Its been a tough old week for those of us who care deeply about animals and their welfare as horse-related ‘goings on’ in a UK abattoir have been added to all the other animal-related horror stories of late. That’s not directly what I’m writing about here (though I’m going to litter the end of this post with useful links and the ‘story’ has been well-covered on my Facebook page and Twitter…).
What I want to address – on behalf of all those who are made to feel similarly ‘undone’ by such unimaginable happenings in the news – is the way that my emotions feel as though they have been turned upside down and inside out by all of this; after a morning of reading, viewing and sharing these horrors across social media, I’ve been made to feel, quite literally, sick with it all. And its an all too common reaction to the average empath (to grasp what constitutes an empath, read the most comprehensive description I’ve found here), someone with the sensitivity to ‘feel’ another’s emotions to the point they can become utterly overwhelming.
So, when you’re an empath, how do you learn to cope with those overwhelming emotions that can suddenly floor you from the outside?
This is something I’ve become so much better at as I’ve continued on this journey of personal growth, especially when the unwanted feelings come from interactions with other people BUT stories of animal cruelty still have the power to completely overwhelm me; it’s more than just feeling sadness or sorrow, it’s as though I’ve been plugged into the electricity mains and my whole nervous-system cascades into a feeling of absolute chaos.
This kind of empathic response dis-empowers you since it can bombard you with such overwhelming pain and feeling of ‘not being able to do anything to help’ that it can, indeed, paralyse you into inaction and – in my case – cause literal and very physical illness; pain just switches on, if I let it.
How to cope? The trick is to learn how to centre – or ground – yourself; to reclaim your power and draw it back into YOU. It’s something that can be the very key to surviving as an empath…as well as providing the means for you to use your empathy in far more constructive ways that make a real difference in a less-than-perfect world, rather than rendering you unfit to cope with that world and so having to hide away as some sort of recluse or in state of perpetual denial (bringing to mind the way my father would deny that certain ‘horror stories’ in the news had actually happened – something I found utterly bewildering as a teenager but which, I can now see, was his only available coping mechanism).
Traditionally, its been the irony that those of us most likely to truly ‘feel’ the cruelty and injustice in the world have also been the ones least equipped to step into the fray and do anything about it. In a very real sense, don’t those who would make the world a darker place rely on this very fact! Its often left to just a handful of caring souls that are gutsy enough to override those feelings to step out and try to make a difference while so many of us are too timid to speak out, or too mindful of maintaining our own emotional status quo, acheived through blocking what is considered too unpleasant to think about. Just think, if all the empaths of this world were able to use that quality for good rather than bailing out from a world of unpleasantness, how much could we do? Together, what a force!
With that thought in mind – and if the apparent dichotomy of feeling such longing to bring about changes whilst feeling personally floored by the strong emotions that come with the territory sounds like you – you can read all about how to centre yourself, at will, and a handful of other useful techniques for coping with overactive empathy in this useful article:
How to Turn Off Over-Active Empathy – Anna Sayce
Again, the great article referred to above on what it is to be an empath:
Finally, that thing that was in the news this week that (almost) floored me – and what your newly empowered self can do about it:
World Horse Welfare Petition calls for action (please sign and share)
Photo above from Hillside Animal Sanctuary – depicting some of the twelve foals that Hillside recently rescued from ending up at the very abattoir exposed in the news this week, enjoying a romp in the snow with Roger and pregnant Betty who have also just been saved from the same fate.