Many of us instinctively want to take away another person’s pain, especially a loved one. But for those of us who soak up energy, that can be an unhealthy desire.
Since I frequently give workshops and speak in front of hundreds of people at a time, it’s essential that I ground and protect myself. Doing so keeps me from absorbing the suffering of the participants, which is amplified in large groups. And while suffering is present in all humans, grounding myself helps me do the teaching I love without getting worn out by excessive stimulation.
With time and practice, I’ve learned to be present for my patients but to not shoulder their discomfort. One strategy I teach my patients and workshop participants to help them maintain healthy relationships is a cord cutting visualization technique.
My patient, Terry, realized she had been absorbing her mother’s anxiety since childhood. She has a big heart and was unconsciously taking on her loved one’s emotions. However, once Terry became aware of this dynamic, I taught her to set boundaries by visualizing cutting an energetic cord between herself and her mother’s anxiety. This technique, from my book, The Empath’s Survival Guide, allowed Terry to create a healthy boundary and still remain a caring daughter.
The Partial Cord Cutting Visualization:
If you feel you are too connected with someone’s physical or emotional state, visualize a cord of light extending from your belly to theirs. Then lovingly set your intention to cut the cord with their pain or discomfort—remember, you’re not severing the connection with the total person.
Next, visualize taking a pair of scissors and cutting the cord between you and the aspect of that person you want distance from.
Sometimes, you might attract a specific type of negative person because of the mutual emotional issues you both need to heal. This can lead to an unhealthy “wound mate relationship,” where you keep repeating the wounding process with each other. There’s an odd psychological comfort to this because it’s what you both know, what you’re used to. You become attached to a toxic person and can’t let go. This keeps you stuck in a painful cycle.
For instance, your low self-esteem may attract people who criticize you, and the criticizer attracts people whom they can belittle because their parents or others belittled them when they were younger. Be careful not to perpetuate wound mate relationships. Instead, let these people—whether they are friends, coworkers, or spouses—spur you to develop self-awareness and heal the initial wound. Then you can grow out of these relationships and find more fulfilling ones.
There are some people though, like narcissists, who are so toxic that you’ll need to end all contact with them. To leave this type of relationship (or any relationship from which you need a clean break), the best choice is to keep moving and never look back. One way to do that is by using the following technique, which helps you completely cut the energetic cord.
The Complete Cord Cutting Visualization:
In a calm state, picture cords of light connecting both you and the person you need to walk away from. Inwardly, say “thank you” for what you’ve learned from the relationship, even if the lessons were hard. Then firmly assert, “It’s time to completely break our bonds.”
Next, visualize taking a pair of scissors and cutting each bond completely so you’re free of any mutual energetic ties. This will help you release this relationship and also remove any lingering energy you feel from this person.
It’s important to find honorable closure. There’s another shamanic technique that can help you release unhealthy relationships, particularly if you keep thinking about a person or sense they are thinking about you.
Go out in nature and find a large stick. Look at the stick and declare, “This relationship is over.” Then break the stick in half, leave the pieces on the ground, walk away, and never look back. This finalizes the ceremony of closure.
Learning to set healthy boundaries, or, if necessary, completely break free from those who drain you can protect your sensitivities and enhance your overall well-being.
Adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Judith Orloff, MD
Author: Judith Orloff, MD
Image: Iain Farrell/Flickr
Editor: Nicole Cameron
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