Must Have Tool for Empaths: Emotional Discernment


by Sarah Petruno, Shamana

Long before I was ever a practicing shaman, I was a through and through empath.

So much so, that I had been diagnosed with several empath-related mental disorders over the years including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Yes, it’s true that these diagnoses are common in empaths. Not necessary because empaths have chemical imbalances or inner mood instabilities, but rather, because they are extremely sensitive to the emotions and energetic states of others.

Being an empath means that you are clairsentient. This the psychic ability for the gift of being able to sense, feel, and perceive the energy of your environment, from another person, place, or thing.

Empaths can feel energy as the emotions of others (and so much more). That’s what it means to be an empath.

While this psychic ability is great and all, it’s only great once you start to gain control of it and gain control of your energy sensing abilities. Until then, being an empath is typically seen as a bad thing.

Because it’s not all that awesome to feel sad, angry, irritable, or depressed for seemingly no reason and only because someone else, somewhere, is feeling that way.

You don’t have to be an emotional sponge always absorbing the energy of others. There is a way out.

We all have to start somewhere.

The best starting place for you may be different from the best starting place of another person, but there is one absolute must for learning to manage your gift of empathy.

You have to learn to discern and tell the difference between what emotions and feelings are yours and what emotions and feelings ARE NOT yours.

This is called energetic emotional discernment, and it’s super easy to do. Learning this one thing will not only help you start to regulate your energetic and emotional state, but it will also give you the added benefit of being able to release and let go of emotions that aren’t yours pretty easily. Once you identify an emotion, feeling, or thought as not yours, it shakes off and releases pretty easily. Kind of like a stowaway or a hidden passenger on a train, once you point them out as an intruder and someone who doesn’t belong, they tend to hop off with little fight.

If you're an empath, you need to know this skill to dramatically increase your well-being - learn it in just 3 steps!

Emotional Discernment: How To

1. Identify the Feeling

The first step in discernment is identifying when you’re feeling something that you don’t like feeling. These emotions, thoughts, and sensations that cause you to feel less than wonderful and are often referred to as negative energy or low energy emotion. These can include things like: anger, sadness, guilt, depression, irritability, heaviness, fear, worry, or anxiety.

Make the effort to catch yourself in the act, in the exact moment when you’re not feeling great. As soon as you do, move to the next step.

2. Pause and Ask

You’re feeling sad, anxious, and worried, and you’ve caught yourself in the act. Now, take a minute to pause and ask yourself, “why do I feel this way?” Consider if the emotion comes from something that you’ve actually experienced or an event that has transpired in your own life, or, if it could potentially be from someone else.

For example, let’s say you made plans with someone else and they cancelled at the last minute. You feel bummed on the cancellation, but is the guilt and sadness you feel coming from you, or is it coming from the person who cancelled? Likely the other person.

In another example, let’s say you’re driving in a downtown urban area looking for parking, and you start to feeling snappy, irritable, and angry. Is this because of something going wrong in your own life, or is it perhaps the residual emotional energy of tense, stressed out, rush hour drivers?

Take a minute to pause and consider where the emotion is coming from and if it can be attributed to you, or someone else - even if you don’t know the other person. 90% of the time, it’s going to be coming from someone or something else.

3. Release it

If you’ve identified that the emotions you’re currently experiencing are coming from an outside source, it’s time to get them out of your system and away from you so you can get on with your life.

To do this, all you have to do is close your eyes briefly, and visualize the emotions as a black cloak that you’re wearing. Then, imagine the cloak falling to the ground and blowing away in the breeze. You can also visualize the emotions as contained within a square, present-like box, and you imagine yourself pushing (or throwing) the box away. Whatever works for you, all you have to do is imagine the emotions as one thing, and then imagine that “thing” leaving you in some way. Sometimes, it’s as easy as identifying the source of the emotions and saying, “these aren’t mine, they’re yours,” effectively returning the emotions to the other person.

Practice this exercise starting now and do it as often as you can. The more you can discern which emotions are yours and which aren’t, the easier it will become for you to maintain a stable emotional and energetic state - the goal of any empath.

Emotional discernment is the single most important practice in starting to turn your gift of empathy and clairsentience into an actual gift, and not a curse.

With love,


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LAST UPDATED: December 4, 2015

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