How to prevent empathy pains?
April 25, 2014 11:45 AM   Subscribe

It feels like other people's emotional energy is causing me muscle soreness. What can I do?

I know technically believing that other people are putting feelings in your body is often taken as a sign of schizophrenia. However, according to Raj Persuad in his excellent book, From the Edge of the Couch, the current consensus on possession is that it is a psycho-spiritual issue not a psychiatric issue.

I feel like being targeted by an energy bully (read William Bloom's Psychic Self-Protection if you need evidence for the existence of those). I often get annoying muscle spasms and stabbing pains that feel like someone very deliberately poking or pinching me.

The pain is unpleasant but it's often accompanied by a strong, weird feeling of unease that makes the effect worse. I'm not being self-pitying, but these experiences are seriously messing up my attempts to diet.

For people in the know about what's possible with emotional contagion, could someone please explain a foolproof method for blocking negative energy?

Thanks for any help. Maybe one day society will master the use of positive energy. Then perhaps we can have what pastor Joel Osteen alluded to with his phrase "the future economy of Heaven."
posted by Musashi Daryl to Education (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you absolutely sure there isn't a medical/physiological explanation for the pain? Have you seen a doctor about it? I know you feel sure it isn't that but I'd get checked by a doctor, just to be sure...
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:49 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I was in college, I experienced a period of not being able to lift one arm above shoulder-height, or fully extend it out, without extreme pain. Nobody could find any physical causes.

I went to therapy. The various stressors I was under were making me want to (literally) punch people, can't really do that. So my brain and emotions made my arm incapable of moving in a way that would let me punch anyone.

So, therapy is my suggestion. Your feelings are coming from inside the house.
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on April 25, 2014 [12 favorites]

Have you seen a doctor of some kind (either someone experienced in Western medicine or a holistic healer, maybe an acupuncturist) about your pain and unease? These feelings sound very hard to cope with. I'm sorry that you're experiencing them.

I do have to say that I've found that the best way to deal with the negative emotions of other people is to simply cut them out of my life, or dramatically limit the time I spend with them. I had a lot of physical symptoms when I was dealing with a very toxic person in my life, including unease, nausea, migraine headaches, and anxiety. Those symptoms resolved after I cut that person out.

Have you tried meditation?
posted by sockermom at 12:01 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Did Raj Persuad have any scientific sources to cite for that "consensus"? I think you're being a bit credulous about this. But at the same time, I don't discount at all the possibility of what you're feeling, because stress and having to deal with crappy people absolutely has a physical impact that can result in fatigue and muscle pain. So if it's helpful for you to think about it in terms of negative energy, go ahead--I dealt with my anxiety about driving through some weird visualization had taught me about exhaling an orange ball of energy. I don't think I was really exhaling an orange ball of energy, but it sure helped my brain wrap around whatever it needed to do to work.

So, given that, a lot of the solutions seem to be the same no matter how you look at it. Scientific people are more likely to talk about yoga in terms of muscle relaxation and tension and posture, but if it helps you to think about it in terms of energy flow, there are certainly people who think about it that way. Tai chi, very similar. Find something in the way of those sorts of disciplines that involves both a mindful sort of meditation or prayer, and gentle non-aggressive sort of movement, and relaxing breathing. It doesn't really matter how they work, for practical purposes, but they do tend to work.
posted by Sequence at 12:01 PM on April 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Seriously... emotional pain is felt in the same neuropathways as physical pain.

So dull your pathways a bit with some aspirin.

Also, as a fairly woo person myself, I'm gonna say that these 'energy' bullies work the same way as 'regular' bullies - they are finding the low self-esteem parts of your psyche and pushing those buttons. For you, it manifests as physical pain but it's all the same. With a glance, or after time, just their presence, your subconscious is reminded of whatever low self image you have of yourself and coughing up those bad feelings.

Remember no one controls you. Our experiences are projections of our own conscious & subconscious beliefs.

So find out what low self esteem buttons they are pushing and put them to rest.

FWIW Michael Persinger does awesome research on magnetic fields and the brain. One guy went in swearing up and down that his house was 'possessed.' When he tried this electromagnetic stimulation helmet, he re-experienced that 'possessed house' feeling, and immediately realized that it was his own mind haunting himself. Following his experience at Dr. Persinger's laboratory, the 'hauntings' ceased, and never came back.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:03 PM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you are talking about the tense/clenchy/generally unhappy sensation you get in the actual presence of people you find emotionally exhausting, or a similar sensation you get when simply thinking about interacting with those people, then this is not at all unusual, and stuff like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness in general can be helpful. Stressful situations can absolutely lead to muscle aches, exhaustion, malaise, restless sleep, etc.

However, I see you have mentioned basing your self-diagnoses on a somewhat disreputable author who you believe validates the existence of "possession" and that you seem to be concerned that unknown individuals are deliberately attempting to do you harm via deliberate energy attacks, and I really strongly urge you to consider other more medically valid causes for these issues.
posted by elizardbits at 12:08 PM on April 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

I often get annoying muscle spasms and stabbing pains that feel like someone very deliberately poking or pinching me.

This is something that could be explained as parasthesia. I think a visit to a neurologist could be helpful.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:20 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

(IANAD, but I am someone who has suffered from this in the past.)
posted by Room 641-A at 12:20 PM on April 25, 2014

What you're describing, as far as causality goes, is frankly...complete nonsense.

See a doctor.
posted by stenseng at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Quietly say to yourself, "If this energy is mine, I accept it. If this energy belongs to someone else, I release it."
posted by janey47 at 2:11 PM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am confused about the title of your post in relation to its description. I thought by "empathy" you meant getting physical pains as a result of empathizing with another's distress. For example, as a therapist might. Are these a result of being around certain people who you empathize with? Are they a result or the presence of other people who you think are in some indirect way being malicious? Not that I don't believe one can get physical pains from the latter, but they are two very different scenarios.
posted by Blitz at 2:27 PM on April 25, 2014

Even if you're convinced that the source of your pain is negative energy from other people, it doesn't hurt to get a checkup for your overall health. If nothing else, being physically healthy will make you more mentally resilient. So please see a doctor and get your thyroid, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 levels checked.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:32 PM on April 25, 2014

By indirectly malicious I mean something like very manipulative people. You may sense the bad vibes of such people in a way that you become physically uncomfortable. I didn't mean people walking around thinking in their heads "I'm causing you stabbing pains, I'm causing you stabbing pains" (but who knows, bad energy is bad energy and is going to be sensed somehow by people who are decently sensitive).
posted by Blitz at 2:38 PM on April 25, 2014

rtha: "So, therapy is my suggestion. Your feelings are coming from inside the house."

I almost turn to stone when I'm hurt - all of my muscles lock up. I get a sore throat quite often, biting back on words I do not want to say.

Have you tried some mindfulness meditation? My therapist will sometimes do a session with me where I sit with my pain, or whatever, and actually map it out. That seems to be a much better (and credible) way to deal with the pain.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:00 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and eat some bananas and/or start taking a good multivitamin/multimineral. I used to get woken up by what I swore felt like fingers poking or pinching me and it turned out to be muscle spasms. I upped my potassium intake and so far they haven't come back.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:20 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't believe this myself, but if this is something you believe, janey47's advice is spot on. make a conscious decision to not accept someone else's harmful energy.
posted by gt2 at 9:28 PM on April 25, 2014

I'm not exactly an expert on the matter of energy or psychic... magickal... stuff (read some books, burned some incense, had a couple Experiences one of which basically amounted to "do your thing and don't let other people's opinions bother you" and the other of which was very clearly "how about you clean your toilet before you go messing around with esoteric powers?") From what I've read, this is fairly typical advice -- basically, whatever else you do, don't dwell on it overmuch, as you can actually make your own problems that way.

On a more practical level -- and one of the other things I saw emphasized over and over again was the necessity of not spending all your time burning candles and waving sticks around, but making sure to get the mundane things covered as well -- I tend to have issues with muscle tension and soreness also, and I find it often helps to assume a suitably relaxed posture and cast your thoughts into whatever part is causing the problem, observing the pain and associated sensations in that area, and imagining that spreading out, relaxing, and becoming warm. I tend to visualize the muscle fibers coming apart as in the case of drafting wool. Also try pressure with a hand or suitable tool (A lacrosse ball, possibly pressed against a wall or floor, does well for quite a few areas) on the offending part (with reasonable gentleness) along with the same sort of visualization -- say, if you note (I often do) that the pressure will not penetrate into the muscle, use the visualization again to gently allow it to penetrate.

Doing that stuff has fixed a lot of problems for me that seemed for a while to be intractable and fairly significant. Sometimes simple things are like that.
posted by sparktinker at 10:06 PM on April 25, 2014

I know technically believing that other people are putting feelings in your body is often taken as a sign of schizophrenia.

Wouldn't necessarily go that far. It's perfectly feasible to have a defective bullshit filter without being even slightly mentally ill. Putting that another way: it's not only people with schizophrenia that cling to all kinds of unhelpful, untestable and essentially useless beliefs.

If you're having muscle pains, look for physical/medical/nutritional/lifestyle causes first.

these experiences are seriously messing up my attempts to diet.

Based on your previous question history, I suspect that an ineffective bullshit filter might be causing you some difficulty with your chosen diet regime as well. Make sure you're eating a wide variety of nutritious foods and not trying to do it all with commercial weight loss products, especially if those contain appetite suppressants or "fat burning stacks"; the people who design those things do not care how much your muscles hurt.
posted by flabdablet at 9:23 AM on April 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ginger helps for sore muscles. Go for walks, be around nature, do yoga. Eat healthy of course, but when you notice these thoughts, try to figure out where it's coming from. A lot of the visualization techniques mentioned seem a good place to start. Also mindfulness and focusing on love and gratitude. Pain sucks regardless of the type, but if you stay active, it'll hopefully loosen your muscles. Of course getting deep tissue massage and drinking plenty of water will help too, as well as getting your levels checked.

I'm a firm believer that if you pay attention to your body, you'll know what you need to do to take care of it. When you ignore your body and its needs, such as being properly hydrated or well rested, is where the issues start. I do have to say I can sense someone who is manipulative and dangerous to me, I have to physically remove myself from the presence of these people and cannot hold a conversation with them. My inner red flag goes up and there's a voice in my head that immediately I know this person will take advantage of me any chance they get.

So it's ok to understand those feelings, just don't get overly wrapped up in them. Do what you can to protect yourself from these people, but also make sure you're firm in your boundaries. If you have strong boundaries, you won't get harmed as easily. Good luck, it's all weird and energy blockage can possibly manifest as physical pain.
posted by lunastellasol at 1:42 PM on April 26, 2014

Block negative energy by taking care of yourself and your body. Go see a doctor.
posted by inertia at 11:56 AM on April 28, 2014

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