Being an empath is overrated and highly romanticised.
Yes, you get to know what other people are feeling.
Yes, you are often moved to compassion.
And yes, you often spend a long time feeling burnt out, needing to recharge, and simply not knowing where your needs and emotions start and the other person’s begins
Having that level of psychic, spiritual and emotional sensitivity makes life extremely challenging unless you develop the right skillset to use it well. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to be a spiritual punching bag.
Contemporary spiritual writings valorize the pain empaths experience, pinning a blue ribbon on top of all that pain to give it meaning. Eventually we will see that pain being normalized, as part of the definition of what an empath must be.
But that’s where we are headed …
Empaths frequently experience challenges in setting their boundaries, or knowing that they exist in the first place. More often than not, part of their sensitivity to others and inability to turn off comes from a deep deep wound that comes from not being seen, loved or understood. They tend to overcompensate by increasing their sensitivity to others and filling their needs – instead of the Self.
Through this there is the silent but often ignored request to just, maybe, please skip over a puddle for the one who has moved mountains for you. . . .
In other words, the empath, over time, becomes willing to erase their boundaries to see if that primary, existential need will ever be filled. This attracts them to relationships in
which the all-too-callous are all-too-willing to be the non-reciprocal recipient of the empath’s energy. Till they have no more to give, or choose to walk, or both.
And this is where that (sadly classic) dynamic between the empath and narcissist arises from. One is too eager to fill another, but is reluctant to fill itself. The other is happy receiving that that energy, but is reluctant to reciprocate. It makes for a terrible, vicious cycle or a lock-and-key scenario that opens the doorways to pain. Many lessons, yes – but also much pain.
Empaths are either shamed to or convince themselves that the kind of heartache and suffering this brings reflects the depths of the romance idealism and is a deeply spiritual act of noble surrender and ego-death. Those are real things, but they come from other places.
A spiritual sacrifice exists without expectation. It comes from a place to goes beyond your needs, desires and wants. A space wherein detachment and compassion co-exist without contradiction. And that´s not an easy space to pull off.
What empaths tend to do is to sacrifice their well being in the hopes they will be taken care of in turn.
That has nothing to do with love or spirituality, but rather the dynamics of psychological control and abuse.
One thing you may want to consider before jumping on the empath band-wagon is that it is very, very similar to co-dependency. Similar kinds of traumas and similar coping mechanisms characterize both phenomena. I´m still looking into the differences between the two, if any (in observed practice).
I´d highly recommend Robin Norwood´s Women Who Love Too Much for an excellent introduction to co-dependency and an understanding of the neural chemistry that underpins relationship addiction. There´s certainly an overlap.
So, what does one do about it?
Everyone´s journey is going to be an individual one and there is no one-sized-fits-all process. However I can assure you that there will be at least one common key element to all of your / our journeys:
To discover and honor your own energetic field, presence and experience of Self, space and vessel of Being – and to embrace the beauty it has to offer to the world.
Key words: Self-Love, Self-Nurture, Setting Boundaries, Grounding, Discernment
There are other skill-sets the empath could greatly benefit from, such as the ability to interpret the psychic information picked up from another´s field. But really, I would say that comes after a solid foundation of Self (Being) is set.
You first have to give yourself permission to exist.
That sounds nonsensical on the surface as you do exist, but there are likely to be parts of you that still find it hard to accept the fact you´re here. Path of the empath´s drive to help others comes from that need to find purpose, to justify one´s existence through charitable acts. That is, unless you´ve gone the other end of the moral compass – but that too is motivated by that same need – to find some larger purpose for being.
But words are words, and unless they move you at a deep level – reading this is not going to do much.
In my journey, the biggest changes have come through the actions I have taken, catalyzed by tools such as gemstones, essential oils, homeopathy, spiritual practices – and so on. It´s been a mixed bag of tricks, each one unveiling a different layer of the puzzle.
But through it all, my actions – at a physical, embodied, level have made the message sink in over time. Not my ideations, not my careful celebral justifications, not the feverish writing and journalling through so very many notebooks over years of work.
It´s been the little things – which are not truly that little.
It´s been being able to buy myself some rose-scented hand cream when I´m down (and my skin gets cracked and broken) because I´ve worked too hard and didn´t feel like I deserved anything.
It´s been making sure I had a healthy meal for myself when life just felt cold.
It´s been taking the time out, not to hide from people, but to find out what it is that I as a person liked to do in the world – and learn not to apologize for it. Or find a deeper need to justify it.
It´s been honoring my instincts to do what is right for me, even if it freaked out other people.
It´s been saying no to relationships that seek to ´fill me´ without giving me room to do that for myself. (Hallelujah!)
And when I found myself unable to make these choices, overwhelmed by the pain of my own journey (of which there has been a significant amount) … I thought of the one being I wanted to unconditionally love: the that daughter I would one day have.
And then I would ask myself again, – Would I ever want her to feel this way?
It´s so very important to be compassionate with yourself when you can´t immediately snap into a sense of self-love and self-preservation that seems to come effortlessly to so many others.
Step by step, day by day – these are the choices that help you override neural pathways that have been ingrained for so very long. It´s not something you wave away with a magic wand or have removed from you in a brilliant flash of insight. It´s a process that takes time, commitment, and the realization that …
Just being is one of the hardest things to do …
Gemstones, essential oils and previous articles of relevance are written below.
Blessings to the Collective
Essential Oils (Please research usage, dilution, contraindications, etc. before use – especially if pregnant, vulnerable, immunologically compromised, etc.)
Rose, Geranium, Ylang Ylang – bringing out your deepest emotions
Vetiver, Patchouli – getting into your body
Rose Quartz, Unakite, Peach Selenite, Rhodocrosite – reactivating your ability to feel your own emotions
Hematite, Labradorite – protecting and strengthening your auric field
There are many others for different layers or stages of the process but this is just an introductory guide.
Post & Video ´Personal Boundaries and Being An Empath – Vid 1.´ © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2017. All rights reserved.