Protection to Peace
"The world is not safe." This belief gets passed down through the generations and circulates in a culture burdened by patriarchy, misogyny, racism, individualism, meritocracy, and materialism.*
What happens when you believe (consciously, or not) "The world is not safe?"
In a stressful environment...
- We see how these burdens play out. Perspectives narrow to focus on survival, and the parts of ourselves that aim to protect and keep us safe take on extreme jobs that make it challenging to express our true nature (e.g., compassion, connectedness, playfulness, vitality...). When "survival" means competing for resources, these parts can be seen harming, controlling, and discriminating against others. For empaths, "survival" often means their protector parts can be seen caretaking for/rescuing others, but at the expense of their own needs and desires (receiving resources).
- It feels too dangerous (to these protective parts) to feel the potentially overwhelming emotions associated with the betrayals, abandonment, and abuse. Criticism and judgement are used to suppress the wounded parts of ourselves to ensure that they won't overwhelm our ability to function in such an environment; however, in response to the shaming, additional protector parts show up to distract us through coping mechanisms like food, sex, alcohol, TV, working too much, excessive exercise...
What are the implications for Empaths?
The wounded parts of us that are typically suppressed in our culture are those that once expressed empathy, sensitivity, intuition, and healing abilities—all gifts (aka. superpowers) of an empath. This creates an inner conflict between the parts that are protecting, and the gifts that our true Self wants to express (not to mention that the world needs!).
At some point, the pain of this inner conflict becomes more intense than the risks of healing wounded parts and feeling the emotions that go along with that (even though this can be managed). For empaths, the pain can be more intense because they not only experience physical tension, relationships with those expressing narcissistic behaviors, financial strain or career paths that leave them feeling less than fulfilled, but they also tend to absorb the dense beliefs and emotions of those around them—within their own bodies—leading to fatigue and isolating.
So how can you heal the parts of you that have been suppressed, and free yourself of the beliefs and dense emotions that are in conflict with the expression of your true Self?
The following steps will help you to bring more of your expansive Self forward—no matter what kind of chaos is happening in the world.
- Let go of the belief that you need to create peace and harmony (or avoid conflict) in the world around you. Instead of focusing on external "problems," turn inward. Intend to heal your wounded parts so you can lead from a calm and confident place where you can attract the people who will respond well to who you Be.
- Bring awareness to the parts of you that are protecting. Do you notice tension in your back? How are you feeling emotionally? What activities are distracting you from the present moment, and taking up your time and energy? What thoughts are popping up as you notice those distractions? What category would you put them in? Criticizing? Judging? Worrying? What percentage of these burdens are yours (including ancestral burdens)? Can you let go of what's not yours?
- Turn on your curiosity and intuition. Place your hand on your heart so that it feels safe to bring your Self's curiosity forward. Here are some questions that you can ask your protector parts (e.g., back pain, anger, inner critic...) so they'll feel heard: What do you need? What do you want? What is feeling dangerous? Who/what are you protecting (which reveals the wounded part of you that's been suppressed)? What would happen if you stopped this protecting? How old do you think I am? Is the danger still real? In many cases, protector parts believe you're still a child, vulnerable and unable to care for yourself. Set them straight so they can choose jobs that can better serve you.
- Practice self-acceptance. As you build awareness of the parts that are protecting you, and apply your curiosity, you'll recognize the importance of honoring them for the roles they have played to keep you safe and functioning in the world. For example, you may learn that the suppression, or distraction (including physical pain), they employed wasn't "wrong." They had their reasons. Acceptance offers an opportunity to hear them out so you can heal old woulds and free yourself from past conditioning.
- Create space for more of your true Self to lead you through the ups and downs. Additional protector and wounded parts will continue to show themselves, but as you apply the steps above, you'll have more and more capacity to be with the discomfort AND move forward, living your most expansive dreams. For example, instead of perceiving the pain that shows up as a failure (not seeing expected results), you can view the pain points as thresholds that are simply prompting you to see the choices available and make changes.
What will it take for this culture to go from "You're too sensitive" to "Wow! you are amazingly sensitive?"
Well, my hunch is that society (or those in positions of power) is not going to change so that people can feel safe expressing their true selves. Instead, when empaths (who have a lot to gain from healing their suppressed parts and freeing their protectors from the burdens they have taken on) start owning their gifts and expressing them with confidence, society can begin to see the benefits, appreciate those gifts and change accordingly.
Bringing awareness, curiosity, and acceptance to the parts of you that need attention is a great way to make space for your true Self to come forward, but if you'd like some additional support, I invite you to schedule a free Freedom to Flow Discovery Call, where we'll gain clarity on your biggest dream and challenge, review your questions and resources to get you started, and see if we're a fit.
* Inspired by Internal Family Systems Therapy, by Richard C. Schwartz and Martha Sweezy.