The word ‘empath’ is widely used nowadays, describing a generation of sensitive souls who strongly empathize with others. Empaths often feel things that are related to what people around them experience. This presents a lifelong learning process to distinguish what is ‘ours’ and what belongs to ‘the other’. When the discernment becomes more refined, the sensitivity turns into a quality, leading empaths onto a path where they will often become guides to others.

In learning which areas in life are ‘ours’, we learn to take responsibility for these parts. We do our inner work, process shadow parts, work through limitations of the past and become spiritual warriors: ready to tackle every challenge that’s coming our way with humble responsibility and acceptance. There is a great deal to be learned from this and we will experience our consciousness expanding in doing so.

However, we don’t always realize that there is another layer of empathy, less often addressed, that I call ‘collective empathy’. Because not only can we be sensitive to the experience of other individuals, we can also be sensitive to collective experiences of groups of people, countries, animal realms or other conscious lifeforms. Maybe you have experienced this when you enter a certain city for the first time, connect to a specific animal or plant species or when you suddenly seem to tap into a collective memory that is bigger than your own. A collective energy, especially energies that have been oppressed for a long period of time, will always seek an available vessel to express itself. In becoming more aware of and taking responsibility for our day-to-day experiences, we become more available vessels for unexpressed energy. This is a beautiful quality, for where energy can be contained, witnessed and experienced, it can discharge and evolve.

But when we are unconscious of the source of the energy we are processing, we can become trapped in the thought that this is all ‘ours’ to work through. I have met a lot of empaths that are very tired or are feeling overwhelmed by all the inner work they feel they need to do or make themselves responsible for. A big shift can occur when we realize we have a choice in what we are available for and learn to distinguish between what is personal and what is collective. Our souls have infinite availability for the healing we choose to contribute to in the world on a soul-level. But our bodies have a limited capacity to process energies and bodies need training to grow their containment.

Let your body be your guide in what you are choosing to be available for. And know that by respecting the boundaries of your body, you are committing to creating a healthy vessel that is not plagued by overwhelm, but energized by selfcare. So that you can become a guide for both individual and collective healing.