“An empath is someone who is very attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. An empath feels what others are feeling on a deep emotional level.” ~ Leah Campbell
When I learned the word empath about 10 years ago, I felt an amazing sense of relief. I thought to myself, yes it is me! Finally, I will explain why people have exhausted me so much. Why I had the ability to read people’s minds instantly and was always obsessed with helping, listening and supporting others in their crises.
However, I no longer believe that definition.
I am no longer an empath.
am i cured? Or am I not an empath to begin with?
For me, I have found a different understanding that unlocks my ability to not feel trapped in the empathic prison I was in.
I’ve found that I no longer have to manage my life according to my emotions because I can change how I react to people’s emotions.
When I discovered the concept of empathy, I realized many of the challenges I was facing. To draw to Me those who are struggling and need My support like moths to a fire. Inability to focus on one’s own affairs away from the stresses and emotions of other people’s lives. My fatigue from spending time with people.
I started following general advice for empaths, but it started to feel like another cage. I had to orient my life around avoiding ‘toxic’ people, i.e. ’emotionally blood-sucking people’. But even if you cover yourself in white light or avoid certain people, you still can’t prevent yourself from being completely overwhelmed by the emotions of relatives, children, husbands, and close friends on a regular basis. I noticed.
I felt like I was in reaction mode the whole time and it was very daunting.
Years later, I discovered another word that changed my life in a more significant way: sedation.
Soothing is a survival response that is activated when emotions and situations are intolerable to us. Like the fight, flight, or freeze-in response, soothing is also a response to physical or emotional anxiety.
Like many of us, I learned early on that I felt most secure if I knew how to anticipate and support the emotions of those around me. I noticed.
My survival response was one that helped me stay connected to the people around me as much as possible, being sensitive to their emotions and working with them.
Feeling safe means controlling your emotions to help others, or at least minimizing your emotional needs so you don’t get bogged down, make a fuss, or upset your parents. When we learn at an early age that we can get by doing, or paying attention to ourselves—and we spend our adult lives in the same habitual patterns.
We feel safest when our own emotions are not taken into account, but the emotions of others are taken care of.
We may gain a sense of belonging, connection, and approval by being emotionally close to others—becoming supporters, listeners, helpers, and coordinators.
We may also derive a sense of peace, security, and continuity by not expressing our feelings and needs, by not showing our true selves.
There have been many times in my life when I have been proud of how useful I have been. What a “good guy” I was! How kind and supportive I was! But in reality, it was not a response driven by genuine, genuine desire, but a response driven by a desire for security, belonging, acceptance, and love.
For me, unraveling my appeasement response was a fascinating and challenging experience. It’s deeply embedded in my being to be a human being who appears as a funny, easy-going, stress-free, drama-free human being.
A person who does not place an emotional burden on any group or individual and who helps remove other people’s problems and challenges.
It took a tremendous amount of realization to get out of those reactions. I had to learn to pay attention to my emotions, build a sense of security in my nervous system, and give myself an incredible amount of kindness.
I had to realize that other people’s emotions can feel incredibly frightening, uncomfortable, frightening, and even dangerous to me. And because of these habitual survival response patterns formed in childhood, it doesn’t come naturally to me to share what I feel or need.
But with awareness and the right tools, I have learned to slowly walk towards the real path, the safe path to being a safe self in a world surrounded by other people’s emotions. But I was never overtaken by emotion as I used to be.
Also, the ways I’ve learned to support people—by fixing things, keeping things smooth, helping, taking over, listening constantly—can actually help them make a difference. I also learned that it’s not the kind of emotional support.
True emotional support occurs only when we are not generating a survival response and cannot come at the expense of other people’s emotions.
My support should not jeopardize my energy, time, or sense of safety.
For me, being an empath felt like a lifelong punishment that I could never escape. But now I know that it is a learned response and it is possible not to learn it. When you have the awareness and tools to gently support the activation of your nervous system that occurs when you notice another person’s emotions.
Here are some helpful tips.
For me, raising awareness was the most powerful first step. You cannot change what you are not aware of.
We can start by noticing that: How do I feel when I’m around people who are emotional, or when I’m around certain people? What happens to my body? What emotions are activated in me when I hear or witness the activation of others’ emotions?
It is learning to divert our attention away from others and from ourselves. what is happening to us?
Do you feel a sense of urgency or doom or are you trapped? Would you like to jump right in and help, fix and support? Do I feel like I am lying down at night thinking about other people’s emotional problems?
If we feel this sense of urgency—that we must help, support, do something—it’s a good sign that our survival response is on. And while our brains are sending signals to our bodies that there is a threat, unless there is a real threat to life, this is simply a pattern we need to pay attention to.
So the next step when we feel this sense of crisis is to bring a sense of safety to our bodies so that we can get out of our survival response: our need for help/correction/support. .
Create a sense of comfort in your body
One of the ways I give my nervous system a safety cue is by doing reorientation movements when I feel a sense of urgency or overwhelmed.
Here’s how to do this directional exercise:
First, gently and slowly look around and scan the entire room. Please let your gaze flow slowly. You can gently turn your neck. Take in everything around you.
If you’re curious, stop by objects that interest you, not as objects, but as interesting collections of colors and shapes.
Look up and down slowly. then behind you. If you have windows, look out. If you have windows, look at the horizon.
The horizon is very calming to the nervous system and our survival response.
Knowing what is around us and that there is no threat on the horizon gives our bodies a sense of safety.
Do this for a minute or two and see how it feels in your body.
Did you notice anything happening? Any changes in your breathing or sensations?
Wait 10 seconds or so to allow any changes to be absorbed by your nervous system. Then you can continue your day.
This is a great exercise that you can do several times a day. Just by stopping and scanning, your nervous system can adapt to your environment and signal your safety.
A final tip is to create a pause. When we’re out in the world and busy, and we’re being asked to do something, it can be hard to remember all the things we need to do.
When people say:
Oh, can you take care of my 5 children and 11 animals for a week?
Can I stay late for work on my partner’s birthday?
I think you are at work, but can I come over and have a chat with you? I am very stressed.
When we are accustomed to soothing, it becomes so easy for our nervous system to read these requests as urgent matters that need our attention that the “yes” pops out of our mouths without us realizing it. It seems to be put away.
Therefore, I encourage my clients to pause and focus on building.
Learning to pause gives us the opportunity to breathe, to pay attention to ourselves, to be aware, and to provide ourselves with alignment exercises like orientation.
We can notice if we feel a compelling desire to say “yes”.
If it feels like a pressing need, it’s a sure sign that we’re having a survival response.
Have a few phrases ready to say when someone asks you something, or when you feel a desire to jump in and support/fix/save, even if it means sacrificing your abilities, time, needs, or feelings. recommend to.
Thank you for thinking of me. I’ll give it some thought and get back to you as soon as I know.
Well, it sounds like it’s hard to feel stressed. I will think about what I should do today and get back to you.
By stopping, we create new options for ourselves. If nothing is actually urgent (i.e. no one needs to be taken to the hospital), we sit in front of ourselves for a few minutes and really see how we feel. You can give yourself time.
We can ask ourselves:
do you really want to do this? Or do you need it?
How will this affect me?
Do I have the emotional headroom for this?
By pausing and turning our attention inward, we begin the process of disconnecting from other people and their reactions and instead looking at our own feelings and needs.
What we most want when we are good soothers is a more connected and attentive relationship with ourselves.