8 things you can do to stop absorbing other people’s emotions

Navigating the world of emotions can be quite a ride. Especially when you’re not just dealing with your own feelings, but also absorbing those of the people around you.

This emotional overflow can feel overwhelming, and  lead to feeling drained, stressed, or anxious. But there are ways to manage this.

The key here lies in understanding, recognizing, and then implementing strategies to prevent this emotional absorption from happening.

In this article, I’ll share 8 things that can help those of us who have a tendency to absorb other people’s emotions. They can help maintain a better emotional balance in  life.

1) Understand your emotional boundaries

We all have our personal space, physically and emotionally. Recognizing and understanding this is fundamental in preventing the absorption of other people’s emotions.

Just like you wouldn’t want someone invading your physical space, your emotional boundaries should be equally respected. This isn’t about being cold or distant. It’s about acknowledging your own feelings and taking responsibility for them.

When you are clear about your emotional boundaries, you can empathize with others without letting their emotions seep into your psyche. This doesn’t mean blocking out people’s emotions, but rather observing them without getting entangled.

It can be a bit challenging at first, especially if you’re naturally empathetic. But with practice, you’ll find that it’s possible to care for others while also caring for yourself.

So the first step in stopping the absorption of other people’s emotions is to understand and respect your emotional boundaries.

2) Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a game-changer for me when it comes to managing emotions.

There was a time when I would easily get swept up in other people’s emotions. If a friend was upset, I found myself feeling upset too. If someone was anxious, I would start to feel anxious as well.

Then I discovered mindfulness and it completely transformed the way I handle emotions. Mindfulness is all about being present and observing your thoughts and emotions without judgment.

I started practicing mindfulness meditation every day. Just 10 minutes of focusing on my breath, being present, and observing my thoughts without getting attached to them.

Over time, I noticed that I became more aware of my emotional state. I could tell when I was starting to absorb someone else’s emotions and could consciously choose not to do so.

The great thing about mindfulness is that it’s not just a one-time fix but a lifelong skill. It has helped me maintain my emotional balance and prevent the absorption of other people’s emotions.

So if you often find yourself overwhelmed by other people’s emotions, give mindfulness a try. It might be the tool you need to regain control over your emotional well-being.

3) Discover the power of grounding techniques

Grounding techniques are strategies that can help to keep you in touch with the present moment. 

One technique I often use is the “5-4-3-2-1” grounding exercise. This involves identifying five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Why does this work? Well, it’s rooted in our biology. When we’re stressed or overwhelmed, our body goes into the “fight or flight” mode. This technique helps to redirect your focus from your thoughts (which may be causing stress) to your physical presence in the here-and-now.

By incorporating grounding techniques into your routine, you can help maintain your emotional equilibrium.

4) Seek professional help

Managing emotions can be tough. And when you’re dealing with the added burden of absorbing others’ emotions, it can feel downright overwhelming.

That’s where professional help comes in. Therapists, counselors, and psychologists are trained to help you understand and manage your emotions. They can provide tools and techniques tailored to your specific needs.

Whether it’s through cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, or another therapeutic approach, these professionals can guide you in your journey towards emotional independence.

Remember, seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a step towards understanding yourself better and leading a healthier emotional life. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to ask for help.

5) Limit your exposure to negativity

We live in a world where negativity often feels like it’s at every turn. News, social media, and even some personal interactions can leave you feeling emotionally drained.

If you’re prone to absorbing other people’s emotions, frequent exposure to such negativity can take a heavy toll on your emotional health.

One effective strategy is to limit your exposure to these negative sources. This could mean reducing your time on social media, avoiding news outlets that sensationalize negative events, or even distancing yourself from people who constantly exude negativity.

Remember, it’s not about ignoring the realities of life but choosing where to direct your emotional energy. By limiting your exposure to negativity, you can create a more positive environment for yourself and reduce the likelihood of absorbing other people’s negative emotions.

6) Cultivate self-compassion

Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you’d give to a friend in a similar situation. It’s about acknowledging your feelings, accepting them without judgment, and comforting yourself.

When you cultivate self-compassion, you create an emotional buffer that helps protect you from absorbing other people’s emotions. It allows you to empathize with others without letting their emotions overwhelm you.

Remember, it’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. We all feel like this at times. What matters is how you treat yourself during these times. So, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and that’s more than enough.

7) Learn to say no

This was a tough one for me. As someone who naturally wants to help others, saying “no” felt like I was letting people down. But I soon realized that constantly saying “yes” was taking a toll on my emotional health.

Saying “no” isn’t about being selfish or uncaring. It’s about setting boundaries and recognizing that you can’t be there for others if you’re not there for yourself first.

Learning to say “no” when I felt emotionally overwhelmed helped me regain control over my feelings. It allowed me to choose when to engage with other’s emotions and when to step back.

So, if you’re like me and often find it hard to say “no”, remember that it’s okay to prioritize your emotional health. You’re not being selfish; you’re simply taking care of yourself. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

8) Practice regular self-care

Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself. It’s about taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. It’s about doing things that replenish you and make you feel good.

This could be anything from taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk, reading a book, or practicing yoga. It’s about finding activities that help you unwind and disconnect from the world around you.

Regular self-care can help you stay centered and balanced, making it less likely for you to absorb other people’s emotions. It gives you the space to nurture your own emotional state and build resilience against external emotional influences.

So make self-care a part of your routine. Your emotional health is worth it.

Final thoughts

Managing your emotions is deeply personal and unique to each individual. It’s a journey that requires patience, courage, and compassion towards yourself.

Remember that it’s not about completely disconnecting from others’ emotions. It’s about striking a balance between empathy and emotional self-care.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

In the same vein, no one can make you absorb their emotions without your consent.

With each step you take towards that emotional balance, you’ll grow stronger and more resilient.


Jeanette Brown

I have been in Education as a teacher, career coach and executive manager over many years.
I'm also an experienced coach who is passionate about supporting people in finding real meaning and purpose in their lives, building a resilient, grounded inner self and achieving their desired goals.

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