There is no lack of information about the qualities of an empath, what their personal traits and ticks are, their famous “soaking up” of emotions and energies emanating from others.
Most of the articles and personal trait lists have a few commonalties which focus on sensitivity, being sapped by other’s emotions, both conscious and unconscious, and being highly emotionally sensitive.
In this view of the empath, one’s behavior or inner stance is a result of some other person or some unseen energy or influence.
We are beautiful receivers of information. Unconsciously, we constantly receive information from the world around us. Our bodies and minds then form a judgment about this information. It is the “inner knowing” of a person which can give warning or specific information about a person or a place. It can connect us to the unseen forces in the universe which we are connected to but not consciously aware of.
This inner knowing can come through feelings, or images, or impulses felt in the physical body. This is our intuition. Our intuition demands presence and a voice in us because, if we ignore it, we do damage to ourselves and the conversation between our being and the universe.
But, in the popular view of the empath, there is a deep tendency toward not “owning” oneself. it has become an ego driven monster of fear and a crutch for one’s own trauma stories. We are told to “follow our gut,” but what if our gut is actually replaying an old story of pain projected onto a new person or place?
Being an empath has become a popular excuse for emotions, energies, and behavior which one does not own. It creates an atmosphere of excuse for losing one’s own power and feeling out of control. It places personal power at the whim of others: people, energies, entities, and influences—seen and unseen. And it keeps us in “fight or flight” chained to the old stories, the old emotional energies, the old triggers and patterns in our body which we have not turned our awareness toward.
This is a deep injustice to boundary setting. We have the ability to draw boundaries with the world around us, and even with our own emotions, while not cutting off the flow of information. This is a skill that many empaths are not taught. In the Toltec view of the world, we are living only our dream, responsible only for our own selves and our own emotions.
Taking a stance of ownership over other people’s emotions constitutes a lack of boundaries. Taking ownership over energetic information given off by others, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, is damaging to the power of our own being. It takes daily practice to bring presence and awareness to self and observe where we are taking ownership of information that is not ours.
Once we learn to start this process, we have stepped into our power because the context of the world becomes more clear and that information can actually tell us something rather than making us depleted, fearful, and shut off.
Many people who have accepted this view of the empath, have also adopted the necessity of constant psychic self-defense and walk through the world with fear. They wall themselves off because their power is small and at the whim of others. This walling off cuts off the source of nourishment and the flow of present information not focused through the lens of fear, ego, and story.
In this view, conjecture of the motives and even unconscious emanations of others is constantly reviewed by the mind, and a story is woven of blame for why one is suffering. Personal responsibility suffers and one becomes the victim of unseen forces.
We all carry around with us this carcass of story, or trauma, which brings with it fear. When we feel fear mounting in the body, it is important that we can stop and examine its inception. Fear, as a holy emotion, keeps us safe and warns us of danger. But, if that fear is from an old story, if it is not rooted in the flow of information from the present, but is fractioned by a million stories which we indulge in our mind as being reality, then we are not receiving true information. We are living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future or the dirt of old hurts and traumas which are active in us and being projected onto others.
We are then adrift, without power and fearful all the time.
Our world becomes small. We wall ourselves off in protection. Our nourishment and ability to live in this reality at this moment becomes a narrow stream rather than the huge ocean of connection it is meant to be. Our personal relationships with others suffer because we do not take ownership or responsibility for our own impulses, emotions, fears, and hurts, and instead we blame them on something unseen and intangible.
Most people in this world are empathic to varying degrees. In order for us to utilize this skill as part of our personal power, we must distinguish between the machinations of the mind and its story and fear—and what is actual, pure information. There is no way to do this other than to turn and face one’s self, one’s story, and one’s mind which manufactures fear.
Author: Ruth Stearns
Image: Flickr/Christina Ivan
Editor: Travis May