approached by others; that is, no one from the outside world knows my inner life or knows me or understands why I think as I do. No one was with me through my childhood or knows how deeply I still mourn the passing of my brother. We do not and never will know each other that much – ever. How can we ever hope to understand how world events happen? It takes the grace of discernment to realize you cannot and never will be able to comprehend the full measure of emotion and history and pain and all the other ingredients that make up even one “energy day” of life – especially in an area of high chaos and war. Again and again, it is up to each of us to decide whether to respond with the highest forces within ourselves or with emotions. I remember having so much anger at two people one time, I ended up ill. It’s a long story and quite honestly, a damn good one because I ended up saying the prayer I am going to share with you now. I had become discerning enough to realize that my way of viewing everything about these two relationships was absolutely meaningless. Still, that did not release my anger, so I said this prayer, “Until I am able to heal myself of my anger, please do not let it harm those people or do harm to anyone. I do not want my harmful emotions to harm one more human being.” I promise you, the instant I said that prayer, my heart was healed. I had no idea that would happen – no idea whatsoever. I have never again felt anger like that. I can’t imagine it and I don’t want to. I had managed to heal all of us because I could not bear to hurt them any longer even if I could not forgive them. And instantly, it was over. The grace of discernment allows you to see when enough is enough and you need to get on with the business of being loving without exceptions.

Myss’s powerful prayer echoes for me profoundly, “Until I am able to heal myself of my anger, please do not let it harm those people or do harm to anyone. I do not want my harmful emotions to harm one more human being.” As one who channels healing energy and as an empath, causing harm to another person feels unbearable. Yet, I have said and done cruel things from an unhealed place within myself at times.

What’s true for me now… I am willing to heal, at the deepest levels, in service to myself and my authentic spiritual journey. As an empath, I carry the pain of others from time to time. I promise to honor and do my utmost to cleanse and purify myself of toxic emotions, to show up as channel for healing to the best of my ability, now and always. I also promise to honor myself by not holding myself to notions of perfection that defy the human condition.

How do you discern your own thoughts and feelings from those of others?

How do you cleanse and purify your energy field as needed?

How can you be more gentle with yourself, just as you are?

This entry was posted in Community, Conscious Evolution, Healing, Relating, Spirituality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Discernment for Empaths and Energy Sensitive People

  1. tania says:

    great post denise! thank you for sharing this. i especially love the differences expressed between judgment and discernment and the working definition you have shared. much love to you!!

  2. Doug says:

    I didn’t connect the death of Robin Williams with the intense sadness. It makes sense now. Everything was so overwhelming. I even put myself in a position to not be here anymore. I don’t know how I ended up making it through. I never expected to wake up.

    I’m glad I read your blog. I think it will help me in the future to be aware of that potential huge wave of grief.

  3. Abel Rodriguez says:

    Thanks Denise for this post. The second and third paragraphs really hit home. It’s as if I had wrote them.

    Being a truck driver means that I eat out a lot. I cannot tell you how many meals I could not eat because the energy was negative. Being able to discern the kind of energy around me is important. Your Reiki classes have been an immense help in this.

    • So happy to know your beautiful, sensitive nature and energy Abel, and to share loving Reiki wisdom with you. I’m grateful that you have so much support for your journeys on life’s highways.

  4. Tracey says:

    Thank you for this post! As always it’s perfect timing for me. I am also very “sensitive” and as I continue to establish boundaries I have opened up to deeper healing in my life instead of avoiding it. In my journey my avoidance manifested at times in “anger” and it broke my heart seeing those that I felt I hurt.

    I take this with me as a “golden nugget”:

    Myss’s : “Until I am able to heal myself of my anger, please do not let it harm those people or do harm to anyone. I do not want my harmful emotions to harm one more human being.”


    • Blessings to you, Beautiful Tracey, and thank you for sharing your learning around boundaries. I think that’s huge! And I have much to learn about that still. I’m so grateful to you for your wisdom and wonder, your sweetness of spirit.

  5. Casey Medrano says:

    I am new in my knowledge of being an Empath although I’ve always been the same but now after 33 years the Lord has me on a new journey. I have never had to feel things as intense as I have for the last two years as I have beenough being prepared for my future jobs he has for me as I am having to do me now after 3 decades. As oddly as that may sound to some, I have never had to have much of my own emotions, I have never retainted anything ever read or learned nor have memory of the past even of 5 mins past. Especially in words. I have stopped dreaming over the past two years as well and am having the hardest time trying to find Balance in this all. I am thankful you have shared things of Perzonal stature with us all. I too cannot at this tie nor over the last two years have been able to be in a public places more than 15 times. The energies are entirely too extreme for me as I cannot even put both feet out of the car.
    You mentioned Earthly suit and I like that. You also mentioned something and I’ve always had people so drawn to me. God changed something major up after 33 years of life for me 2 years ago this month actually. It was time that I be still as he was needing me to understand my place and abilities. I listened slightly which wasn’t good enough. So he them took my thoughts bc I was not able to handle what I was being given and also shortly before that he took my emotion of anger. I have recently found myself in my own emotions frustrated and acted out a few times as one who is angry would but there is no emotional attachment within myself in that way. He was simply preparing me for the great works of him I would soon be doing in the world for Him as a Christian Emapth. I am now able to think a little ahead and I mean maybe only the thought of wanting to share something with no further thought of what in detail. I have understood that I have a lot of abilities I am recognizing and I am grateful to see that there are others as yourself that speak freely so that we can find the tools we need for growth. Thank you so much for your time and honesty through yoir faithfulness in being who you have been called to be.

    • Casey Medrano says:

      New phone and lots of things not spelled correctly and I want to apologize for that. I would correct if knew how on my comment. Sorry guys

      • Casey, I am so honored by your sharing from your heart. I can feel how much transformation is occurring in your life in a very quick time frame. Indeed, it can be confusing and overwhelming, and I am grateful that you are willing to remain open, to hear the guidance that helps you to stay on your spiritual path and to grow in the most remarkable ways. May your expansion be a blessing to you and all others. Your blossoming soul is a beauty to behold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *