Debbie O'Keefe


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Empaths and HSP’s Aren't Real…Or Are They?

September 29, 20224 min read

Want to learn more about this topic? Click the link to listen to the full episode from my podcast, Coming Back to Life:

Coming Back to Life

#1. How self-awareness and self-acceptance can significantly change (and even SAVE) your life!

“You’re too damn sensitive!” This is something many people have said to me throughout my life when they have experienced some of the emotional responses and reactions I’ve had to different events and experiences. For as long as I can remember, I have been a deeply intense and strong feeling person. I have always been able to sense the emotions of others and never quite understood why I would seem to “take on” their experiences and felt as personally effected as they were.

At times, people found my hyper-sensitivity difficult to be around and to endure and it made interpersonal experiences a challenge for both myself and other people. It seemed both sides just couldn’t understand. I couldn’t understand how they didn’t see things the way I did and why it seemed that I was so strongly affected but they weren’t. On the other side, they couldn’t seem to understand why I would get so emotional and why I couldn’t just “let it go” the way they seemed to be able to do so logically and easily.

Despite the fact that my heightened sensitivity to emotions made others uncomfortable, this was not a justifiable reason to write me off, label or dismiss me in any way as defective, broken, or some kind of unhinged, melodramatic freak of nature. It wasn’t until well into my adulthood and after becoming a wife and mother that I discovered that my sensitives were more than just strong emotions and were far from “overreactions.” More significantly and even more life-changing was that I learned that I was experiencing something VERY real and legitimate.

You can imagine my relief when I every part of me embraced the truth that there was and IS nothing wrong with me! Even more mind-blowing was the realization that I was not alone and there are many other people who experience life the way I do and see the world through the same lens. These people identify as highly sensitive people (HSP’s), empaths or in some cases like myself, both.

The world is changing and starting to open up to many new ideas. While there has been a great deal of research and exploration into the minds and biochemistry of HSP’s and empaths, there is still a great deal that is unknown and misunderstood. Here are some of the most common misconceptions and false beliefs about HSP’s and empaths:

  • It’s FAKE and a bunch of “woo woo” nonsense: Many people believe that HSP and empath are just a label that people hide behind to make excuses for their issues and justify or condone irrational behavior, quirks, and oversensitivity. However, there is legitimate tangible proof and a great deal of evidence that proves that these two things are very real and completely legitimate.

  • It’s a choice: Many people believe that being hyper-sensitive or empathic is selective and you can just switch it off, “toughen up,” and “grow a thicker skin.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Asking someone who is an HSP/empath to “knock it off” and “stop being so damn sensitive” is like expecting someone who is diabetic to regulate their own blood sugar levels or someone with a thyroid issue to regulate their own TSH without medical support. It’s not biologically or physically possible as HSP’s/empaths have a neurologically and biologically different from those who are not.

  • Being a highly sensitive person means the same as being introverted: It is commonly believed that all HSP’s and empaths are introverted, shy, and/or antisocial. While it is more common for people who are highly sensitive and/or empathic be more introverted, it is completely possible to be an extroverted empath.

  • Only women and gay men are highly sensitive: While it is true that women and homosexual men tend to have a “softer side” and lean towards being more sensitive, being a HSP/empath is not exclusive to any gender or sexual preference.

They say, “knowledge is power,” and the more we know the more we can embrace the incredible gifts that highly sensitive people and empaths possess. There is a great deal more we stand to learn about the nature of highly sensitive people and empaths as well as how these sensitive souls can adapt and thrive in a world that is so energetically chaotic. Rather than dismiss what we may not fully understand, let us continue to learn, grow and open our hearts and minds to others so that we can come to a place of deeper understanding and genuine appreciation of our differences.

Join me and an incredible group of women in Rising Together where you are ALWAYS SUPPORTED and experience the genuine connection and sense of belonging you’ve always wanted within our inspiring and supportive soul sister community.

Rising Together Women’s Community (

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Debbie O'Keefe

Debbie is an intuitive empath, motivational speaker and writer as well as a certified solution focus coach and transformation coach. She is also a wife, mother, sister, friend and a recovering "people-pleaser" and "approval addict." Debbie shares her gifts with people all over the world providing them with the Divine guidance and support needed to make empowered choices and live their best lives. Her mission in life to use the gifts of her life experiences to help others find purpose in their pain, to heal their deepest heart hurts and inspire them to make empowered choices that help them live a life they genuinely love while loving themselves in the process. Debbie lives in upstate New York with her incredible husband, Peter and her two beautiful daughters, Rebecca and Sarah. She enjoys sharing her musical talents with others playing flute and singing and replenishing her spirit in nature.

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