For Empaths– Dealing with the Divisiveness You Feel Around You
Recently, at a Zoom gathering of my Intuition University alumni one of my previous empath students asked me, “How do you deal with the divisiveness happening in this country right now? And, What is your broader perspective on it?” You see empaths pick up the emotional tune of others, especially when many people are feeling something. The tune of the collective can play in their own body and being if it’s extreme– even when standing alone in their living room.
It was a two part answer, one that is best illustrated by examples/stories.
This summer I took a road trip with my family across the country. Starting in our home of Washington we ended at my parent’s cabin in MN. To be frank, the journey was shocking to me. It was clear as we moved across state line after state line that the people in these places had been and were continuing to live a very different life than I was and had been for the last year plus. Coming from a very liberal state and the first US state to have documented COVID cases, in Washington state we shut down everything including schools shortly after COVID hit. It’s a place in which we have been wearing masks in public for over a year already. To see bars in North Dakota packed full of people without a mask in sight was shocking. I honestly hadn’t seen such a thing in over a year! Then one night on our way back home I flipped on the news while laying on my hotel bed in Montana. Turning from station to station what I noticed is that even the news in Montana was not the same as what I was exposed to in Washington. I remember thinking, “Wow, if I lived in Montana and saw this on every station I’d probably feel the same way these people do.”
The truth of our current world is that the news you see, the perspective you have, depends on who is talking and what angle you are looking at the situation from– whether you are reading a newspaper, watching a newscaster, or cruising your Facebook feed. That’s always been the case, but the sources haven’t always been so diverse and accessible like they are in this day and age. Then, there’s the reality that for the last more than a year on a world-wide scale we’ve all been built up to a pitch on a world-wide scale by what have felt like life and death questions, or freedoms and suppression as the story is frequently felt right now. From my perspective, given all of this, it’s simply no wonder that everyone has put a giant stake in the ground. It’s frankly, a very natural mammalian response. The world is in a flight or fight response right now.
Sometimes I think of the world of humans like a quilt. A quilt with many shapes and colors. What is true for the red thread is that it is sitting next to yellow and green. What is true for the blue thread is that pink and orange flank it. (Metaphorically!) Each of these things are true. And even when one color puts a stake in the ground it might not change the perspective of another color who is looking at it from her or his own angle— and can only see the colors around it, i.e. the experience it is exposed to.
So what do I do when I am confronted with, or feel this divisiveness in our current culture? The short answer is I pull my awareness off the battle. I focus instead on what is right in front of me. My energy gives me the cues. Focusing on the battle, I feel paralyzed and powerless. I feel depleted and hopeless. That’s how my body tells me that those things are true. I am powerless when looking at the fight. I am not powerless when I shift my focus instead on what is happening in MY world right now. So I simply pull my energy in and I focus on the things that matter to me—the things that I have a hand in creating: growing kindness in my home, creating wholeness and peace in our space, raising my children, being there for my students, supporting the causes I care about, finding ways to decrease my plastic foot print, etc. for example, (essentially, the things I’ve deemed important.) I find ways to notice what is working. Instead of focusing on what is true or not true for all the colors of the quilt. I focus instead on my own weave and what I can and do contribute to the whole.
That’s the first long-winded part of the answer to my student’s question. In a few words—I take my awareness off of what I can’t change and focus instead on what is in my power. I recognize that having my attention on the battle neither helps me live my life to the fullest, nor helps me solve it. My feeling powerless about it does NOT contribute to the bettering of it. My acting on what matters to me and what I can contribute does.
The second part of the answer for me is this: I feel the divisiveness of this moment in time is leading us somewhere crucial.
Again, I can best depict this by way of story.
Anywhere you go in cities that I’ve been in over the last several months you will see signs that say, “Now Hiring.” And yet no one is showing up to claim those jobs. I’ve heard stories of the huge bonuses some companies are offering just to get people to choose their business. This time period we are living in is now being called, “The Great Resignation.” To be honest, when I first witnessed this pattern, before it had a title, I felt a great curiosity and a swelling of hope. Intuitively I felt that what was happening was a re-alignment with what is really important to us. I found myself thinking, “What is broken?… These people, many people, who won’t go back to work are responding in protest to a system that did not support them in the first place. Now that the cycle has been broken they are endeavoring to make a different choice.” I felt a hope because to be totally honest, I have long felt that our work system in our culture was broken. The norm that the majority a lifetime being spent punching a clock, away from our children, separate from our communities, and the activities that sustain us, doing it instead for the sake of business, or because that’s the only model we currently have, or worse yet because that is the only way to survive—seems like a broken paradigm to me. It’s an operating system that doesn’t actually care FOR the people.
Next, I read an article in the newspaper about this phenomenon. It was an interview with a handful of people who have made the choice to resign. They were saying things like, “Now that I’m not working I realize I don’t need as much. I’m no longer spending a lot of money on work clothes. I’m saving on fuel for my car. I’m more selective about what I do with my time instead of just doing what I usually did.”
What I see is that while we were all focused on COVID, a realignment has been happening on many levels– from how we work, to how we play, to how we raise our children. Whether it is a close look on how we spend our time, a scrutiny of the things we do just-because-that’s-how-it-was-being-done, a shift in how we recognize and respond to our family’s needs, a clarity in what we value– there is a cultural revamp that has been happening, a shake down in choices that are influencing each of us—and the whole. We are choosing what is important to us instead of what has been done before.
I hate to use the word awakening, because it’s starting to feel so cliché to me—but I see this emergence happening on many fronts. What it feels like to me more accurately, is a reckoning—or reevaluation and reconstruction– a getting congruent with the things we feel value. And that my friends is how solutions are born. It’s the process through which broken systems are recognized and destroyed; it’s how new answers arise.
This has been a hard moment in history for so many reasons. But I see and feel intuitively that it has a purpose. While we were paying attention to the stakes we put in the ground and noticing the fact that they were different a purposeful realignment with something that feels more authentic for each of us is afoot– a future that to me feels more allied with the earth even. For example, as the interviewed woman highlighted, people who are working from home are using less fossil fuels. We are for perhaps the first time in our lives not pressed with the need to consume that we have allowed to be god in this country. There is so much fall out—a lot of it beneficial– from the ways a crisis is forcing us to change. For example, I just read an article in “Yes Magazine” about how some companies (all over the world) are starting to implement a four-day work week which they have discovered is more beneficial AND productive all around. Solutions to real and previously ignored problems are arising.
So though I can’t see it now (the specifics of the where we are going) —I feel the same is true about the divisiveness in our country. The pot is being stirred. It is moving us toward something vital. We can’t see it yet. But just like while we were all focused on staying safe, and avoiding COVID—the major changes that it prompted are allowing us to realign with something that felt more authentic—so too does this divisiveness in our country have a purpose. While many people are looking at the pot, placing their stakes in the sand in reaction to the fight or flight momentum a world-wide virus has positioned us all in—other shifts are occurring. First at the seams, and then gradually moving in. From my perspective, it’s a trickle system that was perhaps the only viable alternative to begin with for the conundrums of our time. Frankly, it gives me hope.
I hope it gives you heart to think on this too—because I don’t think the division is going to end anytime soon. Practically speaking, especially for empaths (though it also applies to all), that doesn’t mean you have to let it get you down though. It doesn’t mean you need to allow yourself to feel powerless about it either. Don’t get lost in the bickering. Instead, I suggest you look around your life. Let yourself be green, or pink, or whatever color you are. Focus on how you can make brighter yourself and the threads that you touch. Examine what horizonal perspective you would like to emphasize– I suggest the one that makes YOU feel most joyful and alive, one that adds meaning to your life and ameliorates the lives of others—and let’s just see if it brings us all to a better place. Because from my perspective that, one person, one moment, one intuitive impulse at a time is how we are going to end up with healing and wholeness for many.
With great love,
P.S. Also for empaths:
“44 Signs You’re An Empath” (Explore your empathic characteristics—personality traits you may not know are related to your empathic ability!)
FREE AUDIO! “4 Antidotes to Common Empath Challenges”
Join me via Zoom in December for my “Understanding Your Empathic Ability” workshop at East West Bookshop. You’ll get tools you can start using STAT to decrease your overwhelm and feel better—no matter what division you perceive around you. I teach this every second Tuesday of the month.
Aimée Cartier is a psychic, author, and founder of Intuition University. Through her Empath Intuition University program she teaches empaths who are ready to understand and work WITH their sensitivities and not against them; who are ready to decrease their overwhelm and harness their innate empathic super power for the benefit of all. More about her and her work can be found at www.AimeeCartier.com