Justin Bieber is an empath. Are you one, too?

Justin Bieber is an empath

Today, Justin Bieber announced that he’s canceling all future meet-and-greet sessions with fans because of how much they drain his energy, to the point of depression. While I’m sure some people are questioning or scoffing at this announcement, it all makes perfect sense to me: the reigning prince of pop is an EMPATH. It explains so much of the wild ride he’s been on these past couple of years.

People who are empathic are super sensitive to other people’s emotional energy. An empath can feel happy walking into a room full of people, but quickly begin to feel weighed down, sensing and absorbing each person’s emotional state like a sponge. It happens swifly and subtly, and can feel like you have multiple personalities, unsure which feelings belong to you and which ones belong to someone else.

That kind of confusion can easily cause anxiousness and depression, as Justin has experienced, and can drive empaths to find ways to “numb out” – drinking, doing drugs, overeating, acting out – so they don’t have to feel so much. I know there will be lots of disappointed fans and angry concert promoters, but I applaud Justin for recognizing his sensitivity to others’ “spiritual energy,” as he put it. He’s creating healthy boundaries for himself so that he has the energy to continue creating and performing.

If you suspect you’re an empath, too, figure out what you can and cannot handle and then take good care of yourself. Before Lori Portka​ and I took the stage at our Infinite Purpose​ book launch last fall, I could feel my energy rapidly draining as people filed into the theater. I wanted to greet everyone, but I simply couldn’t. I quickly headed upstairs to the green room and Lori and I did a grounding meditation with our peeps. It brought me back to center and allowed me to focus on my own emotions. Without that quiet reflection and distance from others, I would have taken the stage feeling shaky and unsettled. So while I don’t sing & dance for millions (and never will!), I can relate to Justin’s decision and hope it serves as an example to others. If you don’t protect and preserve your personal energy, you cannot show up in the world with purpose and clarity.

(For more about living as an empath, I highly recommend Dr. Judith Orloff​’s book, Emotional Freedom and Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person)

walk with me: is planning ahead stealing your joy?

Minnehaha Falls - kids watching falls

Spontaneity is not one of my strengths. I can have a lazy day at home without a schedule, but if there’s going to be socializing or a family outing, I like to have a plan, people. Maybe it’s the HSP in me. Honestly, I’d rather be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl than the guess-who-thought-of-everything girl, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.  And yet I adore when joy catches me by surprise or a little detour in life turns into a mighty path. So when something pops up that’s not part of my plan, I have to step back and make a choice: do I stay calm and comfortable (sometimes, the answer is yes) or do I need to mindfully, consciously step outside my comfort zone?

The other day, after running planned errands with the family for a couple of hours, Brad suggested we drive over to Minnehaha Falls (yep, the city of Minneapolis has a real-life waterfall in it!). A visit there is an excursion. In ten seconds flat, my brain raced through the reasons that was a terrible idea: we had no bug spray, no tanning lotion, no swim suits, no dinner, no hiking shoes, no camera, no backpack, no band-aids. Brad let my wheels turn (he’s used to this, bless him)….and watched as I brought those wheels to a screeching halt. We had nowhere else to be. The boys love it there. And there’d be so. much. beauty.

So we went. On a whim. And it turned into a wonderful lesson for me.

Ready to skip rocks!

I mean, seriously. Is that JOY or what? We walked for two hours on trails near the Falls, and along the creek that empties into the mighty Mississippi. And the whole time, the boys were tickled pink throwing rocks into the woods or skipping them across the water.

Family at the Falls

We adored taking our time, enjoying each other finding treasures along the way.

beautiful white flower

We marveled at the beauty around us – from woodland flowers to river rapids – and I loved snapping pics of each one with my cell phone.

making friends, meeting turtles

We made new friends – the human kind and the turtle kind.

daddy and little boy

I melted over scenes like this.

selfie of live

And I forced myself to find beauty in my sweaty, windblown self.

Brothers walking

By the time we were done, I was so in love with our spontaneous side trip that I didn’t even flinch when the kids had a splash-fest at the base of the Falls (definitely not planned!), riding home in the car soaking wet and bone tired.

The path to bliss...

The planner in me almost caused us to miss this bliss. I’ll likely never be the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants girl, but I’ve grown far better at allowing the possibility of beauty and the potential for joy to override my need to plan ahead. I am able to leave my best-laid plans behind when I remember this: Bliss doesn’t care which shoes you packed for the journey. Just start walking.  


Note: A nature walk like this, planned or unplanned, is one of my favorite ways to re-engage with the magic in my midst and choose to see beauty in my life. We’ll be virtually walking hand-in-hand through playful prompts and exercises like this during The Art of Choosing Beauty, but we’ll dig much deeper, too. How do you find beauty and magic and fulfillment on the hardest, darkest days? What if your daily pace is so fast you feel out of breath in your own life? I’d love to have you join me on the journey (we start Monday!) – and invite a friend, a soul sister, to walk with us for free. Details here.