In this week’s post from NYC therapist, reiki practitioner, and MyWellbeing therapist Thalia Longchamp, we learn more about empaths and their mental health experiences. If you would like to learn more about Thalia or schedule a consultation with her, please visit her profile page.
“The sad thing that many of us empaths don’t realize is that often our desire to heal others is a disguised cry for help for our own healing. Because many of us weren’t taught how to value or nurture ourselves at a young age, we tend to unconsciously seek out our own healing in the healing of others.” – Mateo Sol
An empath is a person who can take on the emotions and moods of others as their own. Empaths come into the world with heightened senses, which are increased further by different challenges or traumas they’ve experienced in their lives.
Empaths inhabit the complete and extreme opposite side of the spectrum from people who are narcissistic, sociopathic, or psychopathic. Empaths are those who have developed survival mechanisms when facing challenging environments in their childhood that carry out into their adulthood. They extend themselves outwardly, taking on and empathizing with the emotions of others, even their abusers. This ability to take on the emotions of others, though, isn't limited to abusers. It happens with anyone and everyone and is especially prevalent in groups or crowds.
In any situation, Empaths tend to identify and take on the underlying emotions of the other person. This mechanism is designed for the Empath to see themselves as not separate from others.
Being an Empath is not a mental illness, just another way of the Universe expressing itself and experiencing itself in physical form from the perspective of Oneness.
However, the pressures of dealing with taking on feelings that aren't necessarily theirs can be burdensome and isolating for Empaths, leading to anxiety, depression, and overall confusion as to what is happening and why.
Empaths can also take on others' trauma. The reason for this is highly spiritual. From the perspective of Source (God or the Universe), there is no such thing as separation. As we move down in densities or dimensions from Source energy, we start to see different perspectives and archetypes, until we get down to the densest form; our physical reality.
In this density, we have man and woman, human and animal, love and fear, good and evil, healed and unhealed. The perspectives once we come into physical form are endless. And our journey is all about using our heart space - using love - to return to a state of Oneness. This Oneness is how we can experience Source and how Source can experience us experiencing Source.
When an Empath is born, they are incarnating more open to this perspective of Oneness than others. They come already open to the ultimate definition of love - taking another as yourself.
But what happens when the other doesn’t value you? What happens when the other person isn’t open to love and doesn’t see the value of what you are doing? This allows for unconscious energy to take life force away from the Empath. This makes it harder for the Empath to operate in a world where we are conditioned to not express our authentic truth, feel even our darkest feelings, and think our darkest thoughts.
In short, the reason for Empaths being here is for them to learn to protect their own energy and embody both their shadow and light aspects, while maintaining the ability to tap into, care for, love, and identify with whoever they encounter. This makes Empaths healers to themselves and the world around them. They are here to set clear boundaries for themselves, regardless of whether they can take on the emotions of others. This mastery of self and the outside world is the Empath acknowledging oneness with all things and people. It is also the Empath acknowledging where they begin and end and where another begins and ends, so they don’t get overloaded by energy. Once they can do this for themselves, they teach others to do the same and to heal by setting clear boundaries, and dealing with their OWN TRAUMA first, as opposed to zeroing in on the traumas of someone else and taking it on entirely, putting themselves on the back burner.
The Empath has a very specific and very heightened journey. It is the process of integration, a journey we are all also on, but a journey and process that Empaths are much more sensitive to. They not only have their own trauma to deal with, but they carry the torch for the trauma of the Collective.
This process is difficult, but, the more that others' traumas piles onto the Empath, the more the Empaths’ traumas bubble up to the surface - becoming impossible to ignore - which then results in a complete purge, so that the Empath can finally HEAL the original wound.
The traumas that Empaths take on usually mirror their own to the same intensity or capacity. This match is what allows the Empath to identify with others and to also identify their own wounding. However, this mirroring can attract even more trauma if the one they're empathizing with is an abuser. But even then, the Empath learns to push back and set themselves free.
This pushing back against the abuser or constant oppression births what is called the Empath Supernova.
The Empath Supernova is what the Empath becomes when they are triggered by too much stress on the senses, the psyche, and the soul, to the degree of which the Empath will instinctively protect itself by taking on their more Narcissistic traits. They now not only have their Empathic traits available to them, but they can also embody all of their suppressed and learned Narcissistic traits and use these traits against the abuser or cause of their oppression, pushing them far enough away often scaring the other, for the Empath’s survival and escape.
Once the Empath is safe, the Empath Supernova retreats into its state of being Empathic, and the Narcissistic traits become somewhat dormant again. An Empath can’t become a Narcissist, but Empaths must learn to integrate their darker aspects with their lighter ones for survival and energy protection.
Pushing back against abuse and oppression must become a constant so that, eventually, abuse and oppression are not even on the same frequency as the Empath.
There is no way for an Empath to stop being an Empath. But they can learn to manage their empathy and the anxiety and depression it can bring so it doesn't debilitate them.
The way for the Empath to manage this is to become completely aware of their own wounding, their own traumas, their own pain, and perceived setbacks, and care for themselves.
Empaths need to learn to take care of themselves and become aware of their own feelings first — a concept that may seem completely foreign but is necessary for their purpose, survival, and wellbeing.
These special individuals can seek professional help for managing their emotional wellbeing, learn to do it on their own, or both. The more self-aware Empaths become, the more they can embody their authentic selves - and our authentic self ALWAYS chooses to love and care for itself first.
It is usually difficult for Empaths who have not managed their abilities to be in relationships. Whether or not their wounds are mirroring the wounds of their partner, Empaths are completely and utterly in-tune with their partners to such an intense degree, that it is as if they move as one.
Now, because this hasn't been managed, the effect on the relationship can turn toxic.
The reason being, the Empath has not learned to establish clear boundaries within themselves and so cannot do that with others--yet. Empaths also develop anxiety from “mind-reading” their partner; Empaths hear and feel what is said with a sixth sense as well as hearing and feeling what isn’t said. That, coupled with a partner who has unresolved trauma or is emotionally unavailable in a way where the Empath’s needs aren’t being met, can lead to co-dependency, and a sense of a loss of self for both parties.
The relationship becomes too intense for the Non-Empath who has unresolved issues within themselves to take care of, as well as dealing with the intensity of the connection. The Empath suffers from being pushed away by their partner, the burden of "just wanting to help,” and the overwhelm of taking on the trauma of their partner.
When the couple inevitably splits, the pain the Empath feels is insurmountable to that of a Non-Empath. They now have to let go of the trauma of their ex-partner, while still identifying what within them attracted this partner and the unhealed aspects of themselves that mirrored their partner, and heal from all of that as well as healing from the break-up.
Of course, there is a way for Empaths to have and maintain healthy relationships. Once Empaths comes into balance with themselves, relationships with them are still intense, but are something resembling Heaven. Empaths are caring, thoughtful, warm, attuned to things beyond the physical, completely loving and accepting, and non-judgmental. They are beyond supportive, captivating, and yes, can empathize with their partner like no other.
It will feel as if the Empath was tailor-made entirely for you - a gift. Because that’s what they truly are - gifted individuals.
For Empaths to have healthy and thriving relationships, they need to work on the relationship they have with themselves, and stop feeling shame for feeling so very deeply. They have to see themselves as a light, and they have to learn to value being a light for themselves just as much as they are a light for others. Uncovering and unlocking whatever it is that makes them feel unworthy and unlovable, lost, misunderstood, and without a place to call home in the world is the inward journey of the Empath - it is the true definition of the Hero’s Journey. Once Empaths learn to do this, they are free.
They are free to love themselves and others - in all their shadow and light - without shame, judgment, or fear. They realize that they are the love they have been seeking in the world, and can not only give love but learn to RECEIVE love from their partner, and from anyone for that matter.
Isn’t that what we’re all here to do? Become our own savior and hope we can share that salvation with another.
All in all, being an Empath is a seemingly impossible web that the Empath feels that only they alone can figure out. But this is not the case. Empaths must learn self-care, self-awareness, and self-love. Part of that is reaching out for help. Empaths come here to teach about love, oneness, and the importance of setting healthy boundaries.
When Empaths reach out, they allow others to step into their more empathic side to help, listen, and learn.
This is not a mental illness. This is an ability, skill, and gift. With help and management, the Empath will be able to see their emotional world as such.
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Thalia is an empathic and hyper intuitive Shamanic Reiki Master. Her passion is to help people see and and actualize the light within themselves, to get them through even the thickest and darkest points of their lives. Thalia was born and raised in Manhattan, and her purpose and first love is assisting other souls along their journey.