Are you emotional about others being emotional?

We are trained, either through nature or nurture to react when someone else is in an emotional state.

A common theme with my clients is: “When they get upset, then I get upset.”

This is a very natural state of being but one that creates two problems instead of one.  If someone near me is in a heightened emotional state, it can be contagious.  However, if I can breathe and say to myself, “That is interesting, they are having a tough time.” Then I can be free and also be more of a support, if that is appropriate.

If my friend or loved one is caught in a dance of emotions or drama, I am certainly free to dance along with them.  And I am too familiar with how inviting it is!  I find that when I refrain from the dance and instead, stand back and observe, that we both can benefit.  This can create a space for diffusing the emotional state instead of escalating it.

Now, how do we attain this lofty goal?

  1. You must breathe.  There can be no peace unless there is breath.
  2. You must make certain that your tanks are full.  What are you doing to take care of yourself? *
  3. Keep breathing!
  4. Practice saying to yourself, “That’s interesting” when you observe other things in life instead of judging them.
  5. Cultivate a heart of compassion for yourself and others.

When we refrain from emotionally responding to other’s emotions, we disengage from being responsible for them.  We can’t possibly be responsible for both their emotional states and our own.  By focusing on what we can manage, we can give others the breathing room to have the experience that they need to have in this time and space.  In that breathing room, healing can occur.

Your Assignment:  Next time someone is emotional in your vicinity, breathe and say to yourself, “That is interesting”.  Try it with something less engaging than your beloved or family member first, like when you see someone drive recklessly or cut in line.  Notice what comes up for you and breathe some more!  As they say: lather, rinse, repeat.


* This can include things like enough sleep, healthy food, spending time with friends, viewing or making art, etc.

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