Sunday, December 29, 2013

Highly sensitive people are especially at risk when encountering a narcissist

People with fibromyalgia are frequently highly sensitive people or empaths.  Being an empath means that you have the ability to actually feel the emotions of others as if they are your own.  When others are celebrating and happy, the result for the empath is exuburance and euphoria; that feels so good.  But when others are grieving, sad, angry or experiencing a "hot" emotion, the result can be difficult for the empath if the empath has no way to protect themselves.  Being sensitive to the environment and energy fields of others requires a special skill set that other people don't have and don't really need.  One of the biggest difficulties in being an empath is that other people don't understand your sensitive and expanded perceptions of the world and the result is feeling isolated from others.

Tyler J. Hebert describes the empath in depth in his article "Empath (The Extra-Sensitive Being)" at  Hebert describes the empath as "a person that is hypersensitive to the emotions and energy of other people, as well as animals".  Hebert goes on to say that empaths have a sense of "knowing' and a very strong intuitive sense.  In other words, empaths have an extremely high EQ or emotional quotient.  I find it interesting that the way we have been easily identified is we have fibromyalgia.  Empaths are selfless people that often times put the needs of others before themselves.  Empaths are people that are loved in their social circles, because they relate to other people on a much deeper level than most.  The empath's energy is different and people automatically sense this energy and are drawn to the empath.  The empath's astuteness, which can leave the empath with feelings of isolation, can put the empath at higher risk of suicidal tendencies.  The empath absorbs the emotions of others and if the empath is unaware of this, the empath has the tendency to own those emotions.  That's why I frequently remind myself that what I receive from others is not about me.  Gaining an understanding of your empathic nature is critical in determining which emotions belong to yourself and which emotions belong to someone else.  Without that knowledge the empath may personalize everything around them and become defensive.  In addition, the empath may be labeled as co-dependant due to their sensitivity and identification with others' emotions, especially in relationship to their close partner.

The opposite of being an empath is narcissism.  A personal relationship with a narcissist takes a huge toll on the empath.  The hallmark features of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder is lack of empathy for others, verbal abusiveness, inability to relate to others on a deeper level, manipulative behaviors, controlling behaviors and explosive anger with exaggerated acting out behaviors that are not appropriate for the circumstances.  They frequently are pathological liars and they view other people in absolutes -- either all good or all bad.  Surprisingly, narcissists have a low self-esteem, which results in a need to be adored often.  They are also quite unaware of their own narcissism, which results in blaming their short-comings on others.

 Narcissists have no tolerance for disagreement and they never admit to being wrong.  There are different types of narcissists with numerous subtypes, making the identification of the narcissist difficult.  It can take a decade or more to identify the narcissist and if you are in a close relationship with a narcissist it can take absolute decades since their behavior can be confusing; you can't see the forest for the trees.  Narcissistic behaviors are also difficult to identify since they are masters of the facade.  Narcissists work diligently to mask their true selves, which results in their popularity in superficial circumstances.  When a narcissist is known on a deeper level their popularity fades and they have few if any long term relationships. 

I know the deep toll a narcissist has on an empath first-hand.  My mother, my identical twin sister, my daughter and my former husband are all narcissists.  In order to have relationships with these people I had to lose myself in the process.  I struggled for years to maintain these relationships, but in the end the effort it took and the toll on me was just too much, especially after I became chronically ill with fibromyalgia.  The continuous psychic bombardment required more energy than I could muster and in the end my health has suffered.  It is so critical for the fibromyalgia sufferer to gain an understanding of their gifts so there is an ability to set boundaries on the emotional energies of others that can suck the life out of you.  With every blessing resides a curse or downside.  If you are aware of which emotions belong to you and which ones belong to another you will be able to moderate your response to the heat of those emotions.  Anger has been a difficult emotion for me to moderate since I feel another's anger throughout my entire body.  Anger along with fear are two of the hottest emotions and your guard must be strong enough to avoid their devastating effects.  When interacting with someone I remain intellectually aware of how that person makes me feel so I am better able to moderate my reactions.  This has taken years of practice to develop the ability to keep my guard in place.  I purposely maintain some level of distance as a means of personal protection and when hot emotions begin to swirl around me I seek to give them back to their origin.

In the end, your ability to intellectually understand your gifts (along with their benefits and difficulties) will help you have more control over the environment that can seek to destroy you otherwise.  Blessings to you as you discover the essence that is you and the wonderful gifts that you have!
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