Relating Empathy to Our Inner Sensitivity

Often the feelings of compassion, empathy and vulnerability are labelled as soft or even meek. If we pause and think about it there is a tremendous amount of strength that needs to be conjured up in order to be truly honest, open and vulnerable. That’s why I love the title of this month’s theme… the POWER of Empathy. There is a sensitive place within us that houses the feelings of compassion and empathy. It grows from having walked miles in your own shoes…. not someone else’s. It’s the by-product of cleaning up your inner systems so all of life grows brighter. When we feel connection and wholeness ourselves, we foster compassion and empathy for others. So, why do we close up and separate from wholeness? Here is one little piece of our amazing little puzzle of self.

Our bodies contain an element of primitive and instinctual energy forces, most easily understood as our “flight or fight” centres. It is our basic instinct to find food, shelter and safety. For most of us in North America these basic primitive needs are taken care of. The threat of physical danger and safety is no longer a daily concern. Logically we would think that these energy centres if unused would simply close up and get forgotten. But Einstein’s law states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred.

Our primal energy gets transmuted from a physical survival to a psychological survival. Where in the past we were like the deer running and hiding when we heard a physical threat, now when we hear a threat we still run and hide… but on the inside. We close down in an attempt to protect ourselves. It is a protective defence we have been implementing since we were small and has been playing out in our behaviours and patterns for most of our lives. Sounds all right from an initial understanding. Nothing wrong with protecting ourselves from feeling pain or hurt, yet here’s the flip side of that coin.

When we shut down and close off we have no filters from good vs. bad. It all shuts down. Our ability to be sensitive towards ourselves and feel empathetic towards others diminishes. Our protected areas become weaker and eventually there is no ability to grow because there is no space for freedom and movement. The energy centres when stagnant, are less receptive to what is coming in. We end up feeding our fears, insecurities and destructive patterns. When we operate from such a dense level it is challenging to get out of our own story let alone hold space for anyone else.

The strange thing is our society is totally okay with this. We have the means to bandage our inner challenges and we perceive this behaviour as acceptable. Think of how often we get anxious over what other people think of us. How bent out of shape we become if our material possessions get damaged or stolen, or how inwardly stressed we become if we can’t control our environments. If our physical body were this fragile we would label ourselves as sick. Yet on a psychological plane it’s socially acceptable. In fact we adore those who “have it together” or who are “highly disciplined.” But this process of inner protection merely masks what is hard to face within ourselves.

There comes a point in spiritual growth where we understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free. Because you are scared you lock yourself in your house and pull down the shades. Yet now it’s dark and you miss the sunshine. We cannot be protected and free at the same time. It’s impossible. So now we have the choice of every moment of everyday. Will this experience, this moment in time teach me to choose contraction or expansion? Will I choose the light or the dark? If you choose light you’ll reach a point of no return. The possibilities for expansion and connection are infinite. The spirit snipers will still be out there, the pain of life is still experienced. Yet now you learn to gather the tools to move the energy through you rather than trapping it in and closing down. Eventually, you shine a light on the understanding of the power of being compassionate, empathetic and sensitive.