Are You Absorbing Other People’s Emotions?
Updated: Dec 11, 2022
Are you frequently exhausted and overwhelmed after interacting with others? You may be inadvertently absorbing the energy of those around you.
Sometimes, it may be hard for you to figure out which emotions are yours and which ones belong to someone else. If this sounds familiar, you may be feeding off other people’s energy.
Are you a highly sensitive person?
Coined in the 1990s by psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, the term HSP refers to someone who has increased sensitivity to physical or emotional stimuli.
Rather than a mental health condition, being highly sensitive is considered a personality trait measured on a scaleTrusted Source.
How do you know if you’re an HSP? Some of the signs include:
having a robust inner world, with deep thoughts and feelings
feeling you can easily pick up on the emotions of others
being consistently called “sensitive” by your loved ones
feeling deeply touched by music, art, nature, or human triumph and struggles
being overwhelmed by itchy clothing, loud noises, bright lights, or strong scents
avoiding movies, TV shows, or other media that involve violence or horror
being able to learn music by ear
having a need to retreat to a calm, quiet, dark space when things feel hectic
feeling overwhelmed by many tasks in a short space of time
arranging your physical space to avoid feeling overwhelmed
having a difficult time multitasking
My Awaken To Empath and Highly Sensitive Traits
When I first learned that I was a Empath and a Highly Sensitive Person everything started to make sense about my thinking, moods, and behavior patterns.
I tend to lose myself in relationships.
I tend to abandon my own needs to save, fix, rescue, please, give advice, and make sure others emotional and physical needs are cared for.
In times of stress I had the need to retreat to a calm, quiet space when things feel hectic living in Panama City, Florida the ocean was my escape. Water always calmed me down and helped me think clearly.
Being consistently called “sensitive” by your loved ones, I was a big old cry baby. I cried if someone was mad or disappointed in me. I cried to movies, music, and news stories. I cried if someone looked at me. I just cried.
I never had a good sense of who I was, my likes, dislikes, my strengths or weakness. I just adapted to the world around me and made other people expectations, demands, and feelings my own goals and responsibility.
As a child I always felt different, unimportant and inadequate after my mom left me to live with my grandmother to pursue her career in law enforcement. Whenever, I tried to express my needs or feelings I was never seen or heard. When I would ask why I couldn't live with my mom my grandmother would always respond with, "Your mama is working!" This left me confused and frustrated because I saw other kids including my cousins who lived with their mothers and fathers who all worked. And I didn't even know who my father was and my mother was now gone. I only got to visit during the summer. This experience left me with a sense of abandonment and childhood emotional neglect. But as a adult I understand now that my grandmother did the best she could to provide for my physical needs. After healing my emotional wounds I learned that she and no one in my family was ever taught how to deal with difficult emotions or taught how to show one self self compassion when hurt or in pain. I come from a generation of low emotional intelligence folks who suppress difficult emotions. None of us were ever taught how to communicate our needs or feelings without angry, blame, or disrespect. Running away, shaming others, or avoiding and suppressing difficult emotions with work, alcohol, gambling, lottery, sex, drugs, approval addiction and food is how we learned to cope.
This dysfunction along with anxious attachment and the ability to feel other people's moods has affected the way I relate to people in my relationships. Being an Empath and Highly Sensitive person means my personality traits called sensory processing is more advanced than others. The reality is that at times we all can tap into empathy to understand how people feel when sad or happy. However folks like me have this channel open all day, everyday, all the time with no shutting it off. The trait may involve:
being able to process greater depth of information
having increased emotional reactivity and empathy
having a greater awareness of subtleties in the environment
being overstimulated easily
I learn that my mom also has this gift but her sensitivity show up in her dreams and she tends to be a know it all, yet I must admit that what she knows is mostly right. I ask her how does she know these things she just shrug it off as luck and says I just always know for some reason. She believe in the super natural just as I do. But like I said our family don't communicate our feelings or anything for that matter. Although, she knows things about people before they even know and God shows her during her dreams she give him all the glory. I also learn that when she was born she was born with a veil over her face. It's known that folks with veil over their face at birth has unique gifts. Maybe you to have these gifts!
How to avoid absorbing other people’s emotions
There are several ways you can take your power back and protect yourself from feeding off people’s energies. Consider creating boundaries so you can navigate difficult situations more easily.
Boundaries can come in many forms. Therefore it may look different for each person but it may include:
reducing the frequency of social interactions
setting a time limit on visits
keeping certain topics off limits
Practice grounding activities so you can understand your own limitations. There are many activities and lifestyle habits that may help you feel rooted and connected to an inner sense of calm. These include:
mindfulness and meditation
Spend time in nature
You may find it helpful to recalibrate your senses in nature, taking a break from interactions.
Try taking a walk in a nearby park, spending some time watching waves move in and out like I used to, or putting your feet on the earth in the forest. Spending time in nature has a healing affect. It make some people feel closer to God/Universe. It calms your nervous system and make you feel more at ease and peaceful.
Make time for self-care
Besides finding a quiet place to retreat and process your experience, try journaling or expressive art about your emotions or taking a warm shower or bath to reset your nerves. When I'm feeling negative or burn out I aways self soothe with a spiritual bath to balance my chakras and remove negative energies that I may have picked up from other people moods and life situations. Florida water is also good when encountering a lot of negativity or people with emotional problems. As a nutritionist, intuitive spiritual counselor, wellness and leadership coach I spray Florida water after each sessions so I'm functional to enter into my next sessions without the heavy emotions I just experiences from my last sessions. However, I believe that self care is personal only you know what you need to feel happy, whole, and complete. Therefore, do what feels right for you!
My spiritual adviser who brought to my own awareness my gift of Empath told me that, "When you absorb other people’s emotions and moods, you may feel more connected to those around you, which can be a powerful experience. However, your ability to attune may also be like a sponge: You end up inadvertently cleaning up the mess as if their problems, life choices and happiness was your responsibility. She said that we are not responsible for the choices, mood, and happiness of others. We can't control people. We only have control of how we choose to respond to people opinions and behavior. You must lean how to protect your energy. Increasing self-awareness, setting boundaries, taking care of yourself, and doing personal development work will help you manage your heightened sensitivity."
She gave me a book to help me understand my gift and how to survive out into the world. The books was written by psychiatrist, Judith Orloff, M.D. In conjunction of reading this book and a few others I learned more about my family history by actually talking to my mom about my family and her childhood experience, and my ancestors, African spirituality and plant based whole foods, all in which I added to my wellness plan.
I hope this gives you clarity of why you may be absorbing others energy or feeling responsible for other's happiness. If you think you are a Empath or Highly Sensitive contact us today for a FREE Quiz.
Until then find peace of mind in the idea that you may be and Empath or Highly Sensitive Person with unique gifts that can help others heal emotional wounds similar to your own.
Help Developing A Plan For Self Care
Do you want help developing a self care plan that works for your own busy schedule? Do you want accountability implementing a self care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self care routine and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self Care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.
About The Author:
Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director and a full time board certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC
Art Wellness Studio and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with a counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expa