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Why You Should Stop Taking On Other People’s Feelings And How To Do It

Why You Should Stop Taking On Other People’s Feelings And How To Do It

You are not responsible for other people’s feelings. Don’t let other people convince you otherwise. The five dreaded words, “You make me feel like…,” are nothing but trouble. What’s simply happening here is that someone is making you responsible for their emotional baggage. This baggage has nothing to do with you. What you are is just a ‘trigger’ for deep-seated, emotional, childhood issues that they haven’t addressed. It takes repeated experience of being on the other side of taking on other people’s feelings to get that it is never about you, and always about the other person. Here are some ways to protect yourself and still keep the other person in your life:

1. Stop Making Other People Happy

Are you the one who seems the bring all the goods to a relationship, and the other person is just ‘so happy’ to be with you? Do you beam when someone tells you how happy you make them? Stop. These are red flags that you’re about to get sucked into another relationship time warp where nothing ever changes. Keep an eye out for anyone who claims that you are their source of happiness. It is a burden you never want to carry because you will disappoint them, and they maybe never let you forget it.

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2. Keep Healthy Boundaries

Protect yourself from oversharers. These are the type of people who tell you their life story on first meeting. There is something about you they see that can help them. They either need a friend or a therapist, of which you are neither to a complete stranger. If you cross the line too early you’ll find yourself solving and fixing their problems when you should be attending to your own.

3. Be Honest Early

Speak up when you start getting that weird, heavy feeling that happens when you start to feel guilty or worn out by other people’s feelings. Clearly state that you are uncomfortable, and remind them that they are the one responsible for their own actions and decisions. Respectfully decline their attempts to speak on your behalf and tell you what you should feel. Deflect and let them know they are sharing their own perspective and ideas, not yours.

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4. Don’t Push

Establishing these types of boundaries with loved ones can be a challenge. Too much too soon can backfire and make you look like you don’t care. With each conversation, take another step back and establish emotional distance. Actions speak louder than words in this case. Avoid making a big song and dance about not taking on their feelings and emotional drama. Just do it. In a firm but gentle tone, affirm that their choices, decisions, and reactions are theirs alone. Make a promise to yourself that whatever they decide you won’t automatically take it on.

5. Stop Advice Giving

It is so easy to want to help a friend, and make them feel better. You take on the feelings with hopes the other person will feel better. Yet, they never do. You give advice, but they rarely use it. You’re then left wondering what you did wrong, or if you hurt them more. Ask the person what it is that they need. Listen intently. They will start to consider their own problems, and find a way to deal with them. Let others do the heavy lifting and learn to empower themselves. If they want your advice they will ask for it.

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You can’t cut out everyone from your life who makes you uncomfortable. You may learn more from them about yourself than anyone else. Taking on other people’s feelings produces similar feelings of despair, guilt, and depression in the receiver because we all share the same feelings. Some are more easily triggered than others. Learn to honor your own feelings first, and it will be a lot easier to allow others to do the same.

Featured photo credit: http://mrg.bz/b8Mejz via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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