Empaths: Sensitive people whose primary mode of communication is vibrational – highly responsive to energy.
Conflict: Most have used this ability to hide or manipulate rather than feel and thrive. We call this “helping others.”
When I first realized there was a name for what I was, I read as much as I could about what it meant, and was immediately discouraged.
You’re basically the most vulnerable person on the planet. Good luck with that. Don’t forget to “buckle up” with your “shield of protection.”
Great. So I’m sensitive (already been told that my entire life).
But perhaps the most nauseating part of it all was reading the many blog forums and online articles where empaths and Highly Sensitive People (HSP) glorified their terrible boundary issues and blood doll status as if it were a badge of service to the planet.
I can’t say this is true for everyone, or that how I’ve learned to thrive as an empath will work for everyone. All I know is the prescribed classic remedy of “shielding/protecting/coping” didn’t work for me. At all. And in fact, it made things worse.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
I’m no more special than anyone else because I’m sensitive. Nor am I more vulnerable or weak. People develop acute empathic abilities for all sorts of reasons: some are born that way, others learn to read people’s emotions as a means of survival due to abuse. Whatever the reason, being an empath is no more special than being good at playing instruments or sports. It’s just part of the human diversity.
I’m not trying to take away the importance or power of this gift, but I also don’t want to elevate it as a super human ability, and here’s why:
Many empaths have a deep, core sense of unworthiness, and while it is important that we learn to see our value, it is equally important not to believe that being ultra-sensitive makes us more special than others. This only breeds further isolation and elitism, which is counter intuitive, really, because the mere fact that we are extra sensitive to other people’s energy is a reminder that at a fundamental level, we are all one – we’re all connected. Deep healing, then, comes from harmonizing with that energy around us, not creating separation from it.
Second, when empaths set themselves apart from the rest of humanity as the “sensitive” ones of the planet, we typically end-up glorifying co-dependent relationships and unhealthy boundaries because we falsely believe that everyone’s happiness depends on us and we develop a sort of “helper” complex.
Or we take the shielding/protection advice and hide ourselves from the world, believing the only means of survival is to go into the psychic’s version of the “witness protection program.” We disengage from relationships and “normal” life and call it “coping with our sensitivities.”
These are two of the most common pitfalls many unskilled and unhealed empaths stumble into (and I was no exception). The problem is, helping or hiding from the world is not thriving.
Those who take the “helper/light worker” title often end-up further blurring the lines with unhealthy relationships, creating a sort of dependency on other’s needing them and identifying their ability to disempower others (by creating emotional dependency) as their empathic “gift.”
Allowing others to suck your energy dry is NOT what it means to be empathic.
You can’t make your life better (and you certainly can’t get empowered) by trying to make others happy. Making others’ happiness your primarily focus doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you a blood doll.
What to Avoid:
Don’t become an energetic food source for others. Not only is it unhealthy and unsustainable for you, it is the equivalent of energetic suicide. If you make others believe you’re the only one who can make them happy, heal them, or save them, you do them a diabolical disservice: you disempower them.
Hence the drama with empaths and narcissists since the beginning of time.
It is not your job to change the world (or others) and you couldn’t even if you tried.
The only person you can ever truly change is yourself. Self-mastery is the greatest gift you can give to others, because when you do it, the world sees it can be done. You become an inspiration. You make empowerment attainable.
The only reason you would choose to come into this world with highly sensitive vibrational abilities is to learn how to USE them, how to navigate with them, in order to facilitate your own self-evolution. When you evolve, you “upload” (in a manner of speaking) the codes for self-evolution/mastery into the human consciousness grid. When others see it can be done, they have more belief that they too, can have self-mastery. Running around trying to fix the world will only give you more people to fix (and will drain you of your power in the process).
The world doesn’t need to be fixed. This reality works exactly as it was created to. It gives us what we put out. It perfectly reflects “us” back to us. This is why it is so useful for our self-evolution. And this is why self-mastery is so crucial. The only way we will ever truly have enough power in the world to make a difference is through mastering our own lives, first.
This is not to say that loving others is not important. No doubt the planet could use more love. But altruism isn’t the same as dependency. In order for people to learn, they have to be free to walk their path. God loves us enough to give us that freedom, and it’s crucial we give it to others. When we do help, it should be because it feels good to do so, not because we need to be needed or because we feel obligated to do so. Even when Jesus healed he said “Your faith healed you.” The emphasis was always empowerment.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
We simply got lost. We forgot our true purpose is inner mastery.
Most of us focus our attention on the external world, feel too much, shut down, and that’s the end of it.
We tune-out how WE feel and make other people’s emotions our primary focus because we think that will make us feel better. Feeling other’s emotions and trying to ‘fix’ them seems much easier, because it’s less threatening. Our own emotions, quite frankly, scare the shit out of us.
Why? Because we’ve been told our entire lives that to feel too much is to be weak. And most of us have untold amounts of heartache, pain, and even abuse we’ve never looked at. Our sensitivities make us feel too vulnerable.
The problem is, focusing on others doesn’t actually make us feel better. Sure, it distracts us, but it doesn’t set us free. It doesn’t empower us, and it certainly doesn’t empower anyone else.
At best it gives us a temporary sense of worthiness by being “needed” or loved for what we can do for them – at worst it fuels co-dependent relationships that bleed us of our power. We’re left with nothing but emptiness. And that emptiness is too unbearable to feel, so we bury it, along with every other emotion that would indicate we are OFF COURSE, and go back to allowing others to feed on us. Being an energetic food source gives us a feeling of worth and purpose – for a moment, anyway – an empath’s equivalent to a drug fix.
After the effects of the ‘fix’ wears off, we feel weak and lonely. We may have a lot of “close friends” but we feel like they don’t know us at all – not our true selves anyway, because how could they? We’ve buried our true selves along with all of our emotions. We fixate on the external world and expend our energy to its never-ending need, giving what little power we have to a cycle that can NEVER give back to us. It’s unsustainable, and it’s energetically barbaric.
So what’s the solution?
Here’s what I’ve learned:
FEEL. FEEL. And FEEL!
The biggest mistake empaths make is to shut off their emotions.
But the ability to feel deeply IS our power. It is the power of humanity as a whole. When you allow yourself to feel the emotional space WITHIN and communicate back to the world with your strong, finely tuned, highly sensitive capabilities, you create a sort of empathic dialogue with the energy around you and begin to learn what it means to create your own reality (or really, just line-up with a reality that is best suited for your growth and evolution). When you create a harmonic internal realm, the external begins to harmonize around you. That is how you bring more peace and love to the world. This is true compassion. It starts within.
This is a vibrational Universe, after all, and emotions are the strongest vibrational indicators we’ve got at our disposal. When you look at it his way, emotions, and the ability to feel deeply, becomes our super power.
Don’t believe feeling deeply makes you weak. Vibrational sensitivity gives you the power to move anywhere on the grid you wish. It’s not a matter of brute strength and it certainly has nothing to do with “logic” – it is vibrational intelligence.
This is as simple as asking yourself (in any given moment) what feels good and what doesn’t. Then moving in the direction that feels most empowering. But you will never know what that is unless you TUNE-IN!
So how do you tune-in?
Go within. Allow yourself to FEEL where you are, without judgement or identification. Emotions are not YOU — they are simply your indicators. They help you know where you’re at so you can get to where you want to be.
Give yourself the sustaining, nurturing power of your own presence. Love yourself enough to be free from the emptiness of co-dependency.
Don’t allow the world to make you feel your emotional capacity is a weakness. Don’t believe the lie that being empathic is an acute form of vulnerability. And NEVER shut your heart down.
Emotions are your greatest tool.
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Thank you so much for this article. This says what I’ve been thinking for the past year and a half.