Wondering how to protect yourself as an empath? Here are 3 ways empaths can protect themselves from other people's energy.
Have you ever been in a fantastic mood? Your day is going great, you’ve got that pep in your step thing going on and then you run into someone. And this person is super stressed out. They seem to put out this energy. You can just feel it seeping out of their skin, and now suddenly that feel-good mood you were in starts to decline. A little while later and you find yourself just as stressed out as that person you ran into.
Now you may not have this problem, but many people do pick up other people’s energies. Just like there are people with contagious personalities, there are people who easily adopt the moods of others. According to the Law of Vibration, we all have an inner energy that we carry. We are all on a frequency, and that frequency is available for all who are willing to listen and tap into it. Though we should be conscious of the frequency of others, someone’s bad mood shouldn’t put you in a bad mood.
You can choose to not let other people’s energy affect you. It’s difficult – especially at first, but entirely doable. Trust me, I learned the hard way. I spent most of my life picking up the energies of other people.
How Empath Tendencies Can Affect Your Life
Growing up, every time my mother would be having a bad day, I’d have a bad day too. When she’d feel stressed it was as if I took all of her stressful energy and doubled it. I had no clue how to calm down. I just felt like a ball full of nerves. If one little thing didn’t go the way I thought it should, I would burst into tears.
Some people decide to avoid people in bad moods to combat their empath tendencies, and to an extent, this is okay. But what if the person in the bad mood is your coworker, child, or spouse? You can’t just avoid them. You have to learn to deal with the energy you’re picking up on and turn it into something positive.
Being an empath is a gift and can be so helpful in understanding the feelings of others. The problem with living this way is that you surrender control of your life and your well being to others. Your emotional well being becomes dependent on others and your feelings are at the whim of whoever is around you.
The truth is you have a choice. It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I finally realized I didn’t have to absorb other people’s energy. I could simply observe and then choose my own emotions.
When I first started my business, things were going great. I was doing the type of work that I loved, I was making a good income, and I finally felt appreciated. But once I started working with individuals rather than companies, things started to get a bit rocky.
I’d talk to my clients and they’d feel stressed because of things in their own lives. So, whenever I’d have appointments with them, instead of spending all of our time talking about marketing, I became a counselor of sorts. I was the person they’d talk to about their stress and they’d relay to me why they were worried about this thing not working out or that thing becoming a problem.
I started feeling stressed all the time even though this stress wasn’t mine. My own life didn’t feel stressful. But every day I was speaking with one of my clients who had this stressful energy about them. This didn’t serve me, and it certainly didn’t serve them.
That’s when I decided it was time for me to start my journey of learning to take responsibility for my own emotions. I didn’t want to be subject to other people’s feelings anymore. Although the transformation wasn’t immediate, now I can talk to super stressed people and not feel their stress affect me. Instead, I allow them the safe space to express their feelings, while not allowing their emotions to affect mine.
Looking back, it took several shifts in my mindset to be able to let go of this part of my personality it doesn’t mean that now I’ve hardened my heart, that I’ve become apathetic, or that now I stopped feeling empathy for others. It has been quite the opposite.
Before, I was so focused on what I was feeling and “picking up on” that I was unable to properly serve people or even to just listen. Now I can separate my own feelings from others. Now I can listen, empathize and better understand what others are going through but not take on their emotions as my own.
Here’s three ways I changed the way I thought to stop being trapped by my own emotions:
1. Taking Full Responsibility for My Being
It can feel difficult to take responsibility. I used to be a culprit of this for sure. I’d blame others for the way I was feeling. But here’s what’s actually happening: your implicit memory is taking over.
Related: Explicit Versus Implicit Memories
If you don’t already know what implicit memory is, it’s essentially the mental programming that you have. All of us have mental programming. It’s like a switch. Something happens, the switch goes on and this is how we react.
Implicit memory is something that is shaped since birth from your environment. As a child, you are like a sponge. Your brain takes in everything that you experience, and these experiences get encoded into your DNA. But implicit memory doesn’t mean that you have to live this way for your whole life. You can change.
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.” – Seneca
Change can be one of the best things for you especially if you don’t like your current reality. The way to change is to recognize that you can change your implicit memory by influencing your explicit memory. Explicit memory is conscious. It’s when you decide to memorize something for a test or when you remember what you need to buy at the grocery store.
To influence your implicit memory, you need to feed your explicit memory with new thoughts. This is called autosuggestion or something a lot of people might recognize as affirmations nowadays.
Related: Rewire Your Implicit Memory For a Happier Life
It’s really empowering and liberating if you think about it. Now you get to take control. If you don’t like something, all you have to do is take action to change it. You can speak and practice changes into existence
2. Practicing Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness are something that allowed me to bring more awareness to why and how I allowed others to influence my emotions.
I started practicing every day for a period of 15 minutes per day. I didn’t do anything complicated. I just would simply sit and concentrate on my breath. I’d harness my mind and will it to do what I decided rather than letting my thoughts control me.
Related: Yoga Breathing Exercises: The Benefits of Deep, Conscious, & Belly Breath
Bringing awareness to your breath also has a natural physical response. Deep breaths signal the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. You probably have heard of the parasympathetic nervous system through what’s called the fight or flight response. By breathing slowly, you activate the that system, and it tells your body to calm down. The most important spiritual growth doesn’t happen when you’re meditating or on a yoga mat. It happens when you’re frustrated, angry or scared and you’re doing the same old thing, and then you suddenly realize that you have a choice to do it differently.
3. Learning to Think Objectively Rather Than Subjectively
It can be easy to look at things subjectively. Everyone has their own perspective based on their own experiences. I like to think of it this way: Imagine everyone lives in their own little and each of us have two holes cut out of the front that allow us to see what’s going on in front of us.
But you don’t have the whole picture. You can’t see everything. And that can be problem. Previously whenever someone would be stressed, I’d take it on. I’d allow what they were going through to affect my subjective reality.
Sometimes I felt like if I could feel how they did, I could relate better. That’s partly true, but recognizing how they feel is better than actually reliving those emotions, because then I can give a response that isn’t coming from a place of hurt or distress.
"[But by throwing yourself into these emotions,] you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, 'All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.'" --Tuesdays with Morrie
Now I choose to be objective. Mentally, I separate myself. What do I mean by that? Well, whenever someone starts talking about their stress instead of putting myself in their story, I picture myself looking at what they are saying from inside an airplane. I see their whole story from up above. Now I’m only observing.
And because I’ve separated myself, I can truly listen. I can help them feel understood. I’m not focused on myself. I’m focused on their story that’s separate from mine.
Allowing other people and their energy to upset you will only keep you trapped. When you finally learn that a person’s behavior has more to do with their own internal struggle than it ever did with you...you learn grace. Even though this will take time and work, imagine how much better you’ll feel once you can choose happiness rather than be reactionary.
Just like it’s important to take control of your own health. You need to take charge of your mind as well.