As common (but not as tasty) as peanut butter and chocolate is the unhealthy bond between narcissists and empaths.
Narcissists are those people who are arrogant, lack empathy, and are ultimately self-serving. They manipulate to get what they want—not necessarily intentionally. Under this thick veil of ego is a very wounded person. However, the nature of the narcissist is to project blame while avoiding responsibility. As a result, they can be extremely destructive to empaths.
Empaths are sensitive people who feel the feelings of others and ultimately want others to feel loved, healthy, and good. They often mistake the feelings of others for their own feelings and struggle to put appropriate boundaries in place. The nature of the empath is to sometimes take too much personal responsibility in conflict situations. As a result, when they are relating to someone with narcissistic traits, they can end up taking responsibility in ways that are unhealthy.
It is challenging for the empath to see the relationship with the narcissist clearly. And the narcissist will be endlessly trying to make themselves look good, as well as to get the endless appreciation and love they so desperately desire.
The result is that the empath will begin to doubt themselves and their intentions. They will become imbalanced, and as a result, they will often act in ways that they are not proud of. The longer this continues, the more the narcissist will blame the empath for what is happening and the more the empath will believe that what they are doing is wrong, losing their center and their health in the process.
The following is from Bill Eddy’s article “How to Spot a Narcissist.” He shows how you can most easily spot a narcissist. While many writers have described the characteristics of a narcissist, he does so in a way that is accessible and clarifying.
The following are several hints you may pick up from a narcissist early on, using the WEB Method.
Watch for both extremely positive and extremely negative words, about you or others.
EXTREMELY POSITIVE (SEDUCTIVE) WORDS include: I love you, you’re so wonderful! I’ve never met someone as great as you are! You’re so much better than all the others. You’re the center of my life! I will give you everything you deserve. No one has treated you as good as I will treat you. The person you were with before was a real loser. I have this great idea that will make me really famous someday. Let me tell you about it. (Notice that much of this is very comparative—that’s a warning sign that you will compare negatively later on.)
EXTREMELY NEGATIVE (DISPARAGING) WORDS include: That person over there is a real loser. Let me tell you about him (or her). The people that rejected my great idea are some of the stupidest people I have ever met. They don’t know brilliance when it’s staring them in the face. My boss is really treating me unfairly. I’m thinking of going over his head and getting him fired. I can’t wait until everyone sees him being walked out of the office for good! He’ll be totally humiliated. (Notice the thrill of superiority and lack of empathy, even if the other person is a lousy boss.)
WORDS THAT SHOW LACK OF EMPATHY OR INTEREST: The following happens a lot with narcissists. If you tell the person about a bad experience or vulnerability that you have, their response will often begin with: Well, let me tell you what happened to me once! There’s often no recognition of your concern—or even your existence, sometimes. They lose interest quickly, once they think they have you.
VICTIM WORDS: Narcissists perpetually see themselves as superior, but also perpetually as victims. When they are exposed as not being so superior after all, they suffer what is often called “a narcissistic injury.” Maybe they were turned down for a job promotion in favor of someone else. After such an “injury,” they will become obsessed with proving how bad the other person is and how wonderful they are. They may go on a long rant: It’s so unfair what they did/said/are. I will show them! They’re punishing me for being better than they will ever be!
Now pay attention to your own emotions. How do you feel around the person?
FEEL TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? This person is so nice to you, you feel extremely loved and flattered. You may have a euphoric feeling. He/she almost seems too good to be true. That’s a warning sign, because people who intensely and endlessly flatter you are often not who they seem. Their charm for you is a warning sign. Sometimes, they are simply charming and not a narcissist. But sometimes it means you are being seduced in the moment with lovely words by a narcissist, who will say them soon to the next person or organization they meet. They like winning more than having.
FEEL STUPID AND INADEQUATE? Some narcissists are so busy puffing themselves up that they don’t realize that they are putting you down in the process—it’s so automatic for them. You may not even notice it consciously at first, but soon you may be filled with self-doubt. I wonder what he/she thinks of me? I’m not really that smart, talented, attractive after all. I’m certainly not in his/her league, am I?
FEEL LIKE YOU CAN’T BREATHE? It’s common for narcissists to “suck up all the oxygen in the room.” Other people start feeling like they can’t breathe, because they can’t get a word in. Whatever someone else says, the conversation gets steered back to the narcissist somehow.
Notice what they do, more than what they say. Narcissists have lots of words to distract from and make up for their insensitive behavior. People constantly confront narcissists and constantly are frustrated. Rather than reflecting on their past behavior, narcissists defend it and attack you for criticizing them. (“How dare you, after all I’ve done for you!”) So just become aware of their behavior and ignore their words excusing or distracting from it.
For example: Instead of saying: “Why were you late?!” You could say: “I’d prefer if you would let me know ahead of time if you’re going to be late, so I can make other plans.” Then, just leave it at that and notice if they fulfill or ignore your request. If they try to fulfill your request, that’s a good sign. But if there’s an unchanging pattern of disregard for you and your requests, then you may consider ending that relationship, since you’re not going to change that person. If you feel taken for granted, remember that narcissists like winning relationships, not having relationships. He/she may be on to the next conquest.
TARGETS OF BLAME: If a narcissist also has a high-conflict personality, that means that they will look for a Target of Blame when something goes wrong for them. They may intensely blame you for something minor or nonexistent or done by someone else (perhaps even by themselves, which is called “projection”). When they mess up, they often look for someone close by to blame. “It’s all your fault that I didn’t get that promotion! You should have spoken to the boss like I asked you to. Now what are you going to do about it!!”
As with all of the high-conflict personalities, they tend to blame people in close relationships with them (girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, kids, parents, close friends, close neighbors, etc.) or people in authority positions (supervisors, business owners, police, government agencies, etc.). They often get stuck in a cycle of attacking a Target of Blame and defending themselves, rather than getting any work done or paying attention to their family: such as making angry phone calls, writing long email rants or engaging in social media meltdowns.
Notice if they have ever done something that 90% of people would never do (“The 90% Rule”). Something that you would never do. If so, regardless of their excuses, it usually means there’s a pattern of high-conflict behavior under the surface which would support such extreme behavior. For narcissists, this often includes humiliating a partner or child in public, sabotaging a co-worker or verbally attacking a colleague or employee in a meeting for something the narcissist actually did.
Empaths are particularly prone to getting involved with narcissists due to their failure to spot their games—it is just too different from their own personality. During the initial phase of the relationship (the positive phase), the empath will likely feel positive feelings unlike those received from being with anyone else, and will take this as a sign that this is a special relationship. Because all the empath wants to do is help, and all the narcissist wants to do is take, the empath will end up in a game that cannot end well.
If you suspect that you have a narcissist in your life, you may benefit from distancing yourself. With some people, you may be unable to do this—in which case, you would benefit from a plan that helps you minimize their effect on you while not alerting any of their conflict behaviors. Maintaining objectivity is key to your success. The more perspective you can get, the easier it will be to see what is going on. Make some space for yourself and enroll the support of other people who can help you see things more clearly. You can still empathize with the pain that is the root of the narcissist’s behavior without putting yourself in harm’s way.
Empaths often are exploring self-love within the context of relationships. I invite you to read more here >>> “7 Reasons to Love Yourself First.”
If you are a sensitive person, one of the ways that you can take care of yourself is through the creation of regular rituals. Here are thirteen reasons why sensitive souls need rituals to stay healthy, happy, and balanced.
If you are a sensitive soul that identifies as a healer and are looking for support to find the gifts within your sensitivities, you may benefit from my Integrative Healing Apprenticeship. Find out more here: Integrative Healing Apprenticeship
I was about twenty years old when I first realized that I was empathic. I didn’t know that word at the time, but I recognized the empathic qualities that I possessed.
One day, I walked into a building and was instantaneously hit with this wave of negative feelings. At first, I thought that it was me. At the time, I believed that I had social anxiety and that I was nervous about entering a space where there were lots of other people. But in this moment, I had an insight. I recognized that the feelings I was feeling were not mine; instead, they were the feelings of the people in the space that I was entering. This was a revelation—the type of revelation that empaths have when they realize that they are empaths.
This is the type of experience that empaths have all the time. They’ll be going about their regular everyday life when they are suddenly hit with waves of emotion that are not theirs but someone else’s. They may have these feelings when they are relating to someone close to them or even with random people they encounter. In fact, it does not even always need to be people—it can also be things in their environment.
While this is very useful information—and for people like me, it is incredibly supportive of what I do professionally—it is not always easy to deal with. It can at times pose great challenges. Some people who have such experiences might say, “Well, I didn’t choose this for myself. I wish I was not like this; I wish I could turn it off.”
Most empaths at least wonder, “How do I work with this way of being? How can I make this an easier experience?” To be healthy as an empath requires a lot of self-care and also strengthening yourself energetically so that you can build a beneficial relationship with the things that you come into contact with.
If you identify with this idea of being an empath but you’re struggling with some of aspects of it, the best place to start is with self-care. Being healthy as an empath requires diligent attention to your self-care. You need to learn how to keep yourself clear, know how much downtime you need versus contact with different people or types of energy, and know what you need so far as sleep, food, and healthy environments are concerned. It is essential to take care of these areas of your life if you want to truly feel good in yourself and happy in your life.
The next step is to actually strengthen your own energy so that you are better able to consistently maintain a clear state of being. In part, this requires clearing negative energies and patterns from your life. The more that you clear any kind of negativity or problems that you are personally carrying inside, the easier it becomes to relate to what is going on around you without taking it on.
So working on yourself is of crucial importance. Working on yourself goes hand in hand with understanding how to strengthen yourself energetically, and as you do, it becomes easier and easier to discern what is yours versus what is another’s.
Being empathic is a gift. Although it might be hard to see it like that when you are faced with some of its challenges, as we attend to our self-care, clear our own disturbances, and strengthen ourselves, we begin to experience the benefits more and more.
Join me and a community of emergent healers for my Integrative Healing Apprenticeship, starting this year. If you are coming into your gifts as an empath and healer, let’s walk together on this one. Read more here: Integrative Healing Apprenticeship
Empaths have the innate ability to affect a profound impact on the world around them. Early on in their development, it might seem as if the world is just too much to handle and that they’re more likely to be the ones changed (in not so great ways) by the world, rather than being world changers. However, with some skills and awareness, empaths can be powerful change agents.
Here are some of the abilities that help empaths be world changers…
Highly Intuitive: Strong intuition can help in your work with others, in your creative projects, and in sensing your best direction, allowing you to have a greater impact in all that you do.
In Tune: Whether at work, home, or in any other area of your life, being in tune with others helps you understand what’s needed in any given moment and how to best communicate with others.
Hypersensitivity: Being sensitive means you can feel even the minor shifts in a person or situation. This can help you take action before things become larger problems. The trick might be in the timing or in the company—just because you’re aware doesn’t mean others are. Pay attention to what type of delivery and timing gets best results.
Problem Avoidance: Your exceptional sensitivity helps you recognize problems before others do. This can be helpful for course correction in any area of life. You might know someone is just not the right person to hire or that a situation is worth avoiding altogether.
Voicing the Shadow: Many sensitive people are tapped into what is being avoided or unacknowledged and will—consciously or unconsciously—bring this information forward. This ability is a powerful tool of transformation.
Cultural Light Bearer: Your sensitivity allows you to make contact with the positive as well as negative undercurrents. Because of this, you’re able to help people connect with their potential or the potential of a situation.
Advocate for the Underserved: Similarly to Voicing the Shadow, you’re more likely to be able to understand the thoughts and feelings of those who live and act more on the fringes of our society and culture. You can become a powerful advocate for these people helping them—and us—to get things back on track.
If you’re curious about how you can better use your empathy skills to create positive change in the world, check out my Healers Training starting Spring of 2018. http://projectspace.in/work/project/katelive/train-with-me/integrative-healing-training/
Unsure how to survive the holidays when you are highly sensitive? You’re not alone. The vast majority of people report feeling stressed around the holidays. There a gifts to be purchased, meals to be planned, guests to invite, and the ongoing fight for a few moments of peace and reflection amid the chaos. Those smiling faces on holiday cards are a promise of joy and an omen of stress. However, if you are a highly sensitive person the balance shifts towards ominous.
When you are highly sensitive the holidays can be an overwhelming and overly stressful time – a time that, no matter how early you start your annual countdown, you can’t seem to look forward to with any form of happiness.
If you’re like me, the simple logistics of extending your day a few more hours –during the darkest time of the year- so that you can battle traffic and bump against crowds of other stressed people in busy stores with glaring fluorescent lighting and bad music is enough to set you off the season. Maybe your triggers are more emotional and the thought of spending hours unearthing years worth of emotional baggage and trauma – and then stress eating your way through the dessert table – makes you anxious beyond measure.
Emotional, financial, sensory, or something else – your stress is valid. Struggling with the holidays does not make you a Scrooge, it makes you human. Here are some tips that those of us who consider ourselves to be more sensitive than average use to navigate the holiday season. If you find some of the common approaches to the season a bit more taxing, try these ways to lighten your load.
Set your limits: Chances are by now you actually know what works and what does not work for you. Maybe it is time to simply stop doing the things that do not work for you. Often when confronted with this option people will respond by saying there is some reason that they HAVE TO do what they are doing. I urge you to question this response each and every time you have it. By beginning to set limits and getting rid of the activities that tax you the most, you will be steps closer to enjoying your holidays –and that’s the point right?
Pare down your activities: Too much for anyone is stressful, too much for a sensitive person is an even bigger problem. It is important to pick and choose what you are doing so that you are taking good care of yourself. Yes, it can be hard to say no but in the end less is very likely to be more.
Plan Ahead: Telling your sister on the night of her big holiday party that you can’t make it because you are overstimulated is going to create more of a problem for you than looking at the month in advance and making sure that you have it laid out in a way that will work for you. Another version of planning ahead is doing your shopping early or doing it online to avoid last minute stress.
Adjust the traditions: Who said you needed to do it that way? Perhaps, the way that you have been celebrating is less than ideal for you. Maybe it is time for a change. Even the traditions themselves can be adjusted to suit your sensibilities. If large crowds are a challenge, maybe you can have a small gathering on a non-main day. If a tradition in your family is insensitive to certain members, maybe it is time to try and change that as well.
Take Care of Yourself: Our resiliency goes down when we get run down. It is particularly important to get adequate sleep, eat well, and do all the other things that we know we need to do to take care of ourselves so that we have the physical stamina we need to navigate the holiday season. The more that you can take these important actions, the more smoothly we can expect things to go.
Break the Mold: It needs to be said. If the holidays are a major challenge for you maybe it is time for you to buck the system. Perhaps, it is time to create an entirely new experience around the holidays. If you could imagine a way of celebrating the season that you looked forward to every year, what would it be? Why not try that?
The bottom line is that you are not going to stop being a sensitive person. It is how you are made. So, pushing forward without making adjustments to your holiday plans will keep ending you up in the same pile of problems. Making the changes that honor who you are could leave you looking forward to the holidays. And if you do end up sitting out of a few holiday gatherings, you can always curl up with the latest issue of Conscious Creative Magazine and a hot cocoa. You can’t beat that!
Being sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others is the gift and the plight of the empath. If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me that they struggle in their life because of how empathic they are, I could open a bank account. Many empaths choose to isolate themselves because they do not know what to do to take care of themselves when in community. While some temporary isolation can actually help solve your problems in the short term, isolation is not an adequate long term solution for how to survive being an empath.
If it is challenging for you to take care of yourself because you are an empath, here are some tips that will help make it a bit easier.
Strengthen yourself: The stronger that you are, the less likely you are to take on other people’s stuff. Absorption of lower energies –the stuff you feel from other people that makes you feel less than optimal— happens more frequently when you are operating at these lower frequencies yourself. The less you are taking care of yourself, or the more unresolved stuff you have, the more likely you are to be overcome by other people’s stuff. Build yourself up and you will see that you can more easily work with what comes your way.
Do you really need to take it on: Empaths are built to intimately experience the world and people around them. This design comes with certain tendencies to process the feelings of those around them. This is not an imperative. Instead, you can learn not to take on EVERYONE’s stuff and begin to protect yourself from what does not serve you. As you start to learn to put a layer of protection between you and some parts of the world, you will likely notice how often you feel drawn to energies that do not serve you. This is its own teaching.
Can you take it on differently: It is worth asking the question, “Is there another way to do this?” Perhaps ingesting and processing things for other people is less than optimal. Maybe you could choose to actively support them in their journey, rather than sympathetically absorb their experience. Maybe you could ask for more support in processing what you are coming in contact with. In some cases, I have recommended that empaths begin to officially work with people in a healing capacity to start to develop structure and skills around what they do naturally.
Clean and clear regularly: If you are going to operate in the world in an optimal way then you will need to keep yourself clean and clear. If you are an empath you should have a toolbox of cleaning and clearing techniques to support you in being healthy and happy. Every time you start to feel heavy, low, sluggish, cleaning and clearing should be your first step.
Take some personal time: Yes, I did start this article talking about how to survive being an empath without isolating yourself – with good reason. However, some well placed, intentional alone time can do wonders for you. It is helpful to define a specific amount of time for your personal time so that you learn to move in and out of your personal time, without isolating.
Learning how to survive being an empath is about taking care of yourself with consistency. Newer, better, or fancier tools to work with are less important than good ones that work for you and which you apply regularly. If you are feeling the push to isolate, start putting some of those good tools into practice. Click here to sign up for Conscious Creative Magazine, our collaborative art piece that brings you inspiration, guidance, and resources – right to your inbox – every month.