Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘beliefs’

Challenges of Being Both Strong and Empathic

A World of Overloaded Empaths

self loveAt a time when everyone has a cause and an opinion, and is voicing them loudly, Empaths are being particularly challenged to stay true to their own path while offering compassion on a global scale. Though our hearts are tugged by the quantity and magnitude of atrocities being perpetuated by and against humankind, we know it isn’t so much it’s new, as the importance of each and every situation is being elevated to the level it belongs. Still, none of us can possibly support every atrocity; every cause with our full attention and energy.

There comes a point where, no matter how strong and capable you are, you have to exercise self care in the strictest sense, and see to your own needs and causes first. While the voices in your head and heart clamor for attention, you serve none by trying to serve all. Hard as it might be, you have to make some hard choices, not only to maintain your own sanity, but to be of value to the people and things you consider most important.

Many of my friends; all strong women, and Empaths, have reached a crisis of the conscience, just as I have. We all truly care about the people who are being mistreated, neglected, or worse, but only have so much of ourselves to give, and have had to make a conscious decision to focus our energy and attention. It may appear from the outside that we don’t care enough about what’s important to other people. The truth is, we care so much about it all that we know we serve them better by picking a direction and staying the course rather than scattering our energies to the winds.

Staying in Your Own Lane for Greater Effect

The beauty of it is, each of us has been called to help right a particular wrong or two. Strong, Empathic women exist in every corner of the world where they focus their attention and energy on the issues they feel most strongly about. By exercising passion as well as empathy, those energies are supercharged instead of scattered.

When we jump from one cause to the next, none of that energy every attaches enough to make a real difference before we jump to something else. In my opinion, we’re actually doing more harm than good by failing to choose our causes carefully, and remain true to them through every storm, and every missile that’s hurled our way in an effort to shake us loose.

Clinging to what we believe in strongly, and connecting with others who share our passion gives everyone more strength to continue to work to right the wrongs. We bring others together by exhibiting a unity and a consistent adherence to our beliefs. That isn’t to say we don’t listen to opposing viewpoints. It would be foolish to ignore them as it helps us understand why there are opposing viewpoints in the first place. You can’t understand how to get past a road block until you see what it’s made of and how to cause it to cease efforts that conflict with your own—or in some cases, recognize your own ideas and ideals need to be reworked.

Putting Understanding Before Action

Each block, whether mental or physical requires a different kind of effort to clear. You can’t solitudeshout down a wall of ice, nor will you be likely to break through one of stone with a flame-thrower. When faced with people who are easily roused to anger, or whose minds are closed from generations of conditioning, trying to force them to see things your way will meet with failure at best, and a vicious backlash at worse. The best you can hope for at that point is to gather your scattered forces, back away, and regroup.

Sure, you can rouse a lot of people who understand why you’re angry, but as it’s not their own true focus, they’ll only remain on board until someone else rouses their sympathies and ire. Once they jump ship, your forces will be in a shambles, and resurrecting your original momentum is impossible. The masses continue to attach themselves to the next big thing.

Remaining focused and working with those who feel as strongly as you do means the energy and attention may be smaller, but it’s consistent. One, giant push might not break through a rock wall, but a continuous, persistent effort can, especially since it doesn’t alert the builders of the wall to bring in reinforcements. Instead, you subtly wear away at the resistance while their attention is elsewhere, perceiving no threats to their values and beliefs.

Consider how you feel when someone viciously attacks your own, long-held beliefs. The first thing you do is go into resistance. If they keep pushing, you build your walls higher, and become even less responsive to the message they’re trying to impart. You shore up any cracks in your arguments, and flat out ignore anything that doesn’t jive with what you believe to be true, fact-based or not.

Every Issue is an Emotional One

https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwiToday, people on both sides of some pretty intense issues are using emotions to hold their line; rousing people into a frenzy over stories both true and false, flinging passion-charged bombs into just the right crowd to elicit the desired response, and ultimate level of resistance or aggression. The result is thousands of virtual pissing matches where there are lots of casualties, and no winners. In fact, in many cases, those being fought for are in worse shape than they were before attention was temporarily focused on their plight. I suspect there are more than a few who aren’t thinking the masses for putting them in the spotlight for a few moments.

It might seem like me and many others who’ve finally figured out the game are heartless and uncaring. We have to bear that burden, knowing full well that by focusing our energy and attention in fewer directions, we’re doing the most thoughtful and caring thing we can, not only for the things we support, but for all the others as well. We’re giving them the gifts of flying under the radar, and being able to wear away slowly rather than putting all their energy into an explosion that will meet with equal or greater resistance.

Such tactics will do nothing more than exhaust both sides, give the advantage back to the stronger one, and ultimately, maintain the status quo. What’s broken will remain broken, and will continue to rot from the inside out until something stronger comes along to steamroll over the remains, and once again, rewrite history to suit the winners.

Gratitude Strengthens Your Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’m learning to conserve and focus my energies.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who understand none of us is capable of successfully fighting for every cause, and much choose what’s important to us so we can each put our passion behind our beliefs.
  3. I’m grateful for quiet days to clear my space, rest and regroup, or increase my efforts.
  4. I’m grateful for healthy habits which are keeping me sane through times which push the limits of “normal” to the breaking point.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, caring, joy, friendship, compassion, focus, passion, incentives, understanding, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Making Perception Match the Changed Self

Your Own Perception Can Be More Enemy Than Friend

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last decade or two undoing a lot of my early conditioning and beliefs. I truly like the me I’ve become in the process, but didn’t realize I’d skipped a huge step in my internal renovations. While I’d changed how I presented myself to the word, and shown more of my perfectly imperfect self, I’d failed to alter my thinking regarding how others perceived me.

In other words, deep inside, I still believed people saw me as the reserved, closed off woman who never let anyone see her flaws, and as a result was unapproachable and cold. Though I’ve been enjoying the connection with other people, I had yet to truly believe others saw me as someone they looked forward to seeing, or felt comfortable with. The job of becoming a warmer, more compassionate person was only half done because I was unable to see how much I’d changed not only in how I felt about me, but in how others saw me too.

Realization began to dawn when I did one of those personality games on Facebook. The result I got is in the image. I shared it with the comment “this one made me laugh”. To my surprise, a woman I’d met in the last year or so commented that she agreed with the result. Not  only that, she said I put her at ease. Of course, I was touched, but I was also stunned. Someone feels comfortable with me, and thinks I put them at ease? How can that be? My inner voice started clamoring.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Someone else I only get to see occasionally told me they always look forward to seeing me, and made it clear we have a connection that goes both ways. Wow! It seems I’ve been so focused on my inner work, I’d completely missed seeing how much it was becoming a part of my outer self as well.

Letting Others Decide What They Think

I realize you never really know how you’re perceived unless someone comes out and tells you, Created with Canvabut it’s become abundantly clear I haven’t learned to believe people are truly and honestly happy to see me and include me in their lives. I’ve been so used to being on the outskirts of any group, or worse, tolerated, I failed to recognize it was no longer true. Deep down, I’m still waiting for that moment when I say or do something wrong, and am back on the outside looking in.

There’s a position on the Celtic Cross Tarot spread I’ve used for years entitled “how others see you”. I’m learning I have a lot of work to do as far as reading this one correctly. My inner child spent long years believing she could never belong; that she was destined to be an outsider for the rest of her life.

It didn’t matter how many positive changes I made. They would all be for me, and would go unnoticed, even by those I called “friend”; not because I was still trying to fit in instead of being myself, but because I’d falsely accepted a role as an outsider, and never realized I’d been projecting my insecurities and false beliefs on the people around me. Just as I’ll occasionally hear an inner dialogue where someone I see is viewing all my imperfections with disgust, when they’re likely thinking nothing of the sort, and probably, aren’t aware of me at all, I put thoughts based on my lifelong insecurities into the unknowing, unwilling minds of my friends and acquaintances.

Learning to Set Judgement Aside

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4While I’m honored, blessed, and grateful for what is clearly a much more positive impact than I gave myself credit for, I’m a bit ashamed for misjudging the people I started attracting when I stopped trying so hard to fit in, and began letting them see who and what I truly am.

Like everything else in life, I know things happen for a reason, and in their own time. This is no chicken and egg situation. I had to make the changes in myself first. The next step is learning to believe the effort I’ve put into making those changes is clearly visible to those who’ve given me a chance to not only be my authentic self, but to belong for the first time in my life. In truth, I need to have a lot more faith in the people who are in my world now by choice. Not one of them is the cruel, unhappy person I used to attract, not because I found comfort there, but because I attracted what fit my own self-image.

Given the Chance, People Will Surprise You

In the past, I was constantly surprised (and not pleasantly) by how mean and hurtful people could be. Today, the people I know and love surprise me with the depths of compassion and acceptance they constantly exhibit without hesitation or prejudice.

I’m still fumbling around; dismissing some who deserve my compassion and openness, trusting some who don’t. I’m working hard to be more trusting and accepting. I feel better about myself, and frankly, the amount of damage those who don’t deserve my trust can do these days is minimal, and easily cast off. I know their unkindness is a reflection of their own pain, and is neither personally directed at me, nor even conscious all the time. I keep my bucket of imaginary heart- or star-shaped confetti handy for those people, and administer it abundantly.

I’m also working on that inner dialogue that erroneously sees others remarking on those flaws to which I continue to give overmuch credit in my own head. I’m learning no matter how much you do to change your beliefs of yourself, the job isn’t complete until you stop allowing yourself to believe others still see the person you used to be. Sometimes, that’s the toughest change of all.

 

Looking at the World With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who offer feedback which debunks my own mistaken beliefs.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who are attracted to the new, authentic person I’ve worked so hard to become.
  3. I’m grateful for being proven wrong.
  4. I’m grateful for a warm, loving, compassionate community which opened its arms to me without judgement, reservations, or expectations.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, lessons, dancing, energy, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Embracing My Flaws

My Flaws Hold My Uniqueness

I get inspiration from many things. Today, it’s a post from a friend who shared a picture of a gorgeous heart-shaped necklace she got in Greece. Like me, she sees the beauty in a flawed stone.

It reminded me I am drawn more to imperfect or “flawed” stones when I choose my crystals, just as I’ve learned, albeit late in life to appreciate imperfections not only in myself, but in the people with whom I surround myself. Putting on a perfect face isn’t a sign of strength at all, and in the long run, it isn’t sustainable.

No one is without flaws, and in fact, they make each person unique, interesting, and approachable. The masks people affect to hide those flaws in the mistaken belief they’re ugly and offensive are worn at a cost no one would willingly assume, were that cost clearly marked on the masks and walls.

Releasing Outdated Beliefs

For decades, I believed what I was “supposed to”; flaws were ugly, and showing my flaws or struggles, much less a tear or honest emotion meant I was weak. It meant I was often fair game as a target for others who were also trying to hide flaws and weaknesses from the world.

Like a well-trained monkey, I hid my own fears and kept my tears deep inside, little realizing each time I did, a small piece of myself broke off and crumbled into the dust which formed my foundation; a dust even a light tremor stirred up by the time I was 40. By then, my entire foundation was unstable layers; the dust of broken and unfulfilled dreams, friendships based on false faces hiding massive insecurities, and a disappointing life where only the love of my children was certain. Even that was, in one case, only temporary. Once she reached the edge of adulthood and began making her own mistakes and choices, that love, too was conditional, until I was no longer willing to meet the conditions.

It took a few more years, but when I began sweeping away all the accumulated dust, I discovered there was still a firm base to build on. For awhile, I narrowed my focus; self-love, smaller successes, and returning to my first love, writing. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I learned my flawed self wasn’t ugly at all. But I had a lot of fears to exhume and revisit before sharing those flaws finally led to real friendships with others who’d learned to find their true beauty in flaws instead of an unachievable perfection.

A Beautiful Mosaic Created from the Rubble

created with CanvaI see life now as a mosaic. I’ve built my life on false beliefs only to see the entire structure crumble before my eyes. I thought when things crumbled I had nothing left; no solid ground to stand on, and no more strength to rebuild. I was wrong.

Having everything crumble around me turned out to be the best experience of my life (once I got past the excruciating pain, of course!). Not everything dissolved into tiny motes of dust. Some simply broke into pieces. In their previous configurations, they’d already proven unstable, but what if I put them back together in a different order, using the love, connection, and compassion I’d gained as the grout which held those pieces together? What if some of the pieces I stuck together came from outside of me? In other words, what if I finally learned to ask for help?

I learned when I stand alone, depending only on myself to manage whatever life throws me, I do without a lot of things because I have no idea how to make them work. Just as I don’t know how to re-wire my house and need to depend on others, there are important aspects of my growth for which I have no experience, or even knowledge they exist, much less how important they might be to my overall construction. Until I interact with others, sharing both strengths and perceived weaknesses, I don’t know what I’m missing, or why my structure remains unstable.

One Woman’s Junk…

Many of my own broken pieces are of no further use to me, but to someone else, https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/3503946843/in/photolist-87XXr1-87XZPQ-6kCDjB-2M1zdU-21ukmo7-o6vHsS-87ULKc-87XTkL-87Y3bu-87UGPM-87Y4kq-2EeDrw-7fF1mf-87Y8QS-9MnMAZ-DpnEKh-7kNkRC-87UZma-87Y5qAthey might be the piece they’ve been needing to give their own structure and foundation the stability they need to withstand life’s 7.5 earthquakes. In the process of sorting through my own rubble as well as that of others, I’ve not only cleared away what no longer serves me, but found everyone gets to find what’s needed to be strong, stable, and connected.

While I’ve learned we’re already connected energetically to everyone and everything on the planet (and perhaps beyond), the bond is further strengthened when I’ve incorporated pieces of others into my own foundation. My own strength and resilience may be lacking in some areas, whether it’s confidence, flexibility, or something else. My experiences make me stronger in some areas and weaker in others, as do those of every person I encounter.

Creating a mosaic with features from different people allows those missing strengths and resiliencies to permeate both structures; both foundations. What might have felled either person before might still put us under stress, but will no longer bring us down like a stack of cards. We reinforce each other more than emotionally.

Finding the Support I Need

Even when I need to fall back a few steps, I only go far enough to reach the support of those I’ve not only learned to trust with my naked, unadorned face but who know where my wings aren’t yet ready for a solo flight. Sometimes, I fall back with others who are being buffeted by their own storm. Together, we create a shelter where we’ll wait out the current storm and regain our individual strengths before setting out again, together, or apart, as needs dictate.

I know now, each time I fall back a few steps, I’m not losing ground. Instead, I’m gaining experience I’ll need in order to conquer the next challenge on my path. Sometimes I gain it by letting someone guide me, sometimes, when they allow me to do the guiding; proving to myself I’m stronger and wiser than I believe. 

My greatest weakness throughout my entire life was, and may always be my inability to entirely trust my own skills, talents, and abilities. I know where it began, but assess no blame. I needed to see where I gave myself too little credit before I could learn to trust. When the time has been right, a teacher always appeared.

The Teacher Appears When the Student I Ready

Whether it was learning to trust the visualizations I received concerning peoples’ auras, or what I was seeing when my healing talents began to emerge, people came into my life who could confirm what I was seeing or feeling. Ultimately, the gifts they gave me of trusting myself opened up my mind when meditating, getting a massage, and most of all, writing.

I stopped writing for years because I didn’t trust the stories in my head. I didn’t think I had the talent to make them interesting or even cohesive. I’d spent so much time telling myself what was coming out of my fingers was garbage, I didn’t allow what was inside begging for release to reach my fingers. Like so many creatives, I mistakenly believed it had to come out perfect the first time and tried to control every word.

What comes out of my fingers initially these days isn’t perfect, or anywhere close, nor is it as flawed as I once believed. bit it’s always from my heart. The real epiphany came when I realized that’s true of every one of us. No one is perfect. Perfection might be something to aspire to, but it is not the real destination. The real destination is learning to embrace what I perceive as flaws in myself and others, and to share pieces of myself to create a unique, powerful, radiant mosaic of people, experiences, compassion, and love.

Gratitude is my Strongest Feature

My gratitudes are:

  1. I’m grateful for the teachers who have come into my life when I needed them, and continue to arrive at the exact moment I need help learning a new lesson.
  2. I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned, and those still to come.
  3. I’m grateful for the flaws which I’ve learned are not flaws at all, but beauty marks.
  4. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to remove the masks of perfection and be my real self.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; creativity, love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, beautiful mosaics, community, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Are You An Unconscious Empath?

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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/collinj/28187872/in/photolist-3utgN-6dKm4U-ixFiym-Xq9zxX-5iV9vs-dvsbnZ-JbYbNS-9yYXge-oaNgSy-nTrTpN-5DJ9YU-5iV9S9-o8U3zy-5iQRZt-JtsRHZ-nTrL7c-o8TKcY-GBN8Sc-oaRENq-oaMYV7-nTrEwd-nTrPEK-oaWiFZ-6LQKXF-HEaAbW-rn2ZeD-7RzU6Z-o8TQhY-ocHiva-3i8NQ-pGH9jK-oaRGwW-2KqqNG-o8U285-ocH5JZ-FT9CLK-HoyT7a-HEazSu-9yYXvD-GzoDsW-o8TTDs-nTrEsL-9yYXMX-FALZgB-HEaAub-nTrNpN-9z2ZgE-J1HDTv-nTsq3F-GpK1YTthese 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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/4576733748/in/photolist-7YqXuy-22jbZb8-XZte3w-2E38fh-dtp56c-3NUNY-3NUP3-3NSUZ-3NSUK-VUxVut-aMjLSn-dUKkRp-4JpM4a-abD91G-932Hmu-8fJSDf-62xx8V-3c4zza-dUKms6-5AZhfv-dUQT8y-cPLm-3aqeS9-4NhLC1-4zty2J-4ttyNi-6U4fPj-3akHYp-3e21kE-6T47EL-obfTpE-3dWA6R-h2wXwy-7drB1P-ostgj2-6ieis7-a1LDFH-21n5r2B-q2i6g3-XScYar-dXwB6L-gQahXg-8EdGQ2-qFJcdw-YuGC4s-Jy7Cf2-28d1ChD-PHSfjW-x3xs87-MXhQbufeelings 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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/whoisthatfreakwiththecamera/2128863889/in/photolist-4f7Z4P-qjFHFf-98uNgj-6rDocS-UiQVsw-9MwMca-Re3oF7-XGTMLU-on6pwo-SB9A6F-54qPeB-7H8Pz8-7SMaC-R6RucA-cdbJBE-XGU7Q5-bGtTU6-8YKrbu-4CRGDp-bfqo4k-PEvGt-6Q9zSA-mJQyHS-4Ew2AY-Sfkwdo-5vKK9X-aDJhs6-FWXiy-76To7V-PFoqM-6r9hiY-5YcHEt-bqFdZH-dzVpN2-df1Kzf-oG6Szg-oE5cau-49Ytgo-7dHNJe-76XiVw-5YcKbP-4S24ZU-5YcKtz-5YcJFF-bpo9oP-76Tjkx-4HL5yc-5YcJoT-8f2fwB-6km6Wdencountered 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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/furyharbinger/13754521084/in/photolist-mXrvVf-i7tecw-ntZHNs-c2gN9S-ohigmk-57iTKB-73JEEv-s5JVaw-igW353-29rTSkk-XozdoG-qLfU2o-hi5jcs-bVGNFP-7Sb2wS-bVGNJP-NMwRpw-6B6c71-rna7La-bcDZX6-niW12j-2UhNhZ-8tsTnk-8J9aQL-78syKH-833Twc-kmyX4p-8m4vkZ-Y7u43B-4Uh1Sk-DKLQqd-a2nNnr-UZ1uqc-cR1ytd-mWjep8-XyM59F-9r3PkF-27UauY9-nw48YE-eNcN9H-WZoYde-VLKVRW-6SKYFi-9wm6oY-24cpFXW-MybNWR-2sEoYy-UcY7W2-CtGmWY-dmhqvAI 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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3over-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

https://www.flickr.com/photos/142726605@N03/26477590124/in/photolist-GkJz5y-Lbjtyy-7U6aRM-fAvVrd-8xkhNA-9y8U87-9y8PZ9-hkmFEV-pFNVmn-qfvzds-4wXFCU-qwU8vr-fvtgHY-rrTvBA-qx26Jh-deDyEe-zLy9J-iyNxU-9y5Sva-zLy9G-nGtJKV-2ahmb-8GaT1p-8xhj1c-qfZurB-8xo6AA-o2vgjD-fhmvPA-i9LLEe-fhfA2Y-eyHAQ7-4wTwBV-fvthgq-4wQn2x-fvdZMM-fvuWFY-6Q1PWA-fP1Z3u-EjZqZV-daB9Am-aAFS2R-9y8RDE-fAvVAo-iSPYmR-6EKY95-4o5gjJ-6PDXe3-Kcbqcp-9aQUMa-75sAZqI’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:

  1. I am grateful I’ve become braver about sharing my Empathic journey.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life to challenge, to teach, and to learn.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

We Are Fanatics

Fanatics, from Merriam-Webster.com

1: disapproving : a person exhibiting excessive enthusiasm and intense uncritical devotion toward some controversial matter (as in religion or politics)

  • a religious fanatic [=extremist]
  • The fanatics are convinced they are serving a righteous cause and that all means are justified … —Flora Lewis

2 : a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity

  • a boating/sports/racing fanatic
  • She’s a real fanatic when it comes to working out.
  • Since the U.S. economy began to sputter in 2008, shoppers have become coupon fanatics and lovers of buy-one-get-one-free deals … —Janet K. Keeler

Butting Heads

This week I tried to have a rational discussion on a topic which, in my opinion has many sides. Unfortunately, some folks with whom I engaged believe there are only two. I discovered what I should have known in the first place; such a discussion was doomed to failure. In the minds of some people with whom I conversed, the only two sides to the issue were: their side ( the “right” one) and anything which doesn’t agree 100% with their viewpoint (the “wrong” one). All my efforts to demonstrate the many shades of grey fell on deaf ears due to the fanatical devotion inherent to the issue. This fanaticism dictated that no matter where you might stand, opinions would be strong and unshakeable.

That isn’t to say my mind was any less closed to the information they were trying to impart, nor that my methods of communication were in any way effective. Though I might not stand firmly on one of the extremes of the issue I am still firmly rooted in the grey zone where I choose to stand. This renders a truly open minded discussion of ideas impossible and more than mildly frustrating. It should come as no surprise that frustration ultimately led to a need in some cases for labeling, if only to ease that frustration when seemingly reasonable arguments were inadequate in achieving the only “acceptable” outcome; altering someone else’s mindset.

The Only Mind We Can Change is Our Own

I learned long ago that altering a person’s mindset is an exercise in futility. We set our minds on various subjects based on deep-seated emotions embedded by events from our past to which we reacted without concern for logic or reason. There is only one person capable of freeing us from those emotional attachments, and the process can be difficult and painful. Yet in the end, the results are also intensely liberating, though the process ain’t for the faint of heart!

The experience left me feeling sad and disconnected but also got me wondering. Is there a way to truly hear each other out without allowing emotions, preconceived notions, and personal experience to automatically tune out what is not in alignment with our own often logic-defying beliefs?

The answer came when I stopped focusing my attention on the whole thing as a problem and opened up to receive possible solutions. In order to be receptive to beliefs in opposition to our own, we have the be willing to listen consciously. That is, we turn off the thinking/judging/emotion-driven part of our brain and listen to the words as just a vehicle for conveying an idea, nothing more. We eliminate the element of persuasion on either side, taking the words at face value, as descriptions of the concept under discussion. We allow ourselves to ask questions when the chosen words don’t paint a clear enough picture to allow us to understand a point of view which differs so much from our own we have no point of reference.

Set Aside Any Expectations and Just Listen

We also have to turn off the frustration that can and will come when we’re trying to listen to the words of another with as little judgment as humanly possible, knowing they might be either unwilling or unable to do the same. We have to make it our mission to understand the factors which led them to their strongly held position while refraining from trying to impose our own strongly held convictions on them, or for that matter, anyone else. We can exchange information but we have to accept we have no control over how the information we share is processed, or even if it is at all. In short, we have to separate the words and the concepts they represent from any emotional attachment life and experience may have attached to them, not only in our own minds but in the minds of those we seek to understand.

Navigating the Non-Existent “Either-Ors”

The study of economics uses an example called “guns or butter”. It evaluates consumers’ response to an either-or situation. There is no gray area. If you want more of one, you give up some of the other. It seems the latest political machinations are trying to push us into choices like that, where seemingly unrelated choices impact each other. What makes it work so well is the cleverly devised options which are known to elevate emotional responses and cause logical ones to malfunction. By triggering fanatical behavior, attention is diverted from less emotional, yet more far-reaching issues happening right beneath our noses.

The media is being used to exercise another tactic I remember from the last time political activism encompassed large swaths of society; the Viet Nam era. Then, like now, we were given arbitrary targets on which to vent our ire. It might have been soldiers who, because of the draft served whether they wanted to or not, or a large corporation someone decided bore responsibility for some of the nation’s ills. We needed someone to blame for our less-than-perfect lives, and picked someone or something which had little to nothing to do with it. Some things don’t change, nor are lessons learned with the passage of time.

Then as now, we had sit-ins, marches, and even riots. We may not have had a clear picture of where we wanted to go, but we were sick and tired of the way things were. Sound familiar?

Developing a Plan of Action

But change for the sake of change only results in chaos. Today’s society is simply a greater manifestation of the many small, entrepreneurial businesses which spring up by the dozens every day. I’m reminded of this quote:

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel A. Barker – BrainyQuote.

In other words, we can all want things to change and even demand changes be made. But unless we work together to develop real, workable plans, not only to identify what we need to change and how, but the steps we need to take to make it happen, we’ll continue to be at odds with each other over how we envision those changes. While change remains nothing but visions in our minds, it will serve no one, and accomplish nothing. We’ll be mired in the myopia with which every one of us views the world; a myopia born of our own experiences and all too often, fanatical attachment to the beliefs those experiences created.

Marlowe Aster shares her insightful viewpoint on the political hydra we’re fighting. I found her words thought-provoking and they helped me clarify my own viewpoint. I hope they’ll be valuable to you as well.

No Matter What Happens, I Am Still Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the diversity of viewpoints and that I am, at least part of the time, able to listen and learn without judgment.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to establish and maintain friendships with a diverse network of people, and to overlook the extremism which lurks just beneath the surface in all of us. It isn’t always an easy task, but the knowledge gained is worth the effort.
  3. I am grateful for my writing which allows me to share my own struggles with fanaticism, emotion-based beliefs, and other human behavior which may stand in my way and thwart me in my efforts to learn and grow.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to recognize flaws in myself by interacting with others. They truly are mirrors into my own soul-deep behavior.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, lessons, challenges, growth, experience, health, peace, harmony, function and dysfunction, inspiration, motivation, mentors, opportunities, new roads, magick, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write your expert book with you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author.

Be sure to watch this space for news of the upcoming release of “Forgotten Victims: Healing and Forgiving After Suicide”.

I’d Rather be a Shepherd Than a Sheep

Yet Another Slaughter Makes the Sheep Bleat

With yet another school shooting in the news, people are once again taking to Social Media to voice their opinions and rant their usual rants, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. While I don’t fault any of them for being socially conscious, I am curious as to how those rants are any better (or worse, for that matter) than the standard placebo “our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims”?

Worse yet, is jumping on another bandwagon of anger and blame something they’re doing by conscious choice, or because they continue to allow themselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter by media and politics? Does anyone realize how much they promote the political demon’s divisiveness by their outspokenness on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever their Social media du jour might be?

Can We Listen to Ideas for Solutions Without Judgement?

In the last couple of years, I’ve seen and re-seen the same basic arguments for and against gun control. I’ve seen the same groups blamed, and the same groups defended.

Wake up everyone! The only way to solve anything is to join together, air all points of view in an environment of open-mindedness, and find the solutions we’re all missing while holding tight to our own skewed points of view.

In a healthy business environment, solutions are found with brainstorming. An effective brainstorming session will respect anything and everything offered without judgement. Once all ideas are on the board, they can be debated until the less viable are weeded out and you’re left with those most likely to succeed. There’s no guarantee those remaining will be the most conservative, the tried and true, or the least far-fetched either. All options have an equal chance of being considered.

Clinging Desperately to Our Own Sinking Ships

Sadly, we’re so busy hanging onto our deeply ingrained beliefs and values, we would rather cling to what’s not working than consider something completely outside our comfort zone which might. We are children with security blankets being manipulated by the adults in the room (and I refer to the manipulators as adults only in the loosest sense) to cling to those security blankets of ours at all costs. Like Linus of “Peanuts” fame, we’ll hold onto those blankets even if the building is burning down around us, or we’re flung into the ocean without lifeboat or paddle.

How long are we going to cling to the past and to tried and untrue values and solutions before we recognize the futility of continuing to fight with both friends and foes virtually, while watching our world go down in flames around us? And people wonder why I refuse to join the futility and the chest pounding.

Getting Beyond Our Ingrained Beliefs

That isn’t to say there aren’t some real gems of wisdom out there. Whenever I see someone suggesting we listen to those with opposing views and try to understand why they reached them, I want to stand up and cheer. Even more, we could try to understand why we hold the views we do? Is it habit? A particular wrong we can’t let go of? Tunnel vision? Or worse, is it putting our trust in someone just because we always have, so of course, whatever they tell us must be true?

I’m willing to bet we are all guilty of all these reasons, and more which make no logical sense. People on one side or the other are reluctant if not militantly unwilling to listen to why someone supports an opposing person or viewpoint. And god forbid you even suggest to some of them that they were subtly manipulated into believing the most far-fetched of notions. I get it. No one wants to admit they believed a pile of horseshit was a lush garden with wine flowing from the fountains. We don’t want to admit our opinions have no basis in fact, but came simply from being bombarded with fake facts created (supposedly) by sources we thought we could trust.

We Need More Watch Dogs

The title of this post might be a bit misleading given what I’ve already written, but does, in its own way still hold true. Though I have no desire to manipulate anyone or give them reason to believe whatever my version of the truth might be, I also have no desire to be led to the slaughter by all of the crap being published these days. There is absolutely no way of knowing any more whether an article or comment from a trusted source truly came from that trusted source. Groups like Anonymous who do have the talent and ability to dig deep into the source of those words and expose the actual voices behind them are likely so overwhelmed right now, both with flying under the radar and weeding through so much virtual manure that they’re barely scratching the surface.

Even if they did have the manpower and ability to keep doing what they’re doing without getting caught and stifled, we have all allowed ourselves to become somewhat complacent about believing those “trusted sources”.

Breaking Free of My Personal Paradigms

Despite my refusal to jump on the latest cause, I’m attempting to use my gift for words to debate, demand, and maybe even offer a viable solution. Yet I, too am somewhat hobbled by an ingrained belief system. I do find a kind of dark humor in the latest piece of idiocy attributed to our current commander in chief. Yet I also believe (whether accurately or not) that an awful lot of it is fabricated by people who are paid very well to do so. Why? Because it keeps the rest of the country (and even the world) fighting over the stupidity and unreasonableness while supporters cling even more tightly to their beliefs, despite the obvious insanity. Or at least it’s obvious to those of us in the opposition, right?

Today, it’s easy to explain away something we don’t want to believe by attacking the source of information. We can write off an entire argument by saying or thinking “I can’t possibly believe that. It came from a person or publication which, in my opinion, does nothing but lie”.

What Ever Happened to Honesty and Truth?

To misquote a country song, we’re searching for truth in all the wrong places. The trouble is, we’ve lost all sight and perspective for where truth can actually be found. I wish I could say I know where that place is, but frankly, I’m as baffled as the rest of the world. I’d also like to say I’ve not been influenced by the lies being spread like peanut butter on bread, but again, I’m baffled and confused. I will at times react instead of responding. I will at times accept something I read without doing my due diligence.

Laziness? Maybe. But I prefer to think of it as a time limitation. Who among us has time to check everything we see and hear for voracity? Who has time to research every supposed fact and still live their lives with balance and integrity? We all depend on someone or something to tell us the truth, and sadly, we’re all let down time and again.

Though you probably won’t see me out there leading the charge any time soon, I will remain in the shadows trying to make sense of it all and refrain from fighting with those I know and love. I disagree with most of them on at least one major point, but I no more have actual facts to refute their beliefs than I think they do to refute mine. And frankly, unless we can both discuss the matter rationally and objectively, the discussion runs the risk of devolving into an argument where nobody wins and everyone loses. I’m not willing to risk my friendships like that.

Without Friends, Being Right is a Recipe for Loneliness

It’s taken me decades of my life to learn how to truly have and be a friend. To allow the years I’ve spent learning to be open, honest and vulnerable to go up in a cloud of smoke because we believe different sources of information strikes me as the ultimate in stupidity. I love my friends, not because they believe exactly the same way I do, but because  they don’t. I can learn from what they believe as much as I can learn from the lessons they’ve mastered. If there’s one thing friendship has taught me, it’s to choose people willing to tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. I’ve learned and grown so much more, and appreciate my amazing friends for their willingness and ability to tell it like it is.

Do people actually follow me (aside from the concept created by social media and blogs)? I doubt it. Do people agree with me? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it doesn’t really matter. I try to consider their points of view, even if they are as far away from mine as it’s possible to get. I try to respond rather than reacting, and when I can’t do so, to hold my tongue. Shouting my beliefs or my outrage from the rooftops will truly only reach those who already share my point of view. Those who don’t will either shut down, or try to shout back, increasing the breach already created by differing beliefs, and dividing us further. In that, I refuse to be a sheep, and easy pickings for the monsters among us who seek to swallow us whole.

Perhaps there is a bit of the shepherd in me, as I would lead with gentleness and understanding rather than by force. It’s a crazy world we live in. More like “Alice in Wonderland” than “Pollyanna”, but I choose to believe we can still navigate it successfully if we keep our heads and trust our hearts.

Finding Gratitude in Things Both Big and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my friends on both sides of the divides created by opinion and lies.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn, some of which cause me to re-think the path I travel and the destination I see in the distance.
  3. I am grateful for my home and my cats. They are the touchstone and the balance I need to navigate a world where the rules change without notice and the road drops away when I least expect it.
  4. I am grateful for my writing. It is and always has been my friend, my therapist, my outlet, and my sanity.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, resources, advice, friendship, joy, opportunities, financial upswings, job offers, new clients, reassessments, new contacts, expanded horizons, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

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