Are you an Empath?

I have been an Empath my whole life, but only within the last few years, have I known what an empath is. If I had known a bit more about it, I think I could have recognized and managed the dark sides of being an empath a little bit better, and could have learned to turn some of the struggles that come with being and empath, into extreme strengths that help people, a little bit sooner.

If you think you might be an Empath, I thought it might be helpful for you to have a deeper understanding of how to take care of yourself and how to have the biggest impact on others while doing so.

As a coach, you can imagine that being an empath comes in very handy. And you would be right. It comes in very handy for connecting with all people, not just my clients. It helps to truly understand people that I don’t share common values with, or in which we hold really different points of view.
Being able to feel the emotions of other people is a very powerful tool for creating belonging and connection.
Feeling the emotions of other people can also be very difficult if you don’t know how to manage and process them. By sharing my some of my experiences as a Empath, I hope to help you understand if you might be an Empath too, and how to build this skill safely.
What is an Empath?
An empath is a highly sensitive person who can attune to the feelings of other people at a deep, profound and often physical level of understanding.
What are some common traits of empaths?
  1. We have heightened senses: Empaths navigate and process their surroundings with all their senses. We use our senses to learn about other people and the world.
  2. We’re Intuitive: Intuition is a skill built from learning to trust the information that you receive through your senses. And then acting appropriately based on that information.
  3. We need a lot of alone time. The need for alone time isn’t just us expressing our delicate and fragile sensibilities. It a necessary way of cleansing the palette of over stimulated senses so that we can exist in the world without having to crumble in a heap.
  4. Negativity impacts us deeply. Negativity impacts everyone deeply, but for an empath, prolonged expose to negativity without balance can create physical havoc in our emotional feeling bodies. I am living proof that unprocessed shadow material is physically damaging.
  5. We have a rich inner life. A balanced empath is highly imaginative, creative, and multi passionate. We love learning, and beauty, and are adventurous with our personal growth.
  6. We attract energy vampires. Actually we humans are all energy vampires. We need to connect and share with other people as much as we need breath. So I think of an energy vampire as someone who is stuck in the forward motion of their relationship to self. They have not learned yet that it is their responsibility to be in charge of their own emotions, therefore they look to others to regulate them. And who better to do this with than someone who can attune to them deeply and reflect back to them. We empaths are the low hanging fruit for someone who is struggling with this.
I’d like to share a little bit about my personal journey as an empath in the hopes that it might give you a deeper understanding of how being an empath might effect you going forward.

How do I know that I’m an Empath?
Most of the articles and posts I have read about how to know if you are an Empath felt to general to me. Kind of like those Cosmopolitan magazine horoscopes. The qualities can apply to everyone because they describe human nature.
Empaths are highly cognizant of the way that the emotional human experience is made up our personal emotions, the emotions of others, and the way those combined emotional landscapes effects us physically in our bodies and in the world. We intuit this information with all of our senses.
Most of my life I didn’t know what an empath was or that I am one.
There was no schematic for introversion or extroversion, high sensitivity, or being an empath. When I look back and reflect on ways I behaved during childhood it’s so obvious.
As a child:
  • I hid in dark closets, and under beds to get away from people because these dark and muffled spaces allowed me to regulate my heightened emotions.
  • I was constantly sick to my stomach because I would feel the emotions of my adult caregivers and take them on.
  • When I was around groups of other children, such as at school, I would run home and hide.
  • When people would speak I would wish there was a way to turn the volume of their voices down.
  • I would cry listening to music that wasn’t even sad.
  • I experienced depression from a feeling of being overwhelmed by the world.
  • I sought the comfort of animals, and felt peaceful attuning to them.
As an adult:
  • I have a non negotiable need for lack of stimulation, and alone time. I need copious amounts of quiet time in order to form a functioning thought.
  • I instantly feel the despair of others in my body as intense sadness, and sudden heaviness.
  • Exposure to over stimulating environments such as, shopping malls, crowded places like Disneyland give me high amounts of anxiety and activate my emotions, but strangely can be very enjoyable, because of all the happy people, and oxytocin.
  • Avoid places with loud noise such a concerts, and crowds.
Those are all self impact signifiers, things that effect me.
How do you recognize if you are an empath based on what you can tell about other people?
  • You get a strong unsettled feeling when someone says something that doesn’t match how they really feel. For example when you ask someone if they are mad, and they say no.
  • You feel angry out of nowhere when you around someone hostile.
  • You can see micro expressions on people’s faces when they feel fear, disgust, anger, or sadness.
  • You can feel when someone is soulfully vacant due to extreme drug use, alcohol consumption or even severe abuse or trauma.
  • You can feel when someone is ‘on tracks.’ Meaning reacting unconsciously vs. reacting from presence.
  • You can feel what someone is like by walking into their living space.
  • You can feel how people are being treated in hierarchical, controlled environments such as restaurants or other public places that have lots of different kinds of staff.
  • You can feel when you aren’t on someone’s emotional radar.
  • You can feel the shadows of what other people are hiding and don’t want you to know about them.
  • You can feel people who are processing trauma.
  • When someone feels joyful, you feel bubbly.
  • You can understand animals and sentient being.
  • You can feel what an artist went through by looking at certain creative works.
  • You can feel the unfinished legacy of ancestors.
Are empaths psychic?
It depends based on your understanding and belief of what psychic means. If you think of psychic as someone who can intuit your future events, then no.
If you think a psychic as someone who can attune to and mirror your unconscious emotions as they relate to the aspect of self, then yes.
Empaths can reflect back to you your unconscious emotions, therefore it might seem like they hold some magical gift of knowing, but we are just mirroring things about your emotions that you can’t see yet.
Because of these empathic abilities, I have learned over my lifetime the best ways to manage the emotional information that I receive from others.
Tips for managing your empathic nature
  1. Separate which emotions belong to you. Because we feel the feelings of others, we must have a plan, and be vigilant about determining what is your feeling, and what belongs to someone else. Your feeling body isn’t naturally calibrated to separate the physicality of your feeling from someone else’s feelings. So it’s critical that you make these distinctions consciously. For me this plan includes massive amounts of alone time and experiences in nature.
  2. Learn to recognize the qualities of narcissists & takers immediately. I have a post about this on my website, and As someone who is attuned to emotions, believe me when I tell you that you can not afford a relationship with a narcissist. Their brand of emotional processing is to take from others, and to put it simply and as a succinct harbinger, know in your soul you can not change them. No matter how tempting it might be to try.
  3. Learn to process emotion. This is critical. I spent over 25 years managing a painful condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome, that was triggered by stress related abdominal migraines. This was mainly because I absorbed and held onto the pain, anguish and emotions of others. It wasn’t until I deliberately devised a way to live my life caring for my own health first, that I became free from the physical symptoms of unprocessed emotion. My plan for processing emotion is this: Exercise, limited exposure to stressor, massive amounts of alone time, journaling, exposure to beauty and inspiration.
  4. Schedule processing time. Doing this one thing has changed my life. I know that even after the most benign of encounters, such as going to the grocery store, that an upregulation in the homoestasis of my emotional body will occur. So I schedule an appropriate amount of time when I get home to regulate. The amount of time needed to regulate is directly proportional to the amount of stimulation experienced. A general rule of thumb, 5-10 minutes of alone processing time for mildly upregulating activities, and 1 hour for highly activating activities. Traumatic events are different, and require different amounts of regulation based on level of trauma.
  5. Expose yourself to beauty. I hinted at this in my processing routine, and this is actually one of the most critical and often ignored essentials for an Empath. Exposure to beauty allows us to replenish our tanks. Nature, imagery, art, music, colors, photographs, paintings, cinema, poetry, being with animals, what ever beauty is to you, you must make time to experience it. This is not negotiable for an Empath.

Expose yourself to beauty.

Exposing yourself to beauty and then processing it is the counter balance to all of the inflicted violence, harm, and unconscious cruelty that arises daily and is given airtime. Often times we are blindsided by it, and have no choice in the exposure of it. In order to keep emotional homoeostasis, we must expose ourselves to beauty.
There is a common misunderstanding that beauty is indulgent, frivolous, and shallow mainly devised from the needs of a non-empath.
When in fact the opposite is true. It takes extreme depth to open your senses and experience beauty. If you feel feelings of guilt from having the essential need to experience beauty, or you have held onto someone else’s values and beliefs about the importance of beauty, it’s time to make a boundary around it. And share with your aesthetic oppressor that exposure to beauty is a necessary experience in the regulation of your emotional body, and that your life would be half lived without it.

For some people the holidays are a time of wonder, activity and the joy of being with loved ones. For others including myself, the holidays bring depression and are something to get through and survive.

There are depression triggers everywhere.

After decades of not understanding why the holidays bring out my darkest dark, I finally realized that I was missing an epic opportunity to change my relationship to this now very predictable occurrence.

It’s normal to experience bittersweet wistfulness right along with moments of great joy because we know that we simply can’t hold onto them.

This is not what I am referring to when I am talking about holiday depression.

Holiday depression is feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that are magnified through a lens of social isolation, overwhelm, financial peril, and toxic relationships.

Add the chemical cocktail triggered by short daylight hours, increase in sugar, alcohol and caffeine, you have the perfect recipe for depression. For me this cycle is repeated every single year, even if I do my best to avoid it.
There are simply too many triggers to overcome.
This year I am trying a slightly different approach to my holiday depression.

Cocooning through the depression.

I allow the depression to come knowing that at some point around January, the fog will lift I’ll start to feel more regulated again.

Cocooning is a term coined by trend predictor Faith Popcorn to describe a period in your life in which you consciously create a supportive and comforting environment for yourself in order to replenish and grow before a big transition or after a major occurrence.

Much in the same way a caterpillar builds a cocoon to protect itself during a metamorphosis, we cocoon during a period of depression to cultivate an environment that feels comforting, nurturing and introspective to garner strength for the next phase of emergent personal growth.
By providing myself with a nurturing environment, I’m able to manage my depression.
So instead of crumbling into a pile and staying in bed with the covers pulled over my head until January, I put a few things in place to support my cocoon phase.

Here is what really works for me:

  • Exercise. If you have a pre-disposition to depression like I do, you know that exercise is a key element to mood management. So even if it’s going to the gym and cycling for 20 minutes on level one, it helps so much.
  • Sleep. I go to bed embarrassingly early. I have zero social life during a cocooning phase. But honestly it’s what I need most, so I hardly even get on the phone during this time.
  • Makeup. Ok, this is a weird one I admit, but if I take the time to put makeup on, I feel more put together and way less depressed, and the probability of me going back to bed are a lot less likely if I have a full face of makeup on. It’s a life hack that works for me.
  • Escapist TV. As much as I would love to be the person who uses their cocoon time to enrich the mind and soul with deep books on worthwhile subjects, it’s just not my truth. My brain feels like mush and my concentration is horrible so I just give in and watch forensics shows and as many episodes of Fixer Upper that I can get my hands on.
  • Greens. I really want to eat cookies and pasta, however white flour and sugar notably worsens my depression. So I buy a big bag of baby kale and allow myself to eat whatever I want as long as it is on a bed of greens.
  • Husband. We all have at least one person who cheers us up and is there for us no matter what. For me this is my beloved husband. He is so supportive and I rely on him a lot to emotionally regulate during a cocooning. And I do the same for him, so that makes it extra nice.
Cocooning has helped me transform my holiday depression into a time of self care that set me up to emerge in the new year ready to fly.

Narcissists exist in all different forms. We’re all familiar with the stereotype of a classic narcissist. Like Cinderella’s step mother, we tend to think of a narcissist as someone cold, calculating and deliberately vengeful. As a coach it helps to have a deeper understanding so we can serve our clients with this issue.

Narcissists wear many disguises.

Though they can come packaged like a wicked step mother, chances are you know one who is disguised as a giver or who has a strong victim story that breeds genuine empathy in people. In fact it can be this empathy that is feeding their narcissistic supply.
In order to understand the most effective way to recognize and deal with a narcissist, or to help your coaching client, it helps to have a broader understanding of who they are and why they do what they do.


The main goal of a narcissist is to replenish and maintain their narcissistic supply.

They do this by seeking two things.
Attention and control.
These are the main fuel lines that feed a narcissistic supply.
Often times, it’s true that a narcissist has gone through a significant traumatic event, such as childhood abuse, or trauma that has caused an alternate personality that devourers and eclipses their core personality. They formed an alter ego out of a need to survive. I think if it like a parasite that takes over.

Let’s highlight some of the typical characteristics of a narcissist.

  • They have a high sense of grandiosity, and low empathy.
  • They are low insight, meaning they rarely seek growth and understanding from challenges.
  • They often can only filter conversation and events in how it pertains to them It’s almost like they have a filter, or special lens that tabulates any input on how it could effect them or benefit them.
  • They are masterful at passive aggressive shade. This is best recognized by the feeling of confusion about being violated. Was I? Did she really mean that? Yes. Though it is second nature to her so she usually isn’t even cognizant that she is doing it.
  • They are easily offended, hurt or angered. These feelings are often disguised by disappointment. Disappointment occurs when there is a specific expectation. A narcissist relies on others to fulfill their expectations, since they take no responsibility for their own actions it stands to reason that disappointment is the dominant feeling for a narcissist.
Common advice for coping with a narcissist says to run away as fast as you can. But what if the narcissist you know is a family member,  co-worker or any other person in which simply cutting ties isn’t always possible. What then?
It’s not always possible to cut a narcissist out of your life.
My hope is to be able to give you some insight on how you can help yourself or your coaching client to handle a narcissist, while self protecting at the same time.
  1. Limit exposure. Its not always possible to get away from a narcissist completely. Carefree encounters are highly unrealistic and loose time boundaries are the kryptonite for a narcissist.
  2. Draw your boundaries in indelible marker. Unfortunately the onus is on you to recognize and maintain your boundaries with vigilance. Narcissists live to transgress, in fact they can’t help it. So prepare with the expectation that you must be the shepherd of your boundaries.
  3. Compassion (from a distance.) It’s my experience that most narcissists are victims of childhood circumstance. They deserve our compassion, but not at the expense of our wellbeing.
  4. Don’t have any expectations for change. A narcissist will never change. They will never love you the way you think you need from them. Accept them completely for who they are. You don’t have to like it. You do have to acknowledge that you are the only person in the frame that has the potential to address and alter your own reactions. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
  5. Allow yourself time to process after exposure. Does it sound like I’m being a little overly sensitive? Maybe I am for someone who hasn’t had a lifetime of having to navigate around the needs of a narcissist. So as an expert of how to manage my self care needs (which are always in conflict with the needs of a narcissist.) Believe me when I tell you that the best thing you can do for yourself is to plan on immediately processing the feelings that come up after the fact.
Sometimes you simply can’t eliminate people from your life. I hope these coping strategies help you navigate the murky, confusing territory you might find yourself in while in relationship with a narcissist.

Beautiful You Inspiration Day


What could be a more perfect day than spending the day with life coaches? Being a featured speaker of course.

Speaking for life coaches at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy Inspiration Day was a dream come true. Even though I had given talks in front of people before, this one was really special to me because not only do I love everything about BYCA, I love coaches because they are the most giving and loving audiences.

I’m so glad I have the photographs because I would swear that I dreamed it!

BYCA Inspiration Day for Life Coaches

The entire day truly was inspirational. I was in an amazing company of speakers. I kicked off our day by sharing how to know which of your many passions to incorporate into your coaching business. Life coach Travis Barton reconnected us all with our core values and why they are so important to us as coaches, and heart centered branding coach Rachel Gadiel gave us everything we need to know about creating gorgeous brand alignment. I walked away bursting with inspiration!

Beautiful You Coaching Academy CEO and founder Julie Parker gave the wrap-up talk and we were all moved to tears at the reminder that now more than ever, the world needs light workers and coaches. The entire day had me bursting with gratitude.

6 Mistakes new life coaches make

Now that I am three years into my life coaching business, there some key things that I wish I would have known and done that would have saved me a little time and a lot heartache.

Being a freshly trained life coach is an exciting time because it feels like you have found your calling, and the thought of helping people accomplish things they never dreamed possible is so exciting. You want your business to be set up and rolling like… yesterday and the thought of waiting a year to really get on your feet seems like way too long to wait for actual paying clients.
If I could go back and give my brand new life coaching self a bit of wisdom, here are the things I would share.
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Mistake #1: Doing too much too soon.

This was a painful lesson to learn because when I became certified with the Beautiful You Coaching Academy there was a part of me that felt like I could do it all because I loved my training so much and I felt like I finally had all the right tools to get my fledgling coaching business off the ground.
I was so motivated that I created an online community right away for Heart Centered Coaches. I had a really big vision that I was going to have a community in which I would deliver monthly capsules of content, interviews and trainings for coaches on a subscription basis. And it was actually a great idea. But I got 5 months into the project, and realized that I had bitten off way more then I could chew, so I had to pause it. The problem was, I didn’t have the critical bandwidth I needed to sustain it alone.

In addition to trying to find new coaching clients, I was also trying to create content, schedule interviews, design & maintain 2 websites, and create content for my YouTube channel. I just couldn’t keep at the balls in the air.

And it felt like a failure to pull the plug on a great idea. But I wasn’t in reality for the amount of time and energy I had to pull it off.

My suggestion for new coaches is to really get focused on building your one on one practice first. Learn what people are truly struggling with. There will be plenty of time to go one to many when you have more cash flow and can get the right support for your big ideas. Work on your one on one coaching first because not only is it your critical foundation, that work will inform your area of focus.
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Mistake #2: Trying to be an expert.

This is a really common mistake for new coaches, especially young coaches. You feel like you have to be wining at life, and have it all together, or you’re afraid you might be thrust in the position of having to dispense advice and pearls of wisdom.
This is a really normal feeling. However, a coaches job is not to have a prescriptive on your clients life, or even do a diagnostic on what is wrong with her life so you can help her fix it.
That’s the last thing you want to do. You are not looking under her hood and giving her an estimate of what’s wrong.
Instead think of it like being the best road trip buddy ever. You are asking her where she wants to go. You are her ally who provides unconditional positive regard and support so she can determine her destination and create a map.
You might help her read the map, or point out the fact that she is about to drive off a cliff, but we don’t tell her where to go and how to get there. To do so would be to deny her the transformation she wants. You are sitting beside her in the passenger seat looking out at the same road ahead.
You aren’t expert of anyones life except your own.
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Mistake #3: Not knowing how much time you actually have to devote to coaching.

This is a little bit similar to number one, but the big difference is this. Often new coaches are juggling transition jobs, families, pets, and any number of essential daily things. The amount of time that you actually have to devote to coaching could be far less than you think. The remedy here is to calendar everything.
Create the time slots on your calendar specifically for coaching, and be sure to be realistic about how much time it takes for support activities such as writing notes, follow up emails, marketing, blogging and everything else that goes into building a new business. You may find that at the end of the day, you only have two times slots a week for actual coaching. It’s very sobering.
Being a calendar ninja is one of my real weaknesses, but I practice and have gotten better with organizing my google calendar. And it has made a hug impact on my business because I have been able to identify time leaks, and where I am saying yes to things that end up hurting my bottom line by taking away the time I have to devote to building revenue.
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Mistake #4: Trying force clarity around your voice and your avatar.

I’m going to say something that you probably don’t want to hear. Development takes time and deliberate practice. Part of development is figuring out through action who you can serve best with your coaching. And that means taking on pro bono clients, taking time to understand exactly what you do for your clients and to be able to communicate that in a clear way so that people understand. If you aren’t sure, it’s ok. It just means that you need more practice.

I wish I could tell you that you can sit at your desk and write a perfect description of who your ideal client is, but it probably won’t be accurate. So how do you know what kind of coach you are and in what niche to point your boat? Start talking to people.

I know that sounds really obvious, but if you are anything like me you have at some point agonized over your freaking avatar. Coaching is unique in that it is more art than science. So in a way, to define a crisp avatar before finding your footing as a coach is like painting a portrait, and saying exactly who are you creating that painting for before you have even met them. You could guess, but trying to skip this essential stage of transitioning from the discovery stage to the development stage is impossible. Keep practicing and your ideal client will emerge.
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Mistake #5: Not being able to say exactly what you can do for people.

Ok, this is a hard one. Because, I just said that you need time to figure it out. And you do. However, there are some basic tenets to coaching that the average person doesn’t understand. I guarantee that when you tell the majority of people that you are a life coach, they either have no idea what that means, or they think that you are doing something that doesn’t provide real value.
If someone asks me what I do, I say I’m a life coach and ask them if they know what that is? I’m genuinely curious if they know.
If they want to know more about what I do, I’ll say:
I help people change they way they feel about their life and what they want to achieve by helping them identify a life vision, and goals that are in line with their vision as well as providing support and accountability.
Who doesn’t want that?
That feels clear, tangible and exciting for people. And leading from there with that kind of clarity will allow you an in to share more colorfully, when you can bring in all of your interests, techniques and methods later.
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Mistake #6: Being too hard on yourself for not having it all figured out.


If coaching is your calling, you have a lifetime of learning, reading, personal growth, writing, joy, and deepening your ability to look forward too. Actually if you are a coach, you are a pioneer. Modern life coaching is an emergent field that is being shaped by your input.

Serving others on their wellness journey, and to become self actualized is a new thing. This didn’t exist for our parents, so don’t worry too much about the race. Life coaching is a nascent language that is poised to really grow and change.
We are the early adopters of this
Yes, there have been life coaches in the past, that discovered that there is a place between therapy and purposeful achievement that needed filling.  In therapy you help someone dig through their past and support them to understand how that past effects current behaviors. After that work is done there, then a whole new chapter arises when you are ready to start creating a robust life on the foundation you have built with therapy.
Life coaches fill that gap. Both in the past and now, with the big difference being that coaching used to be focus on profession personal empowerment. Which is awesome. From there we have been able to evolve coaching fields to a wide range of focuses such as mediation, spiritual, body wellness and nutrition, creativity, career, and business.
This is an amazing evolution for coaching, so understand that you are a part of it. Don’t worry too much about having it all figured out, do the work you need to and enjoy being a part of a global movement of people who deeply believe in connection and creating a culture of belonging.