Sunday, August 1, 2010

Inner Demons Of Empathy: Gift Or Curse?

When you think of demons, you probably think of things that stalk the night, haunt houses, and torment people. You probably get goosebumps as you imagine the evil. You might even think about evil incarnate, or the Devil (if you believe in such an entity).

And you would be right to have some innate fear of such things. They are the unknown. They are the things hidden in the shadows and darkness, that can potentially hurt us. And the very word 'demon' screams danger, doesn't it? It causes warning bells to go off in your head that make you want to push away from it. And that's normal.

But what we will be focusing on here, rather than these type of demons, are another kind that hide in the shadows.....the shadows of your mind. They are the things you don't want people to discover about yourself. They are the things that you yourself do not wish to see and face.

Have you ever had a dream where you were endlessly running away from unseen monster that terrified you more than anything else on the planet? Maybe you've even been cornered by the monster, and you wake up at the last moment before it actually shows its face and attacks you. And your heart is racing, perhaps you are sweating, you feel suffocated and you feel like you have just dug your way out of the ground in order to be able to breath again.

It's disturbing, isn't it? Probably because most of us have had a similar dream and can relate to it. But more than that, this is the kind of demon we are going to be talking about. Why? Because the things that haunt your dreams and that you run endlessly from, more often than not, are you. They are the things you do not wish to face in your conscious waking world.

So let's address what this has to do with being an Empath. Because given the title of this discussion, it obviously has something to do with Empathy, and more specifically, being an Empath.

The Question

What's one of the biggest questions an Empath asks, upon discovering they are an Empath? What is one of the biggest concerns, whether it is viewed from a religious perspective or from a more personal emotional perspective, that the newly discovered Empath has?
Is Empathy a Gift or a Curse?
The Answer

The answer to this question takes us back to the beginning of this discussion. You might be wondering why I started out writing about demons and followed up with the question, instead of the reverse. But, I think a part of you already knows why. You need to see yourself through the eyes of introspection first, before you can truly ask this question and find an answer to it.

Empathy, for an Empath, isn't simply about being sensitive to the emotions and emotional states of others and reaching out a helping hand to those people. It's about being hypersensitive to these things, sometimes to the point that other people's emotions can press in on the Empath so hard they want to shut themselves away from the world just to find some peace. Being an emotional sponge, that absorbs the emotional currents of those around them, positive and negative, can be a painful and debilitating experience.

But why is it so hard to manage? You will hear people talking about coping skills and psychic defense through grounding, centering and shielding, and those are important things to utilize in order to survive through the day. But these don't address the root cause of why it is so hard to manage the ability of being an emotional sponge. And without addressing the root cause, you can not effectively manage and maintain this ability in the long term.

The root cause lays within the things you refuse to see and/or acknowledge about yourself. The root cause are those inner demons you are always running from in your nightmares.

You see, your unresolved and avoided issues can potentially leave you wide open for being overwhelmed. Why? Because you are already burdened with your own issues, and when you add to that mix the emotional weight of untold numbers of other people it's extremely easy to get lost and potentially drown in an ocean of emotions ~ a mix of your own and others combined.

At that point, it seems like the more you struggle against the currents, avoiding who you are, fighting against your nature, and trying to keep your head above water, the deeper you fall.

In truth, the cause of this ability seeming like a curse, instead of a gift, is because we do not know ourselves as we ought to. We hide behind masks and pretend everything is alright. We get lost in other people's problems, because it is so easy to deal with another person's problems rather than our own. And the ability becomes a coping mechanism in itself, albeit an unhealthy one for the psyche of the Empath.

Now, we are each unique individuals with issues and experiences specific only to us. So what your issues are, I can not say. None the less, they are there....hiding away in the dark recesses of your mind, haunting you and begging to be let out into the light of day.

And dealing with them....facing your demons, learning to accept them as part of who you are and as part of the past that made you the person you are today, is important. Because the gift of Empathy begins not with other people, but with yourself. Why? Because part of Empathy is identifying with others through our own experiences. And to do this you have to understand yourself and your life.

And there is no easy way, beyond learning to cope and survive day to day, to learn to thrive in this ability. There is no easy cure all. There is only learning to embrace your true self.

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.” ~August Wilson


  1. i recently found out that i'm an empath and i now know that alot of things in my life make sense because of my discovery. Since i was a child, i have struggled in trying to be a normal child but i loved to be alone alot of times in my life because i felt more at peace. recently i started to notice that i can sense people's energy without even talking or touching them. thanks for this article because now i can try to embrace my abilities.

  2. I definitely needed to hear this. I've lost so much of myself that I do not even know who I am let alone which emotions are mine

  3. Empathy is the cursed gift. I like to think this poem is a good way to describe it.

    Heart of black
    Soul of stone
    Who can save so done so alone
    But far away, free of pain
    The small child still roams free
    Bear the weight of others' pain and strife
    Sacrifice your entire life
    Never live for you alone
    Forever listen to the Sirens' song
    Hopes and dreams far and gone
    Never touched until the curtain is drawn

    And yet my heart still leaps to life, contrary to it's death
    It beats and grows and feels until its about to burst
    My soul races freely, unconfined by my burden
    It dreams and hopes when nothing more is there
    And with my organs so pure, fire dances in my eyes
    For to touch and now the heart of man is also Earth's greatest prize