Some people seem to always invite narcissists into their lives. They don’t mean to, it just happens. The dynamic fits like a glove. They might be recreating the family dynamics they grew up with while being raised by a narcissistic parent. That could well be true. The other reason, however, might be less nurture and more nature; they could be an Empath.
The Empath: The sensitive creator
Empaths, as they are referred to:
- are quick to experience emotion
- experience their emotions with high intensity and then quickly burn out, often feeling fatigued and a pressing need for solitude in order to recharge
- can sense and are very attuned to the emotions of others, even going as far as to take on these emotions, which can quickly drain their energy if they are not careful
- are good listeners and can sacrifice their attention for long periods of time
- have an extreme craving to connect with others emotionally, which often is stronger than reason and common sense
- have more difficulty than others in keeping up with daily life, and so are more prone to seeking out a higher power for guidance and support
- can more easily be influenced than others
The emotional world of an empath is vibrant. They are artists and dreamers. They inspire others with their energy and lust for life. Also, they crave love and connection more than other people. As a result of this deep need for emotional connection, their boundaries are usually weak, that is, their need for connection outweighs their need to protect themselves. They thrive on connection and suffer when isolated. Their emotional buttons are easier to push than non-Empaths.
The good, the bad and the beautiful
Not every environment can support the needs of Empaths. Modern society rewards academic ability, rational thought and corporate skill. What the Empath needs is attuned limbic resonance and a platform to express their true self. They have a constant need to experience the beauty which life has to offer and to resonate deeply with other human beings. Emotionally, they function at a much higher frequency than others. This often leads to misunderstandings and as a consequence, rejection. Empaths, due to their rich emotional world, are already hypersensitive to interruptions in connection. In many families, especially conservative, traditional or abusive ones, the needs of the Empath to be creative and to be deeply understood can be neglected. Worse, the Empath can be shamed for their ‘softness’. These unmet needs topped by constant shaming can leave the Empath with low self-esteem and an overwhelming craving for love, and not be aware why.
The wolf and the sheep
It takes consistent, attuned resonance from another person to satisfy the Empath’s hunger and maintain the Empath’s emotional equilibrium. They can’t just shut it off. The narcissist will smell this like a shark smells blood and swoop in. Their inner beauty and weak boundaries make them a gold mine of narcissistic supply. Narcissists know how to push emotional buttons, and they know that Empaths cannot help but respond. Also, the charm of the narcissist can be intoxicating and irresistible to the Empath. Most people are lukewarm whereas narcissists are very attentive at the beginning. To make the Empath fall for them, the narcissist will mirror and affirm the Empath’s emotional side. The Empath will think they have hit the jackpot, finally finding someone who can handle their intensity. It’s like a gravitational force which acts against their will and clouds their judgement. An Empath and a narcissist together create a perfect storm.
Also, due to their heightened emotional system, the Empath feels less secure in general. They need firm structures more than the next person. Although the situation is rarely threatening, even the smallest irritation can make the Empath feel instability and fear. These threat emotions can feel like loud warning bells and are very difficult to ignore. It is for this reason that Empaths gravitate to rigid structures with little thought as to the consequences.
Nobody ever really has all the answers, so your average person will not be able to offer the Empath the security they desire. In comes the narcissist, with their strong sense of (false) self and self-assuredness. The narcissist can provide the Empath structure, and as a result, the Empath will usually establish a relationship with the narcissist. The Empath will slowly realise how oppressive and manipulative this structure is but still tolerate the abuse, all in the name of security. That is how difficult it can be to endure the inner world of an Empath.
Fall Empath, fall
And so we can begin to understand why Empaths make the wrong choices and fall for the same ploys over and over again. This is not the end of the story, however. There is another way. The key is not for the Empath to run from the narcissist, but instead to allow themselves to fall. The Empath must first take the leap of faith, by breaking down the oppressive structures which they have been drawn into. This takes bravery, since doing so will induce great fear and panic. When the Empath finally agrees to fall, they begin their spiritual journey.
Outside of the oppressive structures, the Empath has a choice. They can see their gift not as a curse, but as a powerful force. As they embrace this force, the Empath can begin to pursue a life of art. Their overwhelming craving is not just for love, but for expression and the pursuit of beauty. They need to give a large part of themselves to the abstract realm and minimise analytical tasks as much as humanly possible. They will need to overcome the often found social stigma around being an artist and embrace their true nature. To consume and to create art will go a long way in quenching this thirst that seems never to end. The Empath won’t need to look far to see what kind of art they can do; they have often felt it since a young age. They simply need permission to pursue their art, which can only come from within.
The next step will be to find consistent, loving people who will offer the Empath the resonance they need; people who can feel as deeply as the Empath, and who can empathise with whatever the Empath feels. Oppressive structures simply will not work for the Empath. They need space where they can roam, express and feel accepted. They also need to be in an environment that is not too intrusive or manipulative. They need people who respect their boundaries, allow them to function at a high emotional frequency, and finally, people who allow them time for solitude to recharge when they have burnt too brightly.
Firm, spacious structures
By giving up the oppressive structures, the Empath will be faced with the challenge of establishing their own structures. Having a traditional career might be out of the question, and leaving some people behind who cannot tolerate the Empath’s high frequency might also be necessary. The Empath has a complicated set of requirements, so often they will need to be creative and unconventional as to how they achieve this. They will need to learn to embrace the emotional turmoil inside and become skilled at managing their complex lives while quenching their deep emotional thirst. They will need to find people who can support their self-chosen structure, and not people who will subject the Empath to their own strict, oppressive structures. In the face of manipulation and greed, the Empath must be vigilant.
Effectively, an Empath has two choices: leave their door open and allow narcissistic thieves to plunder their riches, or they can take control of the wheel, leaving the shame of heavy expectations behind and embracing their true nature. To shine brightly is what they were born to do.
As an Empath, it is especially crucial to arm yourself. Take a look at How To Kill A Narcissist to understand the dynamic of a relationship with a narcissist and how to overcome narcissistic abuse.