Do you consider yourself "just" an empath? Do you feel highly intuitive, but just not quite psychic? Or do you feel like you have a few psychic skills, but they are not as strong as you wish they were when you compare yourself to others?
This post is about the journey of acceptance that I have gone on, and how through recognizing my (seemingly lesser) gifts, my psychic abilities have actually grown stronger, along with my self-confidence. I also include some handy tips for learning how to trust and grow your own psychic gifts.
I have a friend I'll call Mary, who has seen ghosts since she was a young child, as well as her spirit guides too. They have been ever-present in her life, a source of fear, strength, comfort and direction. With a gift (and challenge) like that, there is little room for doubt about your psychic abilities. For a long time I thought that kind of thing was what "qualified" you as psychic, and since my experience wasn't so dramatic or concrete, I dismissed and minimized any gifts I had, or viewed them as lesser.
I've always been very intuitive and empathic and had many deep spiritual and mystical experiences, but I never considered myself "officially" psychic. It is only in recent years that this gift has begun to blossom into contacting spirits, and while this kind of experience has become more common for me, it still takes me by surprise.
Over time I have learned just how unique people's abilities and experiences of contacting spirit can be, and as I get better at accepting and trusting my gifts, they are developing and growing in strength.
A Visit from Grandpa
It was peaceful Saturday afternoon, a couple of weeks before Christmas at my beau Stephen's place. We were listening to music, preparing for the holidays. I was wrapping presents in the living room, and he was in the bedroom working on the desk and hutch his grandfather made so that we could hang a curtain on it.
I heard a man distinctly call my name, and I figured it was Stephen, but the music was loud so it was a little hard to tell. I called out to him, asking if he called me. He said he didn't. I knew I clearly heard my name, and it was a man's voice, but it was just the two of us home. Then I realized that the voice came from the opposite direction of where Stephen was working. He came out of the bedroom and looked at me, and then the word "grandfather" came into my mind. It was less distinct than when I heard my name, more of a sense impression, but also different from my usual thoughts. I told Stephen that I sensed "grandfather", and he raised his eyebrows, smirked, and pointed to the bedroom. Of course, he was working on his grandfather's furniture! I hadn't made the connection.
I mindfully tuned in to the present moment, and suddenly got physically overwhelmed with energy, like tingles from my toes to my head, and I was filled with love. I immediately told Stephen the sense-message I was given: "Your grandfather loves you very much, and he wants you to know that". I was actually brought to tears by the force of the energy and emotion washing over me. Stephen said "I can feel it". It was just such a lovely moment, and that contact with his grandfather was the support Stephen really needed at the time.
A few years ago, I would have certainly dismissed the voice I heard as nothing, called it my imagination, and kept wrapping presents, but by that point, I had experienced enough to trust in my gifts. How many opportunities for connection might you let slip away due to minimizing or self-doubt?
One of the most transformative experiences in understanding and valuing my own gifts was at a spiritual gathering that I attended. I have had many such experiences since then, and the more I have begun to trust my impressions, the more my gifts have blossomed.
I heard of an upcoming spiritual event, and I felt strongly intuitively compelled to go, although I knew very little about it at the time. It was held by people involved in the voodoo / hoodoo path, one that I didn't really relate to personally or know anything about at the time, but despite that, I felt a very strong and insistent call to attend.
I went with Mary. When I got there, I felt so at home, like I had finally found my true tribe. People like me, from many spiritual paths, but all magickally gifted in some way, all serious about the work. We set up our tents, and then the rain came. Cold, driving, unrelenting rain that went on for the whole weekend. But the weather didn't matter. No one complained - we all adapted, piled on the clothes, sheltered under tents, and got to work.
The highlight of the weekend was the séance, held in the barn, due to the rain. They had one woman stand at a large, heavy wooden table, while we all collectively and silently channeled our energy into her as she acted as a conduit. She was wearing black, and as I stared at her and sent her my energy, her dark clothes became like a movie screen and I spontaneously began scrying. Scrying is the act of looking into various mediums and receiving visions. Among some random images, what stood out most clearly was a vision of a little girl with long hair, about seven or eight years old.
I'd done scrying before, in clouds in the night sky, but mostly at a pond at a cemetery I frequent, but it had never turned on quite like this. I hadn't really taken it too seriously before, since there was always a chance that I was just imagining the things I saw. Even though the visions were strong and distinct this time, I still wasn't really taking it too seriously now. It was easy to just call it my imagination. That all changed after the séance, when everyone talked about their individual impressions and experiences.
Many people picked up on the same little girl. Some people visually saw her as a spirit, some felt her energy, some saw her in their mind's eye like a picture or vision, some heard her, or got an emotional impression. It was really impressive confirmation for me that what I saw was not just my imagination! It was validating to hear other people's experiences, and see that they were picking up on the same thing as me, but in many different ways. It also opened my eyes to how differently and uniquely each person sensed the same spirit energy.
I'd grown up in a very "logical", materially-based family, in a society that shuns the "unexplained", and my inner skeptic had been firmly in place for years, despite personally having many mystical experiences. In once sense it has made me fiercely independent and questioning - I have never believed anything just because someone told me. I needed to prove things for myself. But this tendency could also be limiting and self-defeating. Skepticism had become a tool for self-doubt. In our see-it-to-believe-it society, I dismissed anything less than a full-bodied apparition as spirit communication. And even when I finally saw a shadow figure run across the graveyard in plain day, I could still hear the skeptic kick in ("It was probably just a trick of the light…"). If you're not willing to accept a thing, no amount of "evidence" will ever be enough.
I finally realized that I had such a tendency towards skepticism and minimizing that I was in the habit of brushing off any psychic gifts I had as "just intuition", instead of exploring them and developing them. The confirmation that I experienced at the seance, that I wasn't just imagining things, was a real game-changer.
Tips for Recognizing Your Psychic Gifts and Gaining Confidence:
1. Pay close attention to your inner skeptic
Do you have a habit of automatically minimizing, denying or explaining away subtle happenings like I did? The first step is recognizing it. It happens so quickly that this alone takes quite a bit of practice. That flash out of the corner of your eye? Must be a reflection of something. That voice? Nah, I'm just hearing things. That strong emotion coming out of nowhere? Maybe I didn't get enough sleep. That strong intuition to do something? I'll just do that later. The urge to instantly discount sense impressions can be very strong if you are very skeptical.
These kinds of reactions keep you in the thinking mind, in rationalizations and stories. It's good to be realistic and skeptical to a point (sometimes that thing out of the corner of your eye really is just a reflection!), but when you find yourself consistently dismissing your own personal experiences, the skepticism has become toxic, discounting your experiences and shrouding you from the true reality playing out in your life.
2. Get out of your mind, tune in to your body
I had a lot of expectations and qualifications around what a psychic experience "should" be (like seeing a full-bodied apparition) that I didn't recognize the energetic subtleties happening around and within me. My sweet Stephen is an amazing Reiki Master and healer, and often he will stop me when I'm caught up in my mind and say "Here, just feel this", grab my hand, and put my hand on the thing. That usually stops me from doing my mental gymnastics and gets me tuned into the energy. Simple, but effective. Stop thinking and start sensing!
3. Ask yourself "what if", and get present
Once you are able to recognize the auto-skeptic voice in the moment, practice putting it aside and saying "what if"? This is the opposite approach to being skeptical. Instead, you give your impressions the benefit of the doubt: "What if this isn't my imagination? What if I really am seeing/hearing/sensing something here? Then stop, and become as fully present as you can. Your mind wants to take you out of the moment, so try to sense your body, your emotions, your energy, and the energy around you. Become aware, quiet, and alert.
4. Play the "let's pretend" game
My friend Mary took me to the cemetery a few times to practice contacting spirits. For someone with such a strong spiritual gift, she's also an extremely practical lady. I was fussing about, saying that I couldn't sense anything, and she said "Let's play a game. Just pretend". We found a grave marker with a photo on it, and she urged me to imagine what that person was like and share with her what came up. Just pretend. Let myself "make up" a story. Once it was just a game, the pressure was off, and I was able to lighten up and not take everything so seriously. I let go of my insecurities and skepticism, and the self-imposed pressure to be accurate. Once I did this, the impressions came easily and naturally.
5. Find verification where possible
Again, Mary's practical results-oriented nature came into play. We practiced the "let's pretend" game at a few plots, and wrote down the names of the people whose spirits we were trying to contact. We wrote down any impressions that came to us. Then we took the most important step - we researched the obituaries, to see if any of the information we sensed could be verified. Some things were impossible to research (like the person's personality or emotional state), but we did in fact confirm some causes of death that we had gleaned correctly. That verification took power away from the inner skeptic, and made things real. Experiences like this were vital to gaining confidence in my abilities.
Once you are able to sense the various subtle signs, put aside the skeptic long enough to get present and tune in, allow yourself to take your impressions seriously, and find verification wherever possible, then your gifts will have the opportunity to grow. Much of the process is letting go of how you think things "should" be, and just paying attention to how they really are.
I may never visually see spirits or experience the world exactly like Mary, but through the gifts I have been given and am continuing to develop, I have had the privilege of helping others by passing on spirit messages and crossing over stuck spirits. My scrying skills are becoming more reliable, and my empathic nature allows me deep insights into other people's inner struggles. I have been given visions, close kinship with animals, and some seriously kick-ass dreams. My inner world is filled with spirit and connection, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
My gifts are meant for my own path, my personal purpose, as are yours. They are unique to you, suited for your own soul journey, and there is no contest between who is "more psychic". Let's all respect and enjoy our own unique connection to spirit. Sure, I'd still really like to see a full-bodied apparition, but you never know, maybe one day…
PS: Aside from the séance, the real highlight of the weekend at the event was meeting my beloved Stephen, and walking the path of spirit together with him from that day forward. My intuition was right about attending that event, in more ways than one, and I'm sure glad I listened.