The Story Behind This Book
By J. Freer
If you have ever had the experience of intuitively ‘knowing’ what another person was going through, according to educational psychologist and counselor Dr. Michael R. Smith, you might be an empath, and your life may be more affected by other people more than you realize.
The primary characteristic of an empath is a high degree of sensitivity to the emotional state of other people, and scientific research has shown that this trait is present in 20 percent of the global population.
"I am seeing women and men who have lived their entire lives wondering what was wrong with them, being called hypersensitive - who can now breathe a sigh of relief," Smith said. "What was thought to be a quirk or even mental illness in actuality is a special gift for being able to understand the emotions and motivations of other people."
Smith realized he was an empath in his early thirties, and is now dedicated to a unique practice of helping empaths recognize their empathic nature as a gift and teaching them how to protect themselves from the negative energy of others.
"If you've ever been told that you're a good listener, then you might be an empath. People feel comfortable sharing their emotions and deepest thoughts with empaths, and thus, we tend to draw out stories from others like a magnet" he said.
An ability to bond with others and literally feel their pain can lead to unintended health consequences like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, Smith said. In many cases, empaths will take on the emotional pain of others as if it was their own.
"In toxic situations, intense emotional energy can deeply affect empathic individuals. We can absorb emotions, like a sponge, and this can lead to low energy and chronic energetic illnesses."
Armed with a Ph.D., several prominent scholarly publications, and a lucrative tenure-track counseling professorship at age 30, Smith abandoned his brief career in academia in 2004 to pursue a full-time career as an advocate for empaths and sensitive people. "I had to follow my heart," Smith said. "After I realized I was an empath, there was no turning back."
During that time, Smith began a decade-long apprenticeship with Native American healers and also received certifications in the growing field of energy medicine. He quickly discovered why counseling came so easy to him."The indigenous and Native American community recognizes individuals with special empathic talents. They have been trained as the medicine men and women in tribal cultures throughout history," Smith explained.
The education Smith received in indigenous medicine has prepared him to help others through his coaching and writing. "I help empathic individuals differentiate what energy is theirs, and what is coming from other people. We work on coping strategies to manage the high sensitivity and prevent the absorption of harmful energy."
In 2008, Smith launched EmpathConnection.com, an online resource center for empaths. His first book, The Complete Empath Toolkit, was released in 2009 and has become something of an internet sensation. Over 750,000 individuals have downloaded his videos, audios, guides, and books, and as a result, he has received invitations to speak alongside luminaries such as Gregg Braden and Marci Shimoff, and has also appeared in metaphysically-oriented documentary films.
"I'm so happy to be doing this type of work," he said. "And I am very much looking forward to helping individuals connect to their healthiest and most joyful selves."