Archive for the ‘Empath’ Category

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On Being An Empath (part two)

May 30, 2012

Part Two – The Delights

Empathy: the state of identification of personalities in which one person feels into the other as temporarily to lose his or her own identity. It is in this profound and somewhat mysterious process of empathy that understanding, influence, and the other significant relations between persons take place.  – Rollo May

In part one of “On Being An Empath” we examined the difficulties of being an empath. In this second part, we’ll now explore how to take care of yourself once you’ve recognised you’re an empath, and the delights which being an empath can bring.

TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF

Now you’ve recognised that you’re an empath, the most important change you can make is to take care of yourself by minimising the number of negative influences in your life. As discussed in part one, as an empath you are susceptible to the detrimental effects of negative energy, whether it’s surrounding energy or your own.

This susceptibility affects your life in a number of ways. Firstly, you will be unable to tolerate an unhealthy relationship at any level. Some people are able to exist in such a relationship for many years, perhaps by operating as though it were simply a business arrangement, but as an empath you are unable to do this. Indeed, if you do attempt to follow this course of action, you will end up becoming physically, emotionally or mentally sick – I have know more than one empath who has become suicidal when stuck in a loveless marriage. I have also known other empaths who have ended up becoming completely numb – unable to cope with the negative energy, they simply cut themselves off from ALL energy and feel nothing at all. What a horrible (non) existence. Consequently, the aware empath would rather remain single than be in a negative relationship.

You will also be unable to tolerate work which is meaningless – what Barry Jaeger in Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person calls ‘Drudgery’. Though many people are able to tolerate a dull job purely for the money, you are not one of them and if you make such a sacrifice, you will ultimately pay for it with your emotional, spiritual and physical health. The aware empath values their time, their well-being and meaningful work far more than they value money and consumer goods. Sadly, our society revolves around the masculine principles of economics whilst the more feminine attribute of empathy is often derided and neglected. And whoever dreamt up the work ethic certainly did not have people like us in mind – and was definitely not an empath.

The empath’s preference for meaningful work means that you will find many of us working in creative fields – the writer, the musician and the artist will often have this trait to some degree. Creativity is food for the soul for the empath and I personally find it vital to my well-being to use creativity in my work. I’ve done many jobs over the years but this is the only work I’ve truly enjoyed – even the more stressful and tedious aspects are easier to cope with when your work means something more to you than just a way of paying the bills.

As an empath, you will also benefit from periods of solitude to recuperate after any energy bombardment. In part one I discussed the difficulties for the empath of being in an urban environment. As I’ve got older (and empaths often become more sensitive to energies the older they become) I find that if I spend the day in a nearby town, I can only last a few hours before I have to get the hell out of there.

I also used to have what I call ‘brain in the jar’ moments. Before I recognised my trait, I would spend too much time amongst other people and become so overwhelmed, that it literally felt as if my head would explode. I would also find myself becoming overwhelmed by stressful situations or issues in my life. Whenever I felt like this, I would comment that I wished I could ‘take my brain out of my head and put it in a jar’, as a way of giving myself a break. At some subconscious level, obviously I knew what I needed – complete and utter sensory rest.

Fortunately I eventually recognised this need so I now make sure that I regularly recharge my own energy by spending time alone, meeting my need for time to contemplate, read, write and generally take care of myself – and my ‘brain in the jar’ moments no longer occur. I also realised that, for the same reasons, empaths need more sleep than most people. If you have commitments such as work and family, this can be easier said than done, but at least try and take half an hour to nap or lie in a dark, quiet room during the course of the day to revitalise yourself.  Some empaths are so unable to cope with energy onslaughts that they become recluses or hermits, but for most of us there is no need to go to this extreme, although time spent in retreat for a few days can be a positive thing now and again. This can be particularly useful for urban empaths, as time out in a tranquil rural environment can really give you a boost as well as indulge your passion for nature, which occurs naturally for many empaths.

Finding a pastime which absorbs you is also a good way of giving yourself a break. My personal favourite used to be jigsaws – you’ll find that  ‘geeky’ pastimes like model-making or stamp collecting are particularly good for this, as are creative pursuits such as gardening, painting, sculpting, or cookery. So long as it takes you out of your conscious mind for a while to give you time to balance your energy, any pastime you choose will do.

Basically then, the rule is to be your own best friend – take care of yourself, eat and sleep well and give yourself little treats now and again. Time spent relaxing with a good book in a local friendly coffee shop is my idea of bliss and is a really cheap and simple way to give yourself a lift and recharge your batteries. And remember to talk kindly to yourself – empaths tend to analyse everything and can end up being hypercritical of themselves. Whenever you catch yourself judging yourself harshly, ask yourself ‘Would I speak like this to my best friend? Would I tolerate my best friend saying this stuff to me?’ If not, then perhaps you need to reconsider.

Ultimately, self care is crucial. The more you nurture yourself, the more you will be open to the following benefits of being an empath.

 UNIVERSAL KNOWLEDGE – TELEPATHY, SYNCHRONICITIES AND DREAMS

Because of your high level of resonance, you will probably be tuned into the ‘universal energies’ or what Jung called the collective unconscious. This gives you a deep sense of knowing – you just ‘know’ things despite there being no rational explanation as to how you know – as well as a strong feeling of connection, which can lead to the spiritual belief that separation is an illusion and ‘we are all one’. This connection and knowing also opens us up to the ‘universal guidance’ which is contained within these energies, which is why many empaths are natural problem solvers, able to resolve any issue which they put their hearts, souls and minds into.

I mentioned in part one how my daughter and I are so close that as soon as we’re in each others energy range, I start to feel her physical symptoms. This energetic connection with others, often referred to as telepathy, is one of the fun aspects of being an empath. As well as those little tricks which many of us do such as thinking about someone just as they call you, or bumping into someone you haven’t seen in years the day after you thought about them, you may also find yourself connecting energetically with people in other less obvious ways. I find that I often tune into people I’m close to through my dreams, perhaps because my mind is more relaxed and therefore more receptive. For instance, if my daughter wakes before me in the morning and reads a book, I often have a dream which reflects the contents of that book in some way. A recent example was a dream I had about Glastonbury music festival one morning shortly before I woke. When I asked P what she had been reading, it turned out that there was a character in her book that had the nick-name ‘Glastonbury’! Even more bizarrely, I have even on occasion had the same dream as my daughter or my partner.

I also have prophetic dreams which you can read about in my blog entry The Magical World of Dreams. Empaths are often fascinated by dreams and we are natural dream analysts, due to our ability to see the deeper meaning in things and make lateral links using subtle details. This ability also works in the waking world too and helps us to interpret signs, symbols and archtypes, as well as synchronicities. Aware empaths delight in synchronicities and as our understanding of ourselves and our connection to the universe grows, we find that the universal guidance which appears in the form of synchronicities becomes ever more fluent and clear. You can read more about synchronicities in my blog entry So What Is Synchronicity?

PEOPLE AND OTHER ANIMALS

The aware empath is often described by others as ‘a beacon of light’. You will find that people are drawn to you and babies in particular will adore you – I often notice little children staring and smiling at me from their pushchairs when I’m out and about.

A similar thing can happen with animals. Empaths have a deep connection to animals and love to be around their energies. You may even find you prefer their company to that of people, as you feel animals – and their energies – are simpler and don’t have an agenda. Perhaps those ‘crazy cat ladies’ who prefer to live alone surrounded by felines are actually misunderstood empaths.

As an empath, you will also be able to resonate with the emotions of animals and unlike most people, you will view them as sentient beings who should have the same rights as humans. Because of this, many empaths become vegetarian or vegan at some point in their lives.

As far as people go, the empath makes a great friend for life, as we are loyal, warm and, humorous as well as very loving and affectionate. We are also good listeners, who are unembarrassed by strong emotion as well as being pretty much unshockable. However a healthy empath will have no tolerance for drama queens who seek attention through emotional behaviour. Though we are highly expressive about our feelings and ourselves, with the ability to share openly and honestly, we are also natural peacemakers, so prefer calm discussions to overwrought emotional spectacles or aggressive confrontations.

If you befriend an empath, then they will probably be your greatest champion. Empaths recognise your inner potential, so are able to identify your positive attributes and will remind you of your strengths when you forget you have them. (Paradoxically though, they often find it hard to take a compliment themselves.) They may also subtly alert you to any negative patterns in your life in a helpful and non-patronising way, as your empath friend has the ability to sift through all the confusing emotions you are experiencing which may be clouding the issue, to help you achieve clarity and find the root cause of your problem. And should they ever feel angry with you, you can rest assured that they will express this without attacking you personally – empaths are not judgmental and they recognise that just because a particular behaviour is bad, it does not mean that the person is bad too.

YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND

Being an empath means you have the ability to sense the truth behind someone’s facade. You intuitively know when someone is attempting to mask a negative emotion. One theory is that when we are in the presence of an emotion we have personally experienced, we recognise it and feel it within ourselves, due to our high level of internal resonance. The empath is also able to read body language, mostly at a subconscious level – you will pick up on things like tone of voice, body movements, the words people choose when they speak, the words they avoid, the logic they use – all factors which help you to tune into others and know things about them which other people probably miss. This also makes you very difficult to lie to! Not only are you able to detect a lie, you can also tell whether the intent behind that lie is malicious and selfish, or whether it’s a white lie, told in an attempt to protect someone else.

Empaths are also highly expressive themselves. They project an incredible amount of energy releasing their emotions, with many gesticulations, and as they are so open about themselves, the empath is usually the person of whom it is said that you can ‘read them like a book’. We also delight in using our bodies in a sensual way – empaths can literally become ‘lost in music’ when they dance, their bodies becoming one with the music to create one wonderful mass of  flowing, sensual energy.

NATURAL HEALERS

As you become aware of your empathy, you will recognise more and more how sensitive this makes you to the energies around you. The fact is that as an empath, energy is literally absorbed by you far more easily than more thick-skinned folk (hence the expression) so by increasing your awareness, you will be able to be more selective about which energies you allow yourself to absorb. This also means you will be able to experience a high level of resonance with another, without being overwhelmed by a multitude of outside influences.

When you have achieved this level of balance and awareness, you will find that all your empathic qualities as discussed above – your deep inner knowing, your connection to the universal energies and so on – make you a natural healer and counsellor. Indeed, for an empath a good way of sublimating the energy we talked about in part one – which attracts the energy vampires and lame ducks – and drawing boundaries around your own propensity to give of yourself to others, is to channel it into training in a helping or healing profession.

Being counselled by an empath is an amazing and life-changing experience. After just a few hours of conversation, you will feel as if the empath knows you inside out. This is due to the afore-mentioned ability for high emotional resonance, which allows the empath to tune into your energy and emotional state, giving them an uncanny ability to pinpoint what you most need and want. They will also ask the questions others may be afraid to ask – if you’re willing to face up to some possibly uncomfortable truths about yourself and your life and recognise your negative self-destructive patterns in order to grow and be true to the real you, then working with an empath will change your life.  An empath will not shy away from talking about feelings of loss either, and will help you to gain perspective on your issue as well as heal from emotional wounds, past and present.

In addition to helping you to heal, the empath will point out strengths and abilities you perhaps never realised you had. Personal empowerment is very important to the empath so they will always respect your courage and sense of determination to survive and will trust in your ability to heal and take care of yourself. All this creates a very safe environment with a high level of trust and a strong intimacy. The relationship between an empath and their client is more than just a business transaction – an authentic and caring relationship will be formed between you as the empath helps you to be your best self and to live the truth of who that best self is.

Empaths may also find themselves being drawn to other types of healing work directly involving energy, such as Reiki. With our natural ability to tune into the universal energy, learning to channel this energy through ourselves to help others is a path which many empaths naturally gravitate towards.

I do hope this article has helped you to understand your trait a little better. If you feel that anything here resonates with you, do please leave a comment – I would love to hear from you!

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On Being An Empath (part one)

May 28, 2012

Part One – The Difficulties

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this. – Merriam-Webster dictionary

Most people have the ability to be empathic to some degree. As an empath, however, your capacity for empathy is significantly greater than the average person – in fact, you are probably highly sensitive to the point of appearing to others to have psychic gifts.

The reality is that you have high emotional resonance, rendering you very sensitive to emotional energy. Everything has an energetic vibration which the empath picks up, just like an antenna picks up frequencies. This means you are able to detect and amplify the subtlest of changes which would bypass most people – essentially, you are the person who walks into a room and immediately picks up ‘the vibes’ (vibrations), be they positive or negative.

You will also be able to ‘feel’ the emotions of people around you – and the danger here, if you’re still unaware of your increased empathy, is that you can end up believing that these emotions are your own. Before I recognised this phenomenon, I would actively seek out – or even create – issues, to pin these rogue feelings onto something concrete – “Hmmm, I seem to be feeling a bit low today, I wonder why that is? Maybe I’m unhappy about my relationship/career/friends/family/ cat?”  After all, if you’re feeling so bad, surely there must be a reason? There is, of course, but often the only reason is your high level of empathy.

IT’S NOT EASY BEING EMPATHIC

Your high emotional resonance can also make it difficult for you to spend time in an urban, or indeed any over-populated environment. If you ever find yourself caught up in a crowd, you are likely to be surrounded by emotions such as excitement, confusion, anxiety and anger, resulting in you suddenly expressing these same feelings for no obvious reason. You may also find that the energy which builds up when you’ve spent some time amongst a huge throng of people is so overwhelming that you end up feeling physically ill – headaches, giddiness, nausea and high blood pressure are not unusual symptoms for the empath swamped with excessive emotional energy. This is why many of us prefer to live in a rural environment – the energy in a built-up, heavily populated area is just too much for us.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD…

Because we react so strongly to high-intensity environments, we may find others disparagingly labelling us as ‘oversensitive’. In fact, until you learn how to protect yourself from such bombardment, that’s exactly what you are. However, this is of little comfort when you don’t feel accepted or understood by those you love and who love you, or when people dismiss you as being ‘just too sensitive’. (I heard this everywhere – even one of my school reports remarked that ‘Sharon is sensitive – occasionally overly so’.)

 Those empaths who are lucky enough to have people around them who are aware of their trait will be more likely to have positive self-esteem and accept and express their natural talents and abilities. Their sensitivity will be embraced and as a consequence, these empaths will grow up to use their empathic gifts confidently and wisely. Unfortunately, in our current society the most likely scenario is that the child will be chastised, mocked and exploited for their sensitivity, and bullied and pushed in directions which please others rather than themselves. The inevitable result of this, of course, is chronic low self-esteem. These empaths will then either rebel and become one of society’s drop-outs or misfits – not always a bad thing if this means they stay in touch with their creativity – or over conform and become yet another of society’s depressed drones. I recently had a dream that I was one of the few ‘real’ humans left in a world populated by zombies. As I spent many unhappy years actually being one of the ‘zombies’ myself, doing what was expected of me rather than what was best for me, the dream was much more uplifting than it perhaps sounds.

BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE?

As an empath, adolescence can be a particularly difficult time in your life. Already dealing with your own rollercoaster of emotions, if you attended (or still attend) one of the average high schools within the Western world’s education system, you are also surrounded by anything up to 1500 other young people, all wrestling with over-energised hormones and a maelstrom of unfamiliar feelings. You’re also in for a rude awakening, as you realise through bitter experience that not all people are as thoughtful and well-mannered as you are.

I personally found the first few years at secondary school so traumatic, that to this day I refer to it as ‘doing my time’. I struggled to grasp the social rituals and game playing which occurs in friendships between little girls, and instead naively believed that others valued friendship in the same way I did. I therefore failed to understand that you were meant to switch best friends at least once a week, and was genuinely devastated when the friend of my choice fell out with me in my first year. (The unaware empath is always heartbroken when their friendship is abused or betrayed.)

 My lack of guile seriously affected my friendships for the next three years, and I ended up spending most of that time hiding away in a corner with a book, wistfully escaping into the fantasy worlds of my novels.  Unfortunately, being alone and obviously sensitive also made me an obvious target for bullies as my high sensitivity usually provoked a physical and emotional expression of my pain. I was also less likely to fight back due to a genuine aversion to conflict, particularly of a violent nature, and my natural inclination towards peaceful and harmonious relations.

My daughter is also highly empathic and as soon as she began to have regular social interaction with her peer group, she demonstrated a reluctance to defend herself when other children were mean to her – “I don’t want to hurt their feelings”. Thanks to my own experiences, I’ve had the foresight to teach her basic assertiveness skills from the age of three, the gist of my advice being: “Don’t worry about people liking you – just make sure they respect you.  If people respect you, chances are they’ll also like you, but if for some reason they don’t like you – most probably due to a projection of their own insecurities – if you have their (albeit grudging) respect, then they’ll simply stay out of your way.”

HANDLING SOCIAL INTERACTION

Because of my experiences at school, in my late teens and early twenties I mostly avoided female friendships, preferring to have simpler male friendships minus the bitchiness and games. I was much happier being around people who appreciated me and did not diminish me in any way for who I was. As the years go by, I’ve become even more selective about my friendships – I have a handful of close friends (men and women), and am not afraid to ditch any relationships which are detrimental to my well-being.

The aware empath also learns how to avoid negative people and sniff out those bad apples by following their intuition. Experience has taught me to always go with my first impression – never ignore that gut feeling! If I’ve ever made the mistake of giving the benefit of the doubt to characters who initially strike me as dubious, I’ve always been badly burned as a result.

Another distressing social problem empaths can have is people taking an instant dislike to you, apropos of nothing. This is often because as empaths we have very light energy, which naturally repels those people with darker energy. Until you learn not to take this personally and understand that the problem lies with the other person and not you, it can be very hurtful to be on the receiving end of undeserved contempt. Some people are also intimidated by the intensity involved in a relationship with you as not everyone want to explore their inner self – a natural tendency for you – so this can sometimes frighten people away for what seems like no obvious reason. Ever had a friendship which seemed to be going just fine then suddenly the other person stops returning your calls? Chances are that person just couldn’t handle the manifestations of your gift.

 SEXUAL BOUNDARIES

Dealing with other people’s sexual energy can lead to some serious difficulties for the unaware empath. This can be particularly tough during adolescence as not only are you surrounded by people whose hormones are going crazy, resulting in you being energetically overwhelmed by a multitude of unrestrained libidos, you are likely to still be somewhat unworldly. Your vulnerability and naivety coupled with your compassion and sensitivity can make you an unwitting target for all manner of sexual predators – female empaths in particular can suffer real trauma due to abuse of their sexual boundaries. As unaware empaths are also more likely to use drink or drugs for Dutch courage and to lessen the impact of excessive stimuli in social situations, you can see how the combination of all these factors can be a recipe for disaster.

ENERGY VAMPIRES AND THE ‘LAME DUCK’ SYNDROME

Until you become aware that you are an empath and learn how to protect yourself, you will find yourself being leeched on by energy vampires due to your natural compassion. Even strangers will be drawn to you, as people intuitively feel that you will empathise and offer support without judging them, so seek you out for advice or simply to vent. Equally, you seem to naturally gravitate towards people in pain. Unfortunately this can result in you being a constant victim of the ‘lame duck syndrome’, collecting all manner of troubled folk who you’ve shown some compassion for.

 THE SHY LONER

In an attempt to resolve their social difficulties, some empaths become withdrawn and quiet, in some cases to the point of completely isolating themselves and becoming a loner or a recluse. Others become depressed or anxious, maybe even developing social phobias to (subconsciously) give them a valid excuse for avoiding social activities. I’ve been very shy at certain stages in my life, though only people who genuinely resonate with me recognise this trait in me, as I have learned to disguise it very well – and not always in the healthiest of ways. As I mentioned previously, a number of empaths sadly deal with their shyness by hiding behind drugs or alcohol, which can ultimately create more problems than it actually solves.

POTENTIAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

When you are unaware of your trait, you can become swamped by emotions, mostly those of other people. Society soon makes it clear that expressing emotions is bad, so consequently you have no suitable channel or outlet for the excessive emotional energy you’re carrying. The potential outcome of this blocked energy is that you could become emotionally unstable (acting out past pains over and over with just a change of the central cast now and again, to try and shift the blockage) – or at worst, you could end up having a mental breakdown.  It’s easy to see why an unaware empath, battling their way through life, may be tempted to take an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac, to reduce their arousal levels for a while and give themselves a break. (See Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You for more on this – there’s a whole chapter about the pros and cons towards the end).

Medicating yourself works to a point but the downside is that as well as losing the negative aspects of your sensitivity, you also lose some of  the positive ones (which are worth it, believe me). For this reason, I believe it’s best used either as a short-term solution until you come to terms with your trait and learn how to handle it, or as an emergency treatment, for no longer than six months, if life conspires against you and it all becomes too much.

 PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS

Some empaths put on weight to use as a ‘buffer’ between themselves and the world. I found that when I felt depressed and trapped (for example, when in a dull relationship or job)  I put too much weight on, but if under extreme stress – if suddenly thrust into a high-intensity environment or situation, be it personally or professionally – it dropped off me extremely rapidly. This ‘yo-yoing’ of my weight was not good for my health, but ultimately gave me another impetus for learning more about how to handle being an empath. You may also find yourself suffering from other physical manifestations – diseases and disorders – as blocked emotional energy tries to find an outlet through your body. (You can read more about this, and get links to relevant books, in the mind/body connection articles featured in the Empathic Guidance blog).

You are probably more physically sensitive than others too, and may find yourself having allergic reactions to anything and everything – cosmetic products, chemicals in food, detergents, pollen, dust, fur etc – resulting in symptoms such as sneezing, asthma, hives and stomach problems. This physical sensitivity means you may also feel other people’s physical pain, as well as the emotional stuff, particularly if you have a close connection. On more than one occasion, I’ve gone to collect my daughter from somewhere and the minute she is in my presence, I will suddenly get a strange ache in my stomach or my head – only for her to tell me that she’s not been feeling so well and has a stomach/headache.

 THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD

Our empathy is not just limited to those around us – it’s also global. The empath can hardly bear to watch violence and will weep for the pain and suffering in the world. Your high level of compassion means that you probably find it impossible to comprehend the cruelty, ignorance and narrow minded attitudes of others. I remember my dad telling me as a child that Pete Duel, who I loved to watch in the 70s TV show   ‘Alias Smith and Jones’, had killed himself because ‘he took the weight of the world on his shoulders’, and as I grew up I began to realise why I had been strangely drawn to this man, as I too experienced some of the pain Pete must have felt.  (Pete’s story is a tragic testament to the life of an unaware empath – it’s worth checking out if you want to know more about this subject.)

My advice to those of you who also know this feeling only too well is do your best to avoid news programmes until you can handle it – I did this for a while whilst developing my inner strength and now limit myself to a quick scan of the headlines which automatically pop up on my homepage and occasionally reading The Guardian. Even then, I tend to stick to the stories which relate to my work or my life in some way. Empaths also prefer not to watch violent or gory films – though on occasion you may enjoy a psychological thriller. I liked Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ even though it scared me half to death, because (aged 15) I thought the plot twist was clever and weird. Empaths enjoy anything that involves creative or lateral thinking.

 BECOMING AWARE

Fortunately, more and more people are gaining self-awareness about their gift and are learning how to heal their wounds and nurture themselves. The empath often becomes aware after a number of strange experiences, which can suddenly launch them into an awakening period and provide the impetus for a journey of self-discovery. Often this experience can be dramatic, life-altering and very memorable for you throughout your life.

 For me, the turning-point was unexpectedly losing my full-time job (albeit one I was thoroughly miserable in) on 10 April 1995. After the initial ego panic about how I would survive, I decided to take some time out to find out what I really wanted. Following a series of weird but wonderful synchronicities, I realised I had to stop working in meaningless jobs for the sake of earning a living and fulfilling someone else’s work ethic, and find out what really fulfilled me. I began to listen to my inner guidance’s urge to seek awareness, balance and authenticity and thus started my journey on the holistic path. And as I’ve discovered, when you feel centred and whole, you gain the inner freedom to utilise and explore the positive aspects of being an empath.

 In part two, I’ll offer some tips on how to nurture yourself and make the most of your trait for those of you who identify with being an empath, and discuss the delights of being a highly empathic person.

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What goes on in an Empathic Guidance session? Pt 2: A dream is interpreted

March 8, 2011

In part two of ‘What goes on in an Empathic Guidance session?’,  (part one here) Matt reveals in detail the empathic dream interpretation I did for him which proved very enlightening for him with regards to his personal development and potential stumbling blocks within his psyche…

Inner Simplicity with Empathic Guidance

by Matthew Fry

 

So, let me introduce you to Sharon, the brilliant, the fabulous, the very insightful Empathic Guide….

Here are some notes for you from our session on Monday which may be useful for you to look back on. I’ve particularly concentrated on the dream which we discussed as I think there was a lot of useful insights into your psyche in there, which I hope you’ll find useful.

In the dream, you are sitting by an indoor swimming pool, practicing yoga. You are aware of a man being there who you have a flirtatious interaction with, and you know there’s a sexual attraction between you, but you cannot remember any details about him. You are also concerned because you think you haven’t got enough money to pay for the yoga session. However, a song is played and this helps you to relax and recognize that actually everything will be fine.

The dream then cuts to you being chased by a man – again, a shadowy figure who you can’t actually describe, other than you feel that he’s about your age. As you’re running from him, you jump over some people who are giving out yoga leaflets, before rushing into a house. Your dad and younger brother (aged about 5 or 6) are in the house, and you say that your dad either ignores you or doesn’t see you. You go into a room – which has a dog in it – and you hide in the room. Once in the room you feel safe.

I feel that the first part of the dream is about your spiritual self (the yoga) – maybe something about you successfully integrating it with your emotional self? Water in dreams represent emotions and though the water in the dream is ‘safe’ (an indoor pool) and calm, suggesting serenity, it is also in a manmade environment, which implies perhaps that emotionally you are still being influenced by society to some extent – feeling how you think you should feel rather than allowing your authentic feelings to show? You’re also sitting by the pool rather than diving in so maybe there’s also a fear of taking the plunge in terms of integrating the spiritual and emotional aspects of your self. Do you also maybe have concerns that a sexual partner may struggle to accept your spiritual self? That a superficial relationship would be ok but that anything deeper – more emotional – might lead to rejection? (hence the flirting at the side of the pool but not in it).

The man who you have a flirtation with is also interesting, as you were unable to describe the ‘shadowy’ male figure who was chasing you. You said in our session that you are nervous about speaking to men – that you’ve chosen to work with women as you are wary about speaking to a man. I think this perhaps signifies an ambivalent relationship with men, perhaps due to your distant relationship with your father and maybe also related to your feelings about your sexuality.

The concern about having enough money to pay could signify two things – 1) your concerns about being able to pay your way if you follow a spiritual path and 2) your concerns about actually paying for things which will help you progress on your spiritual path. However, when a song is played (did you know what the song was?) you relax and you realise that everything will be ok, which correlates to something I said to you in our first session about  ‘the money will come’. And of course, you have resolved the problem about paying for mentors to help you on your spiritual path 😉

It’s also interesting that it’s a song which relaxes you – this could relate to your dream of being a DJ or could mean that it’s through creativity that you make your living. It would be great to know what the song actually was, as this could reveal even more about this!

The dream then skips to you being chased by an unknown man – you do know that he’s your age though, so I wonder if he’s your ‘masculine’ self which you feel uncomfortable with and are trying to flee from? You have to jump over the people giving out the yoga leaflets, which ties this in with the first part of the dream. Again, perhaps something about a struggle integrating the masculine side of your self with the more feminine spiritual aspects of your self? Male figures are a dominant feature of this dream so there seems to be a strong message that this is about your masculine side fighting for attention, despite your attempts to avoid it.

Houses represent you and different rooms represent different aspects of yourself. I’m not sure if you specified any rooms, though I think maybe you said you hid in a bedroom? When you ran into the house your father and younger brother were there. You say that your father either ignored or didn’t see you, which reflects the ambivalent – and mostly absent – relationship you have had with him. Your internalised father (we all have internalised versions of our parents who offer judgments on us – for example, many people have a ‘critical parent’ voice offering negative judgements on their actions) seems to be a distant figure, similar to the other shadowy male figures, showing a disconnection with your masculine side.

If we look, then, at how you relate to the men in this dream, they reflect how you relate to different men in the waking world – sexually, with fear and feeling invisible around them.  However the positive aspect is the appearance of your younger brother. I feel that he represents your masculine self in its burgeoning form – that this side of you is beginning to develop. As I said on the phone, the masculine side of yourself is the ‘doing’ side, the side which interacts with the world in an assertive, active way, and the logical, analytical side whereas your feminine side is the nurturing, creative, spiritual side. In other words, as an example, your feminine side dreams up the ideas but you need to have an active masculine side to get them out there!

In the last part of the dream, you run into a room where you say you hide and feel safe. You’re hiding from a man yet you’re doing this in a house which clearly already contains men – so you feel safe with some aspects of your masculinity, just not enough to put them out there yet, perhaps? I think you mentioned that there was a dog in the room too, which represents loyalty, friendship and is therefore possibly another symbol of feeling safe, welcome, reassured (although I don’t think we discussed much about the dog and what type of dog it was, whether it was a dog you knew etc).

Was it a bedroom you hid in? And did you go upstairs? Downstairs represents your baser urges, the more animal aspects of yourself, and also aspects of the unconscious (the ‘unconscious’ parts of your masculine self, perhaps) but upstairs represents your higher self (no prizes for guessing that!) so if you felt safer upstairs, this is of course because you feel more comfortable with the more spiritual aspects of yourself. A bedroom could also represent the fact that you do feel reasonably comfortable with your sexuality but still feel the need to hide parts of yourself relating to this from the outside world. (I know you said that you went to Australia to feel completely free about your sexuality in a non-judgemental environment).

So I think that perhaps due to the ambivalent relationship you have with your dad, who you described as very masculine and mostly absent from your life, and because you were brought up by your mother, a very independent woman who manifests a number of traits usually (unfairly) associated with men (eg she’s the breadwinner, lives alone and does not need to live with a partner, very assertive), and because you are a sensitive, spiritual person who is sexually attracted to men (all traits traditionally(but again unfairly) associated with women and the opposite of your dad), you have become confused as to how to express the masculine aspects of yourself. I think this dream is representative of that struggle. Your inner ‘man’ is still in ‘child’ form – but he’s still there and just waiting for you to give him the chance to grow up!

When we spoke about your father, there was a lot of vagueness around his role in your life and your understanding of how he feels about you, and why you didn’t see much of him.  As I said, this correlates with the shadowy, unclear and distant male figures (including your dad) in your dream. So maybe we could do some work around healing your feelings towards your father – or perhaps uncovering them, as I’m wondering if your positive spiritual outlook on life is preventing you from accepting or acknowledging any negative feelings you may have? It’s really important to be aware of and embrace our shadow side as otherwise it will manifest itself in other ways, perhaps in other people’s attitude towards us or our own negative behaviors. If we embrace it, we can then change the bits we don’t like and channel the bits we do in positive directions – for example, anger can be used as fuel to achieve all kinds of things, or grief can be used to make positive changes in the world (I wrote more about this in my meaning of life blog). Ultimately, though, I think for us to live an authentic life, it’s really important for us to deal with our past emotional and psychological ‘baggage’ as we can then see ourselves and the world much more clearly, without the influence of parents, peers or society. (more on this in my de-cluttering blogs – link is to final part of this series as I feel this is most pertinent, but might be worth reading the other parts too.)

I’ll leave it there for now – I hope these notes have been helpful for you, Matt, and I hope they make sense, there’s quite a bit of ‘stream of consciousness’ stuff in there! But lots to reflect on too, I think 🙂

*WOW!!* I was speechless!!! Yes, LOTS to reflect on. Phenomenal!
Sharon’s analysis of my dream is heartfelt, all-embracing, perceptive and meticulously detailed. It offered me the invaluable gifts of an immense dose of clarity triggering profound and far-reaching expansion of my consciousness and awareness, inevitably leading to a greater freedom, deeper healing and a heightened sense of Inner Simplicity.

You can always find the sun within yourself if you will only search.

~ Maxwell Maltz

As she writes on her charming website, “Never before has there been a better opportunity for you as an individual and us as a society to embrace a simpler and ultimately more positive way of life. Inner Simplicity is about freeing yourself from all your internal and external baggage – the way you feel you should be, those things you feel you should have – and living the life you were truly born to live.”

Sharon is the Empathic Guide, being the developer of the Empathic Guidance approach. She has over eleven years experience as a qualified counsellor (BACP), certified dream analyst and advice worker, with over two decades of accumulated personal development knowledge. She is also the owner of the wise and wonderful Inner Simplicity blog, ‘Soulful Musings’, a soulful yet grounded blog which offers a variety of personal development and emotional healing tips, advice on how to improve your relationships and live a simpler and more fulfilling life, insightful quotes and anecdotes to revitalise mind, body and spirit, reviews of useful books, websites, services and much, MUCH more. I highly recommend bookmarking it now for your regular dose of Inner Simplicity inspiration – Sharon is simply a fountain of knowledge and wisdom.

If, like myself, you are yearning for greater clarity in your life, or perhaps have a dream that is calling out to you for deeper interpretation, then sincerely I encourage empowering yourself with Empathic Guidance by beginning the journey of transformational, lasting and positive change with Sharon. She is amazing, fabulous, and a pure joy to connect with. As you can see she is incredibly gifted and her services are also very affordable. I truly believe you would come to view the experience as a miracle and an extraordinary blessing in your life, as I have :))

Live the life you love, love the life you live!

~ Bob Marley

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What goes on in an Empathic Guidance session? Pt.1: A client reveals all…

March 7, 2011

Recently I’ve been working with a wonderful young man called Matt who I first encountered on Twitter. Matt went through an awakening experience back in July 2006 and after going through the ‘dark night of the soul’ which so often follows an awakening, he transitioned quite naturally to a more authentic and positive place. However, he still felt that there were a couple of areas which he needed to gain clarity in and so to this end, he put out a request to the Universe for a coach or mentor who might be able to assist him on his journey of discovery.

I was more than happy to oblige and have been working with Matt now for several weeks. I have to say that his positivity and enthusiasm for the work we do is infectious and I really enjoy our weekly Skype conversations. And as is always the way of these things, I feel I’m probably learning as much through him as he is through me!

As part of his learning curve, Matt is documenting his progress and part of this involves writing about our Empathic Guidance sessions. Here is the first of these which he published on his own website and which I thought may be of interest to anyone considering investing in a few Empathic Guidance sessions themselves. This particular session focussed on a dream which Matt had – we discussed this during the hour then I added further insights in the follow-up notes which I always send after the session has taken place, as I feel they’re a positive additional aid to the client’s personal development.

In this post, Matt talks about our introduction and in part two, he reproduces the notes which I sent him containing a detailed dream interpretation.

Inner Simplicity with Empathic Guidance

by Matthew Fry

For anyone who has joined me on this awesome adventure of awakening and has been following my journey thus far, you would have been aware that in January, around the time I celebrated my 24th birthday, I wrote a post titled “Infinite Possibilities” exploring the idea that there might be someone within my amazing social network whom would like to coach, guide or mentor me. The response to that post was astounding and I am deeply humbled that so many people came forward showing interest. One of those incredible people was Sharon Simpson “The Empathic Guide” and WOW, to say that Sharon has been a blessing in my life is a massive understatement…

As Sharon writes on her Twitter bio: “Empathic Guidance creates empathy and equality in our lives through increased self- and other-awareness. Join me and help to make our world a better place.”

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
~ Henry David Thoreau

In my first chat with Sharon I experienced the great miracle that Thoreau proposed. We seemingly picked up from where we had left off in some other lifetime, because the openness, sharing and deep sense of connection was so profound it truly felt to me as though we had known each other for a very, very long time. There was a high level of resonance and intuitive intimacy between us as well as a recognition of many parallels between our lives and awakening experiences which allowed for an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable unfolding. As our conversation came to a close I will never forget the Skype call-time clocking in at 44:44 – a synchronistic shout-out from the universe that there was something magical brewing. I was ecstatic when Sharon shared her mutual delight and recounted her own experiences with number sequences, at which point we both felt the tickling shiver that comes with goosebumps – or godbumps as I like to call them hehe – another awesome confirmation that we were at the right place at the right time. I came away from our first conversation literally bouncing around the house bursting with energy and enthusiasm. In an email the next day Sharon pointed me to a wonderful post she had written about number sequences, adding that:

“444 can relate to mastery and empowerment and there’s also this explanation by Doreen Virtue:

444 — Thousands of angels surround you at this moment, loving and supporting you. You have a very strong and clear connection with the angelic realm, and are an Earth angel yourself. You have nothing to fear—all is well.”

And so with universal blessings, we adventured on together, holding hands in the heart, setting out on a deep and wonderful healing voyage of discovery for which I am eternally grateful…

Empathic Guidance is a unique intuitive healing approach which can transform your life and empower you, leading to lasting positive change. As an empath, Sharon is very sensitive to energy, giving her the ability to intuit thoughts and feelings, and allowing her to fully experience, support and understand each person she works with. When she works with you, she tunes into your energy directly and guides you using the empathic feelings and thoughts which arise from the connection.

My first empathic guidance session with Sharon was in early February. During our previous connection Sharon had asked me whether I dreamed, to which I responded that I do dream, but not very often, and that I hardly ever remember my dreams upon waking. She then assured me that after becoming conscious of this and discussing dreams with her, it was highly likely that I would now begin to remember my dreams. The seed was planted in my consciousness and it was a prophetic moment; ever since I have been waking up each morning remembering many more details about my dreams and on one occasion, still half-asleep, I tapped in a dream-stream of ‘unconsciousness’ saving it as a note on my phone. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that dream was going to form the basis of our first session. Sharon is a phenomenal dream interpreter, just one of the many gifts that she has to share, and after a thorough and inspiring dialogue I had uncovered many aspects of myself and was able to elevate my awareness and to shine light into some areas of darkness, recognizing imbalances in my energy field, discovering much about my psyche, meeting some inner orphans who want to be loved and given a chance to grow up, as well as many other personal insights and awakenings, which I hadn’t previously been aware of – it was incredibly liberating to explore my dream with such an aware and empowering guiding light. A few days later I was completely in awe when the notes from our session arrived in my inbox. I’m going to share those notes with you now because I feel they serve several important purposes: one, I am able to reveal what an amazing guide Sharon is! two – it presents me with an opportunity to be totally authentic and share some deeper aspects of my self, my psyche, and other awarenesses and personal revelations 🙂 and also, someone else reading this post might have had similar life experiences and thus, the healing potential in sharing the notes I feel is quite profound ♡

So, let me introduce you to Sharon, the brilliant, the fabulous, the very insightful Empathic Guide….

Part two tomorrow

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Empathic Guidance – a client’s view

December 27, 2010

As it’s the season of goodwill, I thought I’d show a little towards myself and share with you a wonderful testimonial I received from one of my clients. If this inspires you to seek some Empathic Guidance yourself or you feel like making some positive changes  to your life in the New Year, then do please contact me to arrange a session (currently unavailable).  I will also be offering telephone sessions in the New Year (currently not available via my website) so do let me know if this woud be a preferable option for you.

Happy New Year to all my readers and I wish you all the very best of love and luck for 2011.

This post is to give mega kudos and a bit of a plug for Sharon Simpson over at Inner Simplicity with Empathic Guidance. I recently turned to her for a little guidance and I must say that it was money well spent. She helped me decide what I really want from life and I’d go so far as to say that my new blog and forays into writing a book are a result of my session with Sharon.

If you have any issues or worries that you are having trouble getting straight in your mind, give Sharon a go! She offers an unbiased angle that may often be lacking when we are too close to a problem.

Sharon is sensitive, insightful, eloquent and has a way of making you feel that she really cares about what you are telling her. She is tactful yet doesn’t pull her punches either. She helps you to face up to things that you may have been hiding from yourself, but she does so in a way that doesn’t make you feel dumb, rather the opposite.. she makes you realise it is okay to feel the way you do, and that it is also fixable!

Sharon also writes her own blog which can be found in her links and I have enjoyed reading her spiritual insights very much.

Go, look.. what have you got to lose?

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Talkin’ Bout A Revolution – a prediction for 2011 and beyond

December 23, 2010

Don’t you know they’re talkin’ bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people are gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people are gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know you better run
Oh I said you better run

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution

(Tracey Chapman)

Back in July, I wrote an article about my friend G who was the victim of a dreadful road accident. Thankfully she has now almost fully recovered physically – though she is still dealing with the emotional and psychological repercussions – but there is one rather spooky aspect to this which I didn’t mention in my original piece. For several months prior to this accident, I saw the expression ’thrown under a bus’ everywhere – so often that I was struck by how unusual it was, particularly as it wasn’t really an expression I was familiar with. I also began to become rather unnerved by it, worrying that maybe someone I knew was going to end up under a bus, and that it was some kind of warning – but as I didn’t know who this person was, there wasn’t really much I could do about it. So I put the thought out of my head and chalked it up to a vivid imagination….

Of course, the rest is history, so you can imagine my consternation when I more recently started seeing references to decapitation/beheading everywhere. At first I was extremely alarmed, particularly as the previous event had demonstrated to me that I was unable to actually do anything about it. However I then began to get a strong intuitive feeling that this wasn’t about an individual but was a prediction relating to events on a national level. Politically, the UK is going through a turbulent time, and I felt that my ‘decapitation’ prediction perhaps related to a potential revolution (similar to the one in 18th century France, though hopefully minus the guillotine), with the less well off members of our society finally being jolted out of their passivity and rising up against the complacent rich, who seem hell bent on taking as much as they can of the world’s resources for themselves, at the expense of everyone else.

Despite the violent and daunting implications of revolution, I really hoped that my feeling that this could be a national rather than a personal prediction was correct – not least because it’s about time we stood up for ourselves – and was therefore heartened when I read the result of my energy scan which I ordered from Gehenna of Beyond Within. I often contact Gehenna for an energy scan, as like most empaths and intuitives, I sometimes find it hard to read my own energy clearly and pinpoint any blocks etc, particularly if external energies have been somewhat overwhelming. Gehenna always helps me to clarify these issues and I would highly recommend her service.

As always, Gehenna’s reading for me was spot on – and I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when I read these words:

“Only other thing I get is a sense of worry/anxiety around your third eye. You feel a sense of foreboding that isn’t personal, but more of a world thing and it is bothering you as you’ve never been one who bothers much with Doom.”

Gehenna described exactly what I’d been feeling – that  sense of foreboding relating to  people on a wider scale is indeed new to me as previous intuitive feelings have been on a more personal or individual level. I do believe that we are in for a rough ride over the next decade or so and that things are going to get  extremely tough for a lot of people – but I also believe that the outcome of all this will ultimately be a positive one.

I received this reading on November 30th, a day or so after I requested it, and a couple of months after I began to have the ‘revolution’ thoughts. And then, of course, nine days later this happened (accompanied by cries of  ‘Off with their heads’):

(For more on this see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/dec/10/student-fees-charles-camilla-inquiry)

The other word which was prevalent for me over this same period of time – and again, not a word which had regularly appeared in my environment prior to this –  was ‘meltdown’. My feeling about this, then, and my prediction for the next decade is that nationally – and maybe even globally – we are heading for a meltdown and a revolution – with the masses finally rising up against the super-rich as the current austerity drive affects more  and more people – will be the outcome. One thing’s for sure – we’re heading for some enormous changes over the next decade, after which nothing will ever be the same again. Scary, yes – but also much needed if we want to create a more equal and empathic society. Vive la revolution!

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Burnout Pt.2: The Causes – and why it may be a blessing in disguise

November 13, 2010

In part one, I described some of the many symptoms of burnout. In the second part of this article, I look at why burnout is not necessarily a bad thing and list some of the causes of this increasingly common syndrome.

Firstly, however, we will briefly discuss the possible physical cause of burnout. It is usually attributed to a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system and the adrenal glands. The autonomic nervous system is a combination of nerves, connections and glands which works in conjunction with practically every other system in our body. All of our body’s regular activities are performed by this system, such as breathing, digestion and so on, and it is this system which acts as the body’s thermostat,  ensuring that it adapts accordingly to external forces – for example, adjusting your breathing and heart rate if you walk up a hill.

Your body can also interpret your external environment using the five senses – sight, sound etc. These perceptions are then transmitted through the brain, which ensures that the appropriate response is activated by the nervous system.

Problems begin when the part of the brain which controls the ‘fight or flight’ stress mechanism starts firing at an abnormally high rate. This can occur when we overanalyse potential danger and perceive threats where in fact there are none, or suffer stressful events which feel like danger because they threaten our sense of self or wellbeing. The adrenal glands begin releasing hormones such as cortisol to deal with the stress, but if this stress is overwhelming then too many of these hormones are produced, swamping the nervous system. This results in autonomic overload, as well as depleting the adrenals, leading to adrenal burnout – and resulting, ultimately, in the symptoms described in part one. (You can read more about this in Coping with a Stressed Nervous System by Dr Kenneth Hambly and Alice Muir.)

Of course, if you are a HSP (highly sensitive person) or an empath, then you will have been born with a nervous system which is already hypersensitive to external stimuli, making you more susceptible to burnout than others with a less sensitive system. This is why HSPs and empaths need to practise self-care a good deal more diligently than most. However, even if you were not born with a sensitive nervous system, you may find yourself becoming increasingly sensitised if you have had a particularly stressful or traumatic life.

As we have seen from the symptoms, burnout can be extremely distressing. However surprisingly, there is a positive aspect to burnout. It can be viewed as a transformative event in our lives – a turning point, a wake-up call and a cry from the soul. Somewhere deep within the heart of us, the barely discernible voice of our intuition is trying to inform us of what our soul really needs and put us in touch with our authentic self. If we listen to this voice then we can transform our lives immeasurably – but if we fail to heed the warning, then the outcome could potentially be fatal. (Viewed in this more positive way, it is also then no coincidence that the symptoms of burnout are so reminiscent of the symptoms of awakening.)

Dr Dina Glouberman talks about this in more detail in her book, The Joy of Burnout: How the End of the World Can Be a New Beginning:

The area in which we eventually burn out, whether at work, with our children or parents, in an intimate partnership, in a social or political group or elsewhere, has two defining characteristics. It is where:

* We invest our creativity, our passion, our heart and/or our ability to contribute.

* We earn a sense of identity, value, belonging, purpose and/or meaning.

As long as the situation we are devoted to is working and our contribution is effective, appreciated or rewarded, we remain wholehearted. Our energy is high and vibrant and our life probably seems positive and successful both to others and to ourselves. But if anything upsets this picture, we become candidates for burnout.

At some point, something changes either in us or in our situation or in the relationship between the two. Our heart goes out of our situation. There is a dawning awareness, often hardly conscious, that there must be another way, that it can’t be right to continue as we are.

Some of us listen to this feeling and make significant changes in our lives – a new job, a new relationship, or a new approach to our old job or relationship. In this way, we stop ourselves from continuing on the burnout trail.

But those of us who keep going, denying everything that contradicts the path we are on, are likely to head for a major burnout. Driven by fear of losing what we had rather than positive intention, we are no longer in a flow with ourselves or with our lives. We cut off from our bodies, our feelings, sometimes our friends and family. We become divided against ourselves. Our head, heart and soul are not in alignment. We operate like a car with the accelerator and the brake working at the same time and the tank down to empty.

 

So what kind of scenarios, experiences, traits and behaviours can lead to burnout? Here are some examples:

Trauma

If you suffer from one or more traumas in your life, then you are increasingly at risk of burnout. Initially we can feel that we have handled the trauma well, but find ourselves burning out further down the line when our life seems to have settled down again, as the effects on our nervous system catch up with us.

 

The ‘drip-drip-drip’ effect

Often it is not one major trauma but a series of minor stresses, disappointments and frustrations which can slowly drive us to burnout. Several years ago, I moved house and for six months, found myself plagued with petty problems which involved me making numerous phone calls to a variety of call centres. Anyone who has ever had to ring one of these places will know how frustrating it can be, particularly when the issue you are trying to resolve requires you to call back again and again and again, due to the company’s incompetence. If you’re a sensitive, you probably also know how difficult it can be to make these calls, particularly when you’re already under stress. Needless to say, after six months of dealing with this on almost a daily basis, I was on the verge of complete burnout.

 

Lifestyle

If your lifestyle leads you to neglect your self-care, and you’re not getting enough sleep, not eating or exercising properly and are using stimulants to keep yourself going, then you’re going to be much less able to cope with the issues life throws at you. Living a fast-paced, high-stress and/or fear-based lifestyle is also a sure recipe for burnout. You can also burn out from too much exercise – after a very stressful period resulting in several warning signs such as fatigue, weight gain and emotional problems, Louise embarked on an intensive training regime to try and boost her health. Unfortunately this was the last straw as far as her body was concerned, and the excessive exertion hastened Louise’s decline into severe burnout.

 

Work issues

Overworking and perfectionism, or alternatively job dissatisfaction and lack of challenge can ultimately lead to burnout symptoms. Everyone has heard of the phenomenon of the business man who, when he finally takes a holiday, immediately falls ill. And working day after day in a job which fails to challenge you in anyway is simply soul destroying. Our society is increasingly economically focussed, and sadly this seems to be at the expense of our wellbeing. If you don’t have a sensible work-rest balance or if you are doing a job you hate simply for the money, then you’re a high-risk candidate for burnout.

 

Feeling unappreciated or unrecognised for your efforts

This can be in any relationship, whether business or personal. Joanne is a busy mum of four, who also runs her own business and is studying at college. Already finding herself feeling increasingly tearful, she finally broke down when faced with her teenage daughters’ filthy bedroom. Her frustration and disappointment at the constant lack of respect and appreciation shown by her family for her efforts at keeping the home and family life running smoothly became too overwhelming and Joanne was in great danger of burning out.

 

Lack of social support

Even when we lead busy lives and are constantly surrounded by people, we can feel unsupported and isolated. On the path to burnout, it can feel as if no-one understands us, has time for us or truly cares for our wellbeing.

 

Negative relationships

Nothing will drain your energy more than being around negative people. Abusive and/or violent people, energy vampires, people who are critical or contemptuous towards you, or people who constantly fight or bicker with you are the kind of people who will slowly but surely drive you towards burnout.

 

Lack of confidence

If you lack confidence in yourself, then you will find most situations outside of your usual comfort zone difficult. Being crippled with self-consciousness makes events which would be a breeze for most people a total nightmare. Some people are born with this lack of confidence but others lose their self-confidence later in life, perhaps due to a difficult experience or a health problem.

 

Lack of assertiveness

At work and in your relationships, a lack of assertiveness can create difficult situations for you, as you fail to communicate to others your wishes and needs. Constantly sacrificing your own needs and being unable to say no to the needs of others will inevitably lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration, and to feeling unappreciated and unrecognised, the forerunners of burnout.

 

Unhealthy responses to stress

If you have ineffective coping strategies, you will be more prone to burnout, for example if you have a tendency to worry, get angry or anxious, or if you try and avoid potentially stressful situations.

 

Unhealthy attitudes and thinking habits

The way you think about life, people and the world in general can affect how likely you are to burn out. Are you overly hostile, aggressive, or suspicious? Are you pessimistic, withdrawn, or negative? Or perhaps you have too high expectations, of yourself and of others. All these attitudes are liable to increase your chances of becoming overloaded.

 

Unresolved emotional issues

To prevent yourself suffering from burnout due to accumulated emotional baggage which, as we have seen, can make your nervous system hypersensitive, it’s important to spend some time dealing with this and resolving any remaining issues you may have from the past. Living constantly with feelings of rage, bitterness, resentment, hatred and fear will in time almost certainly result in chronic burnout.

 

People who give too much

This is particularly an issue for empaths and others who work in caring professions or roles, particularly if part of the reason for us giving is the need for appreciation. We can find ourselves becoming over emotionally invested in people – friends, family or clients – which can lead to disappointment when the person fails to appreciate our efforts or respond to our help in what we feel is an appropriate way. We can also find ourselves suffering from ‘compassion fatigue’  if we are working regularly with traumatised clients or are spending time with anyone suffering from trauma, be it physical or emotional.

 

These, then, are just some of the ways in which burnout can creep up upon us. If we are willing to take the time to heal, however, we can turn our experience into a positive one by using it to increase our knowledge of our inner selves and find the way to our true path. In part three, we’ll look at how we can heal ourselves when suffering from burnout and explore how we can prevent it from happening to us now or in the future.

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