The empath’s paradox: how we feel everything and yet often know nothing.
It can be very hard for loved ones to understand us; and yet feeling understood is the glue to our trust in all relationships.
Unless you have been a very fortunate highly sensitive child you more than likely were raised in a family that quite simply weren’t equipped to understand or encourage your sensitivity. In a world of feeling people, people’s emotions, and world events you more than likely learned that if you were sensing everything and the world was still spinning then something was wrong with you.
Doubts, insecurities, and feeling like the weirdo that could never quite match up to the expectations of people and life became part of your being. If someone felt unhappy, angry, frustrated, or distant to you then the only logical conclusion could have been that it was you.
Unless you learnt what the soup of emotions meant as a child you more than likely internalized them all into part of your identity instead of learning what was and wasn’t ‘yours’.
Time marches on and life takes spins and turns and if you are fortunate you start to learn what this high sensitivity or being empathic means.
But the doubts and confusion over human behavior and emotions never really leave us. Life is fucking crazy out there!
We highly sensitive persons need time to process things. Time alone, wandering in trees, nature, and parks; in meditation, music, creativity or some days just doing nothing…. like nothing; there is nothing going on in there!
However when we do honour this need within us, it often appears reclusive, antisocial, and perhaps lazy to others. In a world where our worth is apparently measured in $$$, productivity, achievements and making babies (speaking as a woman), climbing the work ladder and being superman (as a man), while juggling a career and attempts at a hot or fit body that can do all sports well, we feel wracked with guilt over taking these necessary time outs….. or we don’t and burn out.
If we decide to tap out of the insanity of modern society’s expectations we feel shame over apparently being different while also a sense of pride at comprehending the deeper meaning of life.
The real world is a confusing place where life’s disconnect clearly makes people unhappy, and yet most people persist blind and dumb to the soul crushing effects of trying to live in a way that isn’t authentic to our being.
We sensitives feel the world’s pain, depression, and loneliness and we just cannot understand it….why people want for more things when it is the experiences, true love, and honest connections that enrich our lives and give us meaning and a sense of purpose.
The insanity of life feels a lot to us; despite our best daily endeavours to shift our focus.
And then there is our inner world; a soup of feeling the vibrations, thoughts and subtle nuances of life. It can seem extraordinary to people when we know that they have a pain in their back (we feel it) or are worried about something (we know it), or are tense or anxious (it hits right through us). It’s not extraordinary it’s just energy; an energy we are responsible to master for our own well-being and sanity.
The internal world of the empath or highly sensitive person is complex. We are not just feeling you, but everything around us that has an energy and collides with our field. Sometimes it feels like the whole ground has given way and in an instant a bright sunny day feels like a world disaster is about to happen. It’s confusing when you don’t have all the facts. I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s best to just get on with it and let what I need to know eventually come to me. I was wasting too much time in the past worrying about what had or was just about to happen. There is little I can do about it so why worry.
Despite all this, we sensitives can be total dumbasses in relationships….
So why, I’ve been asked, can I not clearly feel and trust a loving and supportive energy around me? Why at times do I numb out and not connect to the ones I’m the most safe with?
I asked myself this question at the end of my swim set today. Bathed in soothing waters in my cool down I asked myself “how if I can be so sure that a client has a pain in their leg or a difficult relationship with their mother or their father has passed away just in a knowing and on the flip side how can I be so bloody dumb when it comes to relationships and those I should trust.“
Why do I get so confused by what I am feeling from them?
More than ever as a sensitive person I crave safety; safety to express myself, my feelings, my doubts, and insecurities. A safe place. So when I have that safety why do I (and that means most of us) push this away?
BUT….life taught me that what I felt from people and what they said often didn’t concur. Or if I felt their inner world I thought, as you would, that it was me. In short the default in life was that it must have been all your fault when everything around you was a hazy mess of emotions and stuff.
When it comes to those you love, the fear of never quite measuring up, saying the wrong thing, saying anything at all sometimes, and then being at the receiving end of a lot of emotions and words that sound so different to the inner emotions feels overwhelming. And the uncertainty that you hold in your deepest fears, that they will be there for you quite simply short circuits the system.
When you are feeling everything, you know nothing.
Suddenly the feeling knowing person knows nothing and needs words, simplicity, and support to just figure it out. And we feel ashamed of this; shouldn’t we know better and be stronger? After all when it all gets too much we often just cry and have no idea why we are melting down so epically!
Until we rebuild our self-esteem and confidence in our super sensitivity and it’s accuracy and learn filtering techniques to break down what it is we sense and what is useful and what is junk, we are swimming in a giant ocean of energy on the equivalent of a Jacob’s cracker sized float.
In love we don’t know if you are about to dump us or propose to us, we feel responsible for your happiness, we worry about every word we say and it’s consequences, we start to communicate our feelings and internal world and hold our breaths waiting for you to say we are crazy…we want to fly strong and independent and we want nothing more than the cocoon and safety of your love.
Life confuses us, and yet we can be so certain about things. And if we are confused I can only imagine how hard it is for our loved ones.
It’s a daily roller-coaster
Its astounding the contrast between the deep knowing we have of the intricacies of the people we cross in life’s path and the utter dumbness in our relationships as we doubt.
All we really want is love, safety, and a space to figure it all out; just not too much space (yea go figure that one out!).
When we love you; we love you with all we have.
We are strong, but we feel things big.
We do know where we are going, but we will double-check (and drive you nuts).
We know you love us, but we want to know you are happy (and ask too many times).
We do want you there, but sometimes just in the next room (but not always; yep now you want to buy the instruction manual on empaths and there isn’t one).
We always feel you. But sometimes we don’t know exactly what we are feeling. Think of all that you touch in a day; this comes home to us. Sometimes we just need to hear that it’s all OK (and we will ask you, more than once until you spit it out because we need to make sense of what we are feeling and know that you our loved one(s) are OK).
When it comes to family and groups often our feeling sensor is toasted; you may find us somewhere quiet having a time out (or washing the dishes). It’s OK we will come back; we are just preparing for another round. Family gatherings can however be very overwhelming and emotion-filled; just a head’s up. All our insecurities often appear in a big unexpected bang and add to this mix feeling everyone else’s stuff!
So yea, we feel stuff all the time, but sometimes it’s clouded in a heap of other stuff and the message isn’t always clear.
Be patient with us. When you are sensitive to energy, you feel the beauty, wonder, and thread of love and that positive energy force in life.
We strive to feel more of these positive energies; to be more and give more, and love more. Some days we don’t get it perfect.
And to our amazing partners that love us and really struggle when they see us fighting with the energies of life and the burden of feeling, please know that crying is a good thing. It’s cleansing and releasing and re-balancing.
Hold us, allow us, and then laugh with us. We appreciate you more than you will ever know. That safety that you gift us to be ourselves means everything. It may take us time; but we will get there.