I’ve always been head over heels for esoteric, mystical, witchy, super spiritual and philosophical phenomena. Ever since I was a little girl and I started getting ‘tip-offs’ from the other side about a pending death in the family and could tell when something bad was about to happen and being sensitive to other peoples moods and energies. Taking all this into consideration, you can imagine just how enthrawlled I was when I first hear the term empath, which is used to describe people who has an almost paranormal capability of percieiving the mental as well as emotional states of other people. Empaths experience the world through their emotions and intuition, they are innately giving, generous, and extremely understanding, considerate and compassionate.
I was so excited and happy when I finally had a name to call myself, to explain all the strange rush of emotions that weren’t mine but which I experienced as though they were mine and the way my heart would literally ache at the sight of the suffering of others. I was intrigued and astonished and so proud to call myself an empath until I discovered the shadow behind the beautiful warm glow of the moonlight.
I went through a really terrible breakup and one of my very good friends told me that she thought that my ex was a vampire, and not the kind from popular tv shows, an energy vampire, a narc. I was very confused at first, but the more she described the tell-tale signs of narcs, the more sense it all made. She explained how narcs engage in controlling, manipulative, gas-lighting behaviour that leaves empaths feeling shame, guilt and in a state of self-doubt. She told me how much narcs love empaths because, empaths are the best source of emotional energy for narcs because of their giving, compassionate and understanding nature.
I became almost enraged and wanted to fight all the narcs that I noticed in my life, but then I remembered something very important. I remembered my presence and part in all my interactions with narcs, I remembered the role I played in allowing the relationships to continue and then my anger turned inward. Even though most of what I had read up on narcissistic abuse had stated that narcs seek out empaths as the best source of emotional energy for them to steal from. I started to wonder if empaths seek out narcs too.
I started to consider the fact that maybe empaths have so much compassion, emotional energy, empathy and sensitivity to give, they need a source, preferably one that seems empty, broken or damaged enough to fill up with all their emotional energy. I also thought that perhaps empaths are partially driven by a saviour syndrome or messiah complex that aims to please others, to show up for others, to love them deeply and an incessant need to fix things or people, and what better job for an empath to work on than a narc?
Empaths seem to have this deep desire to be needed, so we constantly put ourselves in situations that need fixing and people that need saving. It makes us feel useful, valuable, needed and even worthy of time and attention, because, hey, we've earned it (haven't we?). The sad reality is that e
when we exhaust our time, effort and energy on people who have not earned it or constantly take advantage of our way of being, empaths are enablers and awarders of bad behaviour. We are in fact teaching narcs that their behaviour is okay and gets a pass because we will always be there for them, they will always be forgiven and always be given endless chances; so in essence, we are not making the world a better place in the way that we think we are. If we keep giving everyone a free pass, then people will never learn to face the negative consequences of their actions or feel the need to behave in more kind and compassionate ways. When empaths allow themselves to be used and abused to this extent, we do ourselves an injustice and allowing our empathic powers and energy to be drained by people who are and will probably never be worthy and all this to feed our egotistical need to be liked, our need to please others, our need to be needed and feel wanted.
The biggest lesson for me has been that I need to learn how to feel like I am enough, even on the days where I can't or don't want to be the kind, compassionate, caring, understanding person that always shows up for people ready to stroke their egos and be there for them. I need to cultivate an inner sense of value and worthiness that can only be validated by myself, validation that is solely dependent on me. The harsh reality is that many empaths have a low sense of self-esteem which is why they constantly seek external validation and feed of phrases like, "you are always there for me no matter what", "you are so forgiving, thank you for always giving me a chance to live up to my potential", "you are so perfect" and other phrases that seem like compliments but are actually just phrases being used to control and manipulate you.
Our work as empaths must start by taking all that empathy, forgiveness, understanding, sensitivity, compassion and love that dwells within us and first extending it toward ourselves. Our work also involves a sense of awareness of people that trigger that saviour complex in us and the will to get ourselves out of situations in which our empathy is being used against us. As empaths we need to stop being complacent in our own abuse and refrain from being active participants in our own pain by stepping into our personal power and standing in our empathy in a way that not only serves others, but first and predominantly foremost serves us.
Here's a list of helpful tools for empaths:
- KNOW YOURSELF: Become aware of what it is about you that wants to always be available to help others, to please others and be there for others even at your own expense, find that trigger-wound and actively do what you can to heal that (therapy, self-healing, journaling, affirming yourself can be helpful)
- RAISE YOUR AWARENESS: Become aware of all the situations and people in your life that trigger your need to please, saviour complex or messiah syndrome, set boundaries and learn how to say no or in extreme cases, cut ties and just walk away.
- LOVE & CARE FOR YOURSELF: Direct your empathy inward, give yourself the same effort, love and energy that you wish to give others, fill yourself up with all your compassion, consideration and kindness. Chanting the 'I am enough, just as I am' affirmation has really worked for me, try your own or feel welcome to use mine.
- SET STANDARDS & BOUNDARIES: Get clear about how you want to be treated, inform people from the get go what will not be tolerated, know what you expect from others and know that the people who refuse to respect your standards and boundaries probably should not be allowed space in your wonderful existence.
- PRACTICE DISCIPLINE: The need to please and the need to be needed are addictive needs, they make you feel so special and important that you might relax your standards and boundaries to get a quick fix but understand that it is never ever going to be worth it. Be disciplined enough to know what and who is good for you and what's not - then discipline yourself in a way that keeps you away and allows you not maintain and uphold your standards and boundaries that are set in order to protect yourself in the long run.