Can Empathy be Controlled

By Christel Broederlow

To a degree, empathic interactions can be controlled. That degree depends upon one’s willingness to learn what empathy is continuously teaching us firsthand. Being aware of empathy is a great start. Detaching yourself when necessary is the next thing.

When you find yourself in a “heated” or stressful situation, STOP what you are doing and THINK quickly. Rewind the scene in your mind and go back to how you felt just prior to the situation getting out of hand. Were you calm, happy, relaxed? And then did you suddenly feel overwhelmed with anger, etc.? If so, empathy is calling for your attention! You may have just taken on board the other person’s feelings as though they were your own. For the unaware empath, this is an unconscious act and hence, the dire need to learn to be in awareness.

On the other hand, have you found yourself thinking about a situation throughout the day? You find yourself feeling irritated, insecure, angry, annoyed, upset, to the point that, when you finally had the chance to express yourself, you were “heated”. In this case, it was your emotion initially and not an empathic interaction.

When you STOP and THINK – analyze the emotion as not yours – then KNOW it is not yours. Confirm this mentally: “Oh, it is not I that am angry.” or “These are not my feelings.” This mental act detaches one from the “mix-up” of emotions from all parties concerned. When you become aware of how to separate your emotions from others’, you will learn to remain calm in yourself, focused on the other, and able to allow the other to express him/herself without prejudice or critical judgment.

You are not detaching yourself from the other as though you are heartless. You are simply not taking on another person’s feelings in a literal manner, confusing them as your own, or expressing them as if they were.

In learning empathy awareness you are able to step back and allow your natural compassion to come through with no deep underlying effect on yourself. You are able to understand others in a nurturing way because you “know” and “feel” their emotions. This whole situation applies to all that come your way. It is without a doubt beneficial to you as the empath and helpful for any relationships you have with family and friends.

Sometimes not being detached from others, especially close loved ones, can appear quite the challenge. Another method of not picking up others so easily is a very simple method called FOCUSING. You intentionally focus on something else fully; immerse yourself in it–an object, tree, and/or picture–in order to distract your attention from what (or whom) appears to be “draining” you.

You can also listen to music, preferably without words, as certain lyrics can enhance your empathy and feeling of another and literally re-create what you’re trying to distract yourself from. You can watch a lively “funny” movie/video, go for a walk, clear the air, clear yourself, sit beneath a tree, or read a book.

Focus away from the one that appears to “load” you up with his/her emotions. It is highly possible that he/she has no idea that they are projecting their emotions/thoughts so strongly. Nor do they know that you, as an empath, are receptive to that projection of emotion/thought. After all, the other person is most likely unaware that you are an empath and what empathy means.

NOTE: Just as empaths pick up the feelings of others, empaths also project their own feelings powerfully. We’re not just talking about powerful words, but words that are packed with VERY strong emotions. Can you as an empath imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of an empath?

Sometimes it appears inevitable to be in situations where another person’s feelings can’t be so easily pushed aside. Empaths can reach a point where the feelings flow through them rather than crash into them. They can learn that not all emotions are theirs and allow them to move on without need of analyzing. It is possible. It is possible to “go with the flow”.

Copyright © 1998 Christel Broederlow

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