As I’ve spoken about in my book on the Archetypal Drama Triangle, Empaths can get into trouble when we blame our emotional state on someone else. We can use our unhappy emotional state as the justification for bullying or attacking another person. While this can seem justified it is never a creative action, and it always serves to spread the negativity in a wider circle.
I had this experience myself over the past week. For the first time I received negative reviews on my books I have published through Amazon, first in the UK and then in the US. In one case, the reader decided to start with Volume Four on Shadow Work, and of course couldn’t understand the book since important concepts necessary to understanding Shadow Work were introduced in the first three books. Instead of taking responsibility for a poor choice, the reader blamed me and gave my book a bad review. Similarly another reader bought all five books but for whatever reason read the last book first, became depressed, and then gave all the books a bad review while admitting to not reading them.
Unfortunately this sort of behavior is typical for those of us as yet unwilling to take responsibility for our emotional state. In both cases these readers not only blamed me for their unhappiness but attacked me for it. If only they had read the first book! 🙂
More interestingly for me was watching myself deal with my first negative reviews. I of course felt unhappy, angry, misrepresented, and attacked, and as an Empath I felt this keenly. The important point for me, though, was to not turn my emotional state on these reviewers, on myself or on the people around me. I could have handled my emotional state irresponsibly by being short with my family members, by telling myself I should give up my work, or by attacking the reviewers. Empaths tend to want to withdraw when dealt criticism, especially unfair criticism. I had to face that feeling, remind myself that my writing has helped far more people than I even know, and then I needed to share my experience with people that I trusted. After doing so, the feelings passed and I was able to let that situation go with the inspiration for a Right Action. I decided to move forward with putting all my books into one large volume instead of waiting to do so until the next two books are complete. In this way no one could be confused as to what to read first. (I hope to have this volume published some time in May)
Anyone who puts their work out there is bound to be attacked in this fashion, especially from people who do not take the risk to put their creativity out in the world. Theodore Roosevelt ignored these attacks from people who were not “in the Arena.” On an objective, logical level I know these reviews are not important, I know they show the state of the reviewer and not my work, and I know that in a few days I’ll forget about it. However, for Empaths this type of attack is much harder to shrug off than for the non-Empath. We need to give ourselves a break for our emotional state and but not pass our crankiness on like these reviewers did. We need to go to our support system and ask for support. I also pampered myself, did a sandpainting, had a salt bath, and vented to trusted family and friends. I did this over the past few days and felt restored, validated (Empaths love validation) and ready to move forward again.
I write this post to make two important points. If a feeling arises that is uncomfortable, try to examine it before acting on it. If it is obvious that it is the other person’s issue, like the response from these reviewers, do what it takes to take care of yourself so that you can shrug off the negativity without hurting yourself or the people around you. See if there’s a Right Action to take, like my deciding to put all my writing into one volume, that will make the experience into a positive, life affirming one. Then slather thanks and gratitude on your support system.
Secondly, what would have happened if the reviewer who became depressed by reading my family system book had taken responsibility for his emotions? Instead of disliking and attacking me personally, the responsible action is to look at what is the true source of the depression, sadness, and ensuing anger, which has to come from something within that reviewer. Stop before shooting the messenger and look instead for the wound that needs healing. These actions are the heart of Shadow Work. This is what makes Shadow Work difficult and confusing. It seems like the other person is to blame, but it is really an opportunity always to look within.
As a final request, if my books have helped you on your own journey, please consider writing a favorable review. I would appreciate the love and support. Thank you.