“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.” – Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
I get so much joy out of learning from my voice over students. Whether it’s a “break through” they make with the copy they are working on or a new approach or interpretation I’ve not thought of before, I see our relationship as a collaborative one and soak up their “ah-has” and awareness. Indeed, sometimes the insights and thoughts my students share have nothing to do with voice overs but instead a larger awareness of self.
The student teaches the teacher
This feeling that I am just as much the student as I am the teacher came to the forefront after watching a video blog post of one of my voice over students Michael Schwengel. Michael is not only a talented voice over performer but actor, entrepreneur and spiritual teacher. He is the epitome of walking the talk and one cannot help but feel a sense of calm wash over them in his presence.
His video entitled Empath 101 really hit home for me. Being an empath is a topic that I completely connect to yet have not spent a ton of time discussing professionally. To be truthful, I’ve actually been somewhat uncomfortable with the fact that I can feel people’s emotions easily. Growing up I constantly heard messages like “don’t be so sensitive” and “toughen up.” It was difficult for me to own this sensitivity as a gift. In fact, I often felt overwhelmed by what Michael describes as “feeling people’s emotions and not knowing what to do with it.”
The benefits of being an Empath
Listening to Michael talk about the benefits of being an empath helped me see how much I perceived this quality as a negative one for myself. As I mentioned, for so long my environment gave me messages that caused me to think of myself as weak, rather than acknowledging the benefits and strength that comes with the ability to connect with people so deeply. My perspective shifted a bit as Michael shared that being an empath provides a gift of honest and fulfilling relationships. Also, a true knowing that we are all connected….an as empath you feel that or rather you just know it.
Managing the empathetic sense
With my voice over students I talk about having an awareness to what you are feeling internally before you read the copy. To scan your body and acknowledge the physical sensations running through it before you speak. As Michael spoke about various ways to manage being an empath – I resonated with the idea that “what you are feeling is 100% your responsibility.” I feel it is so easy us for creatives- who I believe a large portion are empathetic- to absorb everyone else’s stuff and feel victimized as a result. Let me tell you that living here in NYC it can be absolutely exhausting and debilitating. It is a true gift if we can fully own what we are feeling and disengage saving everything outside of us. I got this. Thank you Michael. I also loved his recommendation of Byron Katie’s The Work as a tool to move past owning other peoples stuff too.
Be the Light
There were other helpful tips to managing being an empath- and I strongly encourage anyone who feels as though they are a victim of circumstance, experiencing absorbing others’ emotions or highly sensitive to others to watch his two part videos on empaths.
I do believe we are all lights. When Michael expressed seeing oneself and others as light orbs my heart smiled. I know he is not only a light worker but all of us….teachers and students to one another. May we all continue to shine and in the words of Marianne Williamson “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” May we all shine!