Empaths are more than empathetic. Like an HSP-highly sensitive person-they’re highly attuned to stimuli and other people’s emotions and energy, usually to a degree considered transpersonal or paranormal. They may be codependent and end up in abusive relationships. Let’s first consider some definitions. An HSP has a high inner life and thorough central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. So an HSP may also be an empath, but encompasses more attributes. A codependent is someone whose feelings, thoughts, and actions revolve around another person.
Empaths and Codependency
A codependent needn’t be empathetic and an empath needn’t be codependent. Some people justify or glorify their codependency on the fact that they’re empathetic; however, codependency is something very specific. Your focus can revolve around someone else, without really empathizing with what that person is experiencing. Codependents might do that to figure out the other person’s mood and then gauge how to react and be liked. They might not know their own feelings or what the other person feels or care much about it; especially if his or her behavior is causing them pain; for example, due to addiction, abuse, or if the person is emotionally unavailable.
Conversely, an empath might tune into another person’s feelings, but also be quite aware of their own and not change their behavior to manipulate the situation. They may express caring or offer to help, but also have firm boundaries to protect themselves and not overextend themselves. They might also realize that the other person isn’t ready to receive or want help. If they feel unsafe or sense abuse, they might leave the person to protect themselves. In other words, an empath may have healthy boundaries and not necessarily put the other person’s welfare above their own.
Often empaths become healers and have to learn to protect their energy field to not absorb negative energy from people in their personal and specialized relationships. I was an empath and HSP growing up, but didn’t know it. From a young age, I was very interested in the psyche and dreams and later had psychic experiences. Looking back, the signs were there of being sensitive to loud noises, pungent smells, nylons and scratchy fabric, and other people’s energy and feelings. Although I wasn’t shy, I now understand why I preferred character to cities and disliked malls and crowds, preferring small shops, intimate gatherings, and sitting in the front of the class and along the aisle in theatres.
I was also codependent. Having had a controlling, narcissistic mother, my voice and real, authentic self were squashed. I learned to disregard my feelings and needs and adjust to those of other people in close relationships. Naturally, I was considered “too” sensitive.
Codependent empaths have the dual problems of ineffective boundaries and disconnection from themselves, while being highly sensitive to other people. They’re unprotected to abuse for several reasons:
Empaths can be sucked by feeling sympathetic for addicts, and people with borderline personality disorders who play the victim with stories of woe. Then they feel responsible and can’t leave because their ill partners behave so needy and dependent, sometimes threatening suicide or self-destructive behavior, while claiming how important the empath is to them.
Empaths and Recovery from Codependency
The work of recovery from codependency has allowed me to empathize with myself in addition as others without giving up my needs and wants. By reclaiming the lost connection with myself, I no longer tolerate drama, go along to get along, and am comfortable setting boundaries with other people.
Steps of recoveryinclude:
Do the exercises to conquer shame, Self-Love Meditation and learn to be assertive and stand up for yourself.
© 2021 DarleneLancer