Empathy is truly a double-edged sword. The empath can feel out undercurrents of a topic and bring things to the surface others may not see, but when faced with conflict, this same empath may end up having an overcrowded mind. Empaths absorb the emotional content of a room whether it is good, bad, or indifferent. This is exhausting, but just because you can feel all the conflict, does not mean you have to absorb it. Learning to set and navigate these emotional boundaries can be the difference in seeing your empathic powers as a burden or a type of superpower.
Believe it or not, these boundaries are possible. There are three modes an empath goes through in times of conflict. these include empathic, sensitive, and shut down. To avoid the third category which is unhealthy, try resolving the conflict as described below. If you are the type of empath that typically gives until they are depleted, you could already be in shut down mode. If this is the case, it is best to forgive and move on so love can be welcomed back into the heart.
In tense moments, an empath may have a quickened heart rate and heightened anger or intense sadness. It can be tough to keep control of your own emotions because you can also feel the emotions of your partner. It is tough to distinguish between the two in the moment, but just because you feel it does not mean it is yours. Use the steps below to help you navigate the conflict with relative ease. Once you have done these steps, you can move onto the steps in the sensitive stage.
- Visualize yourself clear of anything that does not belong exclusively to you. As the tension starts to rise, visualize the wind blowing away any physical or emotional feelings that are not yours alone.
- Set boundaries as an intention in your mind. Set the intention that you will experience only the emotions and sensations that are yours. Your energy will respond to the intention.
Sensitives do not necessarily feel the emotions or physical sensations in their body, but are aware of what the other person is feeling based on a sense. However, they do not pull the information into their bodies. If you know you are a sensitive, there are a few steps to take during conflict to add grace to the situation.
- Sink deep into what you are feeling. It is often instinctive to step away from extreme emotion, but step into it and remain connected to the sense of self so fear is not such an influence.
- Accept what you and your partner feel in the moment. We tend to be judgmental when we have emotional reactions, rather than accepting. Judging slows things down so release judgment and participate in the current experience.
- Listen first without interrupting or explaining. This sets the energetic tone and sends a message of respect and acceptance. This can diffuse the tension up front.
- Drop your defenses as you listen. When you are defensive, the energy is felt as an attack and sets you up as enemies which can further fuel tensions. The other person is not your enemy, but someone who you feel misunderstood by at the moment.
- Honor your partner’s feelings and their experience. Instead of launching into an explanation to validate your side of things, just listen. Validate what you heard and let them know you understand their experience, needs, and feelings.
- Vulnerably express yourself. Once the other person feels heard, you can speak your mind and heart truthfully and calmly. Choosing to show vulnerability is a hallmark of evolved living. Speak your heart knowing your needs can be met, even if not by this person. Then relax into the communication.
- Be willing to compromise. This does not mean you lost, but is a way to find a solution that works for both of you. Seeing your partner happy is reason enough to consider compromise.
- After the tension is resolved, receive graciously the apologies and love that are offered. Offer the same to your partner. Do not carry the hurt forward. Continue to calmly talk until you feel at peace and can move on without dwelling.
If you are a sensitive or empath who is afraid of letting your heart connect, you are shut down. It is best to avoid conflict during this time because you cannot connect to your true self, let alone empathize. First, you must realize you are shut down. Then, communicate calmly to your partner that you want to have the conversation, but you have to wait until you are more connected and able to relate. Set a time and date for a follow-up conversation because it should not be avoided, but done at the right time. When you have the conversation, be willing and open to dialogue with your partner.