Mind Numbing for an Unconscious Empath
Lately I’ve noticed a heightened awareness to my discomfort around people who are drinking excessively. For years I attributed it to living, first with alcoholic parents, and later with an alcoholic husband. I thought I’d developed a distaste because of the burdens it put on me to be in such a relationship.
As I continue to work through the healing process, which I realize now may or may not have been triggered by my parents’ suicides, I’m learning to look at people under the influence with different eyes. Let me first say I’m not talking about occasional social drinkers. My discomfort there is limited to those who get stupid and shrill. The ones with whom I’m most uncomfortable are the ones who, like my parents are carrying unbearably heavy loads of pain. They use alcohol to temporarily numb their pain, and in so doing, fling emotions like confetti once their personal filters are squelched as well. Anyone in their vicinity who is even remotely sensitive and not equally anesthetized is the unwilling recipient of the full-strength version of that pain.
Protecting Ourselves From Unfiltered Emotions
As one who is sensitive to the emotions and energies of others, I can tell you it isn’t a pleasant experience. Though my reasons are often misconstrued, I place myself as far from the seriously inebriated as possible, and set my shields on stun. Conversations with other Empaths and HSP’s support my own feelings about those who frequent a state of inebriation rather than face the reality of their own existence.
As I watch and listen from a safe distance, I see major correlations between my parents’ behavior and these outwardly happy drunks. It’s made me start asking questions:
- Could they be trying to disconnect from pain that isn’t even their own?
- Are there voices in their heads they can neither identify or locate?
- Do they feel sad even when their lives are chugging along just fine, yet they’re not exactly depressed?
- Are they afraid to ask the questions which might shed light on why they hear, see, and feel at inexplicably high levels?
In short, could these people be what I’ve begun to call “Unconscious Empaths”? To take it even further, could the term also apply to people who have been medicated because they experienced feelings they couldn’t control, or heard voices in their heads?
Finding Solutions Outside the Bounds of Western Medicine
Certainly medical science, with a few exceptions isn’t ready to admit that sensing thoughts and feelings in others could be making people think they’re crazy. Few doctors are qualified to help someone distinguish the difference, much less learn how to manage energies, emotions, and thoughts which enter their hearts and minds uninvited.
A lot has changed in the last 30 or 40 years though. “Schizophrenia” has been replaced by other terms. “Bi-polar disorder” is far more common. Autism has been divided into multiple categories and degrees. Though we have a long way to go when it comes to depression, at least it’s being acknowledged as real and worth examining. Many may still self-medicate or simply withdraw. Those who seek help have a variety of pharmaceuticals at their disposal with no more than a subjective diagnosis and a doctor’s prescription. Both solutions mask the pain but do little to address the cause.
Reacting to Other Peoples’ Trauma
Yet how many of us will admit to having our mood changed the instant we entered a room or encountered a certain person? How many have experienced the bone-jarring sadness radiating off someone who wanders into our emotional range? Who can cite occasions when they’re having a conversation via private message when they can respond to the feelings of the person they’re talking to despite conversing with keyboard and computer screen from many miles away?
If you don’t understand what’s happening at least on a superficial level, you may question your own sanity. I’ve been there, and with no one to explain to me what was happening, I’d internalize what I was feeling and make it my own without a second thought.
Personal Care Means Sealing Our Own Field
I will forever be grateful I learned a couple of things on my personal journey. One was how to shield. Though my first efforts were both clumsy and guilty of overkill, leaving me in a world devoid of true connection for more than 2 decades. I learned I could shut out what wasn’t mine. I’ve since learned to replace those impervious shields with filters which allow things like joy, love, and compassion to flow both in and out. Sadness, depression, and anger, are seen through a fine mesh screen. This gives me the opportunity to determine who they belong to and whether I can help the owner of the feelings without taking those emotions into myself.
Can We Become Addicted to the Misery?
Yet I’ve also become more aware of those who either can’t or won’t recognize they’ve become an over-saturated sponge for thoughts, feelings, and pain which belong to others. Some have even become almost addicted to bearing the misery of others. Like any addiction or problem, you must first recognize it’s there before you can take the necessary steps to fix or heal it.
I believe the first step in helping the Unconscious Empaths is to raise awareness. Like a variety of other topics I cover here, Empathy (capital E) is still gaining traction. Some psychologists and psychiatrists are aware of it and even allow for it to be part of a patient’s challenges. There are support groups on Facebook and a number of books on the subject.
Like everything else, though, if you’re unconscious, you don’t see how something like Empathy applies to you when you hear it from strangers. Only when someone you know and trust starts to describe some of the, for lack of a better term, symptoms, can you allow yourself to listen and take personal stock.
Testing the Waters
I’ve become carefully open about talking about being an Empath in the last few years. I’ll describe a situation and how it affected me, or talk about someone who is self-medicating with alcohol and suggest they may be experiencing pain and destructive emotions which belong to someone else. I used to be especially careful around those who were devoutly religious, but I’m learning Empathy doesn’t seem to conflict with those beliefs, at least with the ones I’ve opened up to.
It may even be that those who are deeply spiritual, regardless of their path are more open, not only to the idea of being sensitive to others, but to being that way themselves. Perhaps a willingness to believe in a higher power, or a greater whole, or some other description which gives us a feeling of connection to something bigger than ourselves is Empathy in itself.
Detach and Accept Without Judgement
The best way to learn and connect more, I’m finding, is to let go of judgement when I talk about Empathy; to detach from any beliefs I might have based on religious, political, social, or other deeply personal outlook. Discussions like this depend on openness without fear of humiliation or repudiation, and acceptance that whatever the listener believes is right for them. It’s been a difficult lesson for me, but ultimately, a rewarding one.
I’m learning those deep-rooted beliefs can’t obscure the fact we’re all connected, and more alike than we realize. There are a lot more Empaths and HSP’s out there than I’d originally believed. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s more the rule than the exception, even if some have yet to realize it.
We hear more and more about focusing on similarities rather than differences. It would certainly keep the arguments and dissent down. As I try to throttle back my own emotions on certain topics, I’m learning those similarities are far more relevant anyway. And I’m meeting more people who light up with recognition when I talk about Empathy.
With Heartfelt Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful I’ve become braver about sharing my Empathic journey.
- I am grateful for the people who have come into my life to challenge, to teach, and to learn.
- I am grateful for an expanding social life that’s making it a bit more challenging to work on building my business, but know it’s actually a part of that process.
- I am grateful for my cats who keep my grounded and in touch with what really matters; a warm place to sleep, food in my belly, exercise, stretching, and someone to snuggle with whenever I need it. And kisses. Lots and lots of kisses.
- I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, friendship, joy, challenges, lessons, courage, steps out of my comfort zone, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.