Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Leap Of Faith

What is Faith?  There are a number of definitions for it.  So let's look at some of them:

  1. religion, faith, religious belief:  a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny "he lost his faith but not his morality"
  2. faith, trust: complete confidence in a person or plan etc "he cherished the faith of a good woman"; "the doctor-patient relationship is based on trust"
  3. religion, faith, organized religion: an institution to express belief in a divine power "he was raised in the Baptist religion"; "a member of his own faith contradicted him"
  4. faith: loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person "keep the faith"; "they broke faith with their investors"
So for the purposes of this discussion we will break it down and simply say that Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

Now, when you hear the word Faith, the first thought that might jump to mind is Religion, whatever religion it may be. It may bring to mind a Deity, whatever deity it may be.  And for some, of a more intellectual and/or scientific bent, it might bring about some skepticism in the idea of having faith in something unseen or unknown, without proof in hand.  And while all of those are interesting, we are not going to explore religion in this blog.  Nor are we going to debate the scientific vs. spiritual mindsets when it comes to faith, because those arguments generally center around religion.

Instead we are going to delve into a broader sense of what Faith is and how we utilize it in a day to day kind of way.  And then we are going to explore the impact Faith has on Empaths.

Day To Day Faith

From the time we are born, we are taught to have faith.  Normally, our first lesson in faith comes through our relationship with our mothers and fathers.  We, as infants, do not know,  through experience, that these people will support and love us.  So we go on faith, trusting that these people will take care of us.  As we get older, that grows stronger as we learn that our parents will help to meet our needs of food, cloths, and love.

When we start school, we step into a whole new world that is completely foreign to our experiences.  And with the encouragement of parents, who are trusted people, slowly we are eased into that  new world, even with fear and trepidation at the same time.  And with a little more time, trust is established amongst our peers and toward our caregivers.  This becomes an established pattern, which becomes easier with experience, followed again and again, year after year, as children change grades, classes, teachers, and peers.

In relationships, as we become drawn to the opposite gender, we often muster up courage, taking a leap of faith, to approach potential mates and put ourselves out there in order to establish a love connection. Some people get shot down, while others seem to flourish in that area.  But even with rejection, most still willingly put themselves out there again when they find someone they are attracted to.

When we drive a car, answer a phone, turn on a television, take on a job for compensation, we also have faith that the car will take us from point A to point B, that someone's voice will be on the other end of the phone, that shows will appear on the screen before us to entertain us, and that we will be paid the amount we were promised for the work we do.

The point here is that the first time we do anything new in life, it takes leap of faith.  After that first time, we have experience to back up the next time we must make the same kind of choice. That experience can make trusting, or taking  that leap of faith, a much easier task the second time around.

All of these experiences, when we first encounter them, are the unknown.  We have never faced them and have absolutely no experience with them.  So when we face them, as we've pointed out throughout this portion of the blog, we take a leap of faith, as we walk into the unseen.

Faith and The Empath

An Empath is generally defined as someone who is hypersensitive to the emotions and emotional states of those around them at any given time.  There are numerous ways this hypersensitivity can be brought about, but much of it comes though some kind of conditioning in their lives, which tends to force the Empath to be focused outwardly more so than inwardly.  In other words, they focus more on other people rather than themselves.

One potential trait that comes with this hyper focus directed at others is low self esteem.  Low self esteem is a low overall evaluation or appraisal of one's own worth.  And while this kind of self image problem can come from may directions, often times it develops through our interactions with others and is dependent on how we are perceived, encouraged, and treated.  And this tends to be based on the experiences one has from the developmental (toddler) years into adolescence, which is where we tend to develop how we see ourselves.

One of the biggest issues with the trait of low self esteem and low self worth, is a defeatist mentality.  Instead of taking leaps of faith, a person suffering from this trait will often find ways to sabotage anything good that comes their way, simply on the belief that they can't do it or they don't deserve it.  And it may not even be a conscious action, and instead be an instinctive reaction, as though to recoil from a hot stove.

In relationships, both romantic and not, the person will tend to draw to them those that reinforce their own self image.  More often than not, this is also not a conscious desire.  No one would like to imagine that they draw toxic people to them because they do not believe they deserve anything better.  But we all play a part in drawing to us those that we call friends and lovers.

In this kind of reinforcement of negative self image, there is hesitation to take a leap of faith, and instead stay in the comfort zone which has been developed over one's lifetime.  It is a mentality that says it is safer to stay in the light where everything is known, instead of walking into the unknown.  And this mentality can carry on even to the detriment of a person's own health and well being.

Another issue that can arise out of the trait of low self esteem in an Empath takes us back to the definition of the Empath.  It is selflessness.  By being hyper focused on the plights of others, their emotions, emotional states, and situational circumstances, they get a two fold blessing of sorts, at least on the surface.  They get to  do outreach for others, which in turn makes them feel good about themselves.  And they get to avoid their own issues, allowing them to be secondary to the issues of others.

But again, this is not a leap of faith.  Often times, this is simply a temporary salve to their own wounded self images, as they are given praise and thanks for their support, which must be reinforced over and over again. This, in turn, becomes a pattern of behavior repeated in the hopes of reassuring themselves of their own value. While beneath the surface of that perceived self image, which was created and is sustained on the praise of others, all of the person's real issues lay festering within them causing them fear, anxiety, stress, and depression.

Empaths can be a great salve to others wounds.  And they will willingly take a leap of faith for someone else, even to their own detriment.  But in doing, they often forget to see themselves as people in need of help and love, as well.  Thus they can perceive themselves as someone unworthy of taking a leap of faith for, by them for them.

Empathy begins with oneself, and expands outwardly.  And that takes a huge leap of faith.  So think about it. ^_^

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”
~~Gail Devers

“When you have come to the edge Of all light that you know And are about to drop off into the darkness Of the unknown, Faith is knowing One of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or You will be taught to fly”
~~Patrick Overton

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.”
~~Mary Manin Morrissey

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