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Reading the Room
Okay so first of all I have no experience discussing 'paranormal' things with other people as this is something that I've kept to myself for fear of people thinking I was crazy. Hopefully this won't be too long to type out, I'll try to condense it.
Basically, ever since I can remember I could always 'read' peoples' energies. It's almost as if I can feel what they are feeling.
For example, I can be sitting at home pretty much content but if someone walks into the house and they've had a rough day I automatically sense it and soon start to feel it. It can be quite stress-inducing. The only time I feel 'quiet' or at peace is when I am in complete solitude
I can also sense when something is out of the ordinary or wrong.
example: one day when I was in high school I was walking from my car to the building ( a good distance, mind you) and as soon as i got out of the car felt that something was terribly wrong. Like really bad but didn't know why. When I walked into school I discovered that a girl a grade below me had shot herself in the head the previous night. Students and faculty were devastated and I could sense it as soon as I arrived on campus.
Does anyone know what this is?
Is there any way to control it?
Or am I just crazy?
No, you aren't crazy to have those experiences, although I don't know if what you are experiencing is paranormal or not.

I don't think it is abnormal at all to "sense" something, "have a gut feeling," experience intuition, or any of the things that people have labeled this. Some people think that a spirit or guardian angel or something speaks to them or if it is ESP or some other mental faculty. Other explanations are not supernatural such as subconsciously reading someone's body language, expression, or even the smell of the endorphins or hormones they have in their bloodstream.

I have had the same feelings at times as I'm sure others have. The explanation is a little harder to find.

Subject: I have a black cat.
Believer: Black cats are bad luck.
Non-believer: It's just a cat.
Crackpot: Black cats are part of the New World Order government conspiracy.
Skeptic: I can test if black cats are more or less lucky than another cat.
Cynic: You only have a black cat to gain power and prestige.

I think everyone has the ability to sense things like that, but not every body notices it. My thought is it probably goes back to survival and being aware of threats in our surroundings. Like with the school experience you talked about, everything was probably off, things weren't as loud as usual, an over all somber feeling, which is a sign of trouble or disturbance in the wild, like when you can't hear birds or insects in an area, it might not be noticeable consciously but your mind will pick up on it. And like Darkforeboding said body language plays a lot into it also, it's easy to tell when someone is upset or happy or angry by how they carry themselves, especially if you know the person well.
I greatly appreciate your replies in regards to this. I mentioned it to my mother and she told me my great grandmother would have similar feelings. I can see how it could be an advantage as far as survival instincts go but when it's intense 24/7 it can be a little stressful haha.
Again thank y'all for taking the time to respond.
I have met a lot of interesting people since I started taking an interest in "paranormal" which to me, finding people who can sense energy is fairly common at this point, i have hit a ration of about 3 out of 10 people admit to having been alone in a room and having a "sensation" of someone either watching them or not wanting them there.

I used to have a house mate that said her stomach would hurt if i was upset (like really upset), and this isn't the first time i have had people admit they could sense energy off me. I have a friend that lives a few towns away and i was on my way over to his house to surprise him for his birthday and i got a call from him just as i was nearing his house and he asked me why i was near him.

As far as energy sensing goes or empathy, its fairly common. and can be a positive and negative thing. I learned to turn my empathy off when people are just being stupid. but for a lot of people, that isn't a luxury. I have a few friends who can go into a party super happy, but as soon as they sense someone in pain, it digs at them until they can help the person.

When you are able to "read" a room, you are likely picking up on body language, facial expressions and other non-verbal cues as the others have said. Ever had that prickling at the nape of your neck and you just know that someone is watching you? Our primal instincts that were part of our survival skills are still functioning in our 'reptilian' hindbrain, also called the rhombencephalon. This is the brain stem that connects the spinal cord to the rest of the brain. It controls essential functions that are subconscious, like our reflexes, heartbeat, sense of balance etc.

But those with heightened sensitivity or empathic ability can receive a lot more input and make a cognitive interpretation. Like being able to tell the emotional state of someone who may not even be in the same location. Or having what I call a well-calibrated BS meter that can often detect when someone is lying or not telling the whole truth.

Sometimes, the extra input can be overwhelming and you can feel bombarded on all sides by emotions not your own. Doctors can prescribe medication to dampen the emotions if it causes distressing mood swings. In extreme situations, it can at least buy the person some time until they are better able to deal with it. I've tried a few different methods over the years and found that for me, meditation for calm and focus, and shielding work best. I understand the compulsion for empaths to want to help others in need. But there must be a balance. Our own health and well-being are also important. We can't help anyone if we're too emotionally wrung out ourselves. Sometimes an empath must preserve a certain distance and learn to erect a shield to avoid being overwhelmed (especially in a crowded place), and be utterly drained.
There's life...and then there's the afterlife.
One of my favourite pastimes is "reading the room". In my opinion, the skill is invaluable. You cannot put a price on the ability to enter a room and immediately gauge the atmosphere.

However, reading the room is not empathic-specific. To be honest, I believe that empaths might have a more difficult time reading the room and reacting, than someone who doesn't have any of that heightened sensitivity. Let me explain why:

When we enter a room, what we are reading is called the group field. Essentially, every person in the room -- and even the people who were merely in transit through the room -- adds to the general emotive atmosphere and levels of this atmosphere. There is an inter-play between the many different individuals, where personalities exude from the individual and either press against others, or coexist in harmony with them. 

The Tao of Leadership briefly touches on this, in Chapter 11 (Heider 21),
Quote:Pay attention to silence. What is happening when nothing is happening in a group? That is the group field.

Thirteen people sit in a circle, but it is the climate or the spirit in the venter of the circle, where nothing is happening, that determines the nature of the group field.
Learn to see emptiness. When you enter an empty house, can you feel the mood of the place? It is the same with a vase or a pot; learn to see the emptiness inside, which is the usefulness of it.

People's speech and actions are figural events. They give the group form and content.
The silences and empty spaces, on the other hand, reveal the group's essential mood, the context for everything that happens.
That is the group field.
As the excerpt explains, the actions -- I am including speech as an action -- affect the group field by adding content to context, and leaving behind an impact that we can gauge, through the silence between individuals. The context of the group field has a big influence on the way certain actions affect the field itself. If someone in transit through the area perform an action not in accordance with the context of the field, it will have a much larger negative impact, if the action itself had a perceived negative connotation.
However, it is important to note that an action, in accordance with the context of the group field, will impact the general atmosphere just as much as the action without context. This is because the field itself does not care about the source of the actions that affect it. As such, careless acts can greatly affect the interactions of people. It's why you need to be careful with your words and behaviour.

One thing that is interesting about the excerpt is the use of the word "usefulness". "learn to see the emptiness inside, which is the usefulness of it". In the same manner as how a vase or a pot's usefulness can be found in its emptiness -- it would be ridiculous to call a solidly cast vase useful at all -- the silence between individuals grants the observant person more useful information than the actions of any one individual.

Lets put it this way: If somebody behaves in a specific manner, there are a handful of reasons why they could be acting out. They could be expressing a genuine emotion or reaction to an event. However, they could also be exaggerating certain events to take advantage of a situation -- not useful for you. They could be lying, in an attempt to pull a ruse on the group -- not useful for you. They could simply be aiming to exacerbate the current negativity/positivity in the group field -- could be both not useful and useful, respectively.
However, the resulting group field that is left in the wake of the action/event is saturated with information that you can harvest to determine how you should/want to act, interactively.

Why is this more difficult for empaths? All of this information is as readily available to an empath as to the intuitive/practiced analyst of a group field. However, the empath also has a major factor that both distracts and convolutes the useful information supplied by the group field. They have the ability to specifically gauge the emotive state of the individual. Each individual within the group field. 

Why is this dangerous? Because information on the individual is largely useless in respect to the context and content of the group field.
You may figure out the perfect way to react to and deal with one individual. In a vacuum, that would be the way to go. However, if you were to follow through with it, in a group field, the ire you gain from other members could turn the person, who you read so well, against you. The group field is the most important part of interacting with people that reside in numbers more than 1 or 2. Empaths simply have too much information at hand to utilize their affinity.

In the end, they are forced to return to dealing with the general atmosphere, as we all are. Honestly, the group field is the perfect way to show how we are all, essentially, on the same playing field. This is regardless of any special powers or abilities we might have.
Thanks KaelisRa for your insight. I like how you expand our perspectives. Smile I am reminded of a recent spate of unpleasantness at my previous workplace. It was difficult to counter the individuals who were manipulating the group because of the conflicting reactions I was getting from everyone else. The only way I could deal with it was to step back, tamp down the emotional input and access the situation in a more detached manner. Group field - that describes it perfectly.

There is also the danger of groupthink to take into account, when the desire for conformity and harmony, to fit in, is taken to extremes. It is usually at the expense of individual creativity and stifling growth.

I've seen charismatic people harness the energy in a room and turn it around to their way of thinking in a matter of moments. Ever watch a canny politician read a room at a glance and then work the room with a smile, a few well-chosen platitudes and a handshake? It's quite unnerving, to be honest. Especially when you don't agree with them.

But at the end of the day, we can only do our best, each according to our core values.
There's life...and then there's the afterlife.
Groupthink is also a very interesting phenomenon. Sometimes, it doesn't even fall into a desire for conformity. Your example with the politician is one such moment. If you are savvy enough to take charge of a room, leadership qualities themselves can end up getting people to agree and follow you. Once one or two fall in line, the rest do as well (not out of conformity, but because the proof of your ability is seen through the people you've convinced).

For example, if I can walk into a room and change the mind of somebody who is hard-set in their beliefs, then other people will be more likely to move to my side. The idea is that people don't just alter their deeply-ingrained values. Obviously, I had something better to offer. People gravitate toward that.

Same operation with fear. There's always someone that they will fear more. There can also always be someone who has something better to offer. Effective manipulation of the group field can counteract group-think, to a point. However, if you make a play at gaining favour, you bring it back into the realm of groupthink dynamics. It's always easier to tear something apart than to build it up.
That's a sad truth. Many find it's too much hard work to stick around and help put things back together again. It's far too easy to criticise and throw dirt at all and sundry.

But we don't have to look too far for examples when the the mood of a room can change on a whim. Have you noticed how a single person in a bad mood can affect the tone in a whole room? Wouldn't the onus be on the person to control the selfish impact of a bad mood? Or in such an instance, perhaps someone with a mature emotional intelligence can help alleviate the effects?

Daniel Coleman warns of the “Dark Triad” – narcissists, Machiavellians, and sociopaths, who use their skills and knowledge of empathy to further their own gains without any consideration for the impact on others. Like how a torturer understands pain so as to better inflict more pain on the victim. It's a scary thought.

There's always the temptation for abuse. With all abilities, I feel there should also be some measure of balance, responsibility and restraint. Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should always do it...
There's life...and then there's the afterlife.

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