Thursday, August 26, 2010

Empaths and Dark Souls: Sarah Strudwick and Dr. Michael R. Smith on Attracting Narcissists

An interview with Dr. Michael R. Smith, author of The Complete Empath Toolkit, and Sarah Strudwick, author of "Dark Souls".

Thanks to Sheila Kelly for transcribing!
This is an edited transcript of the interview between authors Dr. Michael Smith and Sarah Strudwick in August, 2010. 

Sarah:  Why don’t you introduce yourself, Michael.

Michael:  Thanks so much, Sarah.  My name is Michael Smith and my website is I offer spiritual healing, online classes, and spiritual teachings.

Sarah:  You’ve written a couple of books.  Your main emphasis is on empaths and highly sensitive people, isn’t it? 

Michael:  Yes, I work exclusively with empaths.  I have a coaching practice devoted to teaching, mentoring, guiding people who have identified or recently discovering themselves as empathic and/or highly sensitive people.  There are some overlaps there in terminology.  I’ve written  “The Complete Empath Toolkit” and in 2010, I wrote “Navigating The Shift” about some of the spiritual changes on the planet.

Sarah:  I want to interview you because I’m looking at the reasons why empaths seem more likely to be drawn to what I call ‘dark soul’ personalities; i.e., sociopaths and narcissistics I’d like your take on that, if possible.   

Michael:   There is such a strong correlation between empaths and what you want is to make it clear that even though I have a PhD in counseling, I am not an expert in personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorders, nor any of the personality disorders.  However, I do have some thoughts on them, particularly on the relationship between dark souls and empaths.  I believe that people who identify as empaths (adept at perceiving the thoughts, emotions, and feelings of other people in a way that other people are not).  It is my belief that those types of people are re of the Light.  They come into the world to help heal other people.  They carry within them, in their soul, a high vibration.  We understand the world of spirit, we understand God, whatever label we want to use for the Divine.  We understand that, we get it, and because of that, we have a mission (don’t know if that’s the right word) but a job to do in transforming (again, this is just my belief.  I don’t want to come across as some kind of tome), but we have a job to do with the ultimate goal of healing the darkness.  It would be natural, then, that we would encounter dark souls for a variety of reasons; ultimately for healing or transforming the darkness.

Sarah:  Are we more prone to attract to these types of people?  Would you agree?

Michael:  Yes.  In the sense that it could be … a quote/unquote ‘set up from spirit.’  Could be.  That we attract these people, one of the reasons MAY be,  MAY be for the reason to educate US about how to deal with darkness, on how to overcome darkness.  For instance, using your story that I was privileged to read in your book “Dark Souls," you had these profound experiences with dark soul personalities and ultimately that has lead you to writing a book and educating many, many people about it, and here we are talking about.  Ultimately, a large amount of good has come out of your experiences.  I see it that in my coaching practice, as well:  people who are going through relationships and experiences with dark souls, they are, ultimately,  coming out the other end, and, this is my term, they can just zap their finger and shoot Light at the dark.  Using a variety of techniques, they are able to transmute the darkness, or dissolved, simply by their mere presence because their auras are so big.

Sarah:  When you say their energy is dissolved, what would you say about dissipating or dissolving their energy?  Most healers would hope people around them would shift.  I’ve worked as a healer for 12 or so years, as an acupuncturist, but I’ve never healed anybody.  It’s the person themselves who’ve precipitated their own healing.  I’ve never done anything to heal anybody.  They heal themselves.  But when I encountered people who I term 'dark souls,' they don't have the ability to heal themselves.  I'm not an expert on personality disorders, but when you say we can zap light at them ...

Michael:  I understand what you’re saying.  What I would say is that:  Optimally, the focus for empaths and Highly Sensitive People, optimally, it would behoove us to focus on ourselves first.  So ... I don't want you to think that our job is to somehow change these people.  Absolutely not.  We can only change ourselves.   I teach this in my classes, my coaching, and in my books.  That’s the focus:  Learning to create light within ourselves and, then, God/Creator/Universe will do the rest.

Sarah:  Would you agree that these people are brought into our awareness so we can be more empathic or enlightened or whatever?   On reflection, people who encounter dark souls discover that the dark souls triggered something they needed to do within themselves.

Michael:  100%.  We are designed to give and see the best in people; therefore, it is easy for us to see the best in people, it is hard for us to recognize or spot dark should.  It is easy for us to see the best; therefore, we will ignore or simply not see or ignore the intuitive, I think you use the term, 'early warning radar' from our solar plexus and our gut.

Sarah:  It's almost like we're being almost magnets to these people.  You coach empaths. Do you deal with people who encounter 'dark soul' type people?

Michael:  Yes.  What I focus on teaching and sharing is, again, not focusing on the dark soul, narcissistic personality disorder, or anti-social personality disorder, let’s not focus on that, but focus on what an empath or sensitive person can do to make your vibration higher and create more Light in the world.  That will naturally, in and out itself, empower you to change your thoughts, change your behavior and, ultimately, take action to ultimately get away from these types of people.  I teach these learnings in my classes and in the Empath Academy.

Sarah:  Let’s move on to tips people can use to protect themselves.  One thing I’ve found extremely difficult is the cords and energy attachments.  Normally, when you do an energy disconnection with healthy people, there will be a big shift between you and that person when you cut the cords.  For me, disconnecting my energy from the ‘dark soul’ type personality was extremely difficult and took a lot of energy.   Cords and energy attachments.  Normally, when you disconnect, the relationship becomes healthier.  I find that disconnecting my energy was extremely difficult and took a lot of effort to keep disconnecting.  Is there something in the empathy that wants to keep drawing the person back in? 

Michael:  Is there something in the empath that wants to keep drawing the person back in?  Yes, IF the person doesn't do intense self-healing; i.e., issues around self worth and self esteem.  Empaths often have low self-esteem and low self-worth because our nervous systems and energy fields are so in touch with other people that it is easy to lose ourselves.  Is there something that naturally attracts us?  Yes, if … if you haven't done your own intense self-healing work. 

Sarah:  I agree.  Often, if an empath doesn't know they're an empath, they often lose their identity, they don’t know who they are, don't have any identity.  I use the term, "energetic gunk bucket."   You’re not separate from other people’s energies.   The 'dark souls' can damage the psyche.  An empath is a sponge who sucks those feelings up and feels that it is them, but it is actually the feelings of the other person they’ve soaked up.  It’s a bit more complex than that, but … what would you suggest, for example, as a protection method to empaths; i.e., to your own clients and to anybody else to try to use? 

Michael:  That’s why I wrote The Complete Empath Toolkit for empaths ... to provide hundreds of different methods for protecting themselves and clearing themselves of the ‘energy gunk bucket.’  The short answer would be:   Focus on clearing your energy field and clearing the energy that you do take on because a lot of it is done without an empaths’ conscious awareness.  Focus on clearing yourself out, so you can be filled up with new, fresh, clean energy.  I'm a huge advocate of using the body as a way to do that, and that takes many forms; i.e., movement, aerobics, martial arts, yoga ... those I'm just a strong proponent of because once you get the body moving, the blood moving, the circulation moving, the body is wise and will process and eliminate the energy, using the liver, sweat, intestine, elimination, etc.  What has exercise got to do with spiritual practice?  The # 1 thing is to move the body and pair that with prayer and mental intention that you become clean and clear, and that the energy leaves the system.  There are a variety of ways to do that; i.e., calling in the Light.  That's the best way I've found to stay clear.

Sarah:  That's interesting because, often, I would intuitively tell folks to go for a walk.  Movement is good for moving energy.

Michael:  Yes. So many things we can do ... meditation, wearing protective stones, wearing protective necklaces, all the common things; as well, if you engage in martial art ... psycho kinesis … it pairs mind with the body and turn that into psychic martial arts where you simply think of Light, Light is created, and the darkness moves out of the body.  

Sarah:  Is that one way to emanate Light in a positive way?  Is that doing movement? 

Michael:  Yes.  That's really simplistic.  I'm a big proponent of learning indigenous methods of healing; i.e., acupuncture, as you’re a practitioner of.  It’s wonderful.  If you don't know much about the indigenous methods of healing, learn as much as you can about indigenous … native American, South American, Inca, Chinese, Ayurvedic ... learn as much as you can about those methods of healing.  All of those will have medicine for you as an empath, keep you clear and vibrating high.

Sarah:  Have you had encounters with 'dark souls?'

Michael:  Yes.  Just like many of my clients, I have.  In my own state of unconscious when I was an unaware, unskilled empath, about ten years ago, I had a partner who was definitely a 'dark soul' and could probably receive many diagnoses under the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used by psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors).   This person was charming, presented himself as much more put together than he was, implied that he had a mother overseas connected to British royal family, that he had a trust fund coming up and getting $5 million ... manipulative, psychological devices to keep me hooked and made me think,  “Maybe I should keep the relationship going.”  Complete lies.  Took most of my money from me, I wound up supporting him for two years.  Thankfully, it ended when I took a job in another state.  I might have been with him another 3 or 4 years.  Definitely a dark soul. 

Sarah:  When you look back now, what do you think was the reason you could not spot him?  Because you were not aware enough of?  I mean, they could con anyone, not just empaths.  A sociopath could con anyone, even the Prime Minister, but my point is that there must be something in certain types where they would be more likely to target different groups.  What was your little red flag, what made you a prime target?

Michael:  There are two reasons.  The first is that Light and dark are intimately connected ... if you look at a coin, it has two sides.  The divine source has both light and dark.  The Oneness includes, currently, Light and dark.  There intertwined.  There's a dance between the 2.  Is the dark attracted to the Light?  Clearly.  The second way I would answer that is to say that what I've come to understand is that it was as if, that it was a type of schooling, and he was this dark soul, and I was attracted to him ... I believe, on a soul level, everything is designed for a reason, everything is almost (I don’t want to say pre-ordained because we have free will) ... yet, clearly, I believe, it was given to me, it was a gift for me to learn about dark souls, about how charming and manipulative they are. It lead me to an incredible journey of healing.  If I hadn't had that experience, I wouldn't have been lead to seek out intense healing experiences; i.e., sweat lodges, every week for 7 years in the Native American community, to get that energy out of me.  I wouldn’t have done that without that experience without the dark soul.  I think I have an optimistic view of that experience.

Sarah:  That's interesting.  I felt pretty much the same.  For me, the experience was crap, and it was horrible, but I can see the good out of it.  If I hadn’t met him, I might have spent the rest of my life being attracted to these types of people.  I have a theory that the universe just ups the volume and if you don’t listen, you might wind up dead.  That’s the scary part of it. 

Michael:  Everything we can do, as you and I are teaching, is to teach to pay attention to the intuition, the dreams, the gut, all the messages from spirit which are always around us guiding us to get away from these people.

Sarah:  I remember ending a relationship when I asked spirit to send me a message, and I said, “I need lots of them.”  I am very much into animal symbolism.  Normally, I might see one or two road kills on the highway.  At that time, driving down the highway, I saw 21 dead pheasants on the road.  If that didn't tell me that the relationship was over, and I needed to get away, I don't know what it was.  In the end, I was asking, “Is it my imagination?”  If you ask for messages, you’ll get them!

Michael:  There's an entire world out there we don't necessarily see and experience, we can experience those loving guides if we ask.

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