What Happens to Our Energy When Others Struggle?
For empaths, intuitives, and anyone who is a sensitive being, it is really hard to watch others struggle, especially our inner circle. We want to fix, process, heal, and take on all their pain in a genuine desire to help. This is particularly true for those of us who tend to lean towards codependency, where EVERYONE’S stuff becomes ours. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it is possible to reimagine a different way of functioning around this.
This bigger pattern of swooping in to help others starts young. Way young. So young we don't even realize it.
But how can a young child really do that? When we are young, we may not necessarily be overtly stepping in to our parents' drama or sibling rivalry by counseling them, but we certainly are taking on--or as I like to call it "processing stuff for others"--the dysfunction, the unresolved emotions, the household dynamics simply with our energy and bodies. For example, we might see our mother upset, and in an effort to help her, we try to pull that emotional energy into our own bodies to create a feeling of safety. This is not happening consciously or rationally—our cells are constantly communicating with people around us, so there is a continual back and forth of energy transfer.
For those of us who tend to feel EVERYTHING, we are very aware of the energies of others. We can walk into a room and feel the energy without anyone articulating a word.
This has been true for me from a very young age. I could "read" any room I walked into and gauge the vibe instantly without any language. I could "read" the energy of my family, relatives, and strangers without conversation. When there was conversation, I would feel everything even more intensely and know right away whether or not the language matched the energy. I could feel all the mismatches, all the discrepancies, all the incongruencies between what someone was saying and what was actually true. I was a bullshit detector in a small body. Now that was both pretty cool and challenging, because I did not know what to do with it, so a lot of that got held in my body, just like it does for most of us.
But what does it mean to take stuff on into our own bodies or process stuff for others, especially when it is all very unconscious on our end?
How often have you felt sad because someone else is sad? Or become sympathetically angry when a loved one is upset? Or you might feel exhausted when you are around someone who talks non-stop and dominates the group? You might even feel physically sick in any of those scenarios. And it's even more intense when we believe we are actually helping them by matching their energy. That rationale tends to create an even stronger emotional hook because we believe we are doing good. Nevermind the codependency, we as humans are programmed to match the energies of others. It happens all the time. When a good friend is struggling, for example, we often feel it's not ok to feel good about ourselves to avoid making them feel worse. So we lower our vibration to connect with them and their struggle and diminish ourselves in the process, ultimately keeping ourselves stuck. We do this because we believe it's the right thing to do, but mostly because we don't know a different way. We can be kind, compassionate, and supportive WITHOUT diminishing ourselves in the process. It is not either/or.
And here's a special shoutout for all codependents (including myself as a former codependent): taking on or processing the energies for others, the unresolved emotions, and the upset, that ACTUALLY INTERFERES WITH THEIR OWN LEARNING AND CHOOSING.
Whoa! That was a hugely sobering awareness I had--and continue to have--to help me see what my swooping in to help others actually created. They felt better emotionally (but temporarily), and I felt completely drained and overwhelmed. Of course I did--it's a completely unequal energetic exchange where one person feels better and the other feels worse. What I came to learn is that this energetic processing for others actually keeps them stuck. And myself, as well. It's only a momentary high and illusion of change. Your body is what ends up taking the hit around processing stuff for others. If this resonates with you, don't make yourself wrong. Most of us are taught in some way to do this, and even praised for it.
Conscious awareness around this pattern is the first step to shifting things.
Just being aware that we are responding to others in this way can help a lot, but this pattern usually goes deeper and can’t always be resolved by conscious awareness alone. There’s usually a lot of beliefs holding this in place: “I’m a strong person, so I can carry the heavy load for my friend,” “I feel responsible for helping my mom or dad,” “I feel good about myself when others offload their problems on to me” or “I’m uncomfortable with feeling joyful when others are upset.” Sound familiar? All of that translates into a subconscious processing of stuff that isn’t even ours to process! Not only are we doing the heavy lifting for others, we are probably trying to learn their lessons for them. It creates a big confusion around who is who and what is what, and keeps everyone stuck.
If you’re looking to get unstuck, energetic sovereignty is where it’s at. If you’d like to learn more, contact me at JulieSanfordHealing@gmail.com