As I shared last week, emotional stress has caused me to develop a chronic illness. Through my time learning self and social awareness, I’ve learned that I’m an emotional person (an “empath” as many call it). I’m also highly intuitive about things that others may be feeling (I can easily help people understand their own feelings) and things going on that others don’t know or think they’re trying to hide. I can analyze texts or emails from a toxic person and share what he or she really means.
Although many from my past tried to change this about me, or make me feel irrational for being this way, I now know this is how God created me.
Being emotionally intuitive doesn’t make me mental, or abnormal, it makes me… me!
Not only do I feel all of my emotions, but I feel the emotions of those around me. I find it very difficult not to absorb someone else’s negative or angry energy, feel stressed in a chaotic world, or feel pain when being psychologically manipulated through someone else’s words or actions. I have to work even harder to control my own emotions when around someone who is narcissistic, depressed, or on a downward emotional spiral. Although I feel a need to help (the “fixer” in me), I often have to disengage for my own health so as not to pollute my own feelings and emotions.
These are all the things I’ve learned in my divorce healing recovery process. Today, I’m sharing these learned skills with you.
Separate from the emotions of others.
Do you start to feel anxious or angry when you’re around someone who is angry? Or just being around someone who is upset? Do you fear sharing how you really feel, when you feel hurt by their words or behaviors, knowing someone will discount your feelings, project back the problem to you, or make you feel crazy for having these emotions?
We are all separate individuals with separate feelings and emotions. I understand how hard it is to keep myself from being entangled in someone else’s feelings. This is where boundaries have helped me to separate myself from their problems. Boundaries are the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and for those that we love.
I have to remind myself that I cannot solve anyone’s problems but my own. I can plant seeds of healthy behavior, I can love and walk with someone in supportive ways, but I can’t do the work for them. This is especially true for my adult children. I can’t fix our relationship, the relationship they walked away from, just by being a loving, caring person.
I often have to put up blinders to the world around me just to be at peace in my own life. I’m better able to handle my own emotions (and support/encourage divorcing women) when not around others who try to manipulate my emotions with their dysfunctional lives.
Deal with your emotions in a healthy way.
I wasn’t able to find the skills I needed from my Christian counselor to handle my emotions (and those felt by others) in a healthy way during my divorce. I walked into a meeting with my (now-ex) husband and his lawyer, who was blatantly lying and trying to manipulate the situation, unable to deal with it in a positive way.
Holding in your emotions and pretending they don’t exist is not a healthy way to deal with emotions. As I shared in one of my newest videos on YouTube, we need to emotionally process things that go on in our lives. After very lengthy emails, ladies will say just the act of writing that all out has helped them to start to process their situation.
This is also why I repeatedly suggest journaling through your divorce healing as a way to cope with all of the feelings and emotions, especially if you have no one walking closely with you on this journey (besides God). We also need to put a name to each of our feelings (anger, disappointment, sadness, etc.). Process through each and every one of them. And then decide to whom those feelings belong.
Give yourself permission to be who God created you to be.
For many years I turned off the highly prospective intuition that told me when someone was being deceptive or untrustworthy. I had dreams of my husband having an affair, to have him tell me I was crazy when my dreams were actually true. I didn’t say anything when I knew internal turmoil, projected at me, was caused by the sin he was trying to hide.
Since my divorce, I have allowed God to slowly give back the gift of intuitiveness that He’s blessed me with. This is simply a fact about myself, how God created me. If you’re highly emotional and feeling all the emotions, this is who God created you to be too. Don’t allow someone else to change this about you.
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. – Romans 12:15 NLT
It is a gift to feel empathy for others and deep feelings within yourself. We may take things a lot harder than someone else, but being sensitive doesn’t make us weak or damaged. It doesn’t even make us “different.” Neither having great emotion or having none is not right or wrong. We are free to be all that we are created to be. We just need to find positive ways and safe places to handle these God-given gifts.
Find your inner circle of friends who allow you to be everything God created you to be… and accept you, emotions and all.
And be gentle with yourself. You’re God’s precious creation… and He loves you and all of your emotions, even if no one on this earth does. Remember, just hold tightly to Him during this time.
Are you an emotional person too? Emotional or not, how are you handling your emotions during this journey?
May God bless your healing journey,
Jenny N. says
Learning about being an empath and being highly intuitive has been very eye-opening to me. I never realized I was different then most of the people around me. I thought everyone could sense when someone was sad or upset. I can’t tell you how many times I “read” someone’s emotions that they were trying to hide and then said something like, “How did you know?” I just knew and could also see it in their face even though they were trying to hide it.
I don’t know how many times over the course of my life say I’ve been accused of being “too sensitive.” I’m not a Drama Queen at all, so my reactions and feelings were always sincerely felt and not meant for manipulation. I sometimes felt ashamed of my emotions and feelings, because I was made to feel like they were wrong.
When I was maybe ten years old, I spent the night at a girlfriends house. Her and her siblings were not well supervised and the older siblings were starting to drink alcohol and steal. That night I felt very unsafe even though nothing bad ever happened to me or my friend. My girlfriend wanted me to sleepover again, but I told her that I wanted to go home. At home my brother shamed me for saying I didn’t want to sleepover again and said to me, “You are a bad friend.” Funny, not funny, but years later my dad said the exact same words when I was distancing myself from a friend who repeatedly hurt me. I was trying to keep myself safe, but was shamed for it.
I can now see why I didn’t trust my gut/Holy Spirit when I came to my now ex-husband. He gave me an “off” feeling once in awhile before we ever got engaged. Plus there were all the red flags that I either missed or just plain ignored. When you are told most of your life that your feelings are wrong, you start to not trust your feelings that will keep you safe.
Like you, I’m learning not to absorb other people’s feelings when I need to be with them and can’t leave. And I’m also learning to leave when I can. A few months back I was talking to my sister and I told her it feels like a curse in a way to be and empath. All my feelings can be so strong and if I’m surrounded by a lot of people, especially unhealthy people, I can feel their energy or feelings; it can be very overwhelming. I have yet to figure out why God made me this way, but He did for a reason. I’m trying my best to accept who I am and that is a daily baby step process. My entire life I have felt like there is something wrong with me and that I’m not good enough, because I know that I’m different than most people around me. And then when you add in being a Christian, well, I’m even more different then most of the people I work with. It can be lonely, but I’m not alone with God by my side.
Jen Grice says
I understand completely, Jenny. But please know you’re not alone! We don’t often broadcast our empath title, but there are others out there. There are other websites where empaths share their stories.
I believe God has set apart people like us. My own Christian mentor shared that the curtain between God and us is especially thin. He gives us access to His inner space. Through learning more and accepting this path, I feel even closer to God and I hear from Him. This also protects me from future harm. Like you I have always known if someone was safe or not. But yep, ignored the red flags to marry someone who would harm me. What a great learning lesson. Now I trust that intuition and listen when it (or the Holy Spirit) tells me to disengage for my safety.
Thank you for sharing your story! Glad to have you along on this journey to learning and growing into our authentic selves (after divorce).
Cindy S. says
Wow, both this article and the first comment above really hit me. Now I know why I’ve been different my whole life. What you explained is exactly how I feel and how I am. I’ve always felt that was different and I’ve always been told I was different but in a bad way. I feel so many things that today driving on the freeway I cried just because somebody had to pull over because their vehicle was overheating. I felt bad for them I didn’t want anybody to have to suffer. I feel so much that I start thinking I’m crazy and everybody else is normal. I’ve been labeled as a drama queen which I’m not, paranoid which I’m not, too emotional which I am, and never applauded for my discernment. But it never fails me. After 36 years of marriage and 41 years with the same man, I am going through a torturous divorce. He is a sex addict, likely bipolar but refusing help, a compulsive liar, and definitely narcissistic personality disorder is a problem. I wonder how I lived this way for 41 years. But we’ve both been Christians even though I’m unsure about him, and so I prayed and I waited and I tried to be the right wife. But I found out that during the entire marriage he has been with so many women I couldn’t possibly count. He has been emotionally and verbally abusive. And sometimes I really believe that emotional abuse, infidelity, betrayal, and lies, should all be considered abuse like physical abuse is. Imagine how many men would be prosecuted and found guilty. I’m getting ready to meet with my lawyer and I downloaded your notebook. I used all the sheets and reprinted many of them. It is now almost 3 in thick my notebook. But it has helped me get a handle on it. I have never lived alone as I was a teenager living with my parents and got married at 21. I am so alone where I live and I have no family to turn to. Friends have disappeared. And my son is 28 years old but deals with autism. I’ve had a heart transplant, and the first person in the world to get a pancreas transplant after a heart. I have three types of cancer, and kidney disease. This divorce is so painful and he’s trying to remain a control freak he’s lying and he’s acting like the victim. It’s so hard to face such an empty evil person and believe that he was a worship leader for many years in church and my husband. My son is devastated. And it 57 years old I have no idea where I belong. So thank you for everything you write. And thank you for not making it a black-and-white situation. I appreciate what you do.
Jen Grice says
You’re welcome! I’m so glad you found some encouragement and your truth here. I know many women discover who they really are, during and after divorce. Glad to have you along on this journey to healing. God is with you!