Being an Empath with an open heart is like wearing a sign that says “kick me.”
It can be difficult when we wear our hearts on our sleeves to process negative energy, whether it’s being directed at us or whether we’re just absorbing the energy directed elsewhere. Already, the intensity of our feelings can be overwhelming, and we may struggle with finding balance and peace when the world around us is made up of chaos.
As seekers of peace, other people may mistake us for being always serene and impervious to anger. Let me just clarify this: I will seek inner peace, joy and love every single day, but when someone directs hate-filled, negative energy in my direction, my first impulse is still to tell them to go f*ck themselves!
As I stated, this is my first impulse. However, I practice the “do no harm but take no sh*t” approach to dealing with other people, and I don’t actually tell people to f*ck off. Instead, I take the time to deal with my emotions, which often involves quietly processing them. In point of fact, people who know me realize that my silence is fairly indicative of just how upset I am at any given moment.
So how can we find peace when the energy around us is not peaceful? How can we maintain our calm when our natural tendency is to absorb the chaos around us? How do we go from a place of anger to a place of forgiveness and peace? And can we do this when we’re being offered no apology and no closure?
While I’m constantly finding new ways of returning to center and regaining my peace, here are a few strategies to go from f*ck you to I forgive you in five tough but manageable steps.
1. Do not, I repeat do not, speak first.
At the moment when we are the most angry, we need to take extra care with the words we speak. Once spoken, we can never take them back, and the possibility of inflicting damage is greater when we are hurt or angry than at any other time. When we want to say “F*ck you,” we should instead say nothing at all. We need to take a time out, take a deep breath or two or 10 and give ourselves times to process our thoughts.
Taking extra care in this first moment demonstrates respect for the other person and also respect for our own peace of mind. Even if the other person speaks in ways that are hurtful, we need the silence right at that moment more than ever.
We need to ask for the time we need and take it so that we don’t say something regrettable.
2. Speak from the heart and not from the hurt.
Instead of saying something to damage the other party, we need to speak about our own feelings. We use “I” statements to communicate how actions impacted us rather than shaming or blaming the other person. We own our own feelings, first and foremost. The basic formula for an “I” statement goes like this: When you did XYZ action, I felt XYZ feeling.
When we speak from the heart and not from the hurt, we avoid using the following words: never, always, you made me feel. We don’t exaggerate or bring up past behaviors, and we take responsibility for our own feelings. We communicate in kindness when we speak from the heart. When we speak from the hurt, we tend to want to hurt the other person in kind.
3. Take time for a healing ritual after the conflict is over.
When we are very angry or hurt, our bodies absorb so much of the intensity. We need to take extra care when we’re not at our best to eat well, exercise and do whatever healing ritual is most comforting. Perhaps a long bath with candles soothes the soul or a well-loved book and a bowl of ice cream. Others need the relaxation of a favorite TV show or movie, and still others may just want a long walk outside, a hike in the woods or some time under the stars to settle. However we can find our peace, we need to make the effort to recharge at these moments. Until we take care of ourselves, we won’t have the energy required for forgiveness.
4. Practice acceptance.
We cannot control the actions of others. We cannot make an apology happen or force anyone else to provide us with closure. In order to let go and return to peace, we need to embrace acceptance. This will often involve telling ourselves that we are not in control of others, but we are certainly able to choose how we will handle the situation. Again, the purpose is to go from “F*ck you” to “I forgive you.” Accept that we can only control our own reactions and move forward.
Know now that this person may hurt us again in the exact same way. This has nothing to do with us. Rather, it speaks to their own internal conflict and is a reflection of that and not of us.
5. Practice forgiveness.
We can say “I forgive you” until we come to a place where we mean it. Even if we don’t say it to that person (in the case of situations where there is no closure), we can write it down. If we need a ritual here, we can write down our thoughts and feelings and burn them or tear them to pieces. Or we can write them in something water soluble and wash them away while repeating “I forgive you.”
Forgiveness is not for them. It’s never about the other party. It’s about us. It’s a healing ritual for our own soul because we know that “bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” So we say “I forgive you” rather than leading with anger to restore our own souls to a place of peace.
It’s difficult to be a sensitive person in a world that treats an open heart like a flaw. When we have big hearts and intense feelings, we can feel bruised by our daily lives. When we own our feelings and find ways of maintaining our peace, we can keep our energy clean and calm in a world that certainly isn’t either of those things.
In five difficult but doable steps, we can begin to work our way from anger and hurt to peace and forgiveness.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: sunsets_for_you at Flickr
Editor: Renée Picard