Sympathy is the ability to feel compassion towards others. Empathy goes a step beyond that. Being an ‘empath’ means you not only recognize the emotions of others, but you feel them as if they were your own.
Too often, strong empathizers absorb much of the pain and suffering from their environment. This bogs them down emotionally and blocks their ability to function at a high level.
If you’ve ever been in a room with a negative person, you know how tangible his/her emotions can feel. You feel like his/her heaviness is seeping into you and you find it harder to keep your head up. Learning to defend yourself from this kind of toxic energy is an essential life tool, because your emotional state affects you mentally, physically and spiritually. Let it be your own!
Here are five ways to stop absorbing people’s negativity:
1. Let Go Of People Pleasing
If someone is complaining about you, gossiping, or talking down to you, do not take it personally or fixate on trying to make them like you. This will only pull you deeper into his/her field of negativity and make you energetically and emotionally dependent on their opinion.
Be compassionate towards yourself and realize that not everyone is going to like you – and that’s okay! Everybody has different personalities, likes and dislikes and these will create a different life experience for every person. Show yourself love first and it will act like a forcefield around you that will keep other people’s opinions from draining you.
2. Know When To Say ‘NO’
If you had a guest in your home, would you let him come in off the porch and track mud all over your carpet, or would you require him to clean his shoes before he entered your personal space? What if you asked him to dinner once and he invites himself over for the rest of the month? And what if he insisted on sleeping on your couch to save himself the trip tomorrow? All without your invitation?
Being generous can be a great thing, but there is a fine line to be aware of to make sure you and your generosity are not taken advantage of. Accept no freeloaders, naysayers, or emotional vampires past where you are comfortable. Set boundaries and enforce them!
This is your life. Your body, space and personal time are your sacred temples, so think carefully about what kind of people you allow access to them. There is nothing wrong with saying ‘no’ as often as you feel you need to. Set clear standards about what you expect from others before you give them a place in your life.
3. Stop Feeding The Beast
Above, I threw out the term ‘emotional vampire.’ These are parasitic personalities who literally feed on your attention and affection and suck you dry for all your efforts. Emotionally investing in these people may feel worthwhile at first, but ultimately, you will find yourself drained of energy and their many problems still unsolved. Their thirst for your love can never be satisfied if they are determined to stay feeling like a victim.
You can offer your support to those who need it, give a listening ear to a struggling friend or stranger, but note when your efforts start becoming redundant or when their calls for help begin feeling more like vies for attention. The more attention you give their problems, the less resolution there will be.
It is not your responsibility to fix other people’s problems, especially when people don’t really want their problems solved. They want to be pitied. It is healthy to know when to walk away! When you feel your resources depleting, offer your sympathies and leave the situation. There is nothing mean about refusing to engage in someone else’s drama.
4. Return To Nature
Sometimes, you really just need a breather from everyone else. Their chaotic energies can be hard to tune out, so take a weekend, an afternoon, or even an hour for yourself and go somewhere peaceful. Let the many voices of nature replace the mind chatter of the modern world. Notice the simplicity of the natural world, the lack of motive, the coexistence of all things plant, animal and earth.
Breathe deeply and meditate. Focus on filling your body with fresh oxygen and elevating your spirits and when you return to your daily routines, you will feel refreshed and less apt to absorb negativity from others.
5. Remember Who Is Responsible For YOU
You are the only one with any say about how you feel. You are 100% responsible for what you let influence your thoughts and emotions and if any aspect of your happiness is out of balance, you have the ability to correct it. Your own perception of yourself is more powerful than anyone else’s, unless you choose to trade away that power for their approval.
Once you choose to be accountable for your feelings, you free yourself from the influence of others. When you are confident in who you are and how you want to feel, it is much more difficult for others to throw you off balance.
Make deliberate choices and take control of the positivity in your life. Choose situations which boost your energies and keep the kind of company that only adds to who you are. Love yourself enough to say ‘no’ wherever it is warranted and walk away from environments that do not serve you. Remember, you are responsible for your life experience. Make it for you and make it phenomenal!
Written by: Zoe Freeman
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