Carry Your Own Baggage – Self Care For Empaths

It’s funny how small actions or simple statements provoke such long-winded thoughts. Or maybe it’s just me. I truly believe in the existence of empaths, although some skeptical folk will scoff at the idea. I feel deeply. I am very sensitive to people, situations and when something feels off I can usually instantly come to the conclusion why, even if on the surface there doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer. It’s borderline psychic sometimes and that in itself can be unsettling.

Carry Your Own Baggage

I recently trudged through US Pre-clearance (a wonderful affair where you clear immigration before entering the US!) in Dublin airport and one of the standard  questions I was asked had me thinking for a large portion of my 9 hour flight.

“Ma’am did you carry your own bag today?”

I did carry my bag, of course. I didn’t need to be reminded of the huge bulky monstrosity I had just lugged through check in. In the past five years I’ve carried my fair share of heavy bags and I’m now aware that I have carried them mentally too which led me to think about how much weight on my shoulders could I drop off and not worry about?

Being empathetic involves a lot of worry and 80% of it never seems to be my own. I carry burdens for people who don’t seem to care about what they probably should care about. I carry burdens for friends and family suffering. I carry burdens for strangers I see on the news in sad or dangerous situations. So how do I prioritize my own?

As someone extremely perceptive and introverted, I dislike nothing more than to be labelled ‘too sensitive’. Sensitivity is not a dirty concept. Sensitivity creates connection and intimacy. Sensitivity allows for compassion and understanding. Sensitivity is a wide open channel for love. It doesn’t mean thin skin. It means deep strength but somewhere along the line we were all told it’s a pathetic sign of weakness. What I consider weak are those who run from problems. Those who abandon instead of stand up and care for someone. Those who allow a loved one to carry their problems while they shamelessly continue on their carefree path. Weak are those who laugh in the face of sensitivity and take advantage of it.

I’ve been through enough to want to give up a thousand times. Some days, I still want to but my empathy for others won’t allow it. I guess empathy is stubborn’s ‘over sensitive’ sister.

When something comes natural to you, it’s hard to deliberately stop doing it. For me, it is natural to worry for others and stress over things that are not mine to be concerned with. But who will worry for me? Shouldn’t I give myself the same courtesy I give to others and look out for myself? Everyone desires to be supported. There’s great confidence in being enveloped by unconditional support but it’s not always an option. Sometimes you have to be enough by yourself.

I implore those of you out there sinking under the weight of others’ baggage to shed that load and prioritize yourself. Especially if what you are carrying goes entirely unrecognized. For your health and your happiness, lay down the baggage and carry yourself.



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Have You Found Your Blogging Voice?

I recently wrote a post about what I learned in three months of blogging and in it I stressed the importance of writing in your own voice.

Have You Found Your Blogging Voice

When I first started blogging I didn’t even consider my ‘niche’. I just wrote about what I was doing, my current situation, things that were of interest to me at that time, etc. I quickly discovered that to promote and connect with fellow bloggers my blog needed to have some type of niche in order to reach like-minded bloggers. I struggled with this definition for the first month. I was Irish, newly married and recently emigrated to the US. I liked fashion, food and travel but didn’t want my blog to be categorized so narrowly under any of these things. Getting my head around that mish-mash of interests and circumstances was hard for me and I found it difficult to, as the saying now goes, ‘find my tribe’. I came to accept that my blog is a lifestyle blog that focuses on a healthy mix of all of the above. But what’s more important is that I stopped worrying about fitting in and just continued writing. You will read a billion articles online, all telling you the importance of sticking to your niche and while that is necessary in business, if you are blogging for fun then my response to that is, “who said so?!”

After publishing posts consistently and learning what my viewers liked the most I started to settle into my own blog and became more confident when hitting ‘publish’. I was never overly confident that the content was good but happy with what I was saying and HOW I was saying it. Although you strive to give your readers what they want, it is of the utmost importance to write what YOU want, too. Your viewers have come to your site because they like you and your content, they will return if they love it. If they leave, so be it. More will come.

As I said in my last post, I have seen people switch niches a lot. There’s many reasons for going beyond the limits of your niche. Perhaps you are after getting bogged down in an area you no longer have anything to write about due to changes in life circumstances. For example, you had a travel blog but are now settling down into motherhood and want to focus on writing articles on parenting. Or you have been blogging about college life but are now entering the working world. There’s an array of reasons to re-brand your blog but there is NEVER a reason to not be true to yourself in your writing.

Which brings me back from my tangential rambling to the idea of writing in your ‘voice’. Of course I don’t mean ‘voice’ in the traditional sense  but the portrayal of your personality through the words you write. You are unique and your writing style should be too. If you are a really funny and bubbly person but write in a monotonous tone with none of the humor you possess naturally then your content will not be authentic. And although we live in a world where we can fake happiness, good fortune and popularity quite easily via social media, your blog will expose a greater portion of yourself to the world. Make that section of your life that is on show, honest. Writing is powerful and people are perceptive beings. Posts repeatedly written in any voice but your own will be transparent and shallow. Your readers will not trust you or your content and won’t engage.

The first thing I notice when reading blog posts, or any piece of writing for that matter, is the writing style. Now I’m not saying mine is good. I’m a serial user of cliches and slang which is considered vulgarity and terrible writing by some (or most). In the world of professional writing I would more than likely be be condemned! I do strive to improve my writing skills and blogging refreshes a great deal of lessons already learned about writing but when it comes to writing posts I often skip the  rules and mechanics of composing the perfect piece of literature as I try to write them as an exact reflection of myself and what I might say in a discussion with a real life person! The wit, sarcasm, humor – whatever you want to label it – is exactly how I converse with people. That is who I am. I’m sure there are people who like my posts, those who can take or leave them and others who’d rather poke out their eyes than read to the bottom. I’m totally ok with that! Well I’d prefer if you held onto your eyes but I’m fine with you leaving. Not everyone shares the same interests and opinions.

The way that I write, is genuine. The feelings I express, are genuine. My sentiments when I comment on your posts, are genuine. Being a genuine person is what I respect the most in any human being. I have no time for any single trait that is a fraction less than honest.

When I borderline stalk every social media platform you use, I love your blog! When I ‘like’ your pictures, I genuinely like your pictures. When I share your content, I really do think you have a message worth sending out. I like all of these things about you because you have probably won me over by writing in your own voice.

For those of you starting out, who maybe haven’t found your blogging voice yet, ask yourself before publishing – is this for the glory of a spike in views, free products, money, etc.? If the answer is yes to any of the above, then I suggest you save your draft and go back to the drawing board.

For those of you pouring your heart and soul into your blog and feeling like you need to start writing as someone else to fit in – stop it! Explore the boundaries of your niche, find new forums to join, freshen up your content but for the love of God, keep writing in your own voice!

If you struggle with finding your voice, what is it about blogging that limits your authenticity?



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