If you have an emphatic heart you need to protect it, or else we can often slip into the problem that I will describe in this post: Sometimes help isn’t helping anybody and helping on this agenda will only wear you out.
There is another thing that we have to take into account, and that is: You don’t really have an emphatic heart; the reason you chose to help – when it’s not real help, is to seek power over others by making yourself indispensable and thereby making others codependent. If you do that, the next step is that you will force people into acquired helplessness. With that out of the way – I will describe the problem.
In our lives, and as we evolve, we become more and more accustomed to the Intelligent Heart. The Intelligent Heart knows where to help and it knows when to stop. Orchestrating or architecting acquired helplessness is not good for anybody, unless you want people to become dependent on you, since it will undermine their self-empowerment. People who use others as Emotional Garbage Cans don’t want self-empowerment, they would rather have you control their life for them, so untangling from this situation can be messy. Also, it’s the same background for people seeking cults – they do not have to think or feel anything – since they have their local guru to do that for them.
Another agenda is that people using us as an Emotional Garbage Can can be so beaten up by life that it’s really all they can do. And that’s a sad, sad situation, BUT, anybody in that position would want to get out of it and be able to make some choices, since there is always a way out and always choices to be made. They might not see it, but you do and you can tell them different strategies and instead they pick none. If that is the reaction you get, you are in the presence of a ‘Poor Me’ self-victimizing person who is actually an energetic vampire in the disguise of life gone bad.
When you help people professionally or the people you just know, the question of detachment is often the answer to see what is really going here. Is it an energy sucking vampire or someone so downtrodden by life that they cannot stand up anymore?
Detaching here is: If people are caught up in a maze it makes no sense jumping into the maze with them, as that will also blind you. The answer is to detach and step outside the maze where you can see the Exit signs. Point to them and if they run the opposite way – well, let them. This is the point where you have to use your authority and say:
‘Well, I told you left. Then I told you right. You went the opposite way or stood still. If you want my help – you have to do as I say, and if you don’t think that’s for you, cool, make your own choice’. If they take the no-choice route, it’s a dead-end street and you need to tell them that. Be very honest – as it can save their lives.
Let me present an example that is many people’s reality:
You have this friend. She’s in a bad marriage and he beats her up or is verbally abusive.
Your friend calls you at shit-o’clock in the night and goes:
‘You know, he´s drunk again. He´s calling me all sorts of things that I don’t care to repeat. When will this stop? and yesterday he…’ and so on…
Okay, time of truth. What are you? A Garbage Can or a Genuine Helper?
A Garbage Can would go: ‘OH, that’s terrible. How can he treat you this way!’ And then jump into her programming of self-victimization, into the maze where neither of you can find the Exit sign.
There are many problems with that approach, the most severe one is:
By putting your ear to this she can after hours of complaints continue her life with this man because you co-created the status quo with which she got rid of her frustrations. By doing so, you support the situation.
A Genuine Helper would go:
‘Listen dear. It’s shit-O’clock in the morning and we have talked about this for years. I have told you to get out of that relationship, seek professional help, or move home to your mother/brother/uncle Harvey and make it clear to him that you won’t put up with it. Except, you have done nothing to improve your situation. Until you do – I cannot help you, but when you do – I will be there for you.’
It’s a hard thing to say maybe – but it’s emotionally honest: ‘Tell the truth but tell it sweetly’, I call it.
Another moment of truth is the reaction you get back. It will very rarely be: ‘Sure, I understand now, call you when I have informed him of my leaving’.
It will often be another Poor Me response like:
– Why are you so cold?
You’re not cold – you’re warm.
– You don’t like me anymore.
Yes, you do. You like her enough to tell her what is best for her.
– You do not care about me, I thought you were my friend.
This example of course applies to a lot of situations we can meet having an Emphatic Heart, and if we do not stay in that, we go into the solar plexus which is love mistaken for sentimentality. Or we need the power trip.
You are merely guiding her into self-help by giving her what she sees as a cold shoulder.
If she’s a drainer or a time-stealer, she will engage no further and pick another victim from her Facebook friend list. These people survive on misery and are not invested or slightly invested in making choices.
The excuses can be many: What about my finances, my reputation and so on.
If they want to keep a degrading situation up by pointing to these aspects, they are not interested. She can live on the sofa at somebody’s place until she gets her life back on track. There is also a bit of agony in that – but there is at least a long-term plan.
I could ponder on why making choices when you’re up to your neck in bad stuff is so hard but the bottom line is: Do they want Self-Empowerment? Some people really do not. They are a no-go.
For them, life seems easier apparently – floating around in the choice soup for years and years, even though their situation is unbearable when seen from the outside of the maze.
I have worked with many women dealing with abusive relationships. And they often go: ‘You should see his text messages or my Facebook wall!’
Change the simcard and unfriend him on Facebook.
–No, I can’t do that. I can’t change my sim.
So, if you’re caught in this and feeling really worn out approaching Empathy Burnout, maybe take on a couple of ‘Poor Me’s’ and try to really help them.
We need honest food at our dinner tables and this is an area where most do not want the truth and many are reluctant to tell it.
© 2017 Soren Dreier / Full repost only by permission.