Empathic Response – it Doesn’t Need to Overwhelm
By ChaNan Bonser
I find some of the articles and videos I read and see on empathy quite frustrating; to me there is sometimes a feeling of disempowerment, of being told that being an empath or a highly sensitive person is a negative thing, and that one has to protect oneself from everything and everyone around. On reading these articles, there is a sense that the empathic response of overwhelm, of being bombarded, of feeling sponge like, of needing to cut off in order to protect, is how it is. That there is little that can be done to change the empathic response other than protecting the self.
However, in my work I have found that being sensitive to external influences – whether these are people, situations, or places has often been developed as a defence pattern.
How so? I guess that might be a bit challenging to read… so bear with me for the moment and let me explain. Crucially, it is important for empaths and sensitive folk to know that the trait of being highly sensitive does not have to be a negative thing; with work one can adjust and fine tune their empathic response, so it becomes a true gift that can work with a person – not against them.
Having been an empath all of my life, I struggled to know what emotions, reactions, responses and physical symptoms were mine – in fact I assumed they were all mine – and spent much of my early life overwhelmed and trying to blot out the world using alcohol and other things as a sedative, to try and dull my sensitivity. This attitude may have sedated one side of me, but it actually led me into tricky and dangerous situations, as I overode the signals I picked up. As a result I spent much of my time
confused and bewildered whilst succeeding in putting on a brittle front that all was well.
As I grew older I discovered, with the help of some incredible teachers – and some tough mirrors and truths – that for me the secret of being able to remain in my centre is not how much I protect myself, but how much I nourish and strengthen my inner core.
I also needed to explore the aspects of myself that led me to energetically coming outside of myself to anticipate where the next overwhelm, attack, bombardment was coming from.
Because a truth for me was that the bulk of my negative empathic response actually came from me.
As a result of this programmed negative response, I had no idea where I ended and others began. I had a deep need in me to merge with whatever was around, mainly because I had no real sense of my inner core as I spent most of the time outside of myself.
This reaction was a splendid protective mechanism that served me very well in childhood; and this is where we often learn this type of response – either through childhood circumstances or through epigenetic trauma that has been passed down through our family lines.
I worked out that this defensive response no longer served me and was keeping me stuck in a pattern and a place that I no longer needed to be. With the help of my teachers, some really good deep inner work and great techniques for me to practise regularly – I began to pull my energy in. I learnt to control my fibres and my auric field, to detach myself from places and people I had energetically inappropriately attached myself to, and slowly began to work on building up my inner energetic core to become robust within myself.
I have lost none of my sensitivity, none of my empathy, but how I respond is the crucial aspect. I now witness what I am picking up – if I need to be informed by it, to take that information on board – and then gently release the emotion, the sense, the pain etc. to either get on its merry way or to be composted or returned to source for transformation.
I have turned my empathic response around into one of my key gifts and talents.
This requires work with one’s deeper self, the need to address and release the often deep patterns that are carried which have helped to create this defensive empathic response. There needs to be a regular practice that focuses on the inner core, and by getting to know and understand one’s energetic self, both inner and outer, there is a firm, robust knowing of what belongs and what doesn’t.
By releasing what no longer serves, the gift of being highly sensitive, of being an empath, can truly be empowering.
ChaNan Bonser is a healer, medicine woman, and teacher for more information on her and the events she runs please see www.kinesiologywales.com
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