A case for self-containment
You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I trust I’m not the only person on the planet who is utterly repelled by Steinbeck’s quote. You don’t really believe this, do you?
I believe there’s far too much emphasis on ‘feeling peoples feelings’ – as a means of engaging and interacting.
Do you feel and experience other people’s emotions, their physical pain? Perhaps people, strangers even – at work, parties, coffee shops, airports, laundromats – wind up telling you their story. Sharing their pains, trials and traumas.
Sensitive, Caretaker, Empath
Do you define yourself as an empath, sensitive or caretaker – and wonder if it’s possible to dial this tendency down?
Truthfully, dear Steinbeckian Feeler – this tendency to take on and hold others emotions and pain is about your energy, not your human goodness. It’s not related to your innate compassion.
But guess what? Taking on other people’s energy, emotion and pain is about being energetically promiscuous!
Chakras & Energetic Promiscuity
I’ll share a bit about energy and specifically, Chakras to give you some context.
Chakras are balls of energy with openings that act as vacuums – taking in energy and information from ‘out there’ and bringing it ‘in here’ to contextualize life and its experiences.
Your energy, specifically your second Chakra – is currently wired to feel other people’s feelings, to take on their stuff – By Displacing Your Own Energy! Your energy dissipates, fades away and other’s energies infiltrate your good space.
Your 2nd Chakra
The 2nd Chakra is the seat of the emotions. Located 2 fingers below your navel, it’s also the seat of sexuality. It’s the energy center that is supposed to keep you abreast of your emotions – in relation to your thoughts, your experiences, your body, your life! (Notice the emphasis on ‘you’!) When you have really great sex – your 2nd Chakra is fully enrolled in the experience. It’s in a wide-open, merged state, as your bodies are also merged.
When the 2nd Chakra is excessively open, it absorbs other people’s feelings, rather than offering context on your own experience. All of those feelings end up in your body!
Holding the Emotional Bag
Let’s think about it another way: if I get you to hold a heavy bag for me, whose burden does it become?
And if leave you with the bag, traipse off merrily into my life, free and unencumbered, where does that leave you?
Exactly! Holding the bag!
Evolving Your 2nd Chakra
Good news! There’s a remedy for this. It’s a simple visualization, and it helps you own and reclaim your 2nd Chakra – to relate without holding. (Reclaiming your 2nd Chakra energy is also great for your sex life!)
This skill is about not holding the bag for others. Keeping your front door closed. Being in relation to your stuff.
And no worries – you’ll still be aware of other people’s emotions and stuff. You’ll show up, be present, self-aware and fully interact with others. You just won’t be left holding their bag.
Imagine a ball of energy, positioned in front of your spine, and about 2” beneath your navel – something like this:
Now, imagine a vegetable steamer, with the petals wide open and pointing out in front of you on the surface of the ball. Like this:
That’s what your Chakra looks like when it’s excessively open.
Take a pair of imaginary hands, and close the vegetable steamer petals down – you want just a little opening in the steamer. Like this:
Do this a lot – over and over again – and you’ll train your 2nd Chakra to hold your own emotions. You won’t miss a thing – people will still tell you stories, share their experiences. You just won’t hold them, carry them, or watch them dance away while you are left holding their emotional detritus.
A game changer for empaths – in fact, you might just find that you no longer describe yourself that way. You might begin to see your compassion emerge as a more elevated and neutral response and way of being.
What’s not to love about that?
Keep your vital energy flowing!