Being an Empath in a world where tragedy surrounds us we can become overwhelmed. There are many who advise shielding from the world. As one of the many Empaths in the Witch community, I too say to shield yourself. The shield we put up isn’t really like a protective shield in the way it doesn’t really put up an emotional barrier that blocks us from the feelings around us in such a simple way. It is knowing the difference between our feelings and those of others. Knowing we are connected yet separate living beings.
Regardless if it is human nature or human programming, we are all exposed to the tragedy of the world. The television shows, news, movies, and even social media focus on the tragedy. As Empaths, we tend to be a little more sensitive to what is going on around us that we get lost in the tragedies of the world that surround us. We absorb them as if they are our own.
We often get so wrapped up in what surrounds us that it gets confused with what is within us. We have a difficult time separating what we feel from what others around us are feeling. Often, to cope with these overwhelming feelings of the world, we isolate ourselves and try to “disconnect” which doesn’t feel any better.
As a child, I would tell my mother stories about all the things going on in the world and how I was feeling so badly for everyone. I was clearly overwhelmed. My mother would often pity me and comment how I am so sensitive that I wear the weight of the world on my shoulders. Tragedy was all around me. It was a part of my own world and my own life and those who immediately surrounded me. My loved ones and I were victims of our own tragedies and mine seemed to be compounded by the weight of the world. I recall writing in my diary how I couldn’t tell the difference between a loved one’s emotional state and my own. We were so closely connected in the tragedy which was connected to each other that I couldn’t separate our feelings at all.
But over the following decades, I learned how to separate myself from the outside world…emotionally. I learned how to identify my feelings from the feelings of others… most of the time. It took another decade to realize that the true shield of an Empath is more of a skill. I learned how to enjoy my own feelings and take control of my own state of being while the world around me is in the shitter.
A lot of tragedy has struck very close to home these past few weeks. From tragic shootings in a nearby town, that directly affected several people I personally know, to a life-threatening illness of a loved one. Almost everyone I know is either sick or injured. I’m still happy. With Death of loved pets and all the tragedy in the world, as an Empath, it used to be difficult not to absorb the tragedies around me and live them as if they were happening to me directly. Today, I am able to feel my own happiness while the world is on fire. Yes, I feel the heat but I don’t often get burned.
I think part of it is that we are expected to “walk a mile in their shoes” so we can have compassion. Often as an Empath, we have been programmed that compassion, sympathy and empathy require us to not only feel their pain and live their tragedy but to feel guilty if life is good for us and we feel happy while the world burns in emotional chaos around us.
I used to believe that I was born into this world to suffer. A lot of Empaths seem to fall into that scenario. It doesn’t help to live the pain of others. Empathy helps us to understand the pain of others and to connect with them, but it is ok to feel happy for ourselves when life is good even when tragedy strikes in the lives of others. It doesn’t make us bad people or mean we don’t have feelings or that we are somehow disconnected. It means we have our own lives and yes we feel for others but we don’t have to live their tragedy with them for others to benefit from us.
Because we were programmed to focus on the tragedy which we all see in the climax of movies and the sad backstory of the hero, we as a human race become engrossed with sharing the stories of tragedy. I myself find that to be particularly true even in my own storytelling.
I noticed, when I post on social media about how happy I am and how wonderful life is for me, and that I am in a happy state of being, it makes people frown. No one likes that cheerful, happy person at work who is always just brimming with sunshine who is simply happy to be there.. all the time. A lot of Comedy is based on tragedy. When I post something tragic I get more interaction. We as a human race talk about all the tragic things that have happened in the world.
I often tell the story of tragedy just like in this blog post. Yes, one side of Empathy is the part of feelings that we as empaths must overcome.
Today, I can tell a lot of tragic stories since the world is full of tragedy, but now, I am not living those tragedies. My shield is the skill of knowing the difference between my own feelings from the intense feelings of others. I still feel others and am connected but I know it isn’t my own feelings. I know those outside feelings are more like messages for me. They are there to help me understand others and to let me know that I am connected to the rest of the world.
Why? Because we are human. We are Empaths. The other day, I was with my sister on our way to visit my brother who was very ill and in ICU. We were having a good time visiting on our way to see my brother. We were enjoying the moment, and it was ok to enjoy that moment. For a brief moment, my sibling spoke about her pet that had recently passed away. I began to tear and immediately began to pull back knowing it is not my loss. I made a joke about my tears and dried my eyes.
Life is good. Tragedy is part of life, and feelings can be quite tragic but temporary. And yes, being an empath means we are more sensitive to those feelings. Not just feelings of sorrow but other feelings too like anger and resentment. That doesn’t mean we have to live the tragedies of others. We feel deeply so that we can understand where they are and help them overcome the emotions they are experiencing. We are connected and feel that connection more than some. However, we are not expected to allow the problems of others to overwhelm us to the point where we are not able to deal with our own lives.
When I tell my coven leaders who are discussing plans to get together in the immediate future that my boyfriend is ill, it is not because I need pity. It is so that when they plan a gathering and we don’t show up they will know why we are absent. The same with Empaths. We don’t feel the tragedy so we can pity the victim of the tragedy or become the victim ourselves. Others often don’t want our pity. They want our strength. They often only need understanding and compassion and to feel connected to another human being. The fact that you “know” is enough.
My sick brother didn’t want me to feel bad for him. He needed a smile and some light-hearted cheer, not someone to cry with and worry with. Laughter is the best medicine. I saw that in my sister that day. My brother was ill and feeling like crap. I knew he was worried and just feeling connected, cared for and loved was good for him.
The most important thing I have learned as an Empath is how to separate my own story from the world. It is ok to feel happy when the world is in the shitter. I imagine myself sitting on the sofa with a hot cup of herbal tea. A smile on my face and bliss in my heart not paying attention to explosions and fires around me. I am aware but I am not enveloped. And that is how my shield works. I am separate from what is happening around me but not disconnected.
Even as I speak of the tragedy of Empathy with a full understanding of its difficulties, inside I am smiling. Not because the problems of the Empath are minimized and devalued, but because I am here to tell my fellow hurting Empaths that it is ok to feel your own feelings and feel separate from the feelings of others and still be a connected Empath.
The best shield is knowing the difference between your own feelings from inside you from the feelings that come from the outside, from others. Know you are connected but remind yourself that it is not your anger, your loss, your tragedy. Then, you will be able to shield yourself.
Cry, laugh and live your own life. Be there for others but don’t live in their shoes because you have a life of your own with your own feelings to experience.
With my Love and Light,