If you are an intuitive spiritual person, you know that intuition coupled with compassion creates potent magic in the world. With these, you can be a true force of nature. And yet you might find yourself in toxic relationships or healing yourself after such difficult relationships, wondering how it could happen to you.
Many empaths tend to be drawn to relationships with narcissists or people who have a higher degree of narcissistic tendencies. It seems to be accepted that this is part of the journey for empaths. Whether you call yourself an empath, HSP, or choose another label, your intuitive superpower can work against you in intimate relationships.
Our intuition is a gift meant to help all of us navigate life well. Yet it is not uncommon for powerful intuitive to be drawn into difficult relationships and, sometimes, stay until the point of self destruction. Sensitivity is a gift, but in relationships it can become a downside if it is not matched by a strong sense of self and boundaries.
If we are conditioned to cater to others before taking care of ourselves, we might find ourselves catering to other people’s pain and vulnerability even when we are met with unkindness and destructive behaviours.
The Empath-Narcissist Journey
When we are in a toxic relationship, or if we left one, we try to make sense of the other person and reconcile our conflicting knowledge of them. Many empaths may discover they were in a relationship with a narcissist or someone who had strong narcissistic patterns. It can be difficult to make sense of events. Was everything that seemed beautiful about the other person false?
Some of it was and some it wasn’t. People are not black and white, and they are not immune to others – just because someone might have deep narcissistic tendencies or even be a narcissist, it doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes open up. Labels are helpful as guiding posts, but they obscure the complexities of reality.
Love has a way to tame any beast, including that of the ego. Everyone is in some way searching for a place where they can rest their burdens down safely and know they are loved. In my experience, even aggressive narcissists can open up when met with compassion, understanding and acceptance. The empath is a healing presence for the narcissist. Maybe the first person to ever pay attention and care. It is quite possible that the person an empath meets in a narcissist is different from the person the rest of the world meets even in the context of an intimate relationship.
It might then be difficult to see the reality of the narcissistic ego. Dangerously, the more toxic someone is, the more trauma and pain there is to be found underneath asking to be loved and tended to. This can be a dangerous drug.
The Importance of Dealing With the Ego Mask
If you are someone who sees through people’s masks, the ego of others may sometimes seem like a joke. You might be addicted to catering to what is behind the mask. The only version of reality may become the one that lives beyond the mask. Deciding that the ego mask is not a reality to be taken seriously is a crucial error that can result in self destruction.
Our bias tends to be to dismiss other people’s versions of reality and uphold ours. So we might decide that the other person can’t possibly mean everything they say and do. Or, if they do, how can that be taken at face value anyway? If you are spiritual, you might wish to take the higher road.
The ones you love might utter vengeful cruel words and all you can see is how they are just trying to soothe their pain. When what should register with loud bells of alarm is their willingness to depersonalise you and hurt you. Any number of realities exist at the same time – discerning which ones to pay attention to matters as much as being able to perceive them.
How we respond to others depends on how we were wired to respond. Our childhood conditioning will rule us until we become aware of it and heal it. If we grew up in environments that somehow taught us to focus on others, and ignore ourselves, we will do this in our relationships. Our intuition will only make our task harder because we will be attuned to the other person’s pain and struggle. Sometimes feelings less is protective. Conditioning, compassion and intuition form a powerful trifecta.
Other people’s ego masks is the reality that impacts our relationships and wellbeing. As spiritual people we might wish to deny certain realities of human nature – but we do so at our peril. In fact, other people show us often very clearly what their intentions and values are. We just decide to pay more attention to what we consider to be the more important reality.
What we might see beyond the mask in a relationship are universal truths about the difficulties of being a human being on this planet now: the need for love; shame; guilt; insecurity; low self worth etc. We will also see the beauty of the other person’s spirit- their gifts; talents; aspirations; loving light; childlike wonder. These are not unusual.
All these live in some way in all people, to certain degrees. They also live in you – you, too, need tending to your own wonderful gifts and compassion for your own pain.
Learning New Ways of Being
Boundaries and healthy responses to others arise naturally when are in tune with our own needs, joy, likes and dislikes, and are used to honouring them. But if we learned to bypass them, we eagerly devote our focus to others. As a result, we become absorbed in another person’s flow. Our focus is then keenly trained on their wellbeing, happiness, mood swings, decisions – so much that we forget to evaluate our experience of the relationship and care for ourselves.
Without an awareness of what makes us happy as individuals, independent of others, and boundaries to protect this, we can become absorbed in someone else’s life as if we never were. And this is all too easy when truly someone else’s happiness is your happiness, and their sadness your sadness. This is a beautiful quality to bring into the world- holding others’ wellbeing as part of yours- but not in a way that denies our individuality and wellbeing.
Some people’s lessons in this lifetime are to learn to soften, open up and empathise more. For others, the lessons are to the contrary so they can build a new set of skills. Spiritual compassionate people might think their path is superior, but who is to say? Suffice it to say that it is beautiful.
Our intuition and compassion are superpowers if also matched with a commitment to honour ourselves first. It might require some uncomfortable adjustments. We might need to learn how to also be tough, firm, direct – all of which might be difficult at first.
Some of us arrive into the world ready and willing to engage with it from a place of compassion, empathy, sweetness and sensitivity. We can be so committed to these notions and the meanings we give to them, that we become adept at ignoring reality. We accumulate anger and resentment instead of honouring our desires and needs.
Rather than look at the world and give it a scolding finger, we need to learn to look at ourselves, discover what it is that we cherish as individuals, and develop our ability to stand up for what we need, want, and like. It might seem unthinkable to some of us, but acting on our own likes or dislikes without a justification or excuse is perfectly normal.