The way out of confusion and emptiness as an empath
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Imi Lo: Specialist Psychotherapist, Art Therapist (MMH,FRSA,UKCP,HCPC)
22nd November, 20150 Comments
An empath is a person that is extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of other people, animals and places. They have the ability to physically feel the energy field of others and their surrounding.
Empaths are naturally highly intuitive. They have a strong sense of ‘knowing’ that there is more to a story than what meets the eyes.
If you identify as an empath, you might have been born with this ability, or that your senses were developed through living in an unsafe and unpredictable childhood environment, or by having unavailable, abusive or inconsistent parents. Your highly attuned intuitive skills were at some point vital for your survival as it allowed you to very rapidly assess, through picking up the body language of others, the level of your own safety.
Your intuition or ‘tacit knowledge’, is an immaculately designed calculator that combines all your past experiences - including those that you do not consciously remember - to make decisions that are best for you. When skilfully used, it is your perfect guidance. Unfortunately, many adult empaths have lost touch with their intuitive gifts and are left with a sense of internal confusion, chaos, which can manifest as an inability to make even the smallest decisions in life. Over time this can lead to low self-esteem, and a sense of chronic emptiness. In his book Blink, Malcom Gladwell suggests that our intuitions almost always have the best answer, yet many of us choose to block this internal wisdom. We do this by inserting self-doubt, fear, distraction or all-or-nothing thinking.
Sometimes, empaths may intentionally or unintentionally ‘dull their senses’ due to the chaos and pain that comes from their abilities. As an empath, you are naturally gifted to make instant connection with others’ emotions, and this would happen automatically and unconsciously. However, if you do not realise this and have not managed to distinguish your own feelings from that of others, you will absorb the impact of stress and pain around you, and suffer from being overwhelmed. This can result in unexplainable mood swings and unpredictable energy levels. It also triggers physical symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. In order to evade such pain, many empaths have thrown the babies out of the bath water and lost the ability to trust their natural gifts.
Another reason for you to be cut off from your intuition maybe that your early caregivers were blinded by, or even rejected or denied your emotions. If you grew up being punished for being sensitive, feeling intensely or for expressing feelings, you eventually learned to reject your own senses. The message that you were given was that not only your feelings, but also your beliefs, values and opinions were ‘wrong’. As an adult, this translates into an internal belief that says "I cannot be trusted".
Getting back in touch with your intuition again would require you to attend to and befriend your internal states, and one of the ways to get started is to use introspective daily practises to sharpen your skills.
You may also choose to work with a trusted coach, therapist, or spiritual partner who understands your unique struggles, and to collaboratively plan small steps to slowly build a relationship with your intuition again.
This journey is not for the faint hearted, as it involves courage to face up to your true feelings, including the negative ones (anger, for instance, is a difficult one for many people). It also requires a commitment for you to be honest about what actually comes up. Once you have found your intuitive voice, however, it is a power and efficient ally that you can always count on.
In your day-to-day life, you can trust that it is always doing its best, adjusting to life’s changes in order to find that ‘sweet spot’ for you. When things happen and you get thrown off balance, your intuition will help you find that perfect spot where you are most alive and engaged, and you can very quickly re-adjust towards ‘homeostasis’ again.
Even if you do not have all the information to make a formulated decision, you can always count on your intuition. It is almost always right, even your conscious mind cannot yet rationalise the result.
Your natural gifts are there to guide you out of chaos, decision fatigue and chronic emptiness, so let it be heard.
"Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer." - Robert Graves
About the author
Imi is an award-winning mental health professional, accredited clinical psychotherapist (UKCP), art therapist (HCPC, BAAT), supervisor and trainer. She specialises in emotional intensity, sensitivity, borderline personality traits, and unblocking creative potential in people. She is the founder of Eggshell Therapy Practise, based in London, UK.
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