In my last blog post, I wrote about Empath sabotage type 1: energetic starvation. You see, 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. Trust me, there are solutions to this problem (see the link above). Unfortunately though this is but one tactic used against empaths to keep us stressed and sick.
Today I’m adding onto the ideas discussed in that last post because there are many ways empathic people are hurt, used, and targeted so others can get ahead — or so that we can’t. The next big one is confusion. Mind games, misleading information, alternative storylines, red herrings, subconscious suggestion, groupthink, “abusive fallacy”, “tone policing”, “traitorous critic fallacy”, appeal to fear, Bulverism, straw man, etc. etc. etc. In other words, these tactics and many others are used by narcissists in order to confuse empaths and the people around them in order to deflect from whatever the real issue at hand is, or in order to throw a wrench in the life of an empath so they cannot be successful.
In all honesty, I wish I didn’t have to tell you these things and I wish they were not really happening. The truth, if you want it, is that is it real and it does happen very often. It will happen every time you try to “up level” and improve yourself or something big in your environment. Every time you try to shine, speak your truth, get away from the drama and trauma, heal yourself, improve the world around you, and remember your magnificence. It is truly the “crab in the bucket” syndrome. If you up level, you are going to have others try to bring you down first — or make you so traumatized it feels impossible to succeed. I know because I have lived this and because my clients live it too. It causes a great deal of confusion which can make us sick and immobilized.
First, I want to preface this by saying that we all play mind games with each other — whether we realize it or not. The difference is some people do it on purpose to get ahead and some people don’t know they’re doing it. It’s all about intention. Until one has identified their ego (that is, the desires for control and pain) and worked to tame it, you’ll be floating in and out of your ego all the time. In one moment, you’ll be deep in the ego without even realizing it, and in the next moment you’ll be striving to be your higher self — vacillating between the subconscious and conscious mind, base and holy, holy and base. Narcissists do this on purpose to hide their desire for power and control, while everyone else does it without realizing or because they are truly trying to grow and evolve (which is a hard process).
As I said, there are, however, people who are aware of this phenomena and purposefully hide their ego in order to throw others off, or to appear as their higher self when it is self-serving for them. They may hide behind good words and deeds but use common fallacies to serve devious desires. The people around them don’t recognize this and continue trusting them (only seeing the higher-self version they have put on display for the world), while the empaths become very confused because they see through this facade. We recognize their cognitive dissonance or hypocrisy in their words and actions; it’s simply in the nature of an empath to see through bullshit.
I’ll give you an example. You’re part of a spiritual community promoting love and peace. Therefore, naturally, you expect love and peace from them. Maybe you even pay them a tithe, or for classes or services, or some kind of extracurricular activity. You hope it will enrich your life and the life of your family. You work hard to build community within this group and get involved. And although there are many other people in the same boat as you, lovingly being of service to the group and motto, there are others who engage in more base activities like gossip, defamation, groupthink, coercion, and negativity. While people are saying they want love and peace, their actions tell you otherwise. You can’t make heads or tails of it.
A common scenario that creates confusion is when a group member starts asking questions or observing the baseness going on on a deeper level within the community, they are punished with isolation, bullying, threats, intimidation, etc. “They’re not spiritual enough”, “they’re depressed”, “they aren’t like us”, “they’re just trying to cause trouble”, “stay away from them” you will be told. You are observing one thing but being told another through logical fallacies — you feel utterly confused.
As Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes in her wonderful book ,”Women Who Run With The Wolves“, it is as if there is a door you have been subconsciously told you cannot peek behind. In her book, Pinkola Estés tells the story of Bluebeard — a charming king figure who woos women with lavish gifts, intellectual conversation, and supposed generosity. Although one young woman has been warned about his true violent nature, she ignores the warnings and takes a liking to him anyway: “he can’t be that bad — after all, he has been so kind and generous” she rationalizes to herself. He gives her a key ring with keys to open all doors of his castle — except, he tells her, don’t use that one key. Of course, she becomes so curious that she just has to open the door that goes with that key. To her shock and horror, she finds the bones of his ex-wives that have also opened the door, that he has killed and hidden. Then he comes for her too.
Here is the metaphor: should you open “the door” they don’t want you to open, you face proverbial death. The door leads to the truth and it is an initiation into intuition, should you follow it and seek it out — but the truth, sometimes, is horrific, which is why narcissists use tactics to confuse you and deflect the truth. The “door” is ultimately the ego of others that has been hidden on purpose. This is why Bluebeard warns the woman not to enter — only “bad” girls open the door so if you opened it, it must be because you are a bad seed and deserve punishment.
Do you see the confusion? I cannot tell you how many clients have come to me with this same scenario. Situations like these will cause empaths a great deal of cognitive dissonance, which leads to stress and physical symptoms. First you will feel confusion and stress/pain because chances are no one — or very few people — will admit to what is truly transpiring because they don’t want to be singled out or punished, so you feel alone in the pain. Secondly, it’s because you had the expectation of good energy for good energy and that was not met — and in fact, it was likely completely annihilated and then you were shamed for ever having that expectation to begin with.
If you want to avoid the confusion that causes empathic sabogate, learn the games and fallacies others use to get their way. Remember, it is not a straight line to the truth because there is a near constant game of deflection and projection happening in groups or relationships where narcissists are in control of the social setting. While you may observe one thing and watch the trail of deflection occurring, it is easy to talk yourself out of it when you are the only one seeing it or are the only one caring that it is transpiring in the first place. Trust yourself, trust your body’s reaction, trust your instinct and intuition. Not everyone wants to be awake to these things, and some already know it’s happening but either don’t want to be singled out, or are participants.
Once you have seen the truth, you cannot unsee it. Trust yourself first and foremost in order to avoid confusion.
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.