Being an Empath is a Strength (and don't let anyone tell you different)
In many of my blogs I share about my upbringing and my family. I share my experiences in life to connect with others. Hopefully, it will inspire or encourage those who find themselves in similar circumstances that a meaningful and productive life is possible after surviving trauma. I share my stories because it's the only experience I can speak from. I speak from experience that includes many bad choices while taking full responsibility for those choices.
Many of my stories include my father as one of the main characters. He was my hero in my childhood, but as I look back as an adult, he was a flawed human being with his own traumatic experiences. Just like me. I grew up with him telling me that I shouldn't feel or think certain ways. My dad liked to dole out the advice, but very rarely took his own. He was more of a "do say as I say, not as I do" kinda Dad. He smoked and drank, but made sure to tell me I should quit smoking while continuing to smoke until his death in 2003. As a young adult, he and I would engage in length conversations sitting around the dining table smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. I would express my feelings or thoughts and he would tell me that I was wrong to feel a certain way. So, not only was I told that my feelings were "wrong," but then I also believed I could not express myself openly and honestly. I felt like the same little child he would scold years prior.
One of my triggers is being told my feelings are wrong (shocker.) Through therapy and many self-help books, I have discovered that feelings are not right or wrong. They just are. Emotions and feelings are not permanent. We know feelings change and we know they can be triggered again by certain events. So, here I find myself triggered by being told my feelings are wrong. Again, I shut down and feel like perhaps I take up too much space with my emotions. But this IS me. This IS who I've always been. When I put the pen to the paper, it all comes out. No filter. Just raw emotions captured by words. As a female, I am also quite aware we are more vocal and have the need to express ourselves verbally more than the other sex. There is this urgent need to be heard and listened to. And better yet, to be understood after expressing myself. Having this blog helps. I am able to write, to express myself in words, though sometimes, not always clearly. I'm still working on expressing myself in a way makes sense to those around me.
Excerpt from my journal today: I feel slightly misunderstood/hurt like I shouldn't have so many feelings. Well, I'm an empath- and that's how empaths work. I always have been- I can see that now- it's not a weakness -it's a strength to feel so much, so deeply. And I'm not sorry for having feelings. This is how I function in this world. This is how I survive. If I can't express myself verbally or through writing - it's like not having oxygen to breath. I breathe, I feel. . . .
now I feel like I should be embarrassed for having emotions and feelings.
Emotions and feelings. . . are so complicated, but part of the human experience. I do not believe it is healthy to not express emotions or feelings. There is a difference between emotions (body) and feelings (mind.) Here is a useful article to explain the difference. The most important thing to remember about emotions/feelings is to not act on them right away. As I become more aware about myself and how I react to the actions/words of those around me, I've learned it is best to stop for a moment, breathe, and then respond. When I respond, I'm coming from a place of reason rather than reacting to feelings that have been triggered by the emotions.
I'm not always perfect (honestly, who always responds perfectly?) in the way I respond. I react, sometimes. When I catch myself not thinking and wanting to react because of the emotions that were triggered, I CHOOSE to pause. I am able to slow down by tuning into my breath and using my brain to respond rather than react on my emotions. In the end, WE have control over how we respond to others around us. No one is responsible for your feelings and emotions except for you and how you choose to behave. You cannot blame others for how you feel. That is your responsibility and no one else's. I was the Queen of blaming others for how I reacted. . . "You made me feel . . ." In reality, no one can make you feel anything. The sooner we can realize this, maybe we'd all stop and think BEFORE we respond.