Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Empaths: Depression & Self Confidence

Let me tell you a story about an Empath. It's a common story you might be able to relate to in some way.
An Empath, by the name of Emily, had a hypersensitive personality. She was a people pleaser, in that she loved to be needed by others and to help them in any way she could. It brought her joy. And it also brought her validation, like it was her sole purpose in the world.

In her youth, she had a succession of relationships that didn't seem to last long. One even turned violent at one point. And always, it was the other party that left her with parting words like "You just don't seem to be fully committed in this relationship." or "You spend more time with your friends than me, so I'm moving on.". As time progressed, the parting comments became worse as did the type of men she chose to date.

In friendships, she was the type of person who, as we said, loved to be needed. So she found herself playing counselor to many people. And she would call these people friends. But strangely, they only came to her, wanting to spend time with her, when they were in need of advice, a willing ear, or a shoulder to cry on. And afterward, they would leave with empty promises of getting together again soon.

Somehow, amongst all of those people around her that she tried ardently to fit in with, a piece of her always felt alone and empty. This was because there was no one there to see her cry, no one to console her, and no one to see beyond the mask she wore for the world.

Compounding all of these things, was the constant weight she carried around with her from all of those she had helped and had interaction with; the problems, the emotions (sorrow, anger, fear, pain). They mingled with her own emotions, often casting her into internal confusion and chaos.

And slowly, it began to erode or chip away the fragile self esteem she had built for herself based on the help she gave to others. Until one day she found herself in a state of depression, where in, she felt worthless. And she felt her life stagnating.
The Analysis

This is not a story of abuse, in particular. It is one most of us can relate to at some level, because we've all had moments when we doubt ourselves and/or have been depressed for a myriad of differing reasons, be it relationships, friendships, failures, etc.

It forces one to stop, question and begin to doubt themselves as they look at their lives. And it makes questions like "What am I doing with my life?" and "Was all of this for nothing?" prevalent.

And it can be caused by the slow procession of life, as much as severe traumas, abuse, and issues. This is because the subtle negative and/or derogatory comments of others (even when there isn't intent to do harm to you) can chip away at one's self confidence over time, causing it to erode. And being overlooked, except when you are useful, can take its toll, as well.

When this happens, depression can set in very easily. And the reasons for it will not necessarily be as obvious as being sad after someone you care for dies or you have escaped being abused. This is because there is no one single cause, but a string of events over a long period of time which have brought you to that point.

This can change how you perceive yourself, when you find that your only value, in other people's eyes, is when you find yourself being useful, helpful, and a willing shoulder for others. If this is the only validation you receive, then you will build your identity around it. And that identity is extremely fragile, because it is based on continuation of praise and gratitude of others.

The Definitions

An Empath is a person who is "sensitive" to energies, and often finds themselves feeling the emotions and sometimes physical sensations of the people, places, things and animals around them.

Another definition of an Empath is one who has an acute or highly developed sensitivity to the emotions and emotional states of themselves and others.

Depression is defined as a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.

Self Esteem is defined as self-pride or a feeling of pride in yourself.

Another site defines Self Esteem thusly: Self-esteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person's overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth.

Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (for example, "I am competent-incompetent") and emotions (for example, triumph-despair, pride-shame). Behavior may reflect self-esteem (for example, assertiveness-shyness, confidence-caution).

Self Confidence is defined as freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities.

One site defines Self-Worth as the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.

Another site defines Self-Worth as the value one assigns to oneself or one's abilities in self assessment.

The Empath's Eroding Self Confidence

If you take what we discussed in the above analysis of our case study, and you compound those issues with a hypersensitive personality (such as in Empaths and HSPs), where in the person takes on the emotions and issues of other people as though they were their own, what you get is much like a soda can that has been shaken and is under extreme pressure.

The added weight of other people's problems and emotions, on top of one's own unresolved issues and eroding self image, can quite literally cripple an Empath/HSP emotionally. And the longer the problem is ignored or avoided (the combination of these two issues), the worse it can become for the person in question, until finally they are left drowning in a turbulent ocean of confusion and chaos where it is easy to get lost.

One can very easily be swept away in this kind of storm, losing any sense of themselves in the undercurrents of the emotional issues of other people. And it is frightening, because it leaves one feeling utterly vulnerable and open to a world which would think nothing of stepping on them.

Self Worth & Self Confidence

Whether you are an Empath/HSP or not, if you suffer from low self worth and low self confidence, even to the point of depression, how does one counter balance that? What are small steps that can be taken to help reclaim those things which slowly slip away from us without our notice?

I'm going to give you some resources here that of offer assistance (for free) in helping to recapture self esteem and self confidence. I hope it helps. ^_^

The Confidence Manual
How To Build Self Confidence: 6 Essential & Timeless Tips
Building Self Confidence
Building Self Esteem & Confidence
Life With Confidence: A Positive Way Of Thinking
25 Killer Actions To Boost Your Self Confidence
Building Self Esteem & Self Confidence

Beyond these things, remember there is no shame in seeking help through counseling and therapy. We all need someone to talk to, who is impartial and understanding, once in a while. This is not a mark of weakness and it doesn't say that you are crazy. It just says you are in need. ^_^

1 comment:

  1. thank you! i was beginning to think i was going crazy. this really helped me understand what it is i've been experiencing of late. no friends, except when they have needs, overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety from seemingly nowhere/everywhere, and so alone. i'll check out the links...thanks again. God bless...