How Do We Stop Absorbing Other People's Feelings?
3 things that have worked for me (most of the time:)).
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This last holiday season, I was talking to a family member on speakerphone (while folding laundry with my daughter because …. multitasking). We were calling to wish this person a happy holiday.
But the person on the other line was in a terrible mood and taking out their anger on me and my daughter.
Not necessarily abusive language but an abusive tone of voice.
Are you familiar with that tone? The words are fine-ish, but the manner is sharp and volatile.
I immediately remembered how I handled these non-confrontation-confrontations with my first husband (who struggled with addiction) and ... disengaged.
I said, "You know what - you seem like you're in a really bad space. How about you call me back when you're ready to be calm and kind?"
They were shocked and, after a long pause, said a very bitter, "Fine. Yep."
"Take care," I said, and then I hung up.
It was a learning moment for my daughter. She watched another woman exercise her power by following personal boundaries. I wanted to teach her - she never needs to voluntarily stay in the presence of self-destructive people who are acting unkind.
My heart was racing when I said it - to be honest, I shocked myself - I've always been super intimidated by this certain someone. But darn it! This person has a history of angry outbursts toward me. Just because I love them and they are family - doesn't mean I’m always the subservient doormat. I can politely and with dignity extricate myself - and my child.
If we love someone suffering from addiction, when they start to drink, get high, or do their addictive "thing," - our mood can take a turn for the worse – really quickly. Suppose we're around a co-worker, family, or friend who is hurtful or harmful. How do we rescue ourselves from the situation and stop absorbing their feelings?
Here’s some suggestions that work for me (most of the time:)):
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