Are you feeling pressure to do more with life?

Many sensitive souls I work for feel pressure to do more with their life. This burden can originate from your own internal process but also external forces, such as parents, relatives and friends. One common theme is a drive to move forward in some great way, yet you are unsure of what that is or where you are going. This weight is felt emotionally and can be expressed as restlessness, anxiety and depression.

Are you feeling pressured to do more in life-

 

My personal story

For me, this stress began in childhood. I was born an empath and experienced my father’s sudden death when I was 5 years old and my brother-in-law’s death when I was 15 years old. From these experiences, I felt I don’t have a lot of time in life. In some ways this awareness has made my life richer and more beautiful because I push myself to not have any regrets. In other ways, it has caused me great pain.

Trauma theorists in the psychology world would say a part of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is believing that you will not have a normal life span or in technical terms, a foreshortened future. What happens when you only have this one symptom? One symptom of PTSD does not qualify anyone for a diagnosis.

In the recent year alone, I had two friends die suddenly. Adding this to my mother’s death over 5 years ago, I see how life can change in the blink of an eye and death has touched me very deeply. Death has manifested in me a compulsion to achieve. I need to hurry up, get things done and make my mark on this world before I am out. I am sharing my personal experience because I know others of you are out there who also pressure yourselves for this reason and others.

Reasons why you feel pressured to do more in life

  • Empaths are born healers, who need to become more visible with their gifts, yet often hide them and avoid public exposure. One theory is this restlessness comes from your soul to get you moving and put yourself out there more. Yet, you will be no good to anyone else if you burnout from self-imposed pressure. Read more about burnout here: What helpers like you need to know about burnout 
  • You worry that you are not doing enough with your life. This inferior thinking leads you to compare yourself to others or feel something is missing. What worsens this effect are milestones such as deaths, birthdays, reunions, weddings and births for yourself or those close to you. These events get you thinking about life, regrets and how fast time seems to be moving.
  • You are experiencing post-traumatic stress. You experienced trauma around a life threatening event or a death and are now experiencing symptoms such as startle responses, nightmares, avoidance of triggers that remind you of the trauma, emotional numbness, a sense of a foreshortened future and anxiety. You have flashbacks which put your mind back into the scene of the trauma and feel stuck reliving it through your thoughts and feelings.
  • You are psychic. It could be you are predicting your own shortened life. I have often felt this way. Unfortunately, you will not know you are right until you are on the other side.

What to do

There is a lot of healing that needs to be done in this world, the best place to start is with yourself. When you become overwhelmed with the wounds of others, make an appointment to heal your own. If you are experiencing trauma symptoms, make an appointment with an empathic psychotherapist or healer.

There is no perfect life. Learn to live from your heart and not your head. Become aware of the pressured thinking, stop it in its tracks and focus on what is right in front of you. No one knows how much time any of us have on Earth, relax and enjoy it as much as you can. Trust that there is time and space to do everything you need to do according to divine planning.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s life has challenges, do not get sucked into the hype of social media where everything looks great. That is one snapshot of a person’s day, it does not tell the entire story of their life. Compare yourself to yourself 6 months or a year ago and use that as a measure of success.

To wrap things up

Life is short and we live in an uncertain world. The key is to become aware of the thinking that causes you to suffer and learn to drop down into your heart space. Focus on your breath, relax and let go with each exhale. Enjoy this ride called life as much as possible, for this is how you end your life with no regrets.

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 get this FREE gift 8 Simple Things that Release Chaos from Your Life Now!

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What does blaming the victim say about us?

What does blaming the victim say about us- (1)

Think about these news headlines:

Marines Being Investigated for Sharing Nude Photos of Female Colleagues-NBC New York

Tennessee teacher suspected in 15-year-old’s kidnapping arrested; teen found safe.-Fox

Three O’Reilly sexual harassment accusers speak out-MSNBC

Right now, you have a story in your mind about the perpetrator and the victim. Some of you side with the victim while others believe the accused. When something horrific happens the mind goes into a narrow focus of black and white thinking, which explains why people take sides. I agree, there are cases of people being accused of crimes they did not commit. Why is it that when the evidence is overwhelming that people blame the victim or feel the victim of the crime has more responsibility than the perpetrator?

From my experience as a licensed psychotherapist, I have discovered the following reasons:

There is a lack of empathy for others and ourselves- When you hear a story about a crime that happened to another person it arises a feeling of judgment within you. It is easy to say after hearing a story that you would have handled it differently. The truth is you do not know how you would cope until you are in it yourself. You can give a good guess, it is something else to live and act in the moment.

It is uncomfortable sitting with your own inner victim. To identify with the victim of a story you need to acknowledge that there were times in your own life that you were victimized or felt vulnerable and there was nothing you could do about it at that time. Many cannot handle this truth and instead reject it, projecting their anger onto the victim.

You don’t want to accept that it is not a just world- Bad things happen to people and they did not ask for it or bring it upon themselves by what they did or did not do. Sometimes bad things happen to good people because you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This randomness to the world is a scary concept.

It is easier to blame others believing they deserve what they got rather than admit this could have happened to me. The proverb, there but for the grace of God go I, admits this recognition that others’ misfortune could be one’s own and there are parts of our lives that are out of our control. The good news is you can always choose how to respond to any event.

Denial about the perpetrator –Sometimes the person harming others is someone you know or could even be a family member or friend. It is difficult to accept that someone you love could commit a crime. This very truth can cause people to shift the focus of responsibility from perpetrator to victim. You may wonder what the accused person’s behavior says about you as a person. Their behavior, as an adult, is their responsibility. What others do has nothing to do with you.

Lack of acceptance of your own inner perpetrator –As I stated earlier you have an inner victim but you also can have an inner perpetrator or bully. Is there something that you have done that you are having trouble facing that was hurtful to yourself or others?

Blaming the victim drains your life force of energy because you are negating the vulnerable parts within yourself and putting your focus on someone else’s life. You do not know the life lessons and growth for other people but you can work on yourself.  We are all here to learn from one another and ourselves, whether we find ourselves in the position of a victim, a perpetrator or a witness.

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. Helping sensitive souls not only survive but shine! Get her 10 page E-book FREE called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at www.lisahutchison.net

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.

when-your-helping-interferes-with-your-happiness-2

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

 

why-compassionate-people-have-lost-their-empathy-for-othersadd-heading

 

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 psychotherapist and writing coach who works for empathic healers and artists. She helps you recharge your depleted energies and increase your awareness and skills. 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!