Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Emotional Terrorists

Empathy is a wonderful quality, but it can drain you.

If you are easily hurt, feel like you take on the negative energy of others, or are sometimes called overly sensitive, you are not broken: you are empathic. Here are some tips to make your life easier and emotionally safer.

1. Take your own car. If you are going somewhere with people you don't know or are not sure of, having your own wheels will make you feel safer and give you control of where you'd like to be.

2. Set time limits. If friends or family members call to share their problems, and listening drains you, a good tactic is to tell them at the start of the conversation that you only have a minute. 

3. Learn to ground yourself. Meditate, read, write, pray, exercise, or just zone out in front of the tube. Whatever it is that makes you feel steady and stable, doing it is a grounding experience.

4. Create protective strategies. Set limits and boundaries for yourself and those you love. If someone crosses your boundary and makes you feel uncomfortable, don't let it go. Tell him or her that the situation is not working for you and try to find a way to alter it.

5. Avoid late night video or reading that may be disturbing. If you read or watch something violent or scary before bed, you can take it in and may dream about it as well as think about it the next day.

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6. Give yourself uplifting experiences. Go for a moonlight walk on the beach or in the forest. How about a spa weekend? Do something that will feel significant to you.

7. Spend time with loving people. If someone doesn't reinforce and support you, why hang with them? Spend your time with people who treat you well. If you don't think you have friends, make them by being one first.

8. Don't try to calm your nerves with food, alcohol, or drugs-it never works. Develop new healthy coping mechanisms like being gentle with yourself and focusing on the positive. Support groups, therapy, and appropriate medication may be additional things to consider.

9. Give yourself some space. Being with someone 24/7 is taxing, and in many cases, such as when you have small children, it can seem impossible to find any peace. Create ways to take care of yourself, so you don't build up resentments toward those you love.

10. Avoid overwhelm. Sometimes just putting things on hold for ten minutes will do the trick. Other times, you have to wait a lot longer. We can only deal with so much at a time. Pace yourself and don't do things that feel inappropriate for you.

Empathy is a wonderful quality, but it can backfire and drain you if you don't protect yourself. Just care for your well-being the same way you do for others.

 

 

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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