Are your symptoms chronic?
Chronic health symptoms are symptoms that last over a long period of time and don’t go away with typical medical care. Medications, surgeries, or rehabilitation help for brief periods, but the symptoms return. Chronic health conditions include diagnosis such as, IBS, arthritis, back pain, joint pain, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, eczema, migraines and anxiety to name a few.
Why are empathic people more prone to chronic symptoms?
Empaths are susceptible to chronic health conditions because many of these conditions have a mind/body connection. Our thoughts and hidden emotions are stored as energy in the body. When you don’t have a healthy way to feel through and release emotions, they can manifest as unwanted health symptoms. Your unconscious mind has the job of keeping you safe. When it feels threatened by negative emotions that are triggered by events that bring up childhood trauma, the subconscious mind goes into fight, flight, freeze or fawn mode. The rush of cortisol, or stress hormones, causes painful symptoms that distract your conscious mind from the emotions that feel unsafe.
You might not even realize that you have been triggered by painful emotions. One day you notice that your knee is hurting when you walk a lot. Then you begin having trouble exercising. You go to your doctor, who tells you to take NSAIDs for the pain. That doesn’t help, so you head to the orthopedist, who prescribes pain medication, a brace and a steroid injection. The pain continues to get worse, and you go back to the orthopedist, who prescribes scans and recommends surgery. Six months and many procedures later, and you still have no relief from the pain.
Or maybe your pain comes in the form of blinding headaches. Prescription medication doesn’t put a dent in the pain.
Perhaps you have gained 30 pounds without changing your diet. Your doctor blames it on hormones or your thyroid.
The point is, your pain can show up in any number of ways, but still be traced back to the mind and your pent-up emotions. Empathic people often don’t have proper boundaries in place and can be people-pleasers.
Poor boundaries and people-pleasing set you up for chronic symptoms
What usually happens with empaths is that they have deep empathy for other people and when someone seems to need your help or want something from you, you give in. Sometimes you give in when you don’t really want to, because you want the other person to be happy with you. If you had any kind of childhood trauma, big or small, you may also fear abandonment or loss of love.
But, now you resent having to do the thing you don’t want to do. You feel angry. (If you’re like me, you don’t even realize you feel angry. I am excellent at stuffing emotions way down.) You may justify helping this person or feel guilt or shame if you don’t help them. Many cultures have taught us that to be a good human, you have to sacrifice for others.
What helps get to the root cause?
To get to the root cause of your unwanted symptoms, you need to find a way to express your hidden emotions and release that negative energy. There are many ways to do this. Here are a few that I have found helpful:
- Free writing- This is journaling, but with a twist. You write as though you are a child throwing a tantrum. You vent all of your anger and sadness, knowing that at the end you will destroy your writing so that no one else will ever see it. If you try this, you’ll see how freeing it is. (Usually with journaling, in the back of your head, you are writing as though your children or spouse may find your writing some day. You are afraid to express yourself the way you really need to.) With free writing, feel free to curse and rage the way you never would to anyone else in person, and then either shred your writing, burn it safely outdoors, or erase and delete the file from your computer if you would rather write digitally. I love Nicole Sachs’ JournalSpeak method, or Dr. Habib Sadeghi’s PEW 12 method. I also have a method I use in my Empath Reboot program that is similar.
- Meditation- I personally like guided meditations where you are taken visually to a safe space and are able to listen to your higher self to release emotions and find solutions. Insight Timer is a free app with some great guided meditations. I also have a few meditations in my Facebook group, Rebooting Health For Empaths.
- Educating myself on trauma- It really helps to know that there is a root cause that is common to many other people, that I’m not alone. I have much more understanding about myself now, and I can identify when I am being triggered. Watch YouTube videos on trauma, listen to podcasts and read books.
- Talk to a trusted therapist or coach- My therapist and coaches have brought me so far along in healing, much faster than I could have done it on my own. Friends are great to talk to, but they don’t always know how to help you heal. A therapist or coach that is educated on empaths and trauma response will be a big game-changer for you. Check out my upcoming course Empath Reboot, or my other coaching programs here.
Harnessing your empathic abilities without experiencing chronic symptoms
It is possible to care about others, be sensitive to their needs and emotions, without giving up your own desires and needs. It takes healthy personal boundaries, boundaries with others and self-love. If you have chronic symptoms, get the support you need to listen to the cues your body is giving you.