People who are empathic, aka: highly sensitive and able to pick up on the thoughts, feelings, and subconscious behaviors of others have distinct, complex needs.
These needs are rooted in our desire for oneness and wholeness, rather than division and scarcity. Empaths crave peace, hate conflict (though as I have said before, I do believe we need to rise to the occasion to meet conflicts head on when important), want understanding, support and compassion, and we will seek the world over to find these things — and be sorely disappointed when we don’t.
Chances are you were not given these things in childhood. As a result, you likely what what is called an “attachment wound” whereby it becomes difficult for you to open up and trust and you vacillate between wanting to be alone so you won’t be hurt or made to feel uncomfortably vulnerable, and co-dependent, thinking you’re inadequate and someone else must save you from the pain.
Because childhood is where such core wounds originate, an unawakened empath can spend their entire life trying to recreate this wound in order to subconsciously heal it. You may choose relationships or work environments in which you are never good enough, constantly “fail”, are reminded how “terrible” you are, and never receive the positive feedback you desire. You may spend decades waiting for that promotion, or years waiting for your partner to finally appreciate you.
Attachment wounds don’t come from nowhere — they’re created systematically by the way our caregivers treat us as children. From these people, we learn we are either “good” or “bad”, “worthy” or “unworthy”, deserving of love or not. You see, the way these people treated us sets the stage for the way we understand others the rest of our lives and the lengths we will go to get those basic empathic needs for love and peace met.
If you are empathic, there’s a good chance one or both of your parents, caregivers, or close family members were narcissistic. Empaths and narcissist are like yin and yang, oil and water — opposites always attracting each other but never quite meshing, seeking to heal something deep inside. (If we allow it).
Recreating the wound is a good thing — but only once you recognize it! Until you recognize your subconscious patterns of behavior, you will be a slave to them and wonder why things always feel so hard, why people act shitty, or why another unfavorable situation transpired. Once you recognize them, however, you will be able to learn from them to break the cycles that are keeping you stressed and sick.
To overcome the core wound, and therefore learn the life lessons you are here to master in order to open up your chakras, you have to identify the problems first and foremost. You have to go as deep into the attachment wound as possible. And I believe the first step is recognizing the tactics that were used against you in childhood (or later in life) that keep you feeling inadequate and craving something outside of yourself.
There are specific strategies narcissists use against empaths in order to have us groveling for their love and attention. It’s the proverbial dangling of the carrot: “am I good enough now?” “Let me keep trying to be good enough for you so you will love me.” “Which hoops can I jump through to make you happy?” The sad truth is, you will never be good enough for these people because if you were, they would lose their control over you and the whole point of dangling the carrot in the first place is to exercise control. In the long run, this will leave you feeling like you have an inherent flaw and there is nothing you can do to get the love you seek.
So, number one — identify which tactics were used against you in childhood. The first strategy you likely experienced was something called “energetic starvation“. This is the classic “go to your room and stay there, I don’t want to see you!” Another variation is “the silent treatment”. In classical psychology a similar term is “stonewalling” which is where a loved one rescinds communication or the relationship benefits in order to prove a point or get their way.
I grew up in Florida where one of the largest southern Amish communities thrives. It was normal to see women in prairie dresses and bonnets bicycling up and down the main streets, while men with beards rode in horse and buggy, all set to a modern backdrop of fast food and gas stations. While the sect down there is much more liberal than some up north, we still heard stories about Amish “shunning” in which community members would completely ignore and reject certain members who somehow wronged the church or committed a sin. Their families would stop speaking to them for weeks, months or years at a time, people would walk by them like they didn’t exist, and they were not welcome at services or family meals.
Please know, I’m not here to judge anyone’s parenting techniques or religion — this is merely for you to go back through and take an inventory of the ways you were taught being alone was punishment, that you deserved to be alone, that you deserved love to be rescinded, and that you were starved of the attention of your caregivers or community when you didn’t do what someone else wanted. I have seen and experienced shunning by both atheist intellectuals/progressives seeking “world peace” and conservatives promoting “god”. It’s the same no matter who is doing it because energetic starvation is all about control and getting people into groupthink.
The bottom line is that all people (with the exception of narcissists who feed on pain), especially empaths need and thrive on emotionally reciprocated love as their primary fuel. It’s what gives them the energy to keep going both mentally and physically. Starving them of this leads to utter psychological and physiological chaos. Because empaths operate on the assumption good energy for good energy, starving them of good energy causes existential crisis. It’s like they don’t understand the point of being here if we all can’t just get along. They don’t see how long they can go on a planet where love is a punishment or where they have so much to give but no one will gladly receive it.
The good news is that real love is unconditional — without any strings attached. It is not dependent upon someone else giving it first, or someone else taking it away. It just is — as a universal law; nothing can alter it. We must remember this in order to break the narcissist spell and stop living the attachment wound. Others may try to control how much good energy you receive but the true source of good energy/love does not originate outside of ourselves. It is intrinsic and we can tap into it at any time, with or without anyone’s approval. We can give it even when it has been withheld, and we can generate it even when we have been told there isn’t enough for us.
Don’t allow anyone to starve you energetically. Do not buy into the game. You don’t deserve to be punished and you certainly are capable of feeling good energy no matter what anyone else does to you.