COMPULSION TO HELP 1
Do others confide in you? Do you happily consult them on their life troubles, because you understand their suffering? Knowing you can help you feel uneasy NOT to? Do you feel their pain as if it was your own?
Are you the FIXER, who feels a compulsion to change others? "If only s/he saw how s/he is being and changed that, s/he would be much happier (and me with him/her)." If your answers is yes, it is likely that you are HIGHLY EMPATHIC...
Take out narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths, majority of people are empathic. Meaning we are open to share an emotional space of another ON OCCASIONS. Feeling what they feel we are stepping into their INNER world in an attempt to understand them. Getting close is a very intimate affair. A selfless act of courage and love when sharing their emotional load. Not everyone dares to get so up close and personal to another. Not everyone is willing to give up their precious energy and time to truly be there for another, yet it is where the MAGIC of a deep human connection happens.
Minority of us, however, is OPEN to feeling what others feel almost 24/7. Although this is a true GIFT, those who are not aware of this happening can feel pretty miserable when surrounded by negativity. I call these unconscious, unaware, or unhealed empaths. I used to be one of them for almost four decades!
So why unhealed?
To become aware of our own emotional issues/wounding (out of which majority has arisen in our childhood) we have to become present to OUR pain. We have to become conscious to US - to what troubles us sometimes undercover. And this is partially why unconscious empaths are so drawn to helping OTHERS and their drama: Because when their focus is the pain of another, they cannot feel their own…
Focusing on the pain of others may be a protective, compensatory mechanism and a direct result of a childhood trauma.
Highly empathic adults feel their emotions much more intensely. Similarly to a dog's nose being highly sensitive to smells, empaths can 'smell' emotions in a space around them. Imagine your emotion of sadness for example has increased its intensity ten fold. Imagine that all of your emotions are felt at this intensity ALL the time. It can be draining and frighteningly overwhelming if we are NOT AWARE of this happening or aren't skilled in an emotional management. Which we naturally are not till much later in life. It is for this reason highly empathic people resort to shutting down their own pain, finding it easier to tune into the pain of others. As their emotions play havoc in their inner world, they feel more comfortable and IN CONTROL by channelling their ability outside, helping others. Which is unfortunately a form of an emotinal denial, ESCAPE, as by 'fixing' how others feel they get to feel better about themselves...
There is another aspect of fixing, and that is: those who are insecure/wounded tend to idealise others. Check a separate post on this fascinating topic here.
At a very young age the focus are, naturally, our parents. If they are emotionally unskilled and abusive, we can become highly empathic. It is quite common that highly empathic adults come from families with narcissistic adaptations where emotions were a NO-NO. Where the only way they could understand their emotionally un-evolved parents was through TUNING IN, 'feeling' them to PREDICT their behaviour by, quite literally, sensing their emotions FOR them. Emotionally un-evolved parents do not understand what they feel, hence cannot connect their behaviour and thinking WITH their emotions. They are unable to communicate how they are feeling and why. Children of such parents are relying on THEIR OWN READING to understand them.
ALL children before they start communicating by words, communicate by observing and are highly empathic. For a child emotions are a LANGUAGE in it’s own right. Such child gets to know their parents through their vibes, their non-verbal cues of posture and subtle facial expressions, the energy they walk into the room with, as all this in combination with the tone of their voice gives them a pretty reliable indication of how they are feeling. In time and with their increased ability to understand the world, when parents are able to communicate their feelings through WORDS, their high empathy loses its purpose. Children brought up by emotionally healhy parents stay tuned to feel empathic only when this is isn't conveyed by words (on occasions) like a receiver which gets turned on and off. On the other hand, in chilren brought up by emotionally unhealthy parents this ability intensifies. Imagine a receiver you turn up to the highest volume and which in time stays on rather permanently.
An exchange between an emotionally HEALTHY parent and his/her child is entirely different:
1/ they are aware of their own emotions, hence can talk about them and make their child understand why they are being this way.
2/ they have control over their actions because they haven't lost the ability to connect their thinking, and what they are doing of such thinking, with their emotions.
Emotionally unhealthy parent comes home from work in foul mood, not talking but snapping at their child. Being so consumed with thinking about their issue, not skilful in ‘feeling’, they do not notice what mood they are in nor how this affects others. They take their anger out on others, making everyone in their vicinity feeling miserable. Empathic child can sense this from the moment their parent waked through the door. They immediately alter their behaviour to one of pleasing, with an attempt to ease the parental pain. Emotionally healthy parent, on the other hand, stays CONNECTED with his/her emotions on the way home and is aware of how unhappy s/he feels. S/he can track these emotions to the thoughts behind them, which gives her power to do something about how s/he feels. Meaning changing the way s/he sees the problem, NOT to feel miserable. His/her emotional awareness makes her/him understand how others may feel around him/her. If there is a negative vibe about her/him coming home, s/he is aware and can talk about it, clearly addressing this as their own issue, owning her/his emotions, taking responsibility for their emotional state without blaming others for it.
Emotional maturity comes with responsibility for (owning) our emotions, being skillful in their management. Mature empaths are also able to recognise which emotions are their own and which aren't, not accepting responsibility for someone else's stuff.
Do you dread your nearest coming home in a bad mood? Does your partner tend to get unhappy with YOU when s/he feels stressed by life?
If yes, your partner is emotionally unskilled in understanding and expressing their emotions. How would you react if s/he could communicate her/his emotions to you, owning them without the need to take their negativity out on you?
Continue to part 2.
Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.
Copyright © 2016 Michaela Patel