For the past two years I’ve lived my life in almost complete solitude. As an empath and HSP (highly sensitive person) I spent almost my entire life either being ruled by my emotions or shutting them down completely. Both extremes were damaging not only to myself, but those close to me. When I came out of a twenty year state of numbness my emotions returned full force. As an empath we not only feel deeply but we are constantly bombarded by the emotions and struggles of others as well.
I had reached complete and total burnout, causing me to become unbalanced and in turn I became vulnerable to some rather toxic people and situations. I didn’t trust my inner guidance and relied on others ‘wisdom and knowledge’ as opposed to trusting my own intuition. I was defeated and a set myself up for disappointment over and over again.
What I’ve learned during these two years of introspection, recovery and solitude is:
-Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are. I don’t have to be afraid of what I feel, and I don’t have to find some sort of resolution or meaning in what i feel. All I need to do is allow myself to feel them without self judgement or criticism. I have also learned that I can shield myself from others emotions and am not responsible for them. I can send love to others during meditation without actually doing anything to fix or resolve the conflicting feelings and emotions i pick up on.
I can now differentiate my emotions from those of others by simply going into a quiet, meditative place and allowing myself to feel them. That’s it. After I feel them I release them. I release through meditation, prayer, visualization, writing and art.
-It’s ok to say no and let go of the result. I used to be a people pleaser. I was afraid to say no out of fear of being judged, disliked, or hurting others feelings. I now recognize that saying no to something that goes against my inner truth is an act of self love. When we become secure within ourselves and love ourselves we no longer feel the need to fulfill others needs that go against our inner convictions. We no longer fear rejection or abandonment. We begin living true to ourselves.
-Boundaries- This has been a huge one for me. By learning to trust my intuition and honor my inner knowing, I’ve learned to set healthy boundaries with others and let go of the result. This is not the same as putting up walls out of fear, or trying to manipulate others to achieve a desired outcome. It’s more about building fences. Without healthy boundaries I allowed others free reign over my life, as a result I have suffered loss after loss while others went on their merry way unaffected. Again, it’s an act of self love and protection as opposed to fear and remaining overly guarded. Huge difference. Those who truly love and value us will respect our boundaries and honor them.
-Self Expression- this has been a more recent revelation and a huge one. In the past when I’d become overwhelmed with emotion that was difficult to sit with, I’d release it in ways that were damaging to others. Most of the time this was unintentional. It’s one thing to share openly about my personal struggles but if those struggles involve others I need to seriously consider the effect my words may have on them. It’s important to examine our motives before sharing our struggles openly; why do I feel the need to share this openly? Am I looking for validation from others? Am I seeking affirmation?
Validation and affirmation must come first and foremost from within. Nothing and no one outside of ourselves can fill the void. If my motives are pure I must also ask myself; how will my words affect those I love? If I ask myself these questions and come to the conclusion that my thoughts and expression are coming from a pure place then I’ll share, with discretion. I can still live from a place of authenticity and openness while protecting the hearts of both myself and those I love. I am continually learning (through trial and error) the importance of calmly responding as opposed to reacting while in an emotionally volatile place.
My daughter is one of my greatest teachers. She has the ability to calmly and rationally explain things to me in a very balanced, healthy way. She is balanced in both logic and emotion and extremely empathetic and understanding. She has this amazing ability to present truth and honesty in such a way that I can receive what she speaks in truth without being hurt or taking her words as condemning, accusatory or harmful. She’s modeled this for me.
So, emotions? They’re neither good or bad. It’s only when we allow ourselves to be ruled by them that they become damaging and often times destructive. It’s really all about balance. Learning to sit with them when they are raging, feel them and accept them without instantly reacting to them. As they begin to settle we can then calmly respond in a more rational, balanced way.