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Sensitive Warriors

Sensitive Warriors Sensitivity

The Female Empath in Patriarchal Cultures

Hello there, lady empath.

It’s no surprise that most empaths are female. Or at least, those who wind up on my site, and are consciously seeking out information for it.

(There are male empaths, too, but many men growing up in patriarchal cultures are not rewarded for ‘being in their feelings’, and are thus often in hiding – you guys will get an article of your own!)

Empaths are created by their environments as much as they are born that way.

Many empaths grew up in environments where their innate sensitivity had to be used for survival within confusing or even dangerous family dynamics – to figure out subtexts, to sense when someone was about to get angry or upset, to smooth over frayed nerves.

As a child whose survival depended solely on your parents, it made sense, especially to a child-mind, to preserve the peace at all costs. Conflict and anger read as danger, especially as a young child. Your life depended on it, no matter how exaggerated this claim may seem to you now as an adult.

As a result, your natural sensitivity had to over function and do double duty in order to uphold dysfunctional family dynamics.

This behavioral expectation multiplies tenfold if you are female, in a family where your father plays the dominant role, within a society where it’s mostly men who hold positions of power.

In patriarchal cultures in general, women are expected to be the empathic ones, to be the one who bends, who nurtures, who gives. Or they are kept down, made to be smaller, made to accommodate. Girls are inundated with messages about who they are meant to be and how they should behave.

Reflection: what messages did you receive about being a girl/woman? How do you view yourself as a woman? What are your thoughts about femininity in general? 

As a result of environmental factors, media messages and necessity, your sensitivity may have served in some way to support these unequal dynamics of power, both within the family and without.

Change is possible; seeing yourself as part of a whole releases you from self-blame

Your responses were learned, not innate, and that’s why if you are in a dysfunctional romantic relationship or stormy family drama right now, it’s possible to change. There is hope, and it is possible for you to have a healthy, creative, fruitful life with fulfilling relationships.

Many empaths often blame themselves for the situations and relationship patterns they find themselves repeating. While it’s important to take personal responsibility for your side of things, it’s just as important to understand why they came to be. Understanding the root of conflicts help us to solve things from the core.

This is why it’s always important to see yourself as part of the whole, of the society and the culture you live in. As spiritual beings in physical bodies, we are navigating our lives in a very real, very material world. It interacts with you, and shapes you, as much as you interact with it.

And when you learn how it has shaped you, you can now be more mindful of the messages you consume, and the energies you allow into your life going forward. Do they reinforce your strengths, or do they reduce you and make you smaller? 

Self-blame is not helpful

So if you’re blaming yourself for having difficulty establishing boundaries, wondering why you tend to make way for narcissists energetically and physically, or why you tend to invite in or attract bullies – or if you have decided to freeze over your heart in order to cope in an unfeeling world, don’t. You responded to the extent you knew how to, based on what little information you had – blaming yourself for this is unnecessary and being way too hard on yourself.

You did what you could to survive in an unequal world, where people are often interested in preserving status quo to serve their own ego needs; where your sensitivity may have also been used to others’ advantage.

However, this isn’t about blaming others, either!

It’s about recognizing your role in a system.

Once you recognize the system, you become at choice when it comes to participating in it. 

And choice is the most important thing for an empath, who often feel that they have ‘no choice’.

So now that you know: you can choose. You can choose to release self-blame, and to free that energy up to focus on your empowerment: pulling your power back within yourself, to tread your own path with increasing freedom and lightness.

Everything begins with your choice. It’s the most powerful thing you have.

(art by Tyler Feder)

Sensitive Warriors Sensitivity

Empath 101: Energy Basics

Perhaps you’re new to the whole concept of energy and being able to sense something we have not been taught to identify or to name. It’s natural to feel scared, skeptical, doubtful, or even ‘crazy’. So often I have heard people (and myself) hesitate to mention this and other ‘special abilities’ for fear of other people thinking that we’ve completely lost it.

And we all know what we do to people who we think are ‘crazy’, and it has not been pretty – until fairly recently. We marginalize them, medicate them and all but toss them out of society. (Which is also why I was led to the field of mental health counseling. The work of de-stigmatizing actual mental illnesses and seeking help for mental health services is only in its infancy – especially among Asian people and other racial groups!)

So back to the topic – sensing energy. Experiencing ‘supernatural’ powers. This all exists. It is real. You’re not crazy – especially if you are here, reading this blog, and have been fervently trying to seek out more information about it. *However, this is a problem if any visions you encounter have been telling you to hurt yourself or others. It’s important to know the difference and to seek medical help.*

Your sensitivity and intuition is simply another skill that you haven’t been taught about. These are natural propensities for certain things, just like how some people gravitate towards math, or play instruments easily, or have a natural sense of rhythm. It’s mostly innate, and it’s not something to fear.

If you’re here because all of a sudden you’re dreaming about things, having visions, having prophetic dreams, picking up on others’ emotions, feeling chronically tired, sensing what other people think and what their motivations may be, knowing about their karmic past etc. – then you really aren’t crazy. In fact…

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Sensitive Warriors Sensitivity

Calling All Sensitive Warriors

You are a sensitive warrior if you are:

  • Actively reclaiming the word ‘Sensitive’ for yourself
  • Using your sensitivity as a force of positivity in this world
  • Keeping your heart open despite challenges and difficulties
  • Driven to create something meaningful in this world and are still discovering what it is or are already working to bring it about
  • Always on the path of self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-love – reintegrating parts of your whole because you can sense that is the most essential piece of the puzzle

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, what you currently do, where you are trying to go, what matters is that you are here, and you are hearing the call.

If you’ve always been quiet, and hung back and kept quiet because you felt your voice isn’t worth hearing, for any reason at all, then Sensitive Warriors is for you. If you’ve felt isolated or alone in your day-to-day and wish to connect with like-hearted folks, then SW is definitely for you.

I’ve felt that a community is so essential for a while – for learning, knowledge-sharing, inspiration and support. I know there are so many of you out there. We can definitely benefit so much from connecting with each other! My blog is where I express my voice – but SW will be about YOURS. I want it to be a safe space for us all.

It’s about going beyond labels by being our most empowered selves – and not taking ourselves that seriously at the same time, because you know… Having a laugh makes everything better. If somehow we manage to casually save the world together then that would be the ultimate cherry on top 😀

P.S. Interested? Join my mailing list and I’ll be sending you more info as it all crystallizes. ALSO, I have a survey here to invite you to share your thoughts. I need your help to make this the most useful, least fluffy, no-BS project ever.  Only 10 questions and less than 5 minutes of your time. Thank you and happy May!

Take part in survey

(P.S. I’m giving away a free Wisdom tarot reading to one respondent – winner will be contacted directly by 13 May!)

Sensitive Warriors

Sensitive Warrior: Victoria Herrera

I first met Victoria through my sister Sabrina, and what struck me most about her at first (other than her gorgeous hazel green eyes!) was a sense of seeking under her bubbly veneer. And in that sense, a kindred spirit – which made me feel comfortable enough to open up to her about whatever I knew then of sensitivity and energy.

Victoria is a doer – she holds a long list of projects and credits to her name, something that’s de rigueur for her family. Speaking to a colleague in Manila during a work trip earlier in the year,  I mentioned Victoria on the off chance that we had any Filipino friends in common, and she went: “Oh yes. Everyone knows who the Herreras are.” And to be sure, they are an accomplished family, with forays into fashion, print, entertainment and other high-profile endeavours.

But a side of Victoria that isn’t perhaps as readily apparent is her sensitivity – a facet of her that she now consciously weaves into everything she does. And that manifests as an intention for mindful living: creating from within, while staying centered and compassionate in an often challenging world. So here we are a little more than a year after that fateful conversation – I’m really excited that she’s agreed to share what she has found on her journey so far!

Get to know Victoria

Victoria is a TV & Event Presenter, model, writer and founder of Change Clothes.

On being an empath

How has discovering that you’re an HSP/Empath changed things for you? Perhaps in terms of how you see life in general or how you see yourself?

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Sensitive Warriors

Sensitive Warrior: JOHN TAN

John’s so easy to talk to that you feel like you’ve known him forever. He’s also always impeccably decked out.  The first time I saw him, he was wearing a jacket – in Singapore. In a non-AC setting. (In Singapore. Where it’s hot enough to make one sweaty and grumpy even on the best of days. Yet he was still unerringly nice!) That’s when I knew he was serious about his style – and I have nothing but respect for people who are that committed to how they present themselves. Peel back his easy-going ways and you’d find a man who knows his mind, has a strong point of view, and is attuned to detail and quality. His insta feed (@redrangefinder) is basically what instagram is made for: beautiful, idiosyncratic images that boast his strong eye and an appreciation for out-of-the-ordinary beauty.

Not that he needed validation from anyone – but he was also a finalist in Esquire’s Best Dressed Real Man 2013. And he’s hilarious – I don’t think I ever laughed so hard as when he was trying to take my portrait; he was trying to coax a good shot out of me because I have some kind of fatal photographitis where my facial expressions immediately become 50 shades of awkward in front of a camera. They turned out pretty good anyway, mostly thanks to this guy!

Get to know John

John is a street-style photographer, bio-medical sciences student and a very well put-together man.

On his interests

What draws you to what you do?
It’s a really big question but I guess it all ties down to the fact that I really enjoy human interaction, I’m curious about stuff and I enjoy story telling. I’ve always believed that information is not meaningful information unless it can be understood, so photography has always been a medium that I look towards to express myself and to allow others to understand the message I’m getting across.

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Sensitive Warriors Sensitivity

Sensitive Warrior: RUYU

I first fell in love with Ru Yu’s work when I saw her illustration of a girl with flowing, aqua hair. The serenity in it is so palpable, I was drawn to it immediately. I wanted to gaze at it all day! So as I am (very slowly) putting together my personal branding to represent myself online (it’s always hardest to do it for yourself!), the easiest part was in picking the person to help me convey my self visually to the digital world.

Funnily enough, it was through working together and reading my fledgling blog that she found out that she’s a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as well. And that’s also how the idea for my column was born – we bonded over “OMG, me too!” moments and it was such a revelation to me to finally start being open about my sensitivity, and in meeting other kindred spirits in this way. This openness and bonding over our shared experience of the world felt so valuable to me, that it inspired me to create this column for others like us out there too.

So here’s Sensitive Warriors – my column featuring Highly Sensitive People/Empaths, their thoughts on sensitivity and the work they put out into the world. I’ll also be quizzing them for their thoughts on how they convey who they are through their personal brands – especially relevant I feel, for the growing number of self-employed/freelancers/multi-hyphenates out there!

GET TO KNOW RUYU, 26

Ruyu is an illustrator and polka-dot painter. She also works part-time at Ohvola, a Singaporean blog shop.

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