“Don’t try to comprehend with your minds; Minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”
(Madeleine L’Engle in A Wind at the Door)
In therapy, the “Identified Client” is most often the person in a family system that was dragged or pushed into therapy by the family or system around them. Often with kid-clients, it’s the kid who is “acting out.” With adults, it can be the spouse who lashes out or disappears inside themselves, the employee who’s having a hard time functioning on their job, or maybe the parent of grown kids who just can’t seem to be what others expect. These are the people identified as “the problem” in what is presumed to be a healthy-enough system. They just can’t seem to stop rocking the boat.
I’ma tell you a little secret…
That person is almost always the healthiest person in the bunch. This is why I affectionately refer to them as the “Truth Telling Trouble Maker.” I hold them in great esteem.
The Truth Telling Trouble Maker has the courage to show that everything is not okay in a system. When a 7 year old refuses to eat, they aren’t doing it just to drive you crazy; They are trying to tell you something they probably don’t even understand, with the only language they’ve got. They are taking the conflict into their own bodies and sacrificing their wellbeing to tell you something you need to hear.
Shaming the behavior might get the kid to stop doing the thing, but that undelivered message will just find another, likely more dramatic, means of expression. Worse, the kid will stop trusting those who are there to help them figure it out, and also potentially take on a negative identity.
If it keeps happening, most kids will eventually give up. They will get depressed or self destructive because they see what’s wrong in the system and have no power to change it. They will take on whatever unhealthy behaviors they need to in order to survive in an unhealthy environment.
Let’s broaden the scope for a moment, panning out to the culture at large. Our empaths are our culture’s “Truth Telling Trouble Makers.” They aren’t limited to the linear logic that the broader US culture values above all other ways of knowing, so they see, feel and hear things that many around them completely miss. When the empath tries to say “Hey! There’s a thing here! We need to pay attention,” those around them often shame them, or refuse to listen unless it’s spelled out in linear logic.
If that empath feels overwhelmed or dismissed, unseen, or devalued and gets emotional about this “othering,” they get further shamed and dismissed for being “too emotional.” Too emotional? Too emotional according to what objective standard? The very people who demand linear logic from the empath completely neglect to offer the same to the empath.
Much like with the Truth Telling Trouble Makers in smaller systems, the truth is that the recipient doesn’t understand what they are looking at, doesn’t know what to do with it, and ends up vilifying the messenger instead of learning to listen differently. Also just like in smaller systems, the Empath is far too often left feeling like there is something wrong; Something “less than,” about themselves. They sometimes stop trusting the messages they receive from that sharpened enteric brain, and try to make themselves conform to a way of being in the world that cuts them off from many of the gifts they came to bring.
What if, instead, the culture stopped trying to force people’s experiences into boxes that made us feel more comfortable, and instead, respected the unique contribution of those who receive information differently? Our Enteric Nervous Systems, (“gut brains”) can offer very fast, very accurate data that the linear mind completely misses. Putting the intuitive and linearly logical data together in one place gives us much finer, more complete answers.
The Truth Telling Trouble Makers can make us cringe, leave us confused, angry and frustrated. But why? Because they are telling us things we don’t want to hear or don’t know how to understand? Wouldn’t it make better sense to gain the courage to grasp whatever is true, learn to understand and stop marginalizing people for not fitting into society’s limited boxes? Combining the information that comes from analytical, linear logic sources is helpful, but it’s incomplete. We need the data those Truth Telling Trouble Maker Empaths bring as well.
Truth Telling Trouble Makers! Rise up and be heard! Resist the bias toward linear logic. It’s not “always right” either. Empaths, sharpen your interoceptive/”biolocation” skills and teach others your ways. We need you.
Would you like to learn how to use interoception to read the messages our bodies register through our Enteric Nervous System? I’d love to show you. Contact Tiffany today. Let’s help you own your superpowers!