Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
There was a time a few years ago, Ok, maybe MORE than a few, when I would absorb the emotions of other people around me to the point where I couldn’t recognize emotions as being my own. This really sucked badly to the point where I had to do something about it. I made a decision, I was going to “toughen up.” Clint Eastwood, look out! Here comes Craig. If you don’t mind that is.
Truth is, I am a bit of a stoic, but the sensitive part of me was never going to go away. If I try to be tough, my empathy drags me back like some kid caught playing hooky from school. But here’s the thing: just because you can empathize and understand someone doesn’t mean that you have to AGREE with them. And this is where I learned what kind of strength I was going to have as a person. I learned to be both understanding and sympathetic without compromising myself. It’s an important distinction to make because to do this, you have to hold the view that your needs and desires are just as important as anybody else’s. (Just because I’m not doing anything important this weekend doesn’t mean that I’m going to help you move.)
To be strong, you have to give up the self importance that comes from being needed. (What? You just can’t manage without me? Well lucky you. Here’s your chance to get beyond your dependence on me.) You have to understand that the world will do fine without you and that by and large people will cope without your help. You have a right to your point of view which is no less valid than anyone else’s. Gaining this insight has a direct effect on the psychic ability to push the emotions of others out of heads. We don’t feel our own emotions unless we decide that they are more important to us than everyone else’s.
We have to do this while they are often trying as hard as they can to make their emotions and ideas more important than ours. When you look at it closely, what you find are an awful lot of people whose ideas and opinions very closely match their own self interest. An example of this is when recent immigrants to the United States are clamoring for us to accept cultural diversity. They talk big about the importance of keeping traditions and honoring their heritage. The implication of course, is that you are a selfish pig for not wanting to put up with their cultural differences. The whole thing is framed to make other people uncomfortable with challenging them. What they really mean is that they don’t want to change and they don’t want to face the social problems associated with not changing.
I am just using this as an example and it is an excellent one because the presence of strong influences from another culture, particularly language, makes people uncomfortable. Even though I have my degree in Spanish and have been taught since childhood about Mexican culture I am still uncomfortable if I walk into a large box store and find Spanish on the signs everywhere and the clerks are all Hispanic. At some level, I feel a threat to my culture.
Because of my exposure to other cultures I am not particularly surprised by this, nor do I try to deny it. Where I differ from the mainstream view is that I hold this to be no less valid than the issues of the immigrants. I’m not telling myself that I shouldn’t feel this way; I know better. The cultural clash can be summed up this way: Neither group wants to change and would much prefer that the other group do all the changing to accommodate them. There is an important point here. I’m not saying my emotional reaction is more valid, only equal in value.
A lot of relationships have this element to them. You just have to take out all the guilt, fear and baloney arguments that get tossed around to see this. Generally, if someone else needs to change for you to feel good, you’re doing it wrong. Conversely, if you need to change for someone else to feel better, they’re doing it wrong. Pushing back against this is one of the more effective ways of not being an emotional sponge anymore.
You have to take action in your life to stop being a sponge on the physical side, by standing your ground, before the psychic part of not taking on other people’s emotions will take effect. It’s just the way it is. There is no cheat code for this. You have to clear out every dungeon level and get your experience points before you can get the effects.
As sensitive people, we cannot be sponges and be empowered at the same time. We were not meant to be emotional ping pong balls, but rather we were meant to be strong and use our sensitivity to everyone’s advantage, including our own. We cannot care for other people without caring for ourselves, otherwise we will be trying to do too much with too little.
There is such a thing as both sensitive and strong.