Myths of Being an Empath

Talking about psychic-stuff is a challenge for me.  It’s been overcomplicated, mysticized, romanticized, twisted, subverted, and glamorized over the course of millenia.  So much so that addressing issues related to what many considered psychic gifts is sacrosanct.   Weeeelllll, I think it’s time to change that.  I have found that the myths perpetuated about psychic-stuff do more than create confusion, diminish self-exploration and dull individual inner-sight.  They actually cause harm.  In that vein, I’m beginning a rather random series of posts many of those myths in an effort to begin a healthy discussion about moving past mythologies and archetypes into the 21st century.  I’m often boggled by how often people will rely on false histories and archetypal paradigms to maintain an ‘orthodoxy’ similar to that of the religious dogma.  We won’t wear clothes that are four years old but will persist in not expanding our thinking beyond that of 400 or 4,000 years ago when it comes to what many think of as the supra- or super-natural.

I’m going to start with a few things related to the nature of empaths.  Generally speaking, a psychic (or energetic) empath is one that can literally, tangibly, palpably feel another’s emotions, thoughts, and illness (and less talked about: other distinct energies put off by technologies, group vibe, colors, textures, foods and more).  For a reminder, empathy is defined as: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another (Merriam-Webster).  The reason why being an empath has been considered a ‘psychic gift’ is that not everyone has that capacity of literally feeling those things.  Which brings us to:

Myth Number One:  Not all empaths have the capacity to be empathetic.  Some are just ath-holes and some cannot connect that literal feeling to anyone else.  Some are afflicted with both being an ath-hole and allaboutmeitis.

The above is directly connected to:

Myth Number Two:  Empaths must protect themselves.  This one has probably been around humans started trying to figure this ‘stuff’ out and is directly connected to the notion that all things invisible are negative, black, evil, demonic and will suck the life juices out of you if you let your guard down.  ‘Protecting yourself’ in a bubble, eggshell, invisible super-shield of energetic deflection is both a mind-fuck, unnecessary and harmful.

Everything is energy. And energy moves.  That’s its nature.   Just as the energy carried by the wind moves in a fashion we can feel, so do other energies: some slower (like the chair you are sitting in), some faster (the electricity moving through your body right now).   An imaginary layer of Saran Wrap will not stop energy from moving.  What these ‘protections’ do, though, is create intentional blindness (not to be confused with inattentional blindness although the similarity here is quite striking).

By intentional blindness, I mean the choice to say “I’m not seeing you” (a great example is here: http://youtu.be/j0S7mDxF27M).  When we create our ‘bubble of protection’ or don our special stone, we are, in effect, simultaneously doing three things:  we are shutting ourselves off from the things that we need to be aware of (choosing ignorance),  shutting ourselves down so that others cannot be aware of us, and putting out there that there is something out there that can harm us.  Many of those who follow spiritual or metaphysical or psychic precepts talk about ‘removing the veils that separate’ us from the invisible while intentionally putting them back up.  We can’t have it both ways.

Those of us who are empaths are not really ‘hooking into’ specific energies but are an ‘always on’ active part of the invisible flow of *all* energies–occasional conductor, benefactor, transmuter, bearer of witness, interpreter, etc.    Invisible energies themselves are not harmful to us.  Annoying, distracting, ADHD-excuse givers, yes.  Harmful, no.   The harm comes when, by choosing to be intentionally blind, we cannot pay attention to what’s happening within and around us.  Often, energies seek us out for either recognition or intervention.  If we are not paying attention, that energy will continue to seek our attention.  At first like this.  Then, this.  By the time it’s reached this stage, we’re in trouble.

I know the videos are a little on the entertaining side of things but the consequences for not being aware of what is happening around and within us can be devastating.  By the time energies have reached that psycho-poodle stage, we may be afflicted with a variety of mental & physical health symptoms that resemble everything from anxiety & chronic fatigue to auto-immune & neurological disorders that are often treated medically to no avail because, while there is a distinct physical response to what’s occurring within the body, the cause isn’t readily apparent.  And, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle.  This is the body’s response to TMI –it’s been receiving data that it doesn’t know what to do with and as it tries to process it without direction, things get buggered.   If you can imagine every hair on your body being a satellite-like sensor or receptor of invisible energies (emotional, electrical, light, sound, magnetic, psychic, pranic and ectoplasmic) without an on-off switch, receiving information for decades, that’ll give you some hint of what I mean.

I’ve come across folks with everything from diagnosed mental illness of anxiety, depression & bi-polar disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, MS, Guillain-Barré, lupus and more, who, once they have cleared the gunk and learned how to retrain the brain, body & psyche to work with the gift, they no longer need truckloads of medications (I mean, 31 pills a day?  Really?) to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally.  The process is ridiculously simple once you get really honest with yourself and step away from the ‘rules’ of being.  And, there is no need to reach that place to begin with.

Speaking of honesty:

Myth number three:  Empaths may feel another’s illness or emotions.  However, we do not ‘take it on’.  We neither absolve another’s prostate cancer nor take on their mental illness by bearing it ourselves. In our witnessing another’s energies or conducting them (if we’re led to do so), however, one of our stupid human tricks comes into play:  making it about us when it’s really not.   It’s similar to the martyr complex and serves us poorly.

It ain’t always all about you but for you to be an empowered, effective empath, you need to know all about you.  You need to know yourself intimately and honestly (there’s the rub).  Your triggers, issues, baggage claim stubs, foibles and innate power–you must be able to identify, recognize and separate those things from others before you can understand why you are gifted the way you are and the responsibilities inherent in your unique capacity (because, like everything else, not all empaths are built the same or for the same skills).

Which brings me to a little more about honesty:

Myth number four:  A lot (I mean a shit-ton) of what empath folks claim to feel isn’t from others or otherwise outside themselves.  It’s of themselves.  One of the common ‘themes’ perpetuated is the incapacity of empaths to watch violent movies, news coverage, engage in or observe conflict.  That’s bullshit.  That emotional response, kids, is merely a reflection of our own fears, unresolved inner issues, and, the kicker–projection.

All of these myths are grounded in rules created by someone, somewhere a long, long, long time ago who decided that this was what an empath is about and how they should (or should not) appear.  It’s been regurgitated ad nauseum (entirely intended!) and accepted in the 21st century as truth in the same way it was in the first.

And, the recycling of such is compounded by a generalized societal unwillingness to understand and experience emotions fully,  to investigate and address emotional & mental health issues in a holistic manner, and the persistence of psychic ‘experts’ spouting–errr, sharing–dogma as universal truth.

The truth is there may be some tools that suit some people.  However, there are no universal ‘rules’ to being an empath–we are unique from the larger crowd and from each other.  In fact, I think that if people will shuck the rules they’ve been trying to follow, they will find that they can move with ease through the invisible and visible.

For instance, not all of us are meant to be ‘grounded’.  I’m not quite sure how it happened that ‘grounded’ transformed from being a disciplinary tactic resembling leashing to a necessary ‘rule’ for moving through the world–particularly when it comes to those who have an awareness of & relationships with the etheric.  It’s kind of like mediation, great for some but not meant for everyone. And, the reliance on it for you, if it’s not meant for you, can create a frenetic, sanity-doubting experience of life that is unnecessary.

All of this boils down to this:   there. is. no. separation.  Between visible & invisible.  Etheric and physical.  Some of us just experience these things in a slightly (ok, okaaaaayyy…extraordinarily) different fashion from others.  That’s it.  There’s no need to keep mystifying or mysticizing it.  It’s time now to move past that into real-world, real-life application to serve & inspire others.

There is more myth-busting to come. For now, let this percolate and see what comes.  It’s merely food for thought and action.  Might piss you off,  might inspire a slightly different way of experiencing the world.  If you wanna learn how to do this, check out this course that will start February 1:  http://www.ingridoliphant.com/IngridOliphant.com/Empath_Class.html

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9 thoughts on “Myths of Being an Empath

  1. Good and interesting entry. Each Empath is different and reacts differently. Personally, I think what they pick up on depends on what they resonate with. If they suffered trauma or loneliness, then they will pick up on those who have done so, too, and so on.

    Thanks

  2. Preach it, sister. Don’t think I’ve seen it stated more succinctly, clearly and badassedly. Thisness continues. Hang on to your hats!

    1. This is, indeed, my opinion. However, it’s an educated one backed by the few hundred empaths I’ve worked with who’ve tried things a little differently and learned how to be an active part of the world without medication, fear, pain, bubbles, eggshells, shields, etc, and engage fully with their ownfineselves and the their community.

      I don’t know if you should or shouldn’t stop believing the myths. That’s not my call, but yours. If how you’re experiencing the world suits you, keep on keepin’ on. If not, try something different and see how that works. As my own perspectives shift with frequency, you might find yours do, too.

      Ingrid

  3. I am looking forward to our dialog on this topic. I do feel that being an empath has given me strength and courage, insight into humanity that is beyond the “norm.” I am proud to be an empath. What I guess I need to learn is how to either tune out when necessary, or take in without it effecting my every breath, because sometimes I get overloaded. I don’t want my “gift” of empathy to disappear, but I need to learn to not let it control me at times, I guess…from what I’m reading and understanding…or maybe you’re going to tell me to delve into my daddy issues bullshit! 😉 Whatever it is, I’m open to it.

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