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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So how does this healing stuff work, exactly?

A woman who called the other day to see about scheduling an appointment asked that question.   She’s feeling like one hot mess and wanted to know if I could help.   She’d heard about me through local gossip (free marketing, anyone?) and wanted to know how this “stuff” works, “exactly”.

I dunno exactly.  Here’s what I do know.

There is nothing wrong with you.

You may feel all sorts of things.  You may feel afraid, anxious, awkward, addicted, alone, angry, compulsive, impulsive, enraged, exhausted, depressed, downtrodden, delusional, disorganized, dissociated, lonely, spent, sleep-drived, sad, stuck, annoyed, paranoid, grief-stricken, spent, out-of-whack, wonky, weird, panic-stricken, pissed off, pissed upon, distressed, disturbed, dis-ordered. disconnected, discombobulated, dis-eased, uneasy, uninterested in everything and everyone around you, moody, mad, masochistic, irritated, irrational, inattentive, hypervigilant, hyperactive, startled, sad, guilty, traumatized, spaced-out, stunted, stunned, stressed, suicidal, rage-filled, and, frankly, just generally fucked up.  You’re dealing with some serious shit. It’s your crap and yours alone to try to figure out.

But these things, these feelings are not you.  They are of you, sure.  They are sometimes of others (figure that one out, eh?).   You are dealing with them (or notsomuch as is often case) in the best way you know how.  You feel these things. They suck.  They make you feel like you suck.  However, you are not them.  There is nothing wrong with you. And you do not suck.

Once you know that, once you decide that, you will recognize all the tools you need to heal, to release these feelings that are holding you back, are within you.  It’s simple really.  Not necessarily easy. But simple.  I say that it is simple but not necessarily easy for a couple reasons.  First, frankly, we get used to these feelings.  As uncomfortable as they may be, they often become our comfort zone.  They  help shape our day, our relationships, our responses to life-stuff.  We get used to them and like having at least one reliable thing in the midst of the fuckedupedness.  Others get used to them.  And, despite all the blah-blah about change being good, life being change, a lot of folks don’t know how to and don’t want to.  Change, that is.   Again, though, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.  Some people say it’s wrong, assign it the ‘wrong’ label, but really, it just is.  The second goes back a few sentences to ‘others get used to them’.

What other people think or expect of us has an impact on us that we often don’t realize.  Others might not be comfortable or understand our erratic behavior, frightening mood swings, inability to move farther than the couch, or need for the booze.  However, folks at least have a glimpse of what is going on if we say, “I have PTSD” or “I’m depressed.”  The labels connect them to a definition or label that may not entirely explain your experience but can lessen their fear and open their hearts.   It helps them define you.  They, too, become comfortable in that and become afraid of your own change because they face being in a place of fear again.

There is no need to be afraid.  You have all of the answers within you.  And, it’s time to get right with you.

Same client said, “That’s such a freakin’ cliche, Ingrid. I don’t buy that.”  Well, it may be a cliche.  It may be tired.  You may be sick of hearing it but odds are you’re hearing it for a reason.  This cliche is true.  You can’t fully do for others until you can deal with you. All of your glorious, beautiful fuckedupedness.

Client says, “What the hell do you know about this?”  Me: “Been there. Done that.”

I first tried to kill myself sometime while I was in elementary school (maybe before?). I won’t go into details about that part of my story because I don’t want to hurt others but I decided that I didn’t want to be in this world because something wasn’t right.  It wasn’t right that I was afraid all the time.  It wasn’t right that I hurt all the time.   However, as most kids do, I survived.  Sort of.  I mean, I continued to breathe.  After the attempt and through the next few years.

Then I got older and attempted again as a teenager.  And again.  And each time I survived still trying to understand why I didn’t fit in, why I was still here, why no one heard me and why no one could see what was happening.  When all those crappy feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with me caught up with me as an adult, things stepped up a notch. I worked myself into the ground, I became an ‘expert’, I worked hard, partied harder, and hit a brick wall in 2004.  I hit that brick wall with all the force of a Mack truck doing 110.  Bertha was in the mouth more than once, finger on the trigger more than once. I took medical leave from my Probation job after my own physician said, “Well, Ingrid, we call this depression” in only the way a brilliant, sarcastic mind who knows that you know what’s going on can do.

In all of this, I knew things were really, really, incredibly messed up beyond description. FUBARed beyond FUBAR. And as I tried to figure out why I was here, what the heck was going on with me, why I was ready to blow the back of my head off but didn’t really want to, I had to explain it over and over to people.  And each person said something slightly different: “You’re Depressed.”  “You’re Bi-Polar.” “You are really ill.” “You are what we call a PTSDer.  A Complex PTSDer (as if that made it all the more special).”

After two shrinks, four therapists, I finally decided I wasn’t what they thought I was.  I might have been feeling whacked out in more ways than one but I knew that each time someone else tried to pigeon-hole me as a way of understanding me, they got it wrong.

As soon as I decided I was a beautiful disaster that could fix my own-damn-self (dammit!), things changed.  Immediately.  IBS symptoms gone after I decided that caffeine, wine, and nicotine were the causes. Cut those out, cut out IBS.  Cut out the suicidal ideation because I didn’t really want to die.  Sometimes felt like it but didn’t really want to.  Left the husband that I’d talked about leaving for over a year within two weeks, moved 1700 miles to one of the most spectacular places on the planet, and have watched the beautiful disaster morph into a wondrous woman (if I do say so my own-damn-self!) who’s been given an amazing Gift.

I have been there.  Walked the darkest path, sunk into the deepest depths and thrived!! I am the most blessed of all people.  And I am grateful beyond words that I was kept here to be able to do what I do.

This “stuff” work because when you are ready, when you decide that it’s time to let go of all that  holds you back and no longer serves you, the tools come to you clearly.  I am simply one of them.  When I am with you and I breathe and connect to the Divine (however you define that) , I am a tool, a facilitator that allows what you need to release to just go.  It’s that simple.  And, yes, this part really is that easy.

When those things that no longer serve you leave; when you’re not holding on to them, you begin to experience the world and all of its challenges in a different manner.  Those emotions? You still feel them but they don’t define you.  You feel them, acknowledge them and let them go.  As you do, you grow. As you grow into the new experience of life, those things that do serve you just come to you.  In magnificent ways.    This is the healing process.  Maybe I should call it growth process instead, no?

When you’re ready, just get to me.

“I’m careful about miraculous stuff, but for a very real, straight up, down to earth gal, she shares a remarkable undefinable gift with her clients.”  Sandy C, Delaplane, VA (09/17/09)

UnCommon Touch

It’s not New Age; it’s of the Ages. It’s real, not woo-woo. It doesn’t require belief or faith (although I’m sure it helps to not prefer a root canal). It doesn’t interfere with belief or faith. Its only magic is in its simplicity. I breathe, you heal. You change. You shift. You de-stress. You find peace. In fact, *I* don’t do much of anything. This is my Gift. For you. For everyone.

Young. Old. Child-like adults. Every shade of pink, brown, yellow. Man. Woman. Christian, non. Conseriberal. Libertive. (Yes, I did that on purpose!)

This gift is something I call UnCommon Touch, inspired by the book of the same title by Tom Harpur.   It is simply Divinely-inspired transformative energy  for which I am merely a facilitator and catalyst.  It is a shared connection to the Divine that brings about profound changes in everyone that comes into contact with it.  It is neither modality-based nor definition driven.  In fact, this is of that for which there are no words (bet you’re wondering why this post is so long, now, huh?). It is certainly ‘energetic’ but there are no symbols, rules, etc.  I simply breathe and place my hands on people.

Sometimes change is profound. Sometimes subtle. I’ve heard on more than one occasion, “I’m not quite sure what happened but I feel so much better!” People have experienced the instantaneous healing of physical wounds and chronic pain, relieved themselves of previously unresolved emotional pain, and found inner strength previously untapped. Physical and emotional symptoms of PTSD have disappeared (including suicidality), rotator cuffs have healed after 20 years, and spiritual gifts have been ignited.
Although each session is unique and everyone experiences the energy differently, there are some commonalities throughout. People “see” differently, they begin to experience life differently, the awareness of Self and connectivity to others increases, masks fall away.  While this process develops, healing occurs on the emotional level (generally preceding other changes) as well as mentally and physically.  It becomes easier to access that place of Peace and move more Grace-fully when handling all that which life tends to throw at us.
Here’s what a couple of others have had to say:

“Although being able to talk to my therapist has done wonders to clear my thoughts, I credit the session yesterday with you for allowing me to feel almost “new.”  In this lifetime, I’ve experienced NOTHING more powerful than the healing and enlightening energy the two of us were graced with yesterday.”

“I continue to feel clearer pathways to understanding-both sleeping and waking.”

“If you have not personally experienced hands-on healing of this sort, and you’re in need of physical, emotional or spiritual uplifting and/or healing – you may want to go outside your comfort zone a bit to take advantage of Ingrid’s healing presence.  She is indeed a wonder and has truly been graced with a gift to assist and heal others.  And to add even more to all of this – she’s an extremely entertaining, friendly, compassionate and sensitive human being.”

“She  can work on anyone, two legged or four.”

“No more night terrors. No more night sweats.  No more nightmares. No more. Period.”

“I found again what I thought I’d lost a long time ago. I feel reconnected to me.”

So, this is my Gift.  It is one of the Divine and although it flows through me, it is of all of us and for all of us.  I don’t know why I was chosen, I just know that I was. My educational and career background (criminal justice!) certainly didn’t prepare me for it. I’ve no connection to any faith, religious or spiritual practice outside of The Golden Rule.  Becoming unemployed last year is the greatest thing that ever happened to me because it brought me to this.

For a long time, gifts such as this have been held as outside of the ordinary for a multitude of reasons. It is time for healing like this to move out of the “New Agey-metaphysic-magical-mystery-tour-mumbo-jumbo” into the mainstream. The healing is my Gift. Getting this to everyone is now my job.  And I could use some help getting it done.  Ideas, suggestions, comments, introductions, anything constructive would be appreciated!

UnCommon flyer