How Empaths and Hypersensitives Can Prevent Mental Breakdowns
Advice from a fellow hypersensitive empath.
Being an empath isn’t unique, but it seems we’re few and far between being surrounded by people who are taught to suppress their true feelings. We treasure the freedom of sensing the truth, listening to our intuition, and just knowing. It’s really awesome, but depending on our personality, this ability can become a burden leading to a mental breakdown and worse.
I believe there are four key things an empath or hypersensitive personality needs to learn to prevent a mental breakdown in the works. Some of us develop personality disorders, mood disorders, and the like because we weren’t taught how to handle an overstimulation of the senses. I’m hoping after you read this, you’ll realize that not only are you not alone, but that there’s also hope.
Learn How To Sense Harmful Situations and People
Not every place and person comes with a “Danger! Do Not Enter!” sign, but because you’re an empath, your "danger" sign is a feeling in your gut or a headache or even a bad dream. One common person the empath crosses paths with is the narcissit. When they're a parent or guardian, it's just as bad and if you understand that pain and happen to be a fan of horror stories, you'll like my short story "Autonomy Bleeds Black". My own hypersensitivity is what helped me write this story and address a question you should ask yourself: Why do you ignore your gut feeling? I think you already know why, but let me elaborate on your lack of self-trust.
You may have been raised not to trust yourself and instead trust the authorities around you, even though they are flawed and may have even failed you. It’s also not a social norm to stand out (unless you become famous and wealthy instantaneously). You’re taught to follow the status quo. Even if there is a giant “DO NOT ENTER!” sign, if the group goes, you go or be judged. When you go through that for at least a solid decade (aka the majority of your childhood), you’re not going to be sure of what to do with your gut feeling. Well, I’m happy to encourage you to start listening to it! It never was a "wrong" thing to feel and only you can decide which situations and people are good for you because you know yourself best and you're still learning. You are not a sheep; you are a free spirit and to keep your freedom you must trust yourself and your power.
Learn To Ground Yourself
There are many things you can do to ground yourself and it's necessary to find the ones that work for you. If you're not sure what grounding is, it's just stabilizing yourself, taking a moment of time to find calm. This can take five minutes, but some may need longer. Now ask yourself, why do I need to be stabilized?
Empaths need to be grounded because they are too often lost in the feelings of others. Their concern for the thoughts and emotions of others tend to override their own and put their identity and self-worth in jeopardy. There are far too many people out there who exploit those who aren't grounded, making them victims of abuse. Yes emotional and psychological abuse is just as severe as physical and sexual abuse and operate interdependently. Trusting yourself and acknowledging the needed stability in your life will help you set clear boundaries. Grounding is taking a moment in your day to understand and love yourself, whether it be realizing how much you love the feeling of water running across your feet or how relieving it is to express yourself through art.
Learn To Stop Pleasing People
I hated being called a people pleaser by my friends along with being the "good kid" or "the golden child". It sounded like I was a conformist and I can admit today that that was exactly what it was because pleasing people was a survival mechanism. If people are happy, conflict is avoided and my empathic abilities often went towards figuring out how to make people happy or get them to like me rather than discerning whether someone should be in my life or not.
To be an authentic empath, you have to just be yourself no matter who is disappointed. You may have been tricked at a young age that you need to make others happy or prove yourself to get anywhere in life. Let me tell you, that kind of thinking echoes everywhere through life, in school, in work, with family, it goes on forever. As an empath, your power helps you discern and decide. Sacrificing it to others will only make you unhealthy.
I don't say this like it's an easy thing. So much anxiety can consume you after you've been conditioned to believe that defying someone's order or expectation is the end of the world. Taking babysteps is always a good start. Give an honest opinion about something you like or dislike and don't back down. Order what you want from the menu. Eventually saying "no" will be more comfortable and seeing the disappointment on somone's face won't be so earth shattering.
Side Note: If you have had bad social anxiety like I have, look into finding herbal remedies or medication that can help your nervous system (know what you're allergic to before taking anything, please). I take a valerian supplement twice a day to remain calm throughout my day.
Lean To Be Confident Your Way
Earlier I said that being an empath is nothing unique, but you, dear reader, are. That means your true, confident self is going to look different than someone else's. If you feel your self-esteem is too low to know what that looks like right now, it's okay. Every single one of these points starts with the word "learn". You are learning more about yourself everyday. You are learning how to tune into your senses and trust them. You are learning to ground yourself. You are learning to support and love yourself rather than only support and love others. Reading this article was a learning experience in itself.
As you learn, there will be times that felt like failures or partial successes that could've been full-blown amazing, but I feel the best approach is to see any failures or successes as just experience. Naturally, you'll be more optimistic about your progress when you objectively look at yourself as somone who is just learning how to be themselves and practicing self-love. No, this isn't some cheesey fluff that you can just blow off. Empaths must understand that what they love is what makes them who they are. If you don't love yourself, who are you? Yeah. Exactly. Love who you are and you'll create your own brand of confidence.
Thanks for Reading
Thanks for giving me some of your time, fellow empath. May you prevent future mental or emotional breakdowns in the future. I can't say the same happened with the protagonist of my story, "Autonomy Bleeds Black", but if you know what it's like fighting against the conditioning of a narcissitic or authoritarian parent, you'll like it. (It's available at Barnes & Noble, Scribd, and other platforms.)