Last month, I happened across a great piece in The Guardian about depression and mental health, that really struck a chord with me.
Basically, the article said that depression is not about chemical imbalances—as it has been touted by the scientific and medical communities for many years—but more about power imbalances and a lack of control. (Even though it was not written with the Empath in mind, I recommend that you read it. It’s quite enlightening.) Here is a link to the article:
Most Empaths and Sensitives are prone to having bouts of depression and or depressive moods. Although we can often link these gloomy periods to spending time with overly negative people, being around those who act as trauma triggers, or eating unsuitable foods, etc. but power imbalances, and a lack of life-control is something we should also consider.
A lack of control being linked to depression makes total sense. Not having power in one’s life also equates to feelings of helplessness and the sense of walking aimlessly. When we feel we are not in control of our life, and have no direction it might also be said that we have no purpose.
Everyone needs purpose. To have a reason to get up in the morning to do something not only that we enjoy but that we know we are good at. But how many people can make that claim? Not many. Most are stuck in jobs not for the joy or purpose it gives them, but for the pay-check.
Anyone who is creative and/or intelligent (and I don’t just mean educated) are naturally inclined to want to be in control of their destiny and have a reason for being. Granted, some think they would prefer others to make their decisions for them—often born from having a fear of making the wrong decision or a lack of belief in self—but someone else controlling our life or purpose will never bring happiness.
Over 80% of the workforce are unfulfilled and unhappy in their work. That’s a lot of people.
If we consider a lot of people went into professions chosen by their parents, or they chose their careers before they got to know who they were, it makes total sense. After all, who knows at sixteen what they will want to do for the rest of their lives. Not many people. We change so much from when in our teenage years to when we are in our thirties. This, I believe, is a reason that so many people find themselves unhappy in their work in later life. They didn’t choose their vocation or they chose too young.
The lack of life-control in society means we end up living in conflict. Inside, we want to do something that feels meaningful and gives us purpose. In reality, many are stuck working to pay for mortgages, bills and children, and to fund a lifestyle.
What we are told will make us happy rarely does because one size does not fit all. People feel like they are not in control.
I often refer to myself as being a ‘quiet control freak’. And that is not because I secretly want to rule others or be on some kind of ‘power trip’ with them. It’s because I want to be in control of my life… at least as much as I can. I realise we can’t control everything. But I do want to control what I do, where I go and how my time is used, I also want to be in control of whose energy I’m in. So, I tend to have a problem if others try to control me or if their energy is overbearing. The ‘quiet’ comes in because instead of being argumentative or objectionable, with those who force control, I quietly back away.
Having a desire to control one’s own life is not a bad thing. We are at the helm of our own ships and it is up to us to set our own course and destination. We should be able to do this when we are ready to do so (which is rarely at the age we are expected).
Not being in control can seem like a form of imprisonment, as can feeling forced to do work we have no passion for or interest in. That is not freedom. Humans are supposed to have freewill. We also need to know we have choices, even if we don’t choose to use them.
Too often Sensitive people are made to feel small and insignificant by those who enjoy undermining others. In our bid to overcome this we may search for positions of power or wealth in the belief they will make us whole or worthy. Alas, this is often not the case. Even if we achieve great status, power and vast material wealth, if we do not feel in control or if we are not following our true calling a void remains inside.
The article I linked to above, an extract from Johann Hari’s book: ‘Lost Connections’, suggests that the depression most experience is caused by our inner-self trying to raise our awareness that we are off-course. ‘It’s telling us that our natural psychological needs are not being met and it is a form of grief.’ Which I totally agree with.
We need to listen to our emotional signals and this is something I write a lot about:
By listening to our gut’s promptings and intuition it can save us unnecessary heartache. As an Empath, however, defining these signals is a challenge. Because we feel everything so powerfully, it is difficult to discern the trigger of our own emotions, and those that belong to others. But, speaking from experience, this is something we can all learn to overcome.
In the past, I have had times when I suffered with mild depression or experienced low moods, both of which pushed me to find the cause and make necessary changes to my life. Nowadays, if I experience a gloomy mood, I can link it back to either eating a food I shouldn’t (normally containing high levels of lectins), having spent too much time in peopled places or around excess negativity (or there’s been intense shifts in energy). Because I have learnt to interpret my own signals and triggers, I try to follow what is right for me. There is nothing worse than experiencing low moods unnecessarily.
If we are constantly down or depressed, these are our inner-messages telling us something is not right either with the path we are walking or the way we are living our lives.
If you regularly read my posts, you may already know I am a great believer that bad things happen for good reasons. We just don’t see it at the time. Depression can be a call for change, our change. But we have to question the feelings we experience and find the root cause. Which will be different for everyone.
We need to focus on taking back our power and that starts with getting in control of what we can.
To live happily as Empaths, staying in control is something we must work on daily, otherwise the world, and the way it makes us feel, will swallow us up.
Because this is a vast subject and an area many Empaths struggle with, I will continue the theme in my next post. But if you want to look at ways to take back control here are some posts that may help you on your way.
Hope this helps on your journey.