Have you ever felt emotionally drained? Maybe even a little exhausted? Like you are giving to everyone else but not to yourself? Your friends, relatives, your brother, your sisters, your mum or your dad. Even people at work seem to be taking from you. Maybe you feel like you want or need to help them, but instead of feeling better for it, you’ve been feeling worse.
Sometimes you can hang out with friends and you start out feeling really good, but then you come away after, and you just feel drained. It’s like you’re tired and it’s not because you’ve been staying up late. It’s more like you feel there’s emotional drain, like you went in and you gave them your time, listened to them tell you about what’s been going on for them, gave your energy and they’d drag you down and you’d start feeling tired or less than positive.
Part of it is caring for another person, experiencing empathy. The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as ‘The ability to understand and share the feelings of another’. This is an excellent trait and can help you create deeper connection, understanding and trust in others. However, if it’s a less than positive situation and you don’t turn your empathy off, it can influence your thinking and ability to feel good in yourself.
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I take your hand and you step into my movie, you come along on my journey with me, let me tell you a story and you can experience what I’m experiencing.
We want to understand the way a situation was for them, so we step into that movie and start feeling the way that they are feeling, and really kind of imagine what it’s like to be them. That’s what empathy is.
Often times, when you are empathising with someone, it can be about a less than great situation where people describe a bad date, or a bad experience. And as a friend, it can be a really valuable tool to get into that emotion with them. The problem with empathy is if you don’t know how to get out of the negative emotion afterwards.
Remember to protect yourself
How do you protect yourself from feeling emotionally drained or letting other people influence your emotions? Not feeling empathy is one possibility, but the problem with that is that it can seem harsh, or like you’re disconnected or you don’t care when you really do and you want to. Instead, how do you step in and out of empathy, and not let the negative emotions stick around, or even worse, stack up?
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Three keys to prevent emotional drain
There are three keys to stopping emotional drain….. Preparation, Transition, Recover.
Preparation is key! Take the time to prepare, it’s worth it!
Have you ever felt tired or emotionally drained before going into a tough situation, going to work or meeting your friends or family? I mean even in advance of actually seeing them?
I’ve had times when conversations that would normally be easy ended up going off track or ending badly, in part because I was not prepared for it. Taking the time to prepare helps prevent or lessen these situations.
Music is essential in my preparation! Before I go out I listen to certain songs, I have playlists for feeling calm, excited, fun etc. If I’m going to see certain people or be in a situation which I know could drain me emotionally, then I make sure that I’m in a good place before I go there.
Think about the people, times and situations when you are most likely to feel emotionally drained. By recognising those people, times or situations, it can make it easier to prepare yourself. Don’t get caught out!
Transition is the thing that not many people remember to do. We get caught up in going from one thing to another. A transition is where you change locations and stop for a few minutes to let go of the previous moment or experience, before moving onto the next moment or experience. Transition is when you ‘take stock’, you collect your thoughts and give yourself space to learn from the person or experience you were just in.
What people are saying about Emotion Academy:
"After many years of training, courses, and counselling in various forms I thought I had certain aspects of my life sorted. Yet completing Emotion Academy showed me that I had been running away from my emotions and not facing them. After Emotion Academy, now I have the tools to engage with myself and win the internal battles once and for all - Neil Welsh, Victoria
Taking even as little as 15 minutes to transition and recoup from the day or a negative experience will help you towards recovering emotionally from the situation, and be closer to a refreshed version of you. It gets you to a neutral place and creates a reference point in your memory where the experience ends and before the next step, recovery.
Now don’t mistake driving home, riding in the bus or train after a big day at work as a transition. Whilst it can be, this is also where people can make the mistake of thinking that they are recovering from their day or a stressful situation, just by changing location. What happens if you don’t transition and recover properly is you can take the bad day home with you and it can affect your relationships. You might find that you have shorted fuse at home with your partner or with your children which adds to the hostility being felt.
Now that you’re in you’ve passed your transition phase, have learnt from your experience and are feeling neutral, it’s time to take the next step which is recovery. This the bit where you start to feel good again and it’s is important. I didn’t use to know how to recover, and I wouldn’t plan for it. I would be feeling less than great and trying to decide what to do to feel better took effort. I found it difficult to decide in that moment what would make me feel better, when I already feeling so down. I felt like my emotions were used up.
There are so many ways to recover and when you’re feeling you’ve recovered it’s easy to then go and do something else, have fun and connect with friends and loved ones. So when I waited for a time I was feeling great and I started a list of things I love to do for me, that make me feel supported and renew my energy supplies. I love having a bath, I love painting my nails, I love going for a walk in the park. Walking on the beach is something that I find really rewarding and renewing where I can just think to myself or listen to music and hear the ocean or feel the sand beneath my feet. I know that if I do that for 15 minutes or so, that will start filling me up again. The last thing I feel like doing when I’m emotionally drained is think about how I want to recover. So rather than leave it to chance, if you have a list you can refer to, it makes it easier to pick one when you need to.
Melisa Grigg - Head Coach & Trainer
Melisa was stuck in sadness for 15 years, hated her job, was overweight and her relationship had just ended. Melisa inspires people with her story and now teaches how she sorted her life out. She worked out how to be happy and how to lose over 30kg of body weight. In simple steps she teaches how you can stop procrastinating, find confidence, stop being so sad and finally start to find true meaning and purpose in your life.
When I recover, I like recovering on my own. However, some people prefer to recover and feel energised around other people. Know yourself and how you recover and plan for it. So now I can easily refer to my list of things that nurture me, that help me to rest and recover. Going for a walk in the botanic gardens, going for a run on my favourite track, going to the beach for a swim, getting a massage, enjoying a cup of tea. My list includes lots of the things I enjoy doing and that are easy to, and I keep it in my phone for me to find at anytime.
As soon as I’d start, I would begin to feel better. Maybe you are someone who likes to recover around other people so your list will look different to mine. If you are, choosing to recover around people make a list of the people that you like to recover with or the places you like to go.
Instead of protecting yourself from emotion thieves, make sure you’re prepared when you go in and ensure you have time to transition and recover before you go and do anything else afterwards. For me, I know I might not be able to change the situation, but I can be a friend, listen and then if I choose to do that, to have empathy. Then I prepare to look after myself as well so I can keep myself strong emotionally also. Prepare, Transition & Recover!
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