Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Coping with the unexpected death of a friend

Death has a deep effect upon an empathic soul. The more you are attached to someone, the stronger your grief reaction will be. As an empath, your energy becomes enmeshed with those close to you. When a death occurs, it is a process of letting go of those physical connections and establishing a new connection that is only at a spiritual level.

Grief can become more complex when a death is unexpected or sudden. The state of shock you first experience cushions you in the initial days. It is also exhausting and draining because you are carrying the emotional pain of your loss, which has yet to be expressed. Some people experience trauma symptoms similar to PTSD after an intense loss, this is known as complicated grief.

Helpful Suggestions in Your Grief

1.) Acknowledge grief is work and it takes its toll physically, emotionally and spiritually when it is ignored. In order to heal, you need to feel. Make time for grief. If it pops up at inconvenient times, write about it at night or on the weekends.

2.) Feel the pain of the loss. This is the most difficult part of grief, without it there is no moving forward. At this point in the healing process, you may need to reach out to an empathic therapist who has expertise in grief/loss issues.

3.) Keep your routine. Structure will give you a sense of stability and control when emotions feel intense or come out of the blue.

2 friends, 6 months

One of my best friend’s died from cancer, last October. It was a month from the diagnosis to his death. Six months later on the exact date, I found out that a friend of mine that I met on Facebook and talked to by phone, died suddenly on her 54th birthday.

Sharon and I were both co-authors in 365 Ways to Connect with Your Soul and 365 Life Shifts books. I often visited her Facebook page when I didn’t see her posts in my newsfeed because there would be a variety of positive and uplifting messages. She felt this was something she needed and wanted to do every day for others. I am grateful she listened to that voice within that I often encourage others to do. I know many days, I was helped by her posts.

I read about her death when I visited her Facebook page the day after her birthday. At first, I was in complete shock and disbelief seeing a couple of posts from others that spoke about her death. I hoped it was a cruel joke, but it wasn’t. I felt angry and questioned God, why her? I reasoned saying that others could have been taken off this Earth instead. I also cried over the loss realizing that there will be no other phone calls or positive posts left by her on her page anymore. These feelings of denial, confusion, anger, shock, bargaining and sadness are all normal parts of the grieving process.

Here are some of her recent posts that inspired me, perhaps they will inspire you also. She often wrote one word to empathize the post which I have included here:

Inspire

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Courage

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Faith

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Some Days

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Practices I learned from early loss and death in my own life. 

1.) Shine your light. The Divine gave you this light for a reason. Go out there and be your best self without apology.

2.) Value your connections. Enjoy every moment of this journey called Life and everyone who is in it. Acknowledge and give others attentive love, you never know when you or the other will be called home.

This blog has been dedicated to those who have suffered sudden losses and to my friend Sharon Rothstein. I know you are shining your light down on us from heaven. xx

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card reading sessions. As a licensed mental health counselor and intuitive psychotherapist she helps you work through all stages of grief. http://www.lisahutchison.net 

What helpers like you need to know about burnout

What helpers like you need to know about burnout (3)

 

Helpers and first responders often believe that they can push through irritation and emotional pain. You soldier on despite multiple systems in your body screaming out for you to stop. Some of these warning signs are unending fatigue, sleep difficulties, appetite changes, concentration problems, anxiety, depression, increased illnesses and anger.

As an empathic helper, you are going to experience work or help related stress due to caring so much. When that stress is combined with a lack of self- care and a lack of support more serious stress reactions can occur such as burnout, compassion fatigue and vicarious traumatization.

Compassion fatigue and burnout arises from too much work, or as many people say burning the candle at both ends. Empathic helpers often absorb other’s pain and take it with them into their home life. Too much sympathy or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy and leads to burnout. In a study of 216 hospice care nurses from 22 hospices across the state of Florida it was found that, “Trauma, anxiety, life demands, and excessive empathy (leading to blurred professional boundaries) were key determinants of compassion fatigue risk in the multiple regression model that accounted for 91 % (P< .001) of the variance in compassion fatigue risk.” (Abendroth & Flannery 2006).

Vicarious traumatization can happen when you absorb the psychological material of your client who has experienced trauma. You feel the trauma in your own energetic system as PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, irritability and startle responses. This is why it is important to hold the energetic boundaries and seek supervision or your own counseling. If you are experiencing increased anxiety, startle responses or irritation, after your work with a client ask yourself; is this my trauma or yours?

What can a compassionate helper do?

  • You need to limit your use of empathy. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.  Empathy is one tool a helper uses in combination with other techniques to ensure client growth. At times you may need to use more directive or instructional types of methods rather than an all-out holding of the space for another.
  •  Be aware and recognize that trauma and stress are running the show. When you notice a change in your mood and thoughts, review your day and think about who you were with and what was discussed.
  • Self- Care. All empathic helpers need a self-care regime that refills and recharges your energy. Relaxation and energy increasing activities will balance out the fatigue you are experiencing. Grounding through the use of mindfulness can keep your focus in the present moment.
  • Seek psychotherapy with an empathic therapist who can help you with burnout and trauma. Going to a therapist who knows trauma, work stress and energy work can make a world of difference for yourself and your clients.
  •  Get this workbook for yourself and your clients. I have found this to be a valuable resource that I use with my clients: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) Some of the chapters include: Before Doing the Work: Safety, Security and Intention and Helping Yourself When You Re-experience a Trauma. (As an amazon affiliate I receive a small portion of the sale when you buy after clicking the above link, without any addition cost to you. Thank you for choosing this method of purchasing.) 

References:

Abendroth, M., & Flannery, J. (2006). Predicting the risk of compassion fatigue: A study of hospice nurses. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing, 8(6), 346-356.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who feel drained after their helping efforts, refill and recharge their energy with intuitive counseling and angel card readings. For more information visit her website at www.lisahutchison.net, while you are there take advantage of the free gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Is your Helping Interfering with your Happiness?

Whether you are a professional or born helper, it feels good to assist other people. It is wonderful to extend acts of kindness as it increases positive energy into the world. There are times we all overextend and take helping too far.

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What are some causes of over-helping?

Empathic helpers feel too much. Sensitive souls often impulsively jump in and fix a situation because it is uncomfortable to witness and feel another’s struggle in your body system. You are also susceptible to manipulation in the form of guilt. Due to this internal overwhelm you can do too much for others.

It is a way to not grow into your own power as a light being. Stepping into your power can feel scary because you have witnessed other’s misuse of power. You can rest assured that most empathic helpers do not misuse power for this very reason. The fact that you are aware of your power and how it can influence others positively or negatively means you are ahead of the game.

When you avoid your light and overly focus on others, it is a form of self-sabotage. All of your energy goes towards those you help and none is left for you. Also, overly focusing on one person leaves no energy for anyone else in your life and this causes problems in other relationships.

It can be a form of addiction although it is not an official clinical diagnosis. When you help others it releases positive chemicals in your brain (much like a drug). The more positive attention you receive for acting helpful, the more it fuels this connection. Similar to a drug, what once felt good often turns into something you feel you need to do yet does not bring you any satisfaction or good feeling. The problem of helping in this regard develops when you reach out to help others compulsively instead of sitting with and feeling your sadness, anger or fear.

Feelings of insecurity or inferiority; stemming from the belief that others will not like or love you because you are not helping them. People pleasing causes an overextension of helping and is a way to receive positive attention for what you do, not for who you are. Since this feeling of positivity is external the good feeling is dependent on other’s reactions and does not last.

Letting go of control

We often try to control when we feel worried about someone else. A way to release this grip is to focus on an opposite emotion, such as gratitude. Rather than thinking about what you want to change about a person, remember what you already have. This act of accepting will increase your happiness and allow you to see that the best way to help is to nurture positive feelings and love in your relationships.

Finding Balance

You do not want to give up on being helpful but rather find a balance. Some ways to do this is to become aware of your patterns, set limits and develop boundaries. Assertiveness training and therapy can help you develop these essential skills that every helper needs.

Being a helper is what you do, it is not who you are as a person. It is how you channel and express divine love. There are times as a helper you need to edit and do less in order to allow the story of your relationship to unfold. Helping is about giving and receiving which means at times it is about sitting back and allowing someone to do something for you because it helps them feel good.

365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments that Changed Everything

14063987_10153933148717945_5923936462287096960_nI have written about my own healing journey from empathic over helping in 365 Life Shifts: Pivotal Moments that Changed Everything called Back to me: honoring my limits. I admitted in print that I did not know how to help out, I only knew how to overdo. Over the years, I tied myself up in knots trying to do it all. I wrote about this and how I learned to support myself in healthy ways without overextending. Buy this book to read this story and 200 other author stories about pivotal moments that changed everything.

 

Blog tour…

You may also enjoy these other blogs posted today from these 2 fellow co -authors in this book!

Fiona Louise – www.fiona-louise.com

Maureen Hollmeyer –  www.transitional-guidance.com

More about Lisa Hutchison LMHC. Lisa works for empathic healers who often get drained after their helping efforts find practical ways to refill and recharge their energy with counseling and angel card readings. The chaos of life and other people drains your energy overtime, learn how to release it, feel energized and empowered. Click here for your FREE 10 page E-book called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

 

Why compassionate people have lost their empathy for others

 

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2016 was a heavy year for people collectively from celebrity deaths to the US election. Many clients have told me about their personal losses, anxiety and disappointments. When you are in your own emotional pain feeling another’s emotional pain overwhelms you. I am here to reassure you, you are not alone it was a rough ride for many people, including myself.

If you are a sensitive person you may wonder why you suddenly lack compassion and patience for others. Anger, fear and numbness block the connection to your heart. When you feel contempt, judgment, or fear towards others you lose that mirroring of empathic response and feeling. You disconnect yourself out of a fear of being hurt again, yet, empathic response and experience require connection which means risk and vulnerability.

After a trauma or period of intense stress you can experience a sensation of being shell-shocked and reactive. When a person’s nervous system becomes overstimulated it goes into the fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (shuts down into numbness) response. In psychological terms this could be an adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction or post-traumatic stress. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment, go to a licensed professional rather than the internet.

Why don’t I feel better yet?

It is a new year and a new energy, although energy does not merely change with a flip of a calendar page, it is a process. Wait a good 3 months to give the energy a chance to build and move collectively. Individually, you are not damaged or broken. A disconnection has occurred and it has happened to many of us. Now the power is in your hands, what are you going to do about it?

What you can do:

My number 1 recommendation is to find an empathic psychotherapist to work with you. Yes, even therapists, healers and coaches need their own healers. Here is a little secret, the best ones do! I had a session in January to release much energy around 2016 in order to help others like you do the same with the work I offer.

You need someone who understands sensitive people, grief/loss issues and trauma reactions. This person will help you process the issues that trigger you so you can release them and connect again to your natural empathy for others.

While you are waiting for an appointment or in between sessions

(a) Practice mindfulness -Become aware of the present moment and that is all. This relaxes your mind, body and soul allowing you to reconnect to your empathic response.

(b) Engage in a meditation practice- Focus on your breath, it trains your nervous system to slow down and teaches you to become the witness to your thoughts. When you observe your thoughts and sensations you can choose a more empathic response or perhaps a non- response.

(c)For helpers- remember it is not your job to fix others. The best way to help others is to work on your own healing and to hold the space for others. Read How To Maintain Your Energy When Helping Others for how to do this practice.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is currently accepting new clients for her empathic psychotherapy practice, certified angel card reading and writing coaching sessions. Sessions are offered in person and by phone. Visit http://www.lisahutchison.net and help yourself to a copy of 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

Are you making up stories? Anxiety’s influence on the mind

We all subconsciously make up stories that are not even true about other people and ourselves. Sounds outrageous, right?  Even though you may be disagreeing with me right now, I hope you will sit tight and read on.

How does such a thing happen to educated spiritually minded people? When a person feels stressed out the brain releases hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones encourage anxious irrational thoughts to develop. Ever heard of the term, jumping to conclusions?

Your brain also does not like a vacuum. When facts are missing, it fills in the blanks. The problem is when you assume a negative intent is happening when in fact it is not or you take it in the opposite direction making a situation more positive than it actually is. Where does the brain get this extra information? It goes to your past experiences vault and picks a memory with a positive or negative association.

The risks of reacting

The problem with reacting to negative thoughts and stories is it isolates you and keeps good people at a distance when you are incorrect. When you assume the worse in people, you lose your trust in yourself and others who have good intentions. Slow your roll, and assess the truth of what is going on before moving forward. You could be right, yet you could be wrong.

On the other side of the coin, you may be too trusting. Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses sets you up for a big fall when reality hits because no one and nothing is perfect. Empaths get stuck in this one when they imagine a person who has hurt them did not mean what they did or said. Being in denial put you at risk from people who act abusive to you.

Assuming the worst

Recently, I had a conversation with a person who did not want to hear my “no” to her request. I became like a robot saying multiple no’s again and again. The humorous part of it was that we were both stuck in this irritating moment. Finally, something kicked in and she moved onto someone else.

A couple of weeks later, I received a phone message from the same woman requesting to call her, yet she did not say why. As I listened to the recording I heard her demand to talk to me and said out loud in an angry voice, “I am not doing that.” Luckily, I chose not to respond in that moment. I recognized that I was triggered from our first exchange and every other person from my past who did not respect and honor my “no.” I let it go and listened to the message again the next day. Wouldn’t you know it, I heard it differently because she didn’t demand to talk to me like I thought she did.

Assuming more than what is

I have had experiences of verbal and emotional abuse from those I thought loved me. I built up in my head glorious stories of how kind and great they were. A part of this problem was they were narcissistic and I was uneducated about what that meant. These people had an exaggerated sense of self that I played into without questioning. They thought they were great and I absorbed that energy empathically, fully agreeing to it. When I was educated about these types of behaviors I still found I was susceptible to being manipulated at times. Many of us are, even the best of professionals, please do not feel bad when this happens to you. The goal is to pick up on the cues sooner than previous times in order to set your boundaries and protect your energies.

My wish is for everyone to see and hear clearly what is. 

There is no substitute for psychotherapy which is the best way to unravel the stories of our lives. I have developed some tips in the meantime to help you get out of this habit.

  • Practice the pause and use mindfulness 

The more you are under stress, the worse the stories become in either direction. In order to see reality more for what it is rather than a reflection of your past experiences, do not assign it any label. Watch and observe the behaviors of others. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment which means leaving your assumptions at the door. The truth about a person is revealed through time, be patient and see what develops before you fill in the blanks. When you catch yourself assuming, be kind with yourself. Understand that this is an indication that you need more stress management, awareness and self-care.

  • Use cognitive refuting (a fancy term for questioning your thoughts)

When you have a thought that feels irrational, don’t accept it, question it! Ask yourself the following;

Is this thought true?

Are these thoughts based on fear or love?

What is another possibility here?

Does this belief connect or disconnect me from others?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed intuitive psychotherapist who works for empathic healers who want to recharge their depleted energies. She helps compassionate people increase their awareness and skills which prevents them from getting sucked into life’s chaos and losing their sense of self. Her thought-provoking sessions remove the blocks that help sensitive souls not only survive but shine!  Click here for your FREE 10 page E-book called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! 

 

 

 

 

How Archangel Michael Discharges Negative Holiday Energy

Many sensitive souls dread the holidays because it means more time with family and social occasions that you would rather avoid. Empaths can absorb other’s expectations and energies leaving them fatigued on a regular day but are especially vulnerable during the holiday season. To help you not just survive but shine through the holiday season, I wanted to talk about a good friend of mine, Archangel Michael and why he is the ONE to call upon before, during and after these events.

Before your holiday event: Crystal Clear Intentions

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Archangel Michael does wonders with releasing pre-party jitters. Set your intentions for this event. One of my favorite intentions is, “No matter what happens, I make my own fun.” I enjoy this statement because it is impossible for fear and fun to be experienced at the same time.  Archangel Michael helps you to create crystal clear intentions such as these. Ask for his help in creating intentions that resonate with you and protect your energy. Speaking of protection, ask him to surround you with his royal blue/purple light and energy. Give any anxiety over to him and allow for his courage to enter your internal body.

During the event: You are Safe

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As soon as you notice negativity entering your energy field, ask Archangel Michael to release it. Physically, when you feel a twinge in your stomach, light headed or a sensation of heat, ask him to come and vacuum it out. Emotionally , when you feel guilty, angry or fatigued ask him to help you release that. Ask for his help to identify and release other’s resentments, jealousies and expectations. He will also help you protect your boundaries with assertiveness. Learn what you need in these situations and then follow through with taking care of yourself.

After the event: Remember Who You Are

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When you leave an event, you may notice fatigue, irritability or sadness. At times you may feel insecure and obsess about what you said or what others said to you. Ask Archangel Michael to cut any attachments to other’s energies. He does this by slicing through any cords that others subconsciously or consciously have attached to your energy field. This cutting action on his part releases this residual energy. “Remind yourself that you are a powerful, loving and creative child of God, You are very loved.” Thank Archangel Michael for his protection and support. Remember that he is with you anytime you need him., all you have to do is ask!

Share with me any intentions in the comment section that you will use prior to holiday events.

All angel cards featured in this blog are from the Archangel Oracle Card Deck from Doreen Virtue, Ph.D.   If you would like to purchase click this Amazon link.  I receive a small portion of the sale, with no additional cost to you. Thank you if you choose to purchase through me.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC work for empathic healers who want to recharge their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others through angel card readings, psychotherapy sessions and writing coaching. She offers angel card readings by phone and in person; contact her at lisadhutch@verizon.net for more information or visit http://www.lisahutchison.net/Services  

 

5 Gift Giving Ideas that Protect an Empath’s Energy

Does the idea of crowded holiday shopping overwhelm you? You are not alone. Many sensitive souls avoid shopping in malls or large department stores because they absorb an onslaught of energy that is not theirs, leaving them fatigued. When empaths do shop in these situations they often go into zombie shut down mode in an effort to not feel. The problem is when you are not aware of the present moment, you can spend more money than you originally intended.

This is why my holiday shopping gets done early and online. I take back my power by choosing when to shop and do it from the comfort of my home. I mindfully choose and consider my options without feeling hurried or over stimulated. In an effort to reduce your holiday stress, I have come up with 5 gift ideas that are individually under $25 to purchase for your loved ones or perhaps you will treat yourself with a gift.

Simply, click on the images and it will take you right to Amazon.com. If you purchase these items after clicking on the image, I receive a small portion of the sale with no additional cost to you. Thank you in advance if you decide to make any purchases this way.

5 Gift Giving Ideas that protect your energy

1.) For those who are cat and dog animal lovers, you can’t go wrong with Chicken Soup for the Soul books. In addition to giving a quality book, you are donating to the American Humane Society with each purchase.

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2.) Who doesn’t need stress relief? Perfect for any caretaker, empath or helper on your list and don’t forget the colored pencils. I love the built in sharpener with this kit, it reminds me of my old Crayola’s I had as a child!

 

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3.) Stock up on inspirational mugs with healing messages. This one here validates your favorite writer. Buy large mugs and combine the gift with her favorite tea or coffee.

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4.) Start Where You Are is an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness, and self-motivation. It helps readers navigate the confusion and chaos of daily life with a simple reminder: that by taking the time to know ourselves and what those dreams are, we can appreciate the world around us and achieve our dreams.

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5.) For those that are hard to buy for -a gift card fits all. Give the gift of freedom and allow your recipient to choose for themselves.

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Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empathic healers who want to recharge their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others through intuitive psychotherapy sessions, angel card readings and writing coaching sessions. Caught up in chaos? Get 8 Simple Things You Can Do to Release Chaos From Your Life Now! www.lisahutchison.net