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11 March 2011 3 Comments

Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 7: Positive Vulnerability and Forgiveness

Full-Spectrum Forgiveness, Part 7: Positive Vulnerability and Forgiveness

I have met a number of persons able to produce genuine positive emotion at will. Advanced guides understand that we do not arrive at a state of wholeness or Oneness by suppressing or glossing over difficult emotions. Authentic positive feeling rests on being able to experience the entire range of emotions—without becoming identified with them.

What does it mean to experience emotions without becoming identified? This means that when we feel a feeling we do not say 
“this is how I am” or “this is who I am.” We just experience it and let it flow by, like one does with thoughts during meditation or Zen sitting. We continue to be human. We just get better at moving through and out of difficult emotions because we’re not making a big deal of them. We have given up resisting them. Getting to forgiveness, joy and compassion is about being able to ALLOW and RECEIVE them, not to manufacture. Forgiving ourselves is a great second-starting point. The first place to begin is with the ability to be vulnerable.

Positive Vulnerability and Forgiveness
P1040444In the realm of intimacy with Self, others, and spirit, vulnerability means access. Without vulnerability we have no access. This is especially true for anything we may learn directly by experiencing energy or receiving intuitive input. Vulnerability allows energy to penetrate us. All that lies ‘Within’ and ‘Beyond’ require access to us in order for us to have access to them. This applies equally to feeling the energy of a loved one, receiving guidance of any sort, allowing compassion in, allowing one’s self to be forgiven, and experiencing the flow of forgiveness within and through our bodies. Being open and vulnerable to the involved energies provides access.

If this does not bring up the question of boundaries—it should. As a person with profound capacity to feel and “read” energy, I speak a lot about boundaries. Boundaries of different sorts counterbalance the intense vulnerability of being sensitive to energy. Boundaries allow for balance and even for sanity when it comes to knowing what is a part of you and what is not. At some levels of experience everything IS a part of us. At others, we need to be able to identify exactly what belongs to us and what does not. Energy awareness and boundaries go hand in hand.

We connect with the world larger than personal identity and vaster than our limited beliefs by opening to experiences that are beyond what we know ourselves to be. This opening involves vulnerability.

In the everyday world we usually use the word vulnerability to describe a state of being unprotected and unsafe. The trick to intimacy with the world beyond our skins–and our defenses–is to learn how to feel safe enough inside ourselves that we can be vulnerable to life in a positive way. I’m talking about letting in love. I’m talking about being open to learning things that do not fit with our old set of beliefs. I’m talking about allowing compassion to overtake us, getting tears in our eyes when we hear something beautiful, and being deeply moved by gestures of kindness. Positive vulnerability is a real asset.

Defense closes us off to intimacy. We need not choose between being a brick wall or a living target. Sensing and honoring our needs for boundaries can assist both overly-open and overly-closed individuals. Those who tend to close others out can practice trusting their ability to close as needed—and hazard greater openness. Those who tend to be super-open need to make sure their choices involve compassion for themselves, not just for others. Knowing ourselves well enough and getting adept with boundaries support a sense of inner safety. These skills—accelerated by addressing our emotional wounds—make healthy openness possible. Emotional armor is deadening.

So how do we begin to peal off that armor? The rest of this post series is designed to make doing so more comfortable.

Self-forgiveness is key.

How and when have YOU experienced Positive Vulnerability?
How did you feel?

17 March 2010 0 Comments

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 8

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 8

How to Avoid Being Vampire Bait

Recognizing “vampire” behavior patterns and “victim” patterns that invite being drained will help keep you out of a relationship that sucks. You deserve to thrive in a loving relationship. This text addresses predisposing issues that attract people who draw energy.

Let’s address the internal social isolation and alienation that lead to being susceptible to vampires.

If you feel that almost no one understands you:

  • Develop more skill in communicating who you are
  • Give people time to learn
  • Allow others to learn through their mistakes, just as you do
  • Assume good will while talking to iron out misunderstandings
  • Let others know what they need to know about you for you to feel understood
  • Seek out friends who have had similar experiences
  • Quit taking what people do personally
  • Cherish and focus on the friends who CAN understand you
  • Hold an open place in your heart for more excellent friends and seek to recognize them when they show up in your life

Relaxing Your Needs:

  • Be authentic and vulnerable in your friendships, knowing that you will lose the ones that don’t fit for you while finding deep and loving friendships.
  • Develop a support network.
  • Contemplate the differences between love and dependency.
  • Get perspective by imaging about what would be left in your relationship if sex wasn’t a part of it.
  • Contemplate the impact of flattery
  • Make intentional decisions about your relationship choices based on solid criteria
  • Learn to recognize the feeling in your body when someone begins to draw your energy.
  • Consider the effects of your relationship on your life goals over time.
  • Study the criteria for personality disorders if you are in a relationship with someone who may have one. (See links in Part 5)

On needing to feel special and different:
Relax that! Everybody is.
Practice valuing your authenticity and allowing yourself to be loved by those who are naturally compatible with you. Concern yourself less about how you are seen by strangers.

On needing to be protected:
Learn how to feel safe in your body. Learning to feel safe may take assistance from skilled healers or therapists. The experience of safety depends on our how we hold our energy.

On being loving:
Ditch the belief that it is spiritual to endure pain and abuse and remain loving. Yes, it is spiritual to love all of life, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick around. Love from farther away! You’re responsible to love yourself first.

Do you know anyone in a relationship that drains their vital forces? Please comment.

Share this Vampire Series with those who need the information.

4 March 2010 0 Comments

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 7

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 7

Moving from Calling People Energy Vampires into Self-Care

People with certain personality disorders do suck energy.
They are wounded.
This type of deep, core wound is not easy to heal.

Calling people vampires if they seduce us into giving them energy is becoming popular. I am not suggesting calling these people vampires: We all have wounds. We are all much more than our wounds. The term “energy vampires” is useful to wake us up to what is going on. I am suggesting keeping your eyes wide open for how people impact you, so you can choose wisely how you use your vital force. Once we can do this we can lose the need to label and simply take care of ourselves.

Persons with character disorders resist treatment for the following reasons:

  • Seeking treatment may conflict with the need to be seen as special, perfect, and intact. Resistance to self-awareness (denial) is part and parcel.
  • Issues about care may be projected onto the therapist, making treatment challenging for all but the most skilled and knowledgeable professionals.
  • The consummate acting skills that can accompany the disorder may make it possible to fool the professional.
  • The individual may fire the professional if treatment approaches the real issues.
  • Initial wounding usually occurred before the person could talk, making it harder to process.
  • Facing wounds can bring up intense pain, fear, and self-loathing in the process of healing.
  • Even gentle and loving support to get professional help can be interpreted as character assassination.

BigSurUpLearning not to take the person’s symptoms personally is crucial to emotional survival.

Do not blame yourself for getting involved with someone with a character disorder, or for not knowing. How would you know before being exposed to it? The best psychotherapist I know of told me once that she “dated all of the different character disorders” as she learned to recognize healthy relationships.

Do not blame yourself for “attracting” the relationship.
Seek to discover what you can learn about yourself to make yourself strong and compassionate, with good boundaries. This will improve your life!

Look less to the cause and more for the purpose in your experiences.

Everyone has needs and may be needy from time to time. Needing energy, attention, and support sometimes does not make someone a vampire. Being constantly consumed with one’s own needs to the exclusion of the needs of others sucks.

I have observed people who fear others’ needs accusing those who are willing and able to give with love of being draining. These accusers were confused about needs. Ironically, the way they handled their concerns was draining. Be a person who looks to your own issues as well when seeking to understand others, and use information responsibly.

What have you learned about caring for yourself compassionately around draining people?

26 February 2010 2 Comments

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 6

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 6

Vampire Mystique and Character Disorders, Two

Please understand that in comparing those with character disorders to vampires, I am not without compassion for their suffering. They, like vampires, may be quite loveable—but dangerously so. These parallels are for the purpose of recognizing these issues to keep yourself safe, not for looking down on people. I will say more about this in Post 7.

Let’s look at some of the parallels between vampires and people who have character disorders:

Need to feed on the energy of others to survive

  • Intense craving to be loved and bonded
  • Unrealistic and impossible demands on loved ones, draining those they love
  • Seductive behavior based on emotional needs
  • Intense compelling or glowing eyes when beginning to draw energy
  • Being the only one who can understand
  • The need to possess those they love body and soul
  • Eternal youth

Vampires do not age. Persons with character disorders are emotionally stuck at the stage of development when their wound occurred. In fiction, the besotted human worries about growing old and no longer meeting the vampire’s standards for perfection. Perfectionists make easy prey for vampires because of the tendency to accept blame. In real life—after the sexual infatuation wears off—what happens is that the partner gradually becomes aware of the immaturity of the person in the vampire role.

Warning signs of character disorders:

  • Their feelings matter and yours do not even register when stated clearlyPMfountain11
  • Their actions and words are grossly out of synch
  • Feeling drained after interacting
  • Their idea of you loving them requires every ounce of you and it’s not enough
  • They do anything to be seen well by others and are totally different in private
  • Casual emotional cruelty and an inability to acknowledge it
  • Lack of conscience about impact on others
  • Uncharacteristic loss of goals or life direction around the partner
  • Needless conflict—may be a way to get your energy out so they can slurp it up
  • Expect you to read their mind and anticipate every need and upset if you don’t
  • Feeling that you have to walk on eggshells to keep from setting them off

Be sure to see the links in Post 7 for specific criteria if you think you may be dealing with a character disorder—someone else’s or your own.

It’s natural to love people with character disorders, but mandatory to love yourself as much or more, or you are likely to be drained and derailed from your purposes. These disorders are resistant to treatment, which is sad, because some wonderful people have them, making them difficult to impossible to live them with and remain healthy. If someone you love has one, learn all you can about the disorder so you can recognize behavior patterns and don’t get sucked in to thinking it’s all you. You will probably need professional support to stay emotionally healthy.

What do you do to stay in touch with yourself when you are around someone who is out of balance?

21 February 2010 0 Comments

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 5

Real Life Truth About Vampire Mystique, Part 5

Vampire Mystique and Character Disorders

Judith Orloff, a well-known psychiatrist who is wildly intuitive, writes about narcissists as energy vampires. Narcissism is a character disorder—a serious and diagnosable personality issue. Narcissists do indeed drain energy. If they cannot get energy and attention by positive means they may go so far as to do obviously cruel things to get you worked up—and then casually blame you for it.

Persons with Borderline Personality Disorder make first-rate vampires as well.

Cindy came into my office for the first time in the middle of nasty legal proceedings during which her ex was trying to make her look crazy and unfit to be a mother. She had been a well-qualified nanny for years.

After listening to a brief description of her situation I said, “Tell me how much of this is true: Your relationship started out well. He seemed like an ideal partner and was kind and outgoing to you. After you got seriously involved he began to get really upset very small things and accuse you of not loving him. He expected you to read his mind and attend to his every desire without being asked. When you couldn’t he began to blame and criticize you. He started getting crazier and crazier as you tried to straighten things out, and you began to doubt yourself. Even though you know almost all of what he is saying isn’t true you started to look for the things he said about you in yourself until you felt terrible about yourself.”

She said, gasping: “All of it! How did you know?!”

DSC_8987I said I had a feeling her partner had Borderline Personality Disorder, and that was a typical pattern. Almost anyone who has partnered with a Narcissist or someone with BPD will attest to the facile way this partner makes him or herself look blameless and attractive in your shared social world—until they begin to unravel. Worse than them unraveling is trying to sort out your sanity when they are absolutely certain that everything they feel is your responsibility yet find ways to continue to appear credible. In their eyes, every time you object to something they accuse you of you are causing an unnecessary problem. Being in this kind of relationship is incredibly draining, whether or not you are seduced into believing them.

Vampires present themselves in society as something other than they are. People with character disorders do the same. They master acting presentable and upright, partly due to intense needs for approval and admiration. Once they have identified YOU as the sole source for their emotional needs, this veneer may begin to crumble. The allure of feeling wanted, needed, important, and doted upon fades with the teeth of their insatiable need.

When almost everyone else sees this person as wonderful, it is easy to become confused and believe the biting things they say to hurt you are not true. Unable to stop, they ‘bleed’ you to feed off of your energy, attempting to affirm secretly shaky self-esteem. Deep childhood wounds gave them an intense hunger for approval and love that normal relationship cannot fulfill.

People with borderline personality disorder may seem to love more deeply or passionately than emotionally healthy individuals. They may think they are loving you when they are demanding love from you. They may even feel real love too, and feel bad about how they impact you. What is happening is not pure love but driving compulsion from emotional wounds. This can appear to be love until you try to separate from them to sort yourself out. Then all hell breaks loose.

Post 6 continues to explore parallels between vampires and persons with character disorders, and provides warning signs.

How do you stay clear about loving yourself and about who you really are when you’re around someone who insists that you are what they feel?

27 October 2009 8 Comments

About The Term “Energy Vampires”

About The Term “Energy Vampires”

What do you think of the terms "energy vampire" and "emotional vampire"?

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Judith Orloff, a competent psychiatrist and highly talented intuitive, uses the terms “energy vampires” and “emotional vampires” to describe people who drain or draw energy from others. The term “psychic vampires” is also in use.

VampireI have experienced people who drain energy. As those of you who are highly sensitive know, the feeling of having your energy drained by someone is exhausting, invasive, and unpleasant. Being drained can be metaphorical, as in having an emotional reaction that leaves you drained after dealing with someone. Loss of energy can also be literal. Literal means that energy is actually leaving your body and the drainer is becoming stronger.

Personally I do not believe those of us who get drained are mere victims. We have emotional or boundary challenges to master in order to overcome being susceptible. Interaction goes two ways.

Likewise, those who drain—with a few seriously disturbed exceptions—do not do it intentionally. They are likely to be doing their best to cope with their issues. They may need feedback and professional support to learn how to fill themselves up.

Personally I have mixed feelings about using terms that categorize people as monsters. Doing so is fun, spunky, highly descriptive. It gives us distance from people and their issues. It makes it easier to realize how critical it is to set boundaries. At the same time these terms focus us on the problem as if the entire person was his or her problem. Most people who drain energy do so only under some circumstances or types of relationships.

What do you think? Are the advantages of calling people “psychic vampires,” “energy vampires,” or “emotional vampires” worth it? Are the terms too harsh, or simply well deserved? Why?