Empathic Relationship

Empathic Relationship

A few years ago, I met Dr. Judith Orloff after a talk she gave on being Empathic. She’s a psychiatrist and remarkably intuitive. During a Q&A period, she in some cases ignored a persons question, speaking instead to what they were really asking, beyond the words.

Up until that time, I had never considered myself “empathic”. Simply a little “sensitive” – something I had largely tried to submerge and avoid, especially as a man. I’d also found intuitive insight into others a largely messy affair. Too much sticky mud. (laughs) If they didn’t want to see, why would I?

But here was someone who talked about what this was and how to work with it. How to avoid “energy vampires”. How to keep and increase your energy.

During the talk, she rhetorically asked a question about her own seeking of a mate, then later answered her own question but did not appear to have made the connection. I made this observation to her afterward and got a blank stare. (laughs – how not to make a good first impression) It seems she has got it now.

Building on her own experience, she has observed that empaths often have trouble being and staying in relationships. In a recent article, she talks about why and how to make a relationship work when you’re quite sensitive. It amounts to creating personal space and downtime.


Her response may seem extreme to some people, but if you are that sensitive, it’s very helpful advice. Without that, life can be like standing in a carnival 24/7. For me, it’s simply recognizing that I need some time alone. To write, putter in the workshop, or organize something. (laughs) Then I’m recharged for together time.

While I think of it more as “energy empathy” than “emotional empathy”, emotions certainly have a lot to do with energy expression.

In some ways, this is like the Myers Briggs “IN” – Introverted Intuitives. People who restore energy by being alone and process more intuitively. The opposite “ES”, Extroverted Sensing gain energy from being with others and are more sense oriented. This web site shows the variants.

Another person who talks about protecting your energy is Nancy Shipley Rubin, although her’s is more about psychic energy and she offers different techniques. Psychic energy is more subtle than emotional stuff and is a typical progression for people who explore their empathic ability. They will describe not just energy connection, but cords of connection, not unlike the mesh I’ve spoken of.

Empaths and Psychics are essentially people more open on some levels of functioning than the average person. For any such person, the greatest protection is an undefended heart.

Now, by this I don’t mean standing open and letting all your energy be taken. I mean undefended internally, to yourself. Releasing the personal holding and stepping into the divine heart. Something that can only happen if you are undefended. This would usually take place after Self realization.

In the divine heart, you are invincible, protected by a shield of love*. (don’t recall the Sanskrit term) Even when karma or accidents come along, they are much reduced and may even present as benefits or have largely what seem positive consequences.

In relationship, the undefended heart can give without limit and take one to a much greater degree of intimacy. However, a person remains so the person may still require what the person needs.

*Curiously, if you research such ideas, you normally come up with things like “mythological weapons”. And while time may certainly have turned them into myths, there may be a larger grain of truth there than you may imagine.

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  1. Ben

    As an INFJ, I sure can relate to the need to be alone to recharge. I have relied on empathic and intuitive abilities most of my life, but not until recently did I realize how important it is to keep a balance between feeling what another person may feel and not becoming too empathetic to it. That can enable “not so wonderful” behaviors in others. Took many decades to learn that one.

    So, feeling someone else does not necessarily mean condoning or nurturing something unhealthy in them. The strength of the feeling can often overwhelm and once soaked up become part of my energy field. I have lost balance and in a sense become that person.

    It has taken years to find the balance and distance to see what is happening as a result of the empathic connection in my energy field. Similar to the observer seeing what is being felt from another in me. Then knowingness can respond from wisdom spontaneously.

    Important topic indeed.

    So, this is really helpful, kind, and good info. Davidya!

  2. Davidya

    I’m an INTJ which is a curious combination. IN and TJ are opposites. But this is what drives the writing – the intuitive exploration, then the drive to express it conceptually.

    Even outside of interactions, I tend to soak up my environment and reflect that energy, so I’ve taken some care at where I spend time. That influence has become less over time but still…

    It’s very valuable stuff for the sensitive among us as they’re often not taught tools for this in our culture, other than resistance.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Ben

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