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8 Ways For Empaths To Avoid Drowning In Others’ Sadness

8 Ways For Empaths To Avoid Drowning In Others’ Sadness

Empathy is a value we wish to instill in our children from a very young age, but it’s important that we realize that it’s possible to be too empathetic at times. Many times, empaths find themselves putting others before themselves to the point that they feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable for absolutely no reason. Empaths carry other people’s burdens with them wherever they go, and find it hard to shrug these feelings off even when they become overwhelming. If you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, there are steps you can take to alleviate the problem before it becomes too much to handle.

1. Evaluate your feelings

Empaths tend to take other people’s feelings on as their own, and find it hard to separate themselves from the feeling once it takes hold of them. It’s important for you to be able to evaluate whether what you’re feeling is due to an internal or external stimulus, and act accordingly. Realizing you’re getting worked up over something that doesn’t directly affect you is the first step toward alleviating those dreadful feelings.

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2. Distance yourself

Once you realize the external source of your distress, move away from it physically and emotionally. If a couple begins arguing in a public place and you find yourself getting anxious, find another place to continue whatever activity you were engaged in. If a friend is going through a tough time, it’s definitely okay to help them out, but remember that it’s not your problem to deal with. Of course, you’ll feel bad for your friend, but you also need to watch out for your own well-being as well. There’s no sense in both of you being dragged down.

3. Know your vulnerabilities

It’s important that you know you’re an empath in order to avoid putting yourself in emotionally-driven situations that can be detrimental to your overall well-being. Also, take notice of where you physically start to ache when you start feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Some people get butterflies in their stomach, others get migraine headaches. Whatever the case may be, be sure to notice when this happens so you are able to immediately distance yourself from a stressful situation the second it becomes too much to handle.

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4. Concentrate on your breathing

Remind yourself that the problem around you is not your problem by focusing on your own breathing. Taking controlled, even breaths will help realign your mindset, and help you realize you don’t need to be involved in the situation at hand. After you’ve regained control, you’ll be able to remove yourself from the situation to avoid any further panic.

5. Set boundaries

As an empath, you obviously care deeply for those around you. But you still have to look out for number one. Set physical and emotional boundaries when you start to feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to an invite to coffee if you know it will result in the other party laying out their troubles in front of you. Don’t feel like you need to pick up the phone every time someone needs something from you. You want to be a good friend, but you shouldn’t do so at the expense of your own well-being.

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6. Visualize boundaries

When you do choose to be the shoulder for a friend to cry on, you also need to visualize symbolic boundaries between the two of you. Create an imaginary wall that allows you to see and hear your friend’s plight, but keeps you from taking on their problems as your own. Remind yourself that no matter how much you help, you can only do so much for them. It’s up to them to truly take the reins and solve their own problems.

7. Focus on own emotions

It’s okay to feel bad for a friend, but remember: you’re feeling bad for a friend, not for yourself. Don’t let their troubles ruin the rest of your day. You can empathize with them while you’re spending time with them, but once you leave the situation, you should also leave the feelings behind as well. Like I said before, there’s no point in both of you feeling down. If your friend drags you into a pit of despair with them, it becomes impossible for either of you to help each other out of it.

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8. Do whatever calms you

We all have coping mechanisms for when we’re upset for legitimate reasons. When you find yourself emotionally distressed for any reason at all, do whatever it is that helps you get back to baseline. Take a long bath, hit some golf balls at the driving range, eat some ice cream. Treat yourself! Focusing on pleasure will almost certainly alleviate any sympathy pains you’ve been feeling for a friend.

Featured photo credit: New York City | NYC | June 2010 / Nan Palmero via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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