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Self-responsibility: An Empath’s Super-power

Self-responsibility: An Empath’s Super-power

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand the concept of responsibility and what it really means. I examined it through the perspective of the tarot, and came up with this:

‘The root of responsibility is the ability to respond to any given situation as it arises. When we are in a state of abundance, acceptance and openness, we feel that innate capacity as the truth. Whatever presents itself to us can be met creatively, with joy.

On the other hand, if we approach situations with an air of heaviness or duty, they become less dynamic and more likely to feel burdensome. In the belief that we can control the outcome of our actions and choices, we move further from that ability to respond creatively.

We have been entrained to believe that responsibility encompasses so many external factors – others’ happiness, others’ welfare, others’ safety, and others’ rules – and the effects our actions have on them. The truth is, we are all only responsible for our own joy and vibrancy. As we align with that, the ripples we create may have beautiful effects on those around us, but we cannot control or guarantee that.

If we stay attuned to our inner abundance, passion and power, we are able to respond creatively to whatever arises. In doing so, we are being integrally responsible, to both the present moment and what is best for all involved. As we all return to this state of alignment, we begin to find ways to create responses that work for the greater good in ways that don’t feel burdensome and heavy.’ (from an archived post – ‘Exploring Responsibility through the Tarot’)

Okay, cool, but how do I get there from here?

I examined responsibility as an aspect of power, while writing portions of my first book. This is what I came up with:

True power lies within – it is not in the external trappings of wealth, status or dominance. It is an integral understanding of the capacity to create and take responsibility for your experience in every moment.

So the power of integrity lies in being responsibly creative and creatively responsible. I’m meaning responsibility here as being able to respond, which makes far more sense when combined with the power of creativity. If you are denying yourself this capacity, which is inherent in all of us, you become a victim of what life presents, instead of an engaged participant and co-creator.

This creativity isn’t linked to any one form of expression, but the ability to use your mind as a tool in conjunction with your higher knowledge. It’s the difference between conscious creation and impulsive responses based on patterns and beliefs in your cellular memory. It’s the difference between making decisions based on mind or ego desires that feel good temporarily, and integral choices that benefit you and the collective. It’s the unconscious choices that often lead to feeling victimized, because in relinquishing the responsibility to be integral, you have allowed yourself to bypass the creative process.’ (From ‘Domestication of the Spirit’ (pending publication)).

Again, how do I get there from here?

The Importance of Self

It wasn’t until recently that a key piece of understanding fell into place. The word self, placed right ahead of responsibility is the root to finding your power as an empath. Especially one who has been in abusive relationships and felt a pull towards codependence or self-sacrifice. When that piece clicks into place, it’s like coming home to the truth.

self-responsibility, empathYour purpose is YOU. There is no one and no thing outside of yourself that deserves your undivided love and attention more than you do. If you’ve spent time throughout your life feeling misunderstood, unheard, taken for granted, betrayed or passed over, it’s pointing you towards something in you.

The key ingredient is self-responsibility.

This is where it gets tricky for empaths in particular. Because we feel so keenly the energy and emotions of everything around us, we tend to prioritise those. Sometimes we mistakenly believe they are ours.

You may even have been taught to manage abusive situations by attempting to maintain others’ states of mind or moods. It’s okay. It’s never too late to take self-responsibility.

To be an empowered, healthy, conscious empath, you must learn to address your needs first. You must prioritise your state of being and emotional balance before becoming involved in situations or relationships, so that you always have that to return to.

I learned the long, hard way by giving myself away repeatedly, that if I’m not looking to my own needs, it’s no one else’s job. There are many people out there who will happily take all you have to give and then quickly leave when your energy runs out. It’s not about them, it’s about YOU.

Self-responsibility: why is it key?

For me, it has meant several years of almost total isolation, several new reminders of how codependence feels, and a whole lot of feeling, remembering, realigning, and discovering who I am. It’s deeper than self-love; it’s a commitment to respect, honour and unconditionally accept the core Self that has been seeking safety from a (potentially) unsafe or painful world. Self-responsibility is a return to inherent, embodied power that comes of understanding your energy is yours and yours alone. Without it, life is missing a thread in its beautiful tapestry.

The reason the word self is so key in this equation is that it can be an empath’s downfall. Often the deep desire to heal and give to others becomes your reason for being. You may have long-held ideas that your Self is defined by this innate capacity to be there in service to others. That is not your Self. The desires, the joy, the inspirations, the passion, the curiosity, the things that light you up from deep within, that’s your Self attempting to express itself through you.

How many projects and dreams have I put aside in favour of other peoples’ needs, wants or desires? SO many. And they didn’t ask me to, I did it willingly, believing that to be how love looked. It’s okay, because it taught me. It brought me to this moment of understanding and expansion.

Without putting your Self in the equation, life continues to reflect experiences that feel like codependence and survival.

Healing Begins Within

There is huge healing here. I’ve been engaged in the dynamic of narcissistic relationships for most of my life, and this one key piece shifted something huge in my energy field. It’s about choosing YOU and your energetic integrity over all else so you can show up in the world as the most empowered, alive and vibrant light you can be.

The challenge is, sometimes your self-responsibility appears to others on the surface to be hugely irresponsible. That may be because you’re not following the collectively-defined ideas of what the word means, and you’re not showing up in ways that make others comfortable. It may be they’re so used to you taking responsibility energetically for their shit that they feel the loss as an affront. Give yourself permission to take 100% self-responsibility, including not worrying how others respond.

Don’t be too tied to external definitions, because empaths are here for a different purpose. We are here to help realign ideas of emotional engagement and heart-centred ways of being. You are walking the path less travelled and your purpose is to find YOU, first and foremost. From there, bring forth whatever comes through you in whatever ways bring you the most joy.

Look around your life to see if there are any tendrils of co-dependence; where you may be putting the needs of others ahead of your own. It doesn’t have to be a person – it can be a pet, a situation, a business, a client, a job… Are you doing what you do because of a desire to affect others or because it’s the natural expression of your heart’s truth and it feels so damn joyful?

Self-responsibility and Self-love

The addiction to caring for others’ energy can run so deep it feels natural even when it’s not healthy. I find myself at a different rock bottom and realize what I didn’t do last time was accept total self-responsibility. And the Universe has gently guided me here. This time I didn’t crash down, I floated ever so slowly like a feather on the wind. All the while, learning, observing and examining. And it has been a magical ride. Now I know and can feel the roots of my power. This time I know how to take hold and not let go.

I can commit to myself that whatever I do from this moment forward will be for my joy, expansion and desire to express my light in the world. I will bring the truth of my heart out in the open, not for the sake of others or because I owe it to the world for my existence, but because I love my Self so completely. And because it feels so unbelievably joyful!

I’ve heard it said that lack of self-love is the root of co-dependence; for me that was only partially helpful. This was the missing piece. Without self-responsibility, I couldn’t access true self-love. The missing piece lay somewhere deep in the disconnection from Self. When that is plugged back in, all the old stories fall away.

The mistakes you’ve made don’t define you. You are not the sum total of the stories you’ve been told about you. They were built on distractions designed to focus your attention and responsibility away from your shiny core; to place the story of your duty to others in your willing heart.

Take Stock of YOU

What beauty have you created in the world? Where does magic flow through you on a daily basis? When have you allowed the truth of your heart to shine its brightest? How many times have you felt successful in different areas of your life? All of these things are yours, aspects of your Self expressing through you. They are your responsibility and your joy. Do not allow contrary story lines to deny you the power in your truth.

Give yourself the gift of freedom by embracing Self-responsibility. The permission to soar is yours alone to give.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* For more on the empath-narcissist dynamic, please see An Empath’s Guide to Narcissists *

The Art of Self-appreciation

The Art of Self-appreciation

self-appreciation
from Pinterest (Brian Tran via Flickr)

How can you find self-appreciation in a world full of reflections that want you to believe you’re not good enough?

It’s important to find it, because it can reduce stress, increase well-being and engender heightened feelings of success.

What is healthy self-appreciation?

There’s a certain humility and relaxation that comes of confidently, quietly acknowledging your innate talents and gifts, and using them in ways that light your heart.

It’s not an ego-driven, vociferous exhortation of all your best assets, followed up by proof in the form of photos, documents and extraordinary testimonials.

The following list suggests a few ideas to make an art of self-appreciation.

1)   Drop the comparisons

This is a biggie. It’s easy to appreciate yourself when you’re the only one around. It becomes more difficult when someone else enters the picture and suddenly one of you is ‘less than’ in your mind. This is not only when self-judgements kick in, but also judgements of others as a way to make yourself feel better (which doesn’t work).

So, take it back to the initial idea: learn to appreciate yourself when you’re the only one around. Appreciate how you look, how you feel, the sound of your voice, the way you smell. Appreciate the amazing things you do in a day (even if they’re seemingly ‘small,’ like getting up, making a healthy breakfast and starting your work).

Your body is a miracle! It can move on its own, you can see, feel and breathe! Don’t compare today to yesterday, last week or last year, it’s all new. Every day offers a chance to be reborn and to begin appreciating more.

As you go out in the world, acknowledge and appreciate the diversity you see. Some people are tall, some aren’t; some are round, some are lean; and skin comes in a variety of shades. This is the incredible diversity we have available to us, to add to our unique journey through life. Everything you encounter adds a new piece of information to your day, and your life. Each person you meet has a different sense of the world, seen through their eyes. There can be no comparison, because the starting points are completely dissimilar.

Observing and comparing are two different things. In order to find resonance, discernment is necessary. If you take the value judgements out of comparison you’re left with observation and neutrality. That’s what you’re aiming for. As ever, it begins with you.

2)   Relinquish expectations

This will feel incredibly freeing as you begin to notice how much unhappiness springs from the expectation-disappointment cycle. Holding expectations of events or situations that haven’t yet happened is entirely unfair. It’s future-baiting, and it’s dishonest.

It’s one thing to feel anticipation or excitement for an event that holds mystery and potential, like a first date. Expectation is different; it feels weighty, laden with limitation and control, like an ‘if… then’ formula. If ____this____ happens… then I will feel ____this way____. The unspoken limitation is ‘if not… I will be disappointed.’ This is a subtle manipulation tactic, and isn’t an honest assessment of a situation because the intention on entering isn’t pure.

With an intention of appreciation, life flows smoothly and you’re open to infinite possibilities. This includes everything to do with the self. When you hold yourself to standards defined by you or someone else, you don’t appreciate all aspects of whatever arises. When you fail, you’ll believe your self to be a failure, instead of appreciating the experience as a great opportunity for personal growth.

Without expectation, it’s easier to appreciate every moment and every experience.

3)   Ease into the flow

This ties in to and expands on number 2.

So many people have their lives planned down to the last second. We live in a busy world, and are expected to be productive and active all the time. Planning seems to be a necessity, trying to fit all the activities, chores and fun into a day.

Here’s something to think about: over-planning limits your possibilities. If you have every moment of your life planned, it can lack spontaneity, which leads to incredible things.

When every moment is planned and there’s no room for flexibility, what happens when external circumstances (weather, traffic, etc) throw a wrench in the works? It’s harder to appreciate yourself and the moment when you’re in a state of worry that you won’t make the meeting despite your best-laid plans.

When you’re in a state of appreciation, you’re in a far better condition to respond to events that might throw you off. You’re relaxed, calm and know you can handle whatever arises in a creative and dynamic way. Then this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: the more you ease into the flow, the more you appreciate your natural ability to respond to life creatively.

4)   Head towards your Joy

Self-appreciation begins within. Obvious? One way to find it quickly is to follow the joy. Experiences that leave you feeling light and joyful are sure ways to appreciate whatever is happening in that moment, including ALL the choices you made to be there.

In a state of worry, constriction or anger, it’s hard to appreciate anything, let alone yourself. You might chastise yourself for poor decisions or awkward choices. That doesn’t help! As often as possible, head towards your joy, and you’ll find yourself appreciating life more and more.

From that point of view, you can turn the appreciation inwards, noticing how your joy affects the world around you (as within, so without). From the perspective of joy, it is easier to see past or current ‘mistakes’ as stepping stones, leading you on a merry path to a life filled with diverse and expansive experiences.

5)    Do a self-appreciation life review

This is a great way to find appreciation for yourself and your life, with all its ups and downs. Think of all your accomplishments and wisdom with pride and gratitude. What things do you feel you could have done better? Start making lists. List them all, the good, the bad and the ugly.

For example, if you had never failed or caused another pain, would you have learned to change the way you approached certain situations or people? If you had never owed money, you might not have had the opportunity to explore your feelings of value . All of life’s experiences have valuable information to offer, and all of them can be appreciated for one reason or another.

As you take stock of your life, you’ll find many reasons to appreciate yourself. You’ll likely find examples of things like resilience, strength, the capacity to learn and grow, the ability to love deeply, flexibility, a sense of humour, and many gifts and talents you’d forgotten about. You can do this regularly, adding new experiences to the list to see how they contribute to your constantly developing self.

Big Love,
~ Jenny

* I am the author of this post. You might find the original, which was used with my permission, without attribution, on Your Earth Angel (yourearthangel.com) *