Tree Franklyn is a best-selling author, coach and founder of Empathic Awakening Academy who helps sensitive souls manage and release their overwhelming emotions so they can stand in their strength and reconnect with who they truly are to create a life of deep meaning, power and purpose. In this interview Tree shares insights to high sensitivity with tips to stay balanced.
Could you tell us a bit about your journey and what inspired you to help people with their life challenges?
Growing up, I always felt like I didn’t belong. Not just in social situations but from a baser, more fundamental level, I saw and felt things differently than everyone else. It was as if everyone was looking at the tip of the iceberg and putting so much attention and value on it, while I sensed there was something deeper in the water, like a bigger picture of existence, a more holistic view of the iceberg rather than just what was apparent on the surface. And when I told people about it, they thought I was crazy. So then I started thinking I was crazy since everyone else seemed to be in agreement of what they saw. As a child, I didn’t know how to process that and the only logical explanation my young brain came up with was that maybe I was an alien from outer space mistakenly dropped on this planet called Earth and that my job was to observe and learn the human ways.
So I became an observer of life.
Throughout the years as I grew up, I wondered when the mother ship would come and take me back home. I don’t think I fully let go of the alien idea until my late teens and then I went through a horrible “dark decade of the soul” where I battled severe depression and thought of suicide every day in my twenties. I didn’t want to be here on this planet where everything seemed upside down and inside out, and I felt everything at such a deep, intense level that it hurt just to be alive.
But as I reached my thirties, I began climbing my way out of the darkness and started to understand my purpose here and find meaning in being human and I caught glimpses of the beauty of life, in the midst of all the ugly messes, and started coming into myself and learning how to love and accept myself for all my sensitivities and empathic gifts.
Because of my own struggles and having risen out of them, I love helping other sensitive people, those who’ve felt alienated, like me, because they see deeper into things, feel emotions powerfully, and whose souls ache with the unanswered question: “why can’t people just be kinder to each other?”
Can you explain a bit about what a Sensitive Soul or Empath is and how they experience general life?
In a nutshell, an empath or sensitive soul is a person who has the ability to sense or feel energy, whether from other people, animals or all of life.
Years ago, I discovered that I was a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which is a term coined in the mid-1990’s by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron to describe one who has high sensory processing sensitivity, the scientific term for the innate trait. Something clicked for me when I learned about HSP’s because it finally explained things about myself like why I cry easily, even over TV commercials, why sudden loud noises disturb me, why a loved one’s slight lie feels like a deep betrayal, why I can’t tolerate meaningless chit chat and why I notice subtle shifts in people’s energy that others don’t, and so much more about me that once made me feel like an alien.
But while the term HSP explained how my brain works, it didn’t explain other things, like why I’ve felt other energies around me since I was a little kid (even when no one was around), or why when I hug a tree, I feel its life force flowing through me, or why when I’m in the waiting room at my doctor’s office, I can feel the emotion of the person sitting next to me as if it were my own, or why I can tell when someone’s hurting inside even if they’re smiling and appear happy to the world.
An empath is all that and more. Empaths are not necessarily HSP’s though they can be, but in all honesty, to clump them both together like most people do, is a bit of an insult to decades of research and hard work by dedicated scientists, like Dr. Aron, who discovered the innate trait of high processing sensitivity. HSP is grounded in science, while the term “empath” is not.
I no longer use the terms interchangeably for that reason and now simply refer to those who are like me as “sensitive souls” or empaths.
What do you find are the more popular aspects that people struggle with and seek guidance on?
Sensitive souls and empaths tend to take on the suffering of the world, they feel everyone else’s emotions deeply, which can lead to severe depression if they don’t know how to stand strong in their own power and shine their own light. And if anyone were to ask them why they’re so depressed, they usually don’t know. There usually isn’t anything concrete and obvious that they can point to and say, “that’s why I’m depressed.” So it can be very confusing, and many empaths take that internally and turn it against themselves, thinking they must be weak, flawed or broken, because they can’t simply be happy, like everyone else seems to be.
Most of my clients and students find me when they’ve done enough inner work to have risen out of the darkest trenches of depression but still struggle with their overwhelming emotions, trying to find alignment with who they are internally as a soul and the life they’re living externally as a human, and beyond that, they seek my help in becoming the force of light in this world that they know they were created to be.
On the other side of suffering, empaths have the greatest capacity to feel the world’s immense joy, beauty and grace, and the ability to serve others with it. Once they move beyond the first two stages of their empathic awakening journey, they have access to the full spectrum of their empathic gifts and can truly make a difference in this world.
Could you tell us a bit more about the methods you use in working with clients?
During my years of working with sensitive souls, empaths and lightworkers, I started to notice that all of my clients, readers and students fell into 1 of four stages in their emotional and spiritual growth. I began paying attention to these similarities and noticed that each stage has its own set of languages, stories and beliefs that were recurring patterns for everyone in that stage, no matter what part of the world they’re from or what experiences they’ve had.
As a general example, if you think your sensitivity is a curse and you don’t know how it could possibly be a gift, you’re likely in one of the first two stages (the Identifier and the Survivor). If you’ve grown into a sense of your own power and started to realize that you can shift those painful energies and use them to help yourself and others, you’re likely in the next two stages (the Observer and the Alchemist).
Listening to my clients’ struggles and how they tell their stories of what they’re going through, I knew with clarity which of the four stages they were in and I could then better help them to understand where they are and why they’re experiencing what they’re experiencing, and more importantly, I knew the exact tools and practices that would help them move forward so they can finally find the peace, joy and freedom they so crave.
Because it gave my clients profound breakthroughs, I started using this wisdom more and more in my private teachings and finally put it all together to create a roadmap for empaths called “The Four Stages of Empathic Awakening.”
Clarifying these stages has not only helped me personally in my own evolutionary growth, but for my students and clients, they’ve proven to be vital to helping them know with clarity where they are in their own empathic journey and become clear on where they’re going. It’s given them a clear, structured roadmap to follow and has helped them know why they’re here on this dense, vibrating planet of seemingly cruel and insensitive people – what their true purpose is as an empath – and the potential of where they can go and how they can serve. Everything I teach is grounded in the stages.
You have a variety of online courses on offer. Please share a bit more on these and where the best place would be to start for someone who feels overwhelmed by their emotions.
I created a school, the Empathic Awakening Academy, based on my four stages where I teach everything from self-love to boundaries to energy healing to creating abundance and more. The courses are specifically for empaths and sensitive souls based on their unique challenges and struggles as well as their innate gifts and divine calling. While anyone can benefit from the teachings, I don’t recommend it for anyone who’s not empathic, sensitive, spiritually oriented or a true soul searcher. It’s for those beautiful brave souls who want to dive deep, explore and uncover parts of themselves they either want to release (like unhealthy patterns, toxic beliefs and negative energy) or to reveal (like their strength, power and purpose).
The best place to begin would be with my free offerings. I have a video that talks about how popular protection techniques that most empaths are taught can do more harm than good. Protection techniques such as imagining white light bubbles and energetic force fields are fear-based. They’re based in the idea that you need protection and as long as you’re in the mindset of needing protection, you’re making yourself out to be a weak victim in a harsh world that can harm you. Rather, I recommend using protection techniques for a very short time only so you can gain your footing, but then it’s time to stand up strong, tap into your inner strength and live from a place of power rather than fear. You can find that video and more on my website.
Lastly, do you have any advice or techniques to share with our readers that can help them stay grounded or balanced?
The best advice I can give your readers who might be struggling to maintain their balance and groundedness due to their overwhelming emotions is three things:
- Find a quiet space where you can be alone and let the emotions flow. Emotions are simply energy in motion. That’s all they are. When you allow the emotions to flow, without judgment, resistance or denial, you set the emotion free to come and go within seconds. Yes, seconds! Once the emotion has flowed through, it’s gone, and it literally only takes seconds. The ONLY reason an emotion stays longer than a few seconds is because we hold on it, by judging it or ourselves for feeling it, by the thoughts and stories we make up about it, by fighting it, pushing it away because it hurts too much or otherwise numbing it with food, drugs, sex, etc. But if we let it flow, we discover that not only will we survive the pain, we’ll come out on the other side a more free and powerful being because we know our emotions no longer have control over us.
- You are not your emotions. You’re a soul experiencing energy flowing through you which we humans label as sadness, anger, fear, joy, enthusiasm, etc. But it’s just energy and your body is simply a vessel through which it flows. There’s nothing wrong or bad about you when you experience what might be labeled as a “dark” or “negative” emotion. Emotions don’t make you who you are. If you can separate yourself from your emotion, you’ll realize that you’re much more than what you might be feeling in any given moment.
- You’re a force of light in this world. When you begin to embrace that truth, you’ll start to become aware of just how powerful you are and why you’re here. Allow your work with your emotions to guide you toward your purpose.