Are Empaths Codependent?
Empaths are more than empathetic. Like an HSP-highly sensitive person-theyre highly attuned to stimuli and other peoples emotions and energy, usually to a degree considered transpersonal or paranormal. They may be codependent and end up in abusive relationships. Lets first consider some definitions. An HSP has a high inner life and thorough central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli. So an HSP may also be an empath, but encompasses more attributes. A codependent is someone whose feelings, thoughts, and actions revolve around another person.
Empaths and Codependency
A codependent neednt be empathetic and an empath neednt be codependent. Some people justify or glorify their codependency on the fact that theyre empathetic; however, codependency is something very specific. Your focus can revolve around someone else, without really empathizing with what that person is experiencing. Codependents might do that to figure out the other persons mood and then gauge how to react and be liked. They might not know their own feelings or what the other person feels or care much about it; especially if his or her behavior is causing them pain; for example, due to addiction, abuse, or if the person is emotionally unavailable.
Conversely, an empath might tune into another persons feelings, but also be quite aware of their own and not change their behavior to manipulate the situation. They may express caring or offer to help, but also have firm boundaries to protect themselves and not overextend themselves. They might also realize that the other person isnt ready to receive or want help. If they feel unsafe or sense abuse, they might leave the person to protect themselves. In other words, an empath may have healthy boundaries and not necessarily put the other persons welfare above their own.
Often empaths become healers and have to learn to protect their energy field to not absorb negative energy from people in their personal and specialized relationships. I was an empath and HSP growing up, but didnt know it. From a young age, I was very interested in the psyche and dreams and later had psychic experiences. Looking back, the signs were there of being sensitive to loud noises, pungent smells, nylons and scratchy fabric, and other peoples energy and feelings. Although I wasnt shy, I now understand why I preferred character to cities and disliked malls and crowds, preferring small shops, intimate gatherings, and sitting in the front of the class and along the aisle in theatres.
I was also codependent. Having had a controlling, narcissistic mother, my voice and real, authentic self were squashed. I learned to disregard my feelings and needs and adjust to those of other people in close relationships. Naturally, I was considered too sensitive.
Codependent empaths have the dual problems of ineffective boundaries and disconnection from themselves, while being highly sensitive to other people. Theyre unprotected to abuse for several reasons:
They seek love and intimacy, but shame makes it difficult to receive
They feel the experiencing of the abuser and can confuse that with love.
Theyre very understanding, which feeds their denial of abuse.
Theyre very forgiving, so excuse abuse.
Theyre harder on themselves so blame themselves for other peoples feelings and actions.
Their denial fuels their inclination to give and wait endlessly for someone to change.
They minimize their own needs and feelings.
Theyre introspective, find fault, and try to enhance themselves,
Theyre sponges for negative energy and may not realize its coming from the other person.
Due to ineffective boundaries, they dont protect themselves.
They absorb the shame and criticisms from abusers, due to their poor boundaries.
They naturally want to help and heal people in pain, especially troubled people.
They focus on the needs of other people and give abusers and narcissists the attention they love.
Needy addicts and personality-disordered people, such as narcissists, are drawn to empaths for love, understanding, and attention to help them with their experiencing.
Empaths can be sucked by feeling sympathetic for addicts, and people with borderline personality disorders who play the victim with stories of woe. Then they feel responsible and cant leave because their ill partners behave so needy and dependent, sometimes threatening suicide or self-destructive behavior, while claiming how important the empath is to them.
Empaths and Recovery from Codependency
The work of recovery from codependency has allowed me to empathize with myself in addition as others without giving up my needs and wants. By reclaiming the lost connection with myself, I no longer tolerate drama, go along to get along, and am comfortable setting boundaries with other people.
Steps of recoveryinclude:
Reconnect with yourself.
clarify your feelings and needs.
Learn to express and meet them.
Learn to set boundaries.
Develop self-love, self-worth, and self-nurturing skills.
Do the exercises to conquer shame, Self-Love Meditation and learn to be assertive and stand up for yourself.
© 2021 DarleneLancer