Day 6: Overcoming Emotional Overload
Did you miss Day 5 of the course? CLICK HERE TO READ DAY 5
“Ouch,” I cried out instinctively as my best friend and I walked down the beach. It was only when Sarah turned to me and asked me why I yelled out that I realized it was Sarah who gashed the side of her foot open, and not me.
“Because it really hurts, throbs even,” I answered her. She looked at me curiously and said, “But it didn’t hurt you. It hurt me. I’m the one who has her foot all gashed open.”
It hadn’t dawned on me that feeling other people’s pain/injury wasn’t a “normal” reaction to most.
All my life I have been extremely empathic, but for the first half of my life I didn’t even realize that this was a unique character trait, that not everyone shares.
When I was in close contact with people who were stressed out or yelling at someone, I would literally shake with what i called the scream wobbles. When those around me were sad/down or scared, I would drink in those feelings like a sponge and hold on tight to them, not realizing that these feelings weren’t my own.
As a result, I felt on edge a lot of the time, my moods were all over the place, up, down, big black hole, ray of sunshine, as I was carrying not only my own feelings (I have to wonder sometimes if I even knew what my own energy really looked like) but also the emotions of many people around me. However, I was not in touch with this anxiety—I didn’t even know it was there. It was unconscious. I felt different and thought there was something seriously mentally wrong with me for a long time because the change came so quickly and without warning.
Because I was so empathic, I was often sympathetic to the journey's of others and concerns of friends, family, extended family, co-workers, customers you name it I was there with a listening ear and a kind word.
Even as a child, people turned to me for guidance in resolving their problems. At the time, I didn’t mind because I was happy to offer whatever support I could at least I was being useful right?
However, as I entered my teen years, the burden of other people’s emotions, on top of my own unresolved feelings, struggles, bad situations, big band aids i was using to try and cover up my own issues it just became a cross too heavy to bear. But I didn’t know that consciously. I wasn’t even aware of what was happening for me.
I turned to food, alcohol, and other substances to numb the intensity of what I felt.
I felt a strong need to withdraw, hide away, lock myself in the deepest, darkest place I could find and I could no longer be in the same room or the same house with people who carried intense, often unconscious, emotions.
I had to learn ways to cope, to manage the emotional energy—both my own feelings as well as the energy of others—that I was absorbing but I had no awareness of it even happening for such a long time, that when I did realize it felt like the weight of a sack of bowling balls just slipped off my back...I could breathe, I was free and it felt weird.
This was a major key for me in breaking free all addiction, all those band aids i'd used for years to try and run from the emotions or how i was feeling to a place that was empty....if only for a little while. There were many bumps along the road as I learned to do this. And many suggestions, some that worked, some that didn't. Over time, I discovered really powerful ways to help manage emotional energy and allow myself to step into my own energy far more often and enjoy the balance that it brought.
Read on for Day 7 of the course? CLICK HERE TO READ DAY 7
Much Love and Happiness to each of you.