Social Phobias - the Wound and the Gift

Another great article from the Association of Reorganisational Healing Practice

Growing up is tough.  This time in history is especially energetically challenging as humanity draws toward a new level of responsibility and awareness.  The stress on a typical child is greater now than ever before.  All this would be hard enough with home lives that were highly supportive and nurturing.  We know, however, for many this is not the case.  So what happens in those homes of children where there is not support, where, in fact, there may be danger or strife?

These children learn a lot of lessons early on that take root in their nervous systems and personal energetics.  They become masters of a very small slice of the interaction between self and other.  That slice is how to be aware of any energetic or emotional perturbations in the environment that may compromise their safety.  Children who have not yet developed the mental energetic intelligences of the Thinker and Optimizer have no real framework for understanding and rationalizing what may be occurring.  What does become highly developed is the energetic detection ability Dr. Donald Epstein has termed Transpersonal Vigilance.  

Animals in the wild develop “edge detection” – an ability to monitor the environment and sense where things start and stop so they can be aware of predators that would otherwise blend in.  In an unsettled home a child develops a similar ability.  They start to learn to identify subtle energy shifts in a conversation, in a movement, even unexpressed feelings.  They do so because missing these subtle cues could be potentially threaten their survival.  

Transpersonal Vigilance, like any challenge, has two potential roads. Down the first road the energetic intelligences don’t evolve or leverage the aid of a more complex, resourceful intelligence.  This results in fear, anxiety and potentially social phobia.  On the second road the energetic intelligence is fed through some source of energy richness and the wound becomes a gift.

A 2011 study published in the Isreali Journal of Psychiatry Related Science titled Social Cognition in Social Anxiety: First Evidence for Increased Empathic Abilities looks at how social phobias and anxiety are actually related to a person’s level of empathy.

This study found that people who had social phobias had a greater ability to empathize with others.  This ability occurred through the ability to detect subtle changes in facial or movement cues or take on, in some way, the other person’s point of view.  

There are two primary types of empathy this study focused on.  The first is cognitive empathy which means that the person displaying empathy is able to take on the psychological viewpoint of the person they are empathizing with.  The second form is affective empathy, describing the ability to vicariously experience the emotion another person is feeling.  

The Bio-Energetic Intelligence is the energy used to run the functions of the body and its focus is survival.  The Emotional Energetic Intelligence utilizes its energy to respond to its environment.  It will withdraw from that which is painful or energy poor E-state and seek energy neutral E-state where there are no variables and little likelihood of change.  This creates a sense of certainty and constancy.

These are the primary energetic intelligences involved in origin of  Transpersonal Vigilance.  A person who feels in danger around others will rely on these two intelligences to generate safety.  Interestingly the research found the same.  Moreover, it corroborates Dr. Epstein’s assertions that a person demonstrating Transpersonal Vigilance must master the Season of Discover (related to the aforementioned EI’s) in order to truly find the gift in their wounding.  

The research states:  “controlling for general anxiety revealed that social anxiety was related to cognitive empathy measures, rather than affective empathy: HAS (high socially anxious) individuals depicted elevated scores on cognitive, but not affective empathy measures.”

The cognitive empathy is attempting to use the resources of the mind to address emotional experiences.  This creates dissonance, a fundamental mismatch.  For all the gifts the mind and the mental energetic intelligences bring us, the ability to truly be with an emotional situation is not among them.  The call of uncomfortable emotions must be met with a willing to be with those emotions, the mind cannot do this.

The research also says “Considering their tuned senses with regard to social cues as well as increased other-awareness and self-monitoring in social situations, it is possible that individuals with SP (social phobias) will show increased empathic tendencies, particularly in the cognitive perspective domain, but decreased empathic accuracy.”  

This typifies another interesting aspect of this phenomenon.  Basically, the research found that if a person with a social phobia thinks about what they are feeling and what it means about them it actually decreases the accuracy of experiencing what is actually happening.  

If we overlay the concept of all wounds evolving into an expression of a gift we understand this phobia with more accuracy.  The phobia is occurring because the person has been trying to restore their ability to be emotion free by by attempting to make meaning, an ability of the mental energetic intelligences.  This has stunted their ability to “be with” the feelings.  This “being with” would create a tremendous amount of skillfulness in experiencing both their own feelings and the feelings of others.  

The phobic tends to focus on what the empathic experience means about them, which is also energy poor.  They don’t have enough resources to maintain their sense of self, their safety and give back to their environment. In energy poor they are taking only.  As a phobic is able to be with the feeling, perhaps through applying Dr. Epstein’s AAA (Awareness, Acknowledgement, Acceptance)  they will be able to be with (energy neutral) the feelings and eventually help the person in distress (whose emotion they may be sensing) to come to fuller experience of their own challenging emotions which is the energy rich expression of the gift harvested from the wound.

This is the mythic journey of the wounded healer archetype.  The wounded healer comes to wholeness by giving the gifts of their wound.  This doesn’t diminish or cost them, it helps them come to know themselves more fully and express their own unique personal gifts, as an expression of their own soul. 

As Dr. Epstein instructs in his article on Transpersonal Vigilance the path to the gift is through the owning of the Seasons of Discover first.  Many healers will work on creating a positive story, meaning or transcending through the spiritual.  These may provide temporary relief but it will lack sustainability.  True transcendence includes.  Without solid and embodied Discover experiences the empath with social phobias will always re-trip and re-trigger their old stories and pains, become unresourceful and ultimately suffer.  

As the Season of Discover is owned the gift of really being able to be with another person in the most painful of experiences blooms and that is one of the greatest gifts we can give another, to be with them, without judgement, discomfort or agenda offering resourcefulness for them to experience their own experience.

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