Have you ever spent time with someone who dumps their toxic feelings on you?
And you walk away feeling, to put it bluntly, like rubbish too?
It’s almost like you caught their feelings. Well, you aren’t dreaming. Emotions are contagious.
And it’s no different from catching the flu. We can make each other feel better, or worse with every interaction.
And you can catch emotions from literally anyone - your children, your spouse, friends, family, or a stranger on the street.
I was talking to my husband about exact topic recently. And no matter how positive I feel, I find listening to my 4 month old baby cry or my 8 year old argues loudly with her sister extremely emotionally taxing. It’s like I have caught their emotions and I am infected with negative energy.
And while it’s normal to be sensitive to another human beings emotions, emotional contagion is far more pervasive than the regular empathy we feel.
So how do we deal with it?
While completely cutting yourself off from other people with negative emotions may not be a viable option (I can’t cut myself off from my baby or my children when they are throwing tantrums!) being aware of the emotional contagion is the first step to protecting yourself.
Here are three steps that I have been exploring successfully:
- Exercise! The endorphins you generate from moving your body will help counter any negative emotional attacks and make you more mentally resilient.
- Launch a counter attack! Try and talk gently, smile, crack some jokes and make them laugh, Maybe you can change their mood, which will help keep yours positive!
- Distract yourself! Put on a giant pair of headphones and listen to some happy and upbeat music.
- Remove yourself from their company. There is only so much we can take and absorb from others. You do have a right to protect your mental health and politely excuse yourself.
- Wear your DeltaBands! Look at them, read the words out loud, and consciously put yourself back into a positive mental state.
I’d love to know your thoughts and tactics on this topic!