An Empath Guide: How To Be Understanding Without Absorbing People’s Emotions
You are a good and kind person. And people love you.
They come to you to share their difficult times because your understanding and kindness soothe their pain. Because that’s all they need.
You know that. You are willing to offer it. But there is only one problem.
You get lost in their emotions.
You are kind and sensitive, you let their emotions overwhelm you. You are grateful and thankful for your life, but after listening to them, you get upset, resentful and heart-broken, when nothing’s wrong with your own life.
You let their negative energy impact you.
You know that’s bad. And you want to set boundaries to protect your inner self. But how do you do that without being selfish, mean and heartless toward people who need you?
Realize being there for them doesn’t mean you have the responsibility to fix their problems
When people approach you and share their pains with you, you inherently want to do everything you can to make them feel better. You want to take their pain away, to fix their problems and rush them to get better.
But sometimes that’s not what they need. They just simply need someone to support them. And you only need to listen to them, not fixing them.
One way you can be there for them is to practice listening and release the need of saying something in return.
This can be hard. It is hard to let go the need for control and allow people to live their lives themselves. Even if you are dying to give them a piece of advice, bite your tongue and tighten your lips.
Then, what can you do?
You don’t do anything unless they ask you for more. You can offer them loving and constructive suggestions. But don’t take it personally if they don’t follow those. At the end of the day, it’s their lesson, it’s their life. And you need to practice to let go of the outcome.
You are responsible for yourself and your emotions
You cannot control other people. You cannot live their lives for them. You cannot make them do things the way you see fit. And you cannot control who suffers and who doesn’t.
You need to let go the burden you put on your shoulders, the burden where you feel like you are responsible for other people’s happiness.
You are only responsible for yourself, for your emotions. You have to safeguard your inner self from getting hurt or overwhelmed by other people.
Never give others things out of obligation or fear. Give them things out of love only when you are safe, secured. Because when you aren’t, giving doesn’t do any good to anyone.
Be honest and express your boundaries
As a part of your duty to protect yourself first, be honest and set boundaries for people. If some people constantly come to you to complain how terrible their lives are, and you feel that their expressions negatively impact you, you need to step back and set boundaries.
Assess your relationship. You don’t have the obligation to stick with toxic people.
But if you must stay with them, limit the negativity that they give you. Set a time limit or cut them off politely. Don’t stretch your boundaries too much.
Get to know your feelings and slide back to passenger’s seat
It is hard not to absorb people’s impact on you. Especially when you offer care and understanding. You might not even recognize their negative effect on you, simply because the effect is still within your limit.
Always assess your feelings after dealing with negative people. Acknowledge how those people impact you. And slide back to passenger’s seat.
Realize that those feelings are theirs, not yours. You have no obligation to feel awful about their situation. Because you have no control over their lives.
But you have control over your emotions.
Take a passenger’s seat and see how people’s pain affect you. Accept that you have no control or duty to fix their pain and let go.
You are not selfish if you stop taking on people’s pain
It can be very difficult to separate yourself from other people, to let go our need to take away their pains. But you are not selfish by doing so.
Indeed, you are giving them more space to understand their situation, acknowledge their feelings, learn their lessons and live their own lives. If you try to protect them and make their problems yours, they will be resentful of your controlling behavior. But when you stop, they will fall because they are never alone dealing with anything.
Allow them to be who they are, accept who they become and let go your burden.
If you want to be a good friend, first be a best friend to yourself.
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