Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beneath The Surface Of An Empath

Emotional and Empathic connections can be harrowing and overwhelming at times. At its worst, the Empath loses their sense of self and is left with the uncertainty of where they end and the other person begins. This is one of the greatest dangers to the vulnerable Empathic psyche, because it leaves the Empath open to manipulation, emotional assault, emotional uncertainty, and emotional burnout.

So what we will look at here are a number of ways to counteract this problem and rebalance the emotional give to take ratio of the Empath. So to get started lets look at some definitions, so that we get a better idea of what we will be discussing.


Emotional Connection
is something that goes beyond just the physical. It's being able to relate to a person on an emotional level- being able to share your feelings with them, being open and vulnerable, and trusting that person not to hurt you emotionally. The connection has to work both ways. It's not a true connection if you share your feelings but the other person holds everything back. Communication is the key to being emotionally connected with another person.

An Empathic Connection is a bond formed with another person, by an Empath. This bond, which is deeper than an emotional connection, allows the Empath to shift perspectives, and walk a mile in the other person's shoes and see through their eyes. In other words, its not just relating to the emotions of the other person, but is literally feeling the other person's emotions.

Emotional Uncertainty is based on specific emotions (fear, hope, etc.) which rise out of the uncertainty of a situation or event and the level of risk involved in undertaking that situation.
Here are some definitions of the word Shield:
A broad piece of armor made of rigid material and strapped to the arm or carried in the hand for protection against hurled or thrusted weapons.
2. A person or thing that provides protection.
3. A protective device or structure
4. To protect or defend with or as if with a shield; guard. See Synonyms at defend.
5. To cover up; conceal.
6. To act or serve as a shield or safeguard.

Emotional Shielding refers to protecting oneself from being overloaded with emotion.

Emotional Distance involves setting aside for a brief period of time one’s own feelings
and one’s own personal needs in order to attend more objectively to the needs of the
person receiving care. Setting aside one’s feelings does not mean abandoning or shutting off personal feelings or the feelings for the person receiving care. It means being available on an emotional level and on a physical level in order to provide appropriate care in a caring manner. At the same time personal feelings are set aside temporarily to allow a focus on the immediate act of caregiving.

Emotional Detachment
, in psychology, can mean two different things. In the first meaning, it refers to an inability to connect with others emotionally, as well as a means of dealing with anxiety by preventing certain situations that trigger it; it is often described as "emotional numbing" or dissociation, Depersonalization or in its chronic form Depersonalization disorder. In the second sense, it is a type of mental assertiveness that allows people to maintain their boundaries and psychic integrity when faced with the emotional demands of another person or group of persons. These senses are within the framework of psychology and academia, not those of everyone else in the world.

The Problem

To understand this very real problem that effects the Empathic Connection process, first we must understand what an
'Empath' is exactly and what the gift of 'empathy' allows this type of person to do. An Empath is a person who has an acute or highly developed sense of empathy. Empathy is the capability to share your feelings and understand another's emotions and feelings. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes," or in some way experience what the other person is feeling.

So, as we discussed in the opening of this blog, through Empathy, an Empath forms an Emotional/Empathic bond with the person they are working with. In so doing, they open themselves up to feeling the emotions of that other person, as though they were the Empath's own emotions.

This is a blessing, in that it allows the Empath to understand the person they are connecting with on a much deeper and personal level, than someone without a highly developed sense of empathy. It allows the Empath to vicariously see through the other person's eyes and understand their perspective in a much more intimate way, as well. These abilities enhance the acts of giving help, hope, support and advice to others ten fold. But this is the externalized half of the puzzle, and there is much more going on, than just this, beneath the surface of the Empath.

Beneath the surface of the Empathic Psyche, which is almost always focused eternally, even sometimes to the detrement of the Empath, is a much deeper wellspring of issues. Because when we say that Empaths are hypersensitive to the emotions and moods of others, they also tend to be emotionally hypersensitive when it comes to their own emotions. A few terms for this are hypersensitive, high maintanance, and highly or overly emotional.

As a coping mechanism, and a way of shutting down that geiser of internal emotions, the Empath seperates themselves from their emotional selves and, metaphorically speaking, hides it in a closet or a box. This leaves behind the facets of the Empathic Personality that are deemed a 'blessing' instead of a 'curse' and allows the Empath to give complete and total focus to the external world and the people around them, who are in need.

It sounds completely altruistic, doesn't it? One person sacificing a piece of themselves to help others without expectation or judgment. And it would be, if it were not for the undlying issues within the Empath that are being avoided. Because this, is a very big act of avoidance.

It is a refusal to deal with personal issues, past traumas, low self esteem and self worth, and even beneath that, the wealth of their own emotions. Instead of interweaving all of those pieces into the the matrix of the Empathic self, all of these things are pushed back into the darkness and avoided until the person is afraid to open that door, for fear of what they will find.

Being unable to cope with ones own issues and emotions, leaves the Empath vulnerable to manipulation, emotional assault, emotional uncertainty, and emotional burnout. This is because they take on the emotions of others, with no viable coping skills readily at hand to assist them in dealing with it, other than avoidance. And they are so faceted, that none of this inner turmoil is shown as they work with other people. So it appears to the outside world, that the emotions of the other person flow through the Empath like a breeze flows through the leaves of a tree.

So the problem, which rises out of the avoidance of self, is learning to cope with the overwhelming influx of emotions from other people.

Short Term & Long Term Answers

In the short term, there are a number of techniques one can use to cope with the overwhelming nature of your Empathic gift. I will not pretend to be an expert in this area. I have one favorite technique that I liked to use, and will list it below. But I also think its wise to have some other techniques at hand, as one technique will work better for some than others.

The Technique

Close your eyes. Picture your chakras full of swirling energy. Imagine the heart chakra in your minds eye. The heart chakra is the base of emotion. Now imagine a flower (I prefer to picture a lotus blossom) blooming out of the core that is your heart chakra. See the flower in detail. See the center of the flower and imagine pushing out all of that negative energy. Picture black gas being pushed out of the flower’s center and dissipating into nothingness in he air.

The reason this works is because chakras are energy portals. If they can take in energy, then they can also release energy.

Some other techniques I've found useful and would recommend can be found at these sites:

Elise LeBeau's Empath Survival Program

The Mirror Protection Technique
About Transparency

Closing Of Auras Technique

Another important area of discussion, in the short term, is shields. Everyone has their own preferences, of course. And there is no wrong or right, when it comes to shielding. It is simply what works best for you. So here are some different types of shielding you might think about working with, but get creative and find one that works best for you.

1. Shifting Shields are constantly altering the appearance of your shield. This technique can be applied to many types, provided you can maintain it. The Borg in the Star Trek TV show use ship shields that constantly change in frequency in order to defeat things like tracking beams — this is a similar idea.

2. Redirectional Shielding redirects incoming energy and sends it back out. While it sounds similar to a mirror shield, it’s different because you need to interact with the incoming energy in order to redirect it.

3. Reflective Shielding is a mental mirror surrounding you that causes all incoming energy to be reflected back out without effect. Can also be thought of a a “rubber ball” shield. If you like, this can also be modified to form a filter, only letting in the energy you want. An example would be a completely shiny surface, similar to hematite.

4. Multidirectional Shielding
works as above, but instead of reflecting energy back the way it came, reflects energy in any random direction, or ricochets off at particular angles. An example would be multifaceted crystal that throws light everywhere.

5. Wall Shields can be visualized as a ball, egg or some other shaped mass of energy surrounding you. You can give it particular colors if you desire, or leave it colorless.

Here are a few Shielding Techniques:

Reflective or Mirror Shields


Some links on Grounding, Centering, and Shielding:

The Long Term Answer

So you've seen lots of ways to help you protect yourself and cope with the overwhelming nature of this gift. But those are only short term remedies. If you wish to have long term peace of heart, mind and body, I would recommend you open that door and allow yourself to get to know the you that has been hidden away and unacknowledged for so long.

So remember, this gift comes naturally to you. Its only when you fight it, deny it, and in the process, deny yourself, that it becomes a struggle. You are fighting your true nature. But as always, its up to you in what you choose to do or not do with your gifts.

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