The Importance Of Conscious Emotional Walls For Empaths
Generally, putting up an emotional wall is thought of as a negative, fear-based response to a person or situation. We tend to think of the all-or-nothing approach adopted by many after the sting of heartache: “I am never going to fall in love again.” What a person truly means by that statement is, “I am never going to open myself to the possibility of falling in love again.”
When a person does this, the wall that is erected keeps out the good along with the bad. The possibility of meeting another who shares in a bond of mutual love is not considered; only the idea of being rejected again is. When we are hurt, our subconscious begins working out how we can avoid that same pain in the future. Triggers may serve as red flags within us that say, “Avoid this person, place, or situation.” They alert us to the fact that we are about to experience a feeling that was unpleasant to us in the past. It is only natural to adopt this all-or-nothing approach early on until we develop more sophisticated systems of dealing with our anguish, and this is what many associate with the idea of putting up an emotional wall.
However, I wish to present the idea of an emotional wall as a conscious, positive response based on self-care, especially for empaths.
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What is an Empath?
The term “empath” has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years. Put simply, an empath is adept when it comes to sensing the emotions of others, so much that the untrained empath takes on others’ emotions as her own. An empath can walk into a room and immediately intuit the emotions of the other people in that room, even without speaking to anyone. It is a knowing that is not easily explained, a knowing that does not always or often rely on body language or facial expressions. For an empath who is highly attuned, this knowledge is usually accurate.
Empaths may experience that people confide in them emotionally, even in situations where it is not appropriate or logical. For instance, an empath quickly becomes accustomed to acquaintances, coworkers (even bosses), or total strangers telling her their most personal stories regarding affairs they have had or secrets they would not dream of telling just anyone. These stories are often prefaced with, “Please keep this just between us. You are the only person I can trust with this.”
This can become draining to the empath after a while. She becomes a well of other people’s secrets. What is more: the empath rarely finds anyone she can confide in similarly and is also a well of her own secrets.
It is my belief that all humans are empathic, to differing degrees, but not all possess the sensitivity that helps others feel seen and heard. Many of us have had the experience of going to someone for emotional solace and later regretting it. Not everyone can listen without giving unsolicited advice. Not everyone can reflect feelings back to a person in a way that helps them feel understood. Many people listen to respond and are already mentally crafting a response before the other person has finished speaking. It takes a special soul to listen in exactly the way another soul needs, but because this experience is so rare, those with this gift find themselves overwhelmed with people wishing to use them as a sounding board. In my own experience as an empath, it is rare that I take my problems to another person or feel understood when I do.
Emotional Walls can be Good
The good news is that empaths can use their gifts of intuition and sensitivity to help them discern who is a positive influence on them and who is not. For those who give off a heavier energy, it is appropriate and good to erect a boundary – however high the empath deems necessary for her own growth and healing.
This is possible to do with love rather than fear. All that is needed is a willingness to see how one’s behavior has been conducive to emotional burnout in the past, and a willingness to alter that behavior for the highest good of all. When and how often to do this can vary, especially with different people. Some people may immediately sense the energetic boundary the empath has put up with her intention, and they will back away out of respect. Others will require more effort when it comes to maintaining the boundary. For a person who does not give off a positive energy, the empath can gradually and lovingly alter her behavior toward that person. It is important to maintain a sense of calm, especially toward any mistakes or hiccups that occur as the adjustments are made.
Humans are more sensitive than ever before and will no doubt perceive that the empath is attempting to put up some distance. Not all may respond favorably. It is important to maintain a sense of self-forgiveness, as well as compassion for the other person(s) involved. Emotional walls do not always need to be all-or-nothing boundaries. Every person has good about them, and I believe we should avoid thinking of anyone as “negative.” Perhaps a better phrase would be “needs some extra love.” We can appreciate the good about a person without allowing them to take emotional advantage of us. We can also stand in our power without being hostile.
Emotional Walls for Self-Care
More self-care and more self-love will only increase what we have to give others. Putting up a conscious emotional wall is not only encouraged, but necessary, for some empaths perceive and take in an endless stream of emotions that are not their own throughout the day. Some work in environments where emotions run higher than in other places. Some are caregivers for ailing family members or work in a profession where they must care for others.
These types, in particular, can experience emotional burnout, but everyone has a threshold for how much they can handle from day to day, and there should be no shame if one experiences a low threshold. A low threshold for this sensitivity may mean there is more going on internally than what is immediately obvious. Many interpret putting up boundaries as an action taken from lack of love, but it is quite the opposite when it is an action taken with the right intentions.
May we always intend only the best for ourselves and one another. Namaste.
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