Read The Complete Empath Toolkit: 44 Steps to Master Your Energy and Reclaim Your Personal Power by Michael Smith, Ph.D.-fReado
The Story Behind This Book
By J. Freer
Imagine carrying the weight of not just your own emotional and physical pain, but unknowingly and unwillingly soaking up the emotional and physical pain of friends, relatives, and colleagues like a sponge on a daily basis. Believe it or not, this is a common experience for people who are natural born empaths.
Dr. Michael R. Smith realized he was an empath at the age of 32, and is now dedicated to a unique practice of helping empaths recognize their empathic nature as a gift and teaching them how to hone their skills and protect themselves from the negative energy of others.
"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."
Armed with a Ph.D. and a lucrative tenure-track counseling professorship at age 30, Smith embarked on what was to be one of the shorter careers in the history of academia. Despite authoring a half-dozen research publications, Smith decided to leave the University of Wyoming in 2005 after just three years to begin his spiritual coaching practice for empaths.
"I had to follow my heart," Smith said. "After I realized I was an empath, there was no turning back."
In April 2008, Smith launched EmpathConnection.com, an online resource center for empaths. His first book, The Complete Empath Toolkit, was released through his website in 2009 and has sold at a brisk pace. The book contains information for empaths culled from his 15-year career in the healing arts.
The cultural identity of empath is rapidly growing, Smith said, and pointed to the popularity of self-identified empath Dr. Judith Orloff's best-selling holistic healing books as evidence of mainstream acceptance. The primary characteristic of an empath is a high degree of sensitivity to the emotional state of other people, Smith said.
"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 be popular around high-stress times," he said.
An ability to bond with others 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 an empath. We can absorb emotions, like a sponge, and this leads to mysterious energetic illnesses."
In 2003, Smith sought out healing for his accumulated emotional and physical pain. He began a nine-year apprenticeship with several Native American healers. He quickly discovered why counseling came so easy to him.
"The Native American community recognizes individuals with special empathic talents. They have been trained as the medicine men and women in tribes and communities," Smith explained.
The healing Smith received through his Native American mentors 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."
Smith's spiritual coaching services and his Empath Academy classes are in steady demand. His EmpathConnection.com monthly newsletter is reaching tens of thousands of subscribers.
"I'm so happy to be doing this type of work," he said. "And people keep coming back, so that tells me the work has a positive effect on their lives."