One of my new clients came in recently and described herself as an “emotional sponge.” She picked up everything from people around her– negative energy, grumpy moods, heaviness, all of it. There was one manager in particular that really affected her. Every time this man came into the gym, it was like a dark cloud followed him. When she had to interact with this person, she noticed that her mood would sour, and she would begin to feel negative and angry being there– even though her day didn’t start out that way. It was more than just sensing what others were feeling; those feelings lingered within her. She was feeling anxious and drained. She didn’t know how or why she absorbing all this muck.
This happens all the time. It’s fairly common to take on the stress of people around us. Many people are very sensitive to the world around them. Some people identify as being an “empath” which basically means that they are experiencing other people’s feelings and emotions as their own. This sensitivity is an amazing skill, but also a delicate balance. On one hand, being empathic tends to encourage caregiving– being a great listener, holding space for people to express themselves, or helping out wherever they can.
On the other hand, when we start “absorbing” or holding on to other people’s “stuff” then it becomes an energetic pattern that needs correction. We know it doesn’t feel good to hang on to this stuff, but how do we let it go?
There are two parts to this answer: the first is to raise our frequency; the second is to learn how to differentiate our feelings from others’ feelings. Then we can train ourselves to stay energetically open and let it pass (instead of holding on to it). This takes more practice.
The simplest place to make an immediate shift is to raise our frequency. When we’re vibrating high, when we’re feeling good, everyone else’s stuff will bounce right off. Your interactions with others will start changing. After awhile, you won’t meet those really negative folks or you won’t see that side of them. There are a lot of really interesting things that can happen here. Sometimes you simply repel each other. (Have you ever met anyone who is so annoyingly happy? When you’re in a funk, you don’t want to be anywhere near those folks.) There are many, many ways that we can raise our frequency.
Here are several ways that we can make adjustments:
- Go for a walk in nature. Leave that heavy bag in the car! Visit your local conservation area or bike path and go for a stroll. Being around trees and plants are easy ways to let go of stress.
- Find your heartbeat. Take a deep breath in and exhale. Place your awareness inside your chest and see if you can find your heartbeat. You might hear it, feel it, or sense it. There is no wrong way to interpret your inner rythyms. The next time you are talking to someone, try this exercise again. Take a deep breath in and exhale. See, sense, or feel your heartbeat. This shouldn’t impact your conversation. It’s bringing your focus into your body instead of the other person.
- Expansion Meditation. Allow yourself to sit comfortably in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and imagine a beam of sunlight surrounding you and filling you up with light and love, curiosity, adventure, grace, laughter, or anything else you would like to surround yourself with. Imagine that you expand bigger than your town, your country, bigger than this planet. Imagine that you’re way out in space and filled up with this light. Breathe. See if there are areas of that you or your body that need more light. Fill up those places and expand those areas out more. Breathe. Just observe and feel. We’re not here to judge ourselves.
- Get a Reiki session. If you cannot shake those negative feelings, sometimes we need a little external support. Reiki is a gentle technique that helps us calm our minds, clear anxiety and stress, and shift our nervous system from “fight or flight” into “rest and restore.” Ask a friend or family member that practices Reiki for a little boost. Or simply find a practitioner that you like and trust. Get back to feeling like yourself again.
If you are feeling like an emotional sponge or feeling the weight of the world, please take a few moments to care for yourself. Reach out for guidance and support. We are most effective when we are relaxed and happy. It’s not as far off as it may seem.
Caroline Ruderman is a Reiki teacher and practitioner in Northampton, MA and has office hours Monday-Friday, including daytime and evening hours. Like her on Facebook or reach out with questions at CarolineRuderman@gmail.com.