Empath Survival: Five Steps For Balanced Giving and Receiving

People are often shocked to discover they are empathic. They simply never questioned their ability to sense what is going on inside others, or their innate ability to take care of those around them.

The empath’s natural compassion, generosity, and caring are wonderful traits—the world would be a better place if more people dared to care for others in this way. As Maya Angelou put it: “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”

At the same time, empathic tendencies can backfire when not properly balanced. Spending all one’s energy taking care of others leaves empathic people feeling depleted and unsupported. This can lead to a negative spiral of give, give, give… until you give up!

While navigating human relationships is a lifelong task for everyone, empathic people can make things easier on themselves by understanding a few core principles:

  1. Differentiate between empathy and compassion

Empathy without boundaries leads to overwhelm and burnout. Empathic people often feel the pain and emotions of others, yet feel helpless about what they can do about it. They simply take on more and more of these emotions until they are overwhelmed. This self-destructive behavior leads to incapacitation and disempowerment for both the troubled person and the empath that picks up on their emotion.

Compassion, on the other hand, feels the deep emotion of others without taking it on personally. Compassion allows a person to recognize the emotion or pain of another, and then to consider possible actions that could be taken to render a helpful service to the other.

Compassion may lead the empathic person to say a simple prayer for the other, or to give them words of encouragement without personally taking on their emotion. At times, compassion may even guide the empathic person to recognize that there is nothing to be done about a situation, and thus to gently disconnect from it.

  1. Distinguish between service and sacrifice.

There is a fundamental difference between service and sacrifice that is critical for success. Empathic people often think that service entails self-sacrifice, and because they are so caring, they end up giving more than is healthy.

Service and sacrifice are not the same thing—service focuses on the value others get from us, whereas sacrifice describes what we give up for others.

If you come from a limited viewpoint, you may think that others can only receive when you give something up. But sacrifice is not a requirement for service! When you smile at somebody, the other person can receive joy from that smile without it taking anything away from you—in fact, it will typically lift your spirits too!

In fact, sacrifice happens when service is pushed beyond the limits of healthy boundaries. If we are to be effective in our service to others, we absolutely need to be mindful of honoring our own boundaries so we can be of service without sacrificing our own needs.

Empathic people especially need to learn how to take care of themselves first, so that they can have the energy and stamina to take care of others. This will help them focus on true service rather than sacrifice.

You can tell you’ve sacrificed yourself for another when it leaves you with less—less energy, less motivation, less happiness. This often leads to resentment later.

In contrast, when you’ve acted in the spirit of true service, you’ll have a sense of more afterwards- more satisfaction, more connection, more love, and more alignment to your purpose.

  1. Learn how to balance polar opposites.

Polarity refers to the relationship between two opposites that are interdependent. Caring for self and caring for others are two sides of such a polarity.

Balance is key here. It’s impossible to focus on only one pole and expect it to go well. If we only give to others and ignore the need for self-care, we will ultimately burn out and become a lot less fun to be with. Likewise, avoiding the polarity of self-care, will cause the polarity of care for others to suffer as well.

When we learn to balance the polarities in our lives by giving both poles adequate and equal attention, we avoid burnout.

  1. Stay open to receive from others.

Most empathic people become so overwhelmed by the energy drains they experience when they are surrounded by people whom they see as takers that they will look for ways to avoid interaction with others. As a result, they may not allow themselves to receive much from other people even though receiving is very different than taking.

Empaths are essentially givers, and while this is a beautiful intention, giving without receiving is imbalanced and eventually becomes unsustainable. When we limit the amount of support we receive, we also limit what we can give to others. In contrast, receiving support from others can help us become much more effective at giving.

Empathic people need to work at finding balance between receiving and giving. This may require asking for help, receiving support and letting go of the idea that you have to do everything by yourself.

  1. Learn to say “no.”

We all have a limited amount of time in our days. Learning how to make space for the truly important things in each day is critical—and one way to do that is through the power of saying “no.”

Empathic and service-oriented people typically dislike saying no. And yet, learning to say “no” to the distractions in life, will free up precious time and energy for the things that truly matter.

My rule of thumb is simple: Say “yes” when you can do so with a happy heart, and learn to say “no” without guilt. This will ensure that you stay aligned with your core values, your purpose and your inner balance.

Being empathic can be a great gift—and great gifts tend to come with equally great responsibility. When you learn how to temper, channel and protect this gift, you will be able to enjoy the enrichment it offers.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Individuation: Its Cost and Benefits

Human beings are strange and miraculous creatures.  From our first moment in life we hurtle toward uniqueness and individuation. We seek it out individuation at all cost, yet this sense of individuation comes at a price: for every door we step through, any number of others are closed.  We become who we are at the expense of who we are not.

Recognizing there is a cost to every path we choose and coming to terms with that, is not easy. Before we reach acceptance, we often resent the circumstances of our lives; we resist the limitations on our path and focus on what is lacking. We define ourselves by what we are not, and this leads to envy, resentment, anger and bitterness.

Once we accept the process and price of individuation, we can turn toward gratitude instead. We give thanks for the miracle of life and all it has brought us. We are humbled by blessings and double our efforts to build upon it, using our lives as vehicles to enrich the tapestry of humanity.

We learn to accept our brilliance with humility and to forgive our shortcomings with grace. We learn to respect our dreams, acknowledge our fears and measure ourselves against a simple standard: how we conduct ourselves to leave a living legacy for generations that will follow. Instead of envying what others have, we celebrate in them the gifts and blessings not present in ourselves, because we know their unique gifts are not threats to be envied, but gifts that offer wholeness and diversity to our world.

At times, we may look back and think our lives have turned out to be less than we dreamed of. We may even stumble or fall along life’s path. This is not a crime. The crime is in refusing to get up and continue, or failing to embrace others who have fallen in their own way.

We will probably never be as good or worthy as we wish to be. Yet if we can forgive ourselves for our failures, we find grace to forgive others theirs. Ultimately, it sets us free to make the most with what we have.

When I think of the life I have been blessed with, I am humbled beyond words. I could never have imagined this life at the start. Its unique unfolding is a miracle, a treasure of unexpected grace. Though I am not what I once thought I should be, I am more than I might have hoped for. The landscape of my life fills me with immense gratitude.

Today, I know that I will never be a wealthy philanthropist who can eradicate poverty and disease on a national scale, or a mother surrounded by extended family, or even a mystic leading a life of pure spiritual consciousness unencumbered by the cares of the world.

But I do know that I am blessed. I am privileged to touch and transform many lives one by one; my path allows me to offer nurturing and love to all my relations, human or otherwise; and I get to walk between the worlds of spirit and earth, nature and society, where I can help restore health, harmony and hope.

I am honored to play a part in healing the world we live in by making the most of the gifts and opportunities I do have. It is my way of giving thanks for the miracle of life.

About the author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Authentic Living Brings Peace, Joy and Power

I write about peace, joy and power not because I have mastered it, but because these qualities are the hallmarks of authentic living. As such, I am always learning how to bring more of these qualities into my own life.

Living authentically requires us to practice what we teach: to the degree that I am able to live from my core of harmony and truth, I am able to help others discover these qualities in their lives also.

Along the way, I’ve come to realize that living authentically – from one’s core –  brings true peace, joy and power; it defines who we become, and is not something we simply acquire.

The profound sense of peace that comes from authentic living far exceeds the temporary high of shopping, distractions, entertainment or other forms of pleasure. While physical distractions and activities can bring a temporary sense of happiness, it can never compensate for the lack of inner bliss that pervades so much of western society.

Authentic living means something much deeper. It means living life in harmony with your inner value system; becoming still enough to listen to the Inner Voice that guides you; and if needs be, to march to a different drum than that which drives the marketplace. Authentic living also means acting from a place and in a way that nourishes and respects your body, mind and spirit continuously.

Authentic living requires you to align your life with your core values and beliefs so that your actions become congruent with your truth. It asks of you to make choices that align your external actions with your soul’s ultimate purpose at any given time, choosing to do what energizes and renews you from the inside out. It means owning your  inner truth, so that your outer life becomes transformed by that inner wellspring of life.

As you start aligning your actions, choices, and behaviors with your inner truth, something magical happens: it triggers a release of authentic personal power that may have been long dormant. You’ll become ever more aware of a deep inner Presence that brings peace, joy and harmony to every area of your life.

Sharing the way to this blissful space is my passion. And yes, you can live from this space, too!

All human beings have spiritual thirst: we desire to connect with our inner truth; we want to tap deep into the inner well of sacred power and joy that we may know about but don’t quite know how to reach.

Finding this place requires you to make space for spirituality in your life. It may call for some serious spiritual and emotional housecleaning. You may have to clean out old beliefs and behaviors, getting rid of mental clutter and self-destructive habits that linger in the forgotten corners of your life.

The results of authentic living, personal transformation and inner bliss will be worthwhile in every way!

The process will gradually redefine how you see life, yourself and others. You’ll find yourself able to let go of what others may think to cultivate more authenticity. It will help you establish healthy boundaries, while opening up the way for you to live from your authentic inner power.

Over time, you’ll find your perspective shifting from self-judgment to healthy self-respect. Aligning with this power will fill your life with the bliss of living authentically from your true core – and loving it.

In you search for peace, joy and power, remember you were created to play big, not small. Playing big is your inherent birthright as a soul. Spirit is always ready to heap on you all the bliss you can stand, but you need to make space for it in your life.

Why not let go of things that don’t serve you and create space for authentic living now, so you can enjoy that inner peace and power!

About The Author
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Twelve Steps To Simplify Your Life

Ever wish that you could simplify your life by tuning down the daily stress to find more balance? If so, you’re not alone.

Stress is a destructive by-product of modern life that can wreak havoc at many levels. It can corrode your health, your work performance, your relationships and your well-being until you break down at your weakest link.

Add to that the bad habit of juggling too many commitments while being bombarded by a steady stream of social media, email, advertising and other forms of energetic spam, and it can turn downright nasty. Simply too much information!

No wonder that large numbers of people are joining the voluntary simplicity movement, recognizing how simple living can help alleviate tension-related symptoms such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, neck and shoulder spasms and even chronic fatigue.

Now, I’m not advocating that you quit your day job to go live on Walden Pond, but there are ways that you can simplify your life and reduce stress.

If you want to reduce stress in your life, you absolutely need to limit the amount of information you expose yourself to. Being swamped by stimuli does not improve quality of life; it simply causes more stress.

We can all use more simplicity in our lives. From decluttering our closets to weeding out the vampires and energy drains in our lives, an effective approach requires that we address these forms of clutter at all levels: body, mind and spirit.

Here are a few ideas that can help you simplify your life so you’ll have more time to smell the roses:

  1. Set the appropriate tone for your day. Create a morning routine that influences the rest of your day in a positive manner. Enjoy your morning cuppa outside in nature, start your day with meditation, or do some devotional reading. You will reap the results of peace and calm throughout your day.
  2. Decide what is most important to you. When you are clear on the important things in your life, it becomes easier to say no to the random demands that may be well-intentioned, but conflict with what’s truly important. Prioritize by acting on the most important things first each day before you assign remaining time and energy to other demands.
  3. Learn to say no without guilt. Over-extending yourself complicates your life. Learn to say ‘no’ when you are unable to accommodate demands with a happy heart, and you will find it easier to say ‘yes’ when you are able to. It is important to realize that saying no to some things allows you to say yes to other, more important things.
  4. Create white space. Instead of stuffing your schedule with activities, leave some space for the unexpected. The extra time will allow you meet your commitments without feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Likewise, resist clutter by leaving some empty space in your physical home or office – it will create a sense of simplicity and you’ll have less cleaning to do!
  5. Take a media break. By restricting the constant stream of negativity, opinionating and propaganda on mainstream media, you can create space for your own thoughts. Silence is a gift. Learn to embrace pockets of silence in your day and you will find it easier to stay in the present instead of worrying about the future.
  6. Stop multi-tasking. Have you ever felt ignored by someone who keeps interrupting your conversation to check incoming texts and answer calls? People who do this most likely operate from a place of FOMO – fear of missing out. In reality, their need to be included everywhere all the time creates excessive anxiety. It is also disrespectful of others. When you are with someone, the biggest gift that you can give them is to be fully present with them. There will be enough time afterwards to catch up with other interests.
  7. Do more with less. Learn how to love and appreciate what you have instead of wanting more. When you express gratitude for the things you have, you signal to the Universe to bring you more of it. Start by expressing gratitude for your eyesight, hearing, and the ability to breathe. Instead of wanting a perfect body, appreciate the beating of your heart. Learn how to turn your circumstances into blessings by looking for what is good and positive about them.
  8. Evict the vampires in your life! Life is truly too short and too precious to waste time on toxic relationships and frenemies. Always remember that you have the power to remove yourself from negative and abusive people – they will usually not lead the way because of the attention they get from you. You don’t need to demonize another to let go of the relationship; you simply need to recognize when it is no longer a two-way street. Give thanks for what they have taught you, hand them back to the Universe with gratitude, and open your heart to the next person who can share your journey.
  9. Automate What You Can. When you put some of life’s routine duties on autopilot, you relieve stress in two ways: You save time by not having to do the task and you don’t clutter your mind to remember the task. Start with automating your irrigation system, programming your home thermostat, signing up for automatic bill pay options, or scheduling maintenance services out a few months at a time.
  10. Do a daily review. At the end of each day, spend a few minutes to review your day. What did you do well? Celebrate your success with gratitude. Did you fail at something? Look at why it did not succeed and what you could do differently the next time, so you don’t have to repeat the mistake. Did some tasks remain undone or new ones arise? Write them down to free your mind so you can have a good night’s rest.
  11. Take care of your body. A healthy body is much better able to handle stress, while illness can cause great amounts of additional stress. If you want to enjoy quality of life in a stressful world, you cannot afford to neglect your body. At the very times you feel that you simply don’t have enough time to eat a healthy diet, exercise or get enough sleep, it is important to recognize that you need those things the most!
  12. Renew your spirit. Stressful thoughts and emotions imprint on the cells in a matter of seconds. Just as you need to cleanse your body of accumulated dirt and grime each day, it is important to cleanse your soul as well. You can do that by taking up a meditation practice, engaging in prayer, spiritual learning or personal growth work.

Remember, you are an eternal soul inhabiting a physical body in space and time. Everything that is truly meaningful in life begins and ends with Spirit. The more you shift your perspective from the mundane issues of duality-based reality, to living from the timeless perspective of the soul as observer/witness, the more peace you will experience. It will free you from the superficial urgencies of daily life and help poise you in a place of peace, which is the essence of simplifying your life.

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

When Compassion Turns Neurotic

Compassion is essential to human well-being and should be practiced by all of us. To do so, we need to discern between healthy compassion and its cheap imitations: pity and blind compassion.

The cheap counterfeits to true compassion operate on avoidance. Pity seeks to avoid involvement and confrontation by placating from a distance. Blind compassion avoids tough love and defending healthy boundaries. It cuts everyone far too much slack, making excuses for others’ behavior and acting nice in situations that require a clear voice of dissent and personal boundaries.

We often turn a blind eye to the actual issues confronting us and resort instead to the wishy-washy approach of blind compassion which keeps love too meek and kind. Why do we do this?

Most of the time, we practice mealy-mouthed, blind compassion because we mistakenly think compassion should be meek. We are also afraid of upsetting anyone, and we wish to avoid confrontation. Ugh! By compromising on our truth, we turn into resonance junkies who are afraid to say “no” and try to please everyone around us instead.

There is a price to pay for this compromise. When we’re afraid to say “no” with any real authority, our “yes” also becomes anemic and powerless. And by muting our truth, this wishy-washy attitude reflects a lack of compassion and respect for ourselves.

Blind compassion also causes conflicted emotions in us: it confuses anger with aggression, forcefulness with violence, judgment with condemnation, caring with exaggerated tolerance, and moral maturity with spiritual correctness. It ultimately frames us as powerless victims because it silences our inner truth while tolerating and empowering the neurotic, boundary-bashing behavior of others.

In order for us to take our power back and live from a place of true compassion, we need to first return to being honest with ourselves. We need to acknowledge the pain, fear or threat that is triggered in us by others. By honestly allowing ourselves to feel the full emotional impact of what we have experienced, we are able to neutralize and forgive it.

Authentic forgiveness becomes possible only when we give ourselves permission to feel our hurt and meet it with true compassion. It also requires our willingness to experience some interim relationship conflict as we interrupt the dysfunction that has caused the pain.

When we act from this place of self-honesty and forgiveness, we access the power of true compassion. That true compassion empowers us to take appropriate action when necessary. It can be fierce when it needs to interrupt neurotic behavior, without any loss of caring in the process.

True compassion is a powerful form of tough love which ultimately leads to respect and clarity in relationship with ourselves and others.

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Three Strategies To Cope With Stress

Stress is an inevitable byproduct of modern life, and it is compounded by the fact that most of us have too much to do and too little free time. Your very survival depends on how well you learn to cope with stress.

Are you getting seven hours of free time a day? According to new research from Direct Line Insurance, seven hours – or six hours 59 minutes to be precise – is the minimum we need for perfect work/life balance. The reality, of course, is a different matter. On average, we tend to only get around four free hours daily due to time pressures at work and home.

Work and free time used to coexist in a state of relative equilibrium up until 1995 – around the time that personal computer use really took off. Since then, the optimal balance between work and play has steadily been deteriorating because of longer work hours, increased accessibility of wireless phone and networks, and the resulting stream of 24/7 demands.

Quite frankly, stress is a killer. It is responsible for 40% of work-related illnesses. A large international study recently found that stress can increase the likelihood of a heart attack by almost 50%. Stress has also been implicated in a host of health problems including back pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine, asthma, digestive problems, infertility and allergies.

Moreover, scientists found that an individual is affected as much by their perception of stress as by the actual levels of stress they experience. In other words, stress triggers the body’s physiological fight or flight response, whether the stress is an actual reality or simply something you think about as bad.

In fact, most of our mental or emotional stress is caused by our resistance to what’s happening or to the situation we’re in. Our bodies interpret resistance as stress.

Since it is a fact of modern life, is it essential to your health and well-being that you learn how to cope with stress effectively. And the first strategy is to adjust your attitude.

Adjust Your Attitude

If you expect life to show up in the way that you want, your day can be filled with frustration and stress.

If, on the other hand, you recognize that you do not have absolute control over what shows up in your day, you can let go of resisting it and focus on a more effective response: you can control your attitude and the way you respond to life.

By shifting your attitude to do what you can with what shows up instead of resisting it, you are letting go of the dissonance that causes stress.

Just think about it: today is the very future you’ve been worried and anxious about. Your future has shown up and you are still here, still breathing! Stressing about it did not change the course of time – it merely added to your levels of annoyance, frustration, worry and fear. Stressing does not change the course of life; it simply makes you unhappy and causes disease.

The way I see it, tomorrow will show up anyway. You can choose to stress and worry about it, or you can choose to trust in a benevolent universe doing what it knows to do. And since stress only hurts you, you might as well choose to trust. When you accept that there is an Intelligence far greater than your own that created life and is still at the center of all that unfolds, you will experience peace of mind instead… and you will cope with stress more effectively.

At times, it may appear as if your life is adrift on the stormy seas of life, and there is no land in sight. These are the times when you need to remember that the Universe knows your name. Wherever you may find yourself, you are intimately known – and supported – by your Creator.

The answers may not always show up in the way or at the time you expected – just let go of resisting what shows up and let it guide you to a healthier response. The outcomes may surpass anything you’d imagined!

Once you’ve made this all-important attitude adjustment, there are numerous practical steps you can take to cope with stress. I lump most of them together in two groups: proper self-care and healthy boundaries.

Practice Proper Self-Care

The most common way people cope with stress is by consuming sugar or alcohol. Having an energy drink doesn’t help either – these products are stimulants that ultimately backfire because a stressed body is already hyper-stimulated. Over time, they contribute to adrenal exhaustion or burnout.

Instead, take a break away from your desk when you feel stressed. Move your body – go for a brief walk. Refocus your mind and focus on your breathing. Slow down your breathing; breathe deep into the belly and exhale slowly.

Take care of your body by preparing and enjoying healthy, nutritious meals. Take extra B-vitamins. Have an early night to catch up on sleep.

Call a friend, love your pet or find ways to make you to make you laugh – it is physically impossible for the body to be relaxed and stressed at the same time. A colleague recently told me how he collapsed on the couch after work one night, exhausted from the day’s stress, and started watching Disney cartoons until he’d laughed so much, all the stress drained from his body. His favorite was Donald Duck in Early to Bed – you can watch it on YouTube here.

When you interrupt the body’s physiological response to stress in this way, you prevent it from escalating. Beyond that, you can learn specific relaxation strategies and techniques. You can even take up yoga or go for a massage.

Start by taking small steps: push back against stress by nurturing yourself. Proper self-care or relaxation is not a luxury; it is essential if you want to stay healthy and effective.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Realistically, you may not be able to quit your stressful job cold turkey or move to a desert island to avoid stress. But doing something to cope with stress is clearly better than doing nothing!

Nobody else knows just where your personal limits are, so it is up to you to create healthy boundaries in your life.

Learn to say ‘no.’ Don’t let others guilt you into an onerous commitment that leaves you resentful because you are spread too thin. Say no without guilt, and you will be able to say yes with a happy heart when the right opportunity shows up.

Review your support system. Are too many people draining your energy? Are your friendships providing support and sustenance for both parties? Perhaps it is time to eliminate the frenemies who leave you drained, or to enlarge your circle for more comprehensive support.

After an intense workday, set healthy boundaries by turning off your phone when you finally get to spend time with family. And just as you would schedule a meeting at work, you need to schedule enjoyable activities during your free time.

Take a sabbatical. Friends have learned that I do not respond to email or socialize on Sundays. I fast words – taking a much needed break to spend time in nature, meditate, garden or even just watch the birds at the feeder. This mini-sabbatical lets me start the workweek with renewed clarity and vigor.

Above all, know that you are not alone. Everyone deals with stress; yet you can learn to cope better by learning skills to adjust your attitude, practice proper self-care and set healthy boundaries.

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

 

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