Empaths or High Sensitive People, make wonderful romantic partners, family members, and parents because of their sensitivity to the emotions of the people around them. They can be the best cheerleaders and comfort providers. They seem to know just what to say or do. They are the ultimate caregivers. By the very nature of this, there are 6 myths that empaths come to believe about love that simply aren’t' true and may even hurt us.
There is a danger in being an empath. Too many times we rely on our sensitivities without really exploring them. Too often we get caught up in other people's feelings, think they are our own, and begin trying to live those feelings. We get hurt and disappointed when that person has a change of heart, or loses steam, or life doesn’t' seem to work when we are trying to live from another's emotional discoveries. Because everyone's emotions are so real to us, we think we can live vicariously through them, without ever taking our own risks or overcoming our own challenges. We lose ourselves so easily when friends or family are feeling extreme things, like riding an emotional high or low. We can even begin to believe that other's fears and limitations are our own.
To an empath, emotional outpourings are like porch lights to moths. Shiny, true, deeply felt, we flock to emotions when someone is experiencing them...but why? Let's look at the myths we believe about love and empathy!
- Our partners need us to feel their emotions with them! WRONG! No one needs another to person to feel their emotions for them or with them. Catharsis is one things, it means understanding someone's emotions. Sympathy and compassion are also a form of understanding. But living for another person's emotions is simply co-dependent.
- My partner feels validated that I so deeply feel their emotions. WRONG! Validation is when we tell people we understand their emotions, not the feel the emotions for and with them. Validation is telling someone that their emotions are logical or rational, understandable. It's about THEIR emotions, not yours or your experience of their emotions. In fact, it might be a little disconcerting that when your partner is trying to express their emotions, you are taking their emotions as your own, in a way, stealing their experience! It can easily invalidate them.
- Knowing what my friends and family think and feel help me understand where things are with them. WRONG-ISH. Ok, so this one is not totally wrong. A good and trusting conversation can do the same thing though. Because our experiences of emotions are so real, we want to trust the good ones more than the negative ones. But we are not with our friends or family 24/7. We do not necessarily know which emotions they will act in a given moment. No matter how much we want to believe in the potential we see, when it's positive, we must be fair and balanced for ourselves and recognize the dysfunctional bits as equally valid parts of our friends and loved ones. Knowing what a person is feeling in one moment, doesn't mean they will act on that feeling either. We must allow people, even if we love them, their free will. We cannot preemptively prevent someone from doing something with out crossing a lot of boundaries and stepping on toes in the process. There are times when that is called for, and there are times when we need to express our own wants and feelings and then take a step back (at least emotionally).
- Regular boundaries don't apply to me because I have this gift that by it's very nature pushes some boundaries. ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Just because you discover something doesn't mean you have the right or responsibility to act on or use that knowledge. Are all other people in control of what emotions and thoughts they are putting out there in the universe? Hell No! Empaths need to be very clear about what they are picking up and what they are using. Stumbling on into another person's emotions is very different than being guided to give someone a message! If you aren't sure whether or not you are getting a message you need to pass on, as the universe, your guides, your angel, whoever spiritually helps you to validate that you have the message right and that this is your job to do. This kind of validation, your own cover your butt system will get easier the more your practice it. It will become automatic after a time and the checks and balance system will alleviate a lot of stress.
- I am needed for work on all relationships. NOPE! Being with an empath can be like being with a therapist, their talents and skills come so naturally that sometimes they turn their “work” inward toward their relationships. Instead of simply feeling love, they rush to fix the problems. Empaths and highly sensitive people need relationships, and they need to be off duty. While there are times all of us need to vent and work things out with people close to us, never take on the responsibilities of others because you are convinced you can “fix” them. Your “work” and your relationships need to be two separate things for a balanced life.
- If someone loves me they will understand and feel my emotions too! NOPE! Just because you are sensitive to other's emotions doesn't mean that others are as well. SOME people might be, but not the average or majority. It's not a matter of maturity or being emotionally sensitive. It's not a matter how much they love you. They are simply being who they are, and so are you. Your expectations of love are what is being called into question. There are things we can do help us get what we need from a relationship, namely being comfortable enough with yourself to be straight forward in saying when you need a hug, alone time, or some comfort.
Yes, being an empath makes us special and needed, but as with most talents, we are more than our talents. Our friends and family don't love us simply because we are empathic or highly sensitive, they love us because of who we are. We need to love ourselves back. We need to give ourselves relationships where we can think and feel our own feelings, while also being able to validate those we care about. We cannot sacrifice ourselves and our feelings for the sake of others and expect to have healthy relationships. Empathy is not one of those Super Secret Powers that were are born naturally understanding how it's all supposed to work, so take my advice, take all that love and consideration you give to others first and try to make sure you are feeding and caring for yourself and your needs before trying to help anyone else.
If you think you might be empathic or highly sensitive and need a little helping finding YOU and caring for yourself first, then it's time for a revolution of radical self-acceptance!