Sensitive souls tend to absorb other people’s stress and energy. Eventually, it wears you down.
There is a difference between sympathy and empathy. When you sympathize, you express compassion for what someone is going through, and when you empathize, you step into their shoes. For empathic people, stepping into other people’s shoes is too literal, and they step into other people’s stress, carrying it around with them.
How do you stop absorbing other people’s stress and energy? Here are a few ways to stop the wear and tear, remain balanced and still let others in.
1. Check Unresolved Baggage
You can’t stop someone else from making damaging choices or saying hurtful words. You can, however, check the unresolved baggage you bring into the situation.
Lack of sleep or a personal loss will transform the most chipper people into individuals with a chip on their shoulder. You never know someone else’s situation, but you do know what you bring to the table.
Wounds scab over, sometimes leaving scars, yet anything can set off those old pains. Trauma does not judge the target, nor does stress. It’s absorbed, and you become reactive to the world around you.
What are you carrying around? Are you ready to let it go? Sometimes, this will take months or years. Take your time, but vow to be more aware of your baggage and strategic action to resolve and heal personal wounds.
2. Use Your Voice
You’re the listener. Your friend is the talker. That’s just how it’s always been.
When you’re left out of a conversation, you’re not an active part of the exchange, and it’s like you are watching a performance instead. Talk to your friend, and express yourself with full authenticity. You may have to interrupt or break a few conversation taboos, but if the exchange is uneven anyway — why not?
It’s time to speak up and say you’ve had your fill if your head is pounding as you’re listening to what people are telling you. Say something if you notice the symptoms of secondhand stress, which are different for every person. Feel your forehead wrinkling up, headache or pain in your posture? Is your body turned away from the person, rather than leaning in? Your body is shouting for you to get out of this situation because it’s reached full capacity. Speak up.
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3. Live Your Truth
Live your truth loudly and proudly. If you are hiding away any part of yourself to be more pleasing to others, you’re living a diluted life and giving others the opportunity to push their stress onto you. Don’t let that happen.
When you live your truth, those who bring extra baggage and stress into your life will fall away into the background. People who support you and have similar boundaries and values will come to you. Because people have various communication styles, your stress triggers and responses may differ, but it’s important for people to respect each other’s truth.
Living your truth means following your passions and doing what feels right for you. You’ll feel more grounded in yourself and won’t overload on others’ stress.
4. Practice Self-Care
Society focuses on doing unto others before doing unto yourself, but you have to take care of yourself first to be at your best. When the stress of others wears you down, practice self-care strategies to release the anxiety from your body, mind and spirit.
What sparks your creativity? What soothes you? What gets you pumped? Find out what you need and practice activities that fulfill these needs, such as painting, hiking or taking a hot bath. Self-care extends to daily needs: Do not neglect your whole health needs, eat nutritious meals and get a good night’s sleep.
Play doesn’t have to stop when you are young, and it shouldn’t. Spontaneity and living in the moment with a vibrant imagination allows you to open up to the possibilities around and within you.
Have fun with your life, and stop second stress in its tracks by switching up the exterior or interior environment. Go somewhere new and invite new people in. When stuck in a stressful situation, use your imagination to recenter and see whole other worlds in and around you.
Move your body and go dancing. Play on the playground with your children. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress because you are doing something with the stress physically.
Don’t let other people’s stress wear you down. Sensitive souls often absorb secondhand stress without thinking about themselves and experience burnout later.
Remember, you can’t control what others do or say, but you can check in with yourself and respond differently. Use your voice to say no when boundaries are broken, and speak and live your truth. Practice self-care and follow your passions to be centered within. Play, and let your imagination free your mind, body and soul from other people’s stress.
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