There’s a dangerous idea being posted on the Internet that the purpose of an empath is to transform negative energy into positive. I know personally how dangerous this is, as I believed this was my purpose for many years before I even learned there was a word for who I am — an empath. A person who has a direct experience of other people’s feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.

Empaths are naturally drawn to healing. Where this can go awry is when we begin to self-identify as a ‘rescuer’ of others. Since I was a child, I could easily pick up anyone’s energetic state — I read them using my empathic antennae, having a knowing of their pain while at the same time being able to see their Divine inner essence. Because I was born with this gift, I mistakenly thought I was somehow responsible for everyone else’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health.

I didn’t want them to be in pain because when they’re hurting — so was I. So, I took their hurting into my mind, my heart and my physical body in an attempt to release them from it. And, of course other people allowed me to do it, some even deliberately pouring their wounds into me because it provided them with the temporary relief that at least someone else understood what they were experiencing.

I lost myself.

I could not differentiate who I was from their pain. I stayed in dysfunctional after dysfunctional relationship, thinking I was ‘helping’ others step up into their power, but instead I was actually encouraging their victimhood. Why would someone need to face their own wounds and do their own healing when I was holding all of their pain for them?

The cost to me was enormous.

At one point, I simply shut off all external emotional reactions. I remember during an employee review my supervisor asking me, ‘Bevin, do you ever feel anything?’ I never see you get angry or sad…’ What? Are you kidding me, I feel absolutely everything! This was one of many wake-up calls to come…

Wake-up call #2 came after ten years of a friendship with a woman who experienced a very difficult childhood and manifested those wounds into really poor life choices. Every time I thought that she was starting to get her life together, making positive steps, she would self-sabotage. I was there to help pick up the pieces over and over until one day, I just couldn’t take it anymore and closed the door on our friendship forever. I still think about her and if I’m being honest still hold hope that she was able to heal and create the life she deserves.

I went through the same process several more times: holding other people’s pain before finally awakening to the impact. Experienced this in a past marriage and with a close family member. I came across people in my workplaces with deep wounds and for a while I attracted them out in the dating world.

I’ve come to understand that these relationships were brought into my life not for me to heal them, but so I could learn how to set healthy boundaries. So I could learn how to simply hold space for other people to do their own healing, but not hold their actual pain. We each need our own challenges and struggles in life in order to grow. If I pick up and carry someone else’s baggage, I am denying them an important personal growth experience.

I can now begin the deep healing process in my own heart, my own mind and my own body — which has held so many wounds from others inside. The chronic body pain I’ve lived with since age 8? I no longer wish to carry that pain, let me clarify, I will not ask my body to carry that pain any longer.

As an empath, you are not responsible for transmuting other people’s energy, other people’s pain. You are only responsible for healing yourself, embracing that strong, beautiful, loving light within you and radiating out as an example to others. Letting go and allowing them to experience their own personal journey while you experience yours.

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There’s a dangerous idea being posted on the Internet that the purpose of an empath is to transform negative energy into positive. I know personally how dangerous this is, as I believed this was my purpose for many years before I even learned there was a word for who...