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The other day, I was at a family gathering and I noticed myself starting to get very stressed out. I needed air. When I removed myself from the situation, my cousin approached me and asked what I was so anxious and upset about. I felt the room spinning and my heart racing, but when I opened my mouth to answer, nothing came out. I didn’t have anything to say, other than I was frazzled and frustrated, but couldn’t fully explain why.
The truth was, I personally wasn’t actually stressed, not in the slightest. When I walked away from the kerfuffle my family was transfixed on, I felt lighter, but only later did I realize I was completely immersing myself in their energy. I was taking on their stresses as my own. No wonder I had no clue how to verbalize it.
In moments like this, we often mistake the feelings and thoughts others experience as our own. If they feel anger, frustration or stress, it can be transmitted our way and sometimes comes out through us. The issue is that because this energy does not originate within us, we don’t know how to identify it, understand it or dissipate its intensity. This is also why secondary hurt is often much harder to overcome. As the person truly going through the experience moves through it, outsiders are left confused and hanging onto old emotions suspended in time.
When you’re able to step away and recognize that the energy of others is not originating internally (and it’s not even your responsibility – or ability – to deal with), it allows you the freedom to support the person experiencing it, which is what they truly require in a time of need.
How can you Protect Yourself From Absorbing Negative energy?
I know what you may be thinking, “But it’s so tough to not go down the rabbit hole when my loved one is in distress, I need to experience their pain in order to help them”. Yes it’s true that being able to relate allows you to help your loved one, but that doesn’t mean you need to relive traumatic experiences, rather drawing from your own history is more helpful. The truth is, if you do jump in the hole with them, you’re not able to remain level-headed and now you’re both stuck.
The Protection of the “Golden Bubble”
The Golden Bubble is an impenetrable imaginary boundary that you can visualize yourself standing inside, blocking the absorption of emotions, thoughts and feelings of others which can affect the way you think and operate.
I want you to think back to a scenario, or use the one above and recount a time when someone’s external emotions impacted you so severely that you took on their negative emotions as your own.
Now visualize the same scenario with you standing inside the golden bubble. You can still hear what they’re saying and can offer insight from your place of safety, but their thoughts and words are bouncing off the boundary of your surrounding force. It’s important to remember that what they are going through is a lesson that they need to learn personally and while you can offer advice or a listening ear, you cannot solve their issues or move through their emotions, so why are you taking them on?
Taking on the negative energy of others, be it fellow drivers, friends, family or co-workers, slowly wears us down, often sinking us to levels that are unfamiliar, as we are taking on foreign energy and confusing it for our own. We all have our own challenges to face and taking on those of others distracts us from ourselves. While it can feel good to help our loved ones, taking on their emotions is not something anyone is equipped to deal with, except the one experiencing them. If you take that away and try to solve problems for others, you are in fact doing them a disservice and stunting their personal growth.
As with any theory, practice is the only way to strengthen and fully understand the effects, so next time you find yourself in a situation where absorbing others’ negativity is prevalent, try using the golden bubble and observe what unfolds.