With the Moon in Pisces today, it’s an ideal time to explore how we can recognize ‘sensitivity and empathy’ astrologically and their importance in relationships.
Highly sensitive people (HSP) and empaths share a lot of common basic characteristics, which empaths take a step further. Some of the core traits of HSPs according to Dr. Elaine Aron[i] include: “a low threshold for stimulation, the need for alone time, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, plus an aversion to large groups.” Psychologically these traits are common to introverts and astrologically they can often be seen in charts of individuals with natal Moon in Water. (Note that this is different to being empathic, which requires the willingness and ability to learn the skills involved in listening to others and being comfortable enough with the realm of ‘feelings', to be able to reflect back what the other person is feeling).
Empaths are a step further to HSPs. Like HSPs, they too can have some extrovert traits, although many tend to be predominantly introverted. The main difference with empaths is that rather than just feeling the energies of people and situations around them, empaths can actually absorb these energies and may struggle to distinguish what belongs to them and what did not originate from them. Astrologically we are mostly in the realms of Pisces and Neptune in the 12th house of the birth chart and/or on the Ascendant. Also, Pisces Sun, Sun/Neptune, Moon/Neptune, Pisces on the descendant and/or Neptune in the 7th house.
Although Dr. Orloff places Narcissists at the extreme end of the scale to empaths, with zero empathy, I somewhat disagree. In my experience, some narcissists can be HSPs and empaths, who are either overwhelmed by their abilities, and/or lack sufficient grounding to maintain functional boundaries, and/or suffered major unresolved attachment issues in infancy. Lacking a true sense of inner self, they are hyper sensitive to any perceived slight to their own feelings. However, although they have the ability to feel the feelings of others, their defense mechanisms put up walls of armor, which effectively block out all feelings of true empathy towards anyone else.
So why is this so relevant in relationships?
Many empaths are not fully aware of their traits and how to manage them in everyday life, particularly in close relationships. Having always lived with these innate abilities, there is often an assumption that everyone else has them too. This can result in one or more of the following situations arising in close relationships, including friendships:
1. A sense of overwhelm and exhaustion on a daily basis, when out in the world, which can result in wanting to retreat from the world, including from loved ones, in order to recuperate at the end of the day. Loved ones can easily feel personally rejected in the process and become demanding or withholding as a result, creating an unpleasant spiral for everyone.
2. The inability to recognize narcissists, or to assume that individuals who are HSP are also empaths and end up in very draining, unbalanced and unfulfilling relationships.
3. The feeling of obligation to use one’s abilities to constantly help others, which is exhausting and limiting.
4. Working in ‘helping’ professions that are intrinsically draining, because of their inbuilt entrenched structures which are not conducive to change.
Astrology can offer some useful practical help in relationships through:
1. Checking out the elemental balance in both charts – the charts of empaths are often more Watery than other charts. Knowing this can lead to a greater understanding for both individuals.
2. Assessing how grounded each individual is. How much earth is in both charts and how strong is Saturn? Grounding is essential as it enables us to be present to ourselves and therefore also to each other, without getting drained. Saturn is essential for setting boundaries and self-care. Finding the balance is key with Saturn, as an over-protected Saturn can lead to building walls instead of boundaries, resulting in withdrawal, isolation and loneliness.
3. Looking at the element of the Moon in each chart. Moons in Water tend to be more compatible with other Moons in Water or with Moons in Earth. Similarly for Fire and Air Moons with each other. MG
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a relationship consultation to find out what your core relationship needs are, based on your chart.
[i] Dr. Judith Orloff http://www.drjudithorloff.com/_blog/Dr_Judith_Orloff's_Blog/post/the-difference-between-empaths-and-highly-sensitive-people/