Do you know what someone is feeling without them telling you? This means you are empathetic. We are all empathetic to some degree. Empathy as a felt awareness and not as an emotion, can provide useful information for shedding the illusion of separateness and developing compassion. Empathy as an emotion (for example…being angry when another person is angry or fearful when another person is fearful) does not help anyone. When empathy is skillfully used as a felt awareness, it allows you to be a great guide, healer, or teacher. When empathy is felt as emotion, or used to monitor your external world or heal another, it can make you sick and overload your nervous system.
In my twenties, I was diagnosed with ADHD and mild Asperger’s. I continually internalized what others felt. I used empathy to be an amazing intuitive but the cost of my unskillful use of emotional empathy in my personal life was great. In the last fifteen years, I healed my diagnosis by clearing hate of my body, grounding into the Earth, and communing with nature. Through my own journey and from many years of guiding others to heal their empathic sensitivity, I have learned that carrying the emotions of others is a toxic and soul stifling pattern. We carry other people’s stuff because of psychological limiting beliefs and patterning in the nervous system.
Most commonly, we carry another person’s emotional stuff to avoid our own emotions, and thus our own magnificence. Everyone needs all the pieces of their puzzle. The Soul needs personal challenges to come into greater realization of its Self. When you carry another person’s emotion, you can actually hinder the growth of their Soul and yours. They don’t need to change for you to feel better. It is in your power to feel better and influence them in a way that is productive.
In this avoidance of our emotions, we think that it is our job to fix or heal another. You can only give to another what you have realized in yourself. For example, if you are anxious around someone who is anxious, it is because there is a small nugget of fear within you. You must let go of the other person’s emotions to really feel, and thus heal, your own part. In most people I work with who have anxiety, 90% of their anxiety is because they are carrying other people’s emotions! If you feel responsible for other people’s happiness you will continually rehash their stuff. This is not helpful.
As children we may have learned to “get control” of our environment by internalizing our mom or dad’s emotions.
This pattern can express as Asperger or ADD-like symptoms, or unexplained nagging anxiety. Learning to feel safe in your body is key to not being an energetic dumping ground. Grounding doesn’t mean cramming your amazing spirit into your body. When you have an awareness of the space that your body inhabits, you allow your amazing Spirit to be in your conscious mind.
Body presence grounds the energetic and nervous system. Most people I observe live in their upper energy centers (chakras), and never fully inhabit their body (lower energy centers or chakras). Because they are living “half incarnated” in their own lives, these people will describe feeling like an alien to humanity or have a nagging feeling of not belonging anywhere. There is no greater sense of belonging and joy than filling up your lower energy centers fully, thus giving full permission to your own magnificence. If the electric system in your house was not grounded, how well do you think it would function? (Trauma can also cause someone to disassociate from the body. Psychological and energetic healing of past pain can allow someone to feel safe again within their body and life.)
A tree doesn’t choose whether or not its leaves fall, and the moon doesn’t choose to cycle around the Earth. But because we are human, we have the power to inhibit our biological processes. We can repress what is natural. We can deny a good cry or a desire to give a hug. When we listen without judgment to our body’s natural impulses, we become more present within our body and life. Because we do not fully comprehend our relationship with our body, we misunderstand our body’s healthy sexual energies and mistrust what is natural. There is not a fundamental evil within us that needs to be contained, controlled, and repressed. When we heal the relationship to what is natural within us, we begin to trust nature.
Love of the Earth and all its animals, plants, and elements organically arises from an inner knowing of the Earth as an extension of ourselves. “From this love or ‘Biophilia’ environmental action spontaneously arises from self-preservation rather than from a moral obligation or fear” Theodore Roszak, Voices the Earth. Our connection with nature and our body as a child has been “psychically numbed” and we have to remember what was inherently born within us. Our connection to nature is like our leg or hand and essentially remains intact. It is only the beliefs, assumptions, and wounds we have placed in the way that distort our ability to feel our innate connection. When these obstacles are removed, we can feel and experience this connection.
There is a misuse of empathy in some people because of an unconscious need to suffer. This misunderstanding is fed by an underlying belief that, “Worry is love.” I have had many parents say to me, “How can I not worry, this is my child?” Founded on these limited beliefs, the parent is actually empowering the problem through an energetic ping-pong match of fear with their child. Believing you need to fix or rescue another confirms their broken-ness. I have also had therapists, healers, and clergy say in sessions, “I must carry this pain for them, it is how I love them.” Hurting for another does not help. You cannot be sad enough, to make a sad one happy. It is your light and full presence that can wonderfully shift another into greater love. It is even more vulnerable to let your full light shine, than to remain in the shadow.
Releasing the need to fix another, control your environment, suffer, or avoid your own emotion can allow you to cross into the threshold of true healing. Feeling what is being triggered and allowing this emotion to draw you into greater understandings of Love and the next expression of your Spirit, is true healing. Witnessing your own suffering and yet returning to the vision of the light is the greatest gift you can offer another. When you see through (and not above) your inner darkness (fear, anger, self-sabotage) you can look directly into the “eye” of great suffering and darkness and shine the light. You energetically activate what you focus on (or said in another way), you get what you put out. When you see the harmony in suffering, your presence powerfully heals what you observe.
It takes mindfulness and humility to own your parts that are triggered. Once you let go of the need to carry another’s stuff, what is left over is yours. When you feel your emotion with compassion you can realize a Love that includes hate. Opening to an omnipotent presence or God that includes the dark and the light, allows you to look into the world’s suffering and see love. A presence that is all and is in all…includes all things. This blissful and non-dualistic understanding of God starts with your self-acceptance. Realizing everything within you is Love and is lovable IS happiness. How you see yourself is how you will see the world. You can only experience your own perceptions. And letting your unexamined perceptions control your reality is hell on earth.
Looking within and loving yourself takes great courage.Your mind will tell you to heal, fix, and control “them”. Your spouse, boss, children, family, and natural world can be powerfully affected by you fully inhabiting your body, and loving your darkness. Be willing to be a beneficial presence on the planet through your own self-acceptance. Reference my books, radio show or schedule a session if you are ready to take the next step.