I am an extroverted empath. I know to some that may sound like an oxymoron, but I promise it is not. Being an extroverted empath presents some unique challenges – Challenges that most of the resources for empaths don’t address.
For example: Most material on coping as an empath highlights the need for alone time to recharge. As an extrovert, how I recharge is with people! But I’m still energetically drained. What’s an extroverted empath to do?
Here are some tips I’ve picked up in my time as an extroverted empath:
Use the Right Kind of Shielding
This was something I thought I was actually pretty good at when I first had my “Oh, shit – I’m an empath!” realization. And I did do it well – it just wasn’t what I needed.
I like fire (see Flames of the Firebird and pretty much any post about Aphrodite), so I started using a tight spiral column of fire shield. It worked great! It kept the bad stuff out. But it sometimes felt like it kept some of the good stuff out, too, and it made me SO TIRED ALL THE TIME.
It took me a few months to figure out what was going on. I specifically sourced the shield from outside myself, so it wasn’t like I was using only my own energy to power it. I was very conscious about that. Eventually, through some conversations with my friends, they suggested that my shield was too tight. So, I tried loosening it. It didn’t work.
I tried a bunch of other kinds of shields and none of them felt right. I discovered one of them I had been doing unconsciously since I was young, but it wasn’t appropriate for what I needed now. After days of coming home from work exhausted and frustrated, I eventually gave up on shielding entirely. And it felt better! … At least until the day I got emotionally slimed by a client again and had to do some serious cleansing that night. Finally, it occurred to me that maybe I didn’t loosen my shield the way it needed to be loosened. It WAS working – it was just taking too much out of me.
I visualized a completely different pattern. Part of it was fire and part of it was light. It was still sourced from the same place (mostly outside of me, with a bit of my magickal touch), but there was breathing room. It was like a semi-permeable membrane. (I thought my previous shield technique was, too, but it turns out it was not.) It left space for good things to come in (which my shield always had), but, more importantly, it had space for energy to come OUT.
I discovered that I had effectively energetically shuttered myself in my shield. Since I project more than I receive (usually), all that energy has to go somewhere, and I was just getting it bounced right back to me (and not in a “soak up the good vibes” kind of way – more in a “duck and cover / friendly fire” sort of way). Part of being an extrovert is enjoying and thriving off of interactions with other people. I have to be able to send out my energy in order for the exchange to happen. Before tweaking my shield, I wasn’t getting that.
Choosing the right kind of shield is important, and it’s a completely personal journey. It will vary from day to day as well. Some days, you’ll need one thing, and sometimes the usual won’t cut it. Experiment with several different kinds of shields. Experiment with different patterns within those shields. Play with different elements. Definitely call in the Divine, because you don’t want to be powering that shit all on your own.
Cleanse and Clear
You hear a lot about how cleansing and clearing are important in magick, but it was never so obvious to me as when I began to come into my identity as an empath. Cleansing and clearing is VITAL. You have to get other people’s junk out of your energy field.
There are many different ways to do this (see Elemental Cleansing and Purification Ritual for some ideas). My newest favorite tools to do this with are my black tourmaline sphere (see next section) and my singing bowl. Both were acquired on a recent road trip to a Pagan Pride event.
I absolutely love my singing bowl. It is literally the only singing bowl I’ve ever gotten to make sound, which is part of why I ended up buying it. (Similar to the Olivander effect in Harry Potter: the wand chooses the wizard – or in this case, the singing bowl chooses the witch.) When I played it, I felt it straight in the middle of my chest – in my heart chakra and upward. I was positively buzzing, and my friends could feel it, too.
I like to use it when I come home from work. I feel and envision the sound radiating out from my heart to clear out all of the ick in my energetic field. It is also an exercise in mindfulness because I can’t move too quickly or it will stop singing. It forces me to slow down, tune in, and clear out. It feels wonderful.
Rocks are Your Friends
Be aware that you may use crystals and stones for different purposes than your other spiritual friends or from what is written in books or on the internet. That is totally okay! You need to figure out what stones connect with you, and how they best work for you. I discovered a few months ago that for empathic help, it was not enough to simply have a stone near me – It has to be physically touching my skin. That meant that the hematite ring that I had been wearing for months on my work keys (which were typically clipped on my belt loop) wasn’t doing much of anything. Oops.
When I was on the Pagan Road Trip with my friends, we discovered a neat little shop that had spheres of black tourmaline. Now, let me tell you, any piece of polished black tourmaline that’s bigger than an inch is almost impossible to find, and if you do, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny (and none of them are spherical). At this shop, they had a two-inch sphere of black tourmaline – polished and gorgeous! It was the biggest piece I had ever seen in a shop, and while it wasn’t cheap, it was nothing like I had imagined it would be based on the price of my other (much smaller) pieces.
There were two of them – one slightly smaller than the other. I called my friends over and we passed them both around. All of my friends agreed that the smaller one felt best, but I liked the bigger one. I felt it more. Even doing a blind feel of them (where one of my friends randomly handed them to me several times), I liked the bigger one. (For those of you worrying about the scientific impartiality of this experiment, you honestly couldn’t feel much of a weight difference between them.)
I asked them why they liked the smaller one (because I trust them as friends and magickal practitioners, and they all seemed to have a consensus.) They told me that it didn’t have as much energetic gunk on it as the larger one (from random people picking it up in the shop), and that it was more grounding and helped them to come into themselves and be present.
“Oh!” I replied. “Yeah, but the bigger one will absorb more shit.” I was met with quizzical looks. “I have to put all of my anxiety and ick into black tourmaline before it does that for me.”
Understanding was reached. One of my friends wisely told me that different stones work in different ways for different people, which made me wonder why I had never thought about that before. Particularly with individual variation in the amount of energy that you project vs. receive, and what moments those occur in, it makes total sense!
I can also confidently say that buying the bigger one was the right choice. I thoroughly cleansed it when I got it home, and it has been fantastic for clearing out whatever bad stuff has happened from my day. I also recently bought a bracelet of black tourmaline (for absorbing) and a bracelet of rainbow hematite (for shielding) to wear to work. They have been super helpful. With these aids, I don’t have to invest as much of my own energy into my shielding practice, which is great on days where I didn’t get enough sleep, or I’m just feeling tired.
Monitor Your Energetic Exchanges
Monitoring my energetic exchanges is eventually how I figured out the problem with my shielding. Admittedly, it is not my strong suit. It’s really not something I pay attention to, even though I know I should.
I give off A LOT of energy. One of my empathic friends once described me as a pulsar. I’m not even kidding. My whole life everyone has thought I am a morning person (even though I detest getting up early) because my baseline energy is just so high and happy. As a result, in most social situations, I’m putting off the most energy. Because it has been this way for most of my life, I don’t really pay attention to it.
So, if you find yourself exhausted (like me) and wondering why what you normally do isn’t working (also like me), then I encourage bringing a little more attention to how energy is moving in, out, and around you in your daily life. See what activities give you energy. See what takes energy from you. As an extrovert, being around people probably makes you happy, but certain situations may also drain you. I discovered that when I was feeling tired and depleted, spending time with close friends was a good balance between those aspects of my personality. It satisfied my want to socialize, but it was restorative, and wasn’t as demanding as being around strangers or people at work.
This is where I feel like the traditional resources for empaths really don’t address the needs of extroverts. “Time alone” is always suggested to recharge. I tried that, for a while, but it just made me feel depressed and disconnected, and didn’t actually do much to restore my energy. I need to talk to people. It’s how I process things. My relationships with other people are a big part of my identity. When I ignored that, it made me feel cut off from my true self.
Beware the Dark Side
There are a lot of great things about being an extroverted empath. I’m not as much of a sponge as my introvert empath friends, so I can tolerate a higher level of emotional energy around me at any given time. Because I love being social, I also don’t need to retreat to a cave of solitude to recharge. I project a lot, and as a result, I pretty clearly know what energy is mine and what is not.
However, there are some downfalls to being an extroverted empath. It’s easier to burn yourself out without noticing, and all of a sudden, you’re a puddle on the floor. Depending on your own personal energetic output, you can’t always feel others around you. My own empathic abilities have not been super consistent, and I am rarely able to get an empathic impression “on demand.”
One unexpected thing that I discovered I was good at (but I really didn’t want to be) is manipulation. As extroverts, we are great at socializing. We can read all the cues, and adapt to pretty much any situation. As empaths, we can feel what others are feeling, and get an even deeper reading of the situation. Put together, that means we can often read what another person wants to hear, and tailor our social interaction to that. Done mindfully and with respect, it means that you can be a great comfort to a friend going through a rough time, give your significant other a pep talk, or help sort things out between family members who aren’t getting along.
Done unintentionally or with malice, these helpful skills can become manipulation.
It’s not worth going into detail of how I discovered this, but suffice it to say that I was in a conversation with a sleazy salesman and I came out on top. I knew exactly what to say in the situation, left him simultaneously flustered and impressed with me, and I got the end result I wanted. Walking away from the encounter, I should have felt great. I had achieved my goal, but I felt awful. I felt dirty and unclean, in an entirely different way than my OCD makes me feel. My SOUL felt unclean.
I had unintentionally manipulated this man. It didn’t matter that he and his company had a questionable character. It didn’t matter that I did exactly what was expected of me. It didn’t matter that no one was harmed by what I did. I was the one who ended up feeling like the sleazeball instead of the salesman. It took a lot of thinking during my very long shower and energetic cleansings to figure out what happened. I read him, I knew what he wanted me to say, and I used it to my advantage. It was simple, really. But it didn’t feel so simple.
Please, don’t try this at home. It may seem like a fun experiment, but I promise you, it’s not. It’s unethical. When you are able to pick up AND put out energy as an extroverted empath, there’s a fine line between being convincing and being manipulative. Make sure you know what the difference is.
Celebrate the Wonderful Things!
Enough cautionary tales and scary stuff! Use your powers for good! There are a lot of beautiful things about your extrovert empath skills!
An extroverted empath is unmatched when it comes to inspiring others or rallying people to a worthy cause. You know how emotions work, and you can draw people in with your words and actions. They can feel your projected excited energy, and enthusiasm is contagious! Whether this is as a teacher in the classroom, or as a leader at a protest, you have the ability to unite people’s hearts and minds.
In a ritual setting, your simultaneous receptive and projective capabilities can help you to draw people together and direct energy in a circle. When I led my Pagan group’s Beltane celebration this year, it was the first time I had led a major ritual since discovering how to tune in to my empath abilities. I felt ALL THE THINGS. It was beautiful and joyous. I felt energy coursing into me and flowing out of me, and I felt the way I could move the waves in ritual space. (It also helped that Aphrodite was definitely there.) I felt intoxicated with energy, and more than one person told me I was absolutely glowing.
Being an extroverted empath has its challenges, but it’s worth it. If you are an extroverted empath, please leave me a comment or reach out to me through my contact form. I would love to hear your stories!