My Musings About Being an EmpathMay 02, 2019
I’ve been busy doing lately.
And contemplating. Really thinking about what I actually want and don’t want. It’s probably because all the work I do with people is to help them to see themselves clearly – I’m constantly using my own exercises on myself! I know I’m coming up to a shift point where I’m deeply considering what I want for the next phase of my life.
This is big for me. I was the classic “I don’t know what I want” girl. When I read Barbara Sher’s book – I’d Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was, I was SO relieved that there were probably other people like me. I mean Barbara Sher had a book published for us!
It’s taken me a life time of unraveling to figure out first, why I didn’t know what I wanted and then, what I wanted.
Here’s the thing. Because I didn’t know what I wanted, I thought that something was wrong with me. My only sister, who is under two years older than me knew she wanted to be – in sequence, a ballerina, an astronaut and a social worker. (She ended up being a high-school teacher who created an arts discipline in dance, so she did all those things – even if being an astronaut is a stretch, I’m sure she was a sub in science class & social work is a daily part of the job for high school teachers.)
Why didn’t I know?
Why didn’t I have any desires that leapt off the page?
Why wasn’t I passionate about anything?
I wasn’t depressed. I had lots of friends. I was a really good student. I was nice. I was good at sports.
But I was shy.
I was shy and nice and pretty and good at everything.
And I didn’t know what I wanted.
And I wasn’t depressed.
What was the problem?
That question has taken me a life time to answer.
I came up with lots of possibilities. Here are a few you might relate to:
> I thought I had to know for sure what I wanted. That meant that I had to know all the possible things I could do in order to choose one and not make a mistake. I realized that was false.
> I thought I had to do something “good” that helped the world and that I needed to sacrifice my happiness. I learned that was also not true – that we were all born to express our joy and if something was “good” but made me feel totally depleted, then it wasn’t for me.
> I thought that I had to do something that was hard for me, that took a lot of effort and that succeeding at the hard thing was what we are all supposed to do in life. I realized that this was also not true – that when you focus on what’s hard, you bypass what’s easy and natural for you. When you do what’s natural for you, you’ll become great and exceptional, which you never will if all your efforts are focused on doing the hard thing. (And it’s a lot less fun that doing what’s natural for you.)
> I learned that maybe what you love is not packaged as a job. That took longer for me to “get”. It was a bit of a bummer. I learned that there might be a separation between what I was made to do and what I’d get paid to do. This really helped though because I needed to acknowledge what I knew about me – whether or not it was packaged as a job or a career and I had to take ownership for creating my work rather than finding it.
But then, about ten years ago, I stumbled on a concept that totally changed my life. In my training as a Coach (because I’d finally found something that seemed natural to me, that was easy and that seemed to lead me closer to my true essence than anything else I’d ever done) my friend and colleague Martha-Jo looked at me and said, “You’re an Empath.”
Now I’d watched Star Trek (because of my sister) and I’d watched the Jean Luc Picard captain where Deanna Troy was his sidekick and came from a nation of Empaths. And I’d always known that if I was on that Starship Enterprise, that’s the job that would be for me….the Empath that tells everyone else what is really going on and what they actually need to do to deal with the forces that others can’t even see.
So when Martha-Jo told me that I was an Empath and arm-tested me to see if it was my truth….I knew it was true.
It’s like when you suddenly feel – click, click, click and all the puzzle pieces come together. I had this brilliant term (that I didn’t even really understand but “felt” was true) and suddenly my whole life made sense.
It took me years to get the significance of this.
But I want to break it down for you, dear reader.
I didn’t know what I wanted, because I’m an Empath.
As an Empath, my default programming is to feel into what other people want and help to calm their emotional waters, by being who they need me to be.
This isn’t completely altruistic. As an Empath my motives in helping people to calm their emotions also helps me. I don’t have to feel their upheaval when I’ve smoothed out the waters…and then I can cope with life.
Nothing was wrong with me.
I didn’t know what I wanted because I’d never focused on me as a separate individual.
I’ve told people in my workshops and training programs that I didn’t say the word “I” until I was about 12 years old. I thought I was a “we” like those conjoined twins. I thought my sister and I were the same person. I lived in her emotions and thought they were mine. I didn’t know that I had a separate essence.
Because I’m an Empath.
Here’s the definition that I like the most at the moment. It’s Karla McLaren’s from The Art of Empathy:
“An Empath is someone who is aware that he or she reads emotions, nuances, subtexts, undercurrents, intentions, thoughts, social space, interactions, relational behaviors, body language, and gestural language to a greater degree than is deemed normal.”
I couldn’t know what I wanted or who I was until I had dis-identified with other people and spent time focusing on ME.
I had to get to know me – my energy signature, my gifts and talents, the outdated stories that I’d been telling myself about who I was supposed to be (a chameleon who was what everyone else needed me to be).
I had to SEE me, BE me and DO me.
That has been the challenge of my entire life.
So now, I’ve discovered a passion and a purpose.
To help empaths re-discover their beauty and start being who they truly are in the world – not who they were told they should be.
Recognizing that I’m an empath has been SO healing for me. I was shy and quiet for a reason. I was trying to stay out of the huge whirling emotions I felt!
But now….as an adult, I have work to do in the world. We empaths are needed BECAUSE we feel. We feel all that isn’t working.
We empaths came here to facilitate the renewal of the planet….because we feel what isn’t working and we can’t deny that something is wrong.
That’s why you’ve probably been asking yourself all your life…why am I here?
If you’re an Empath, you’re here to facilitate renewal.....in the way that gives you the most joy.
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