How to Stop Being an Emotional Sponge

How to Stop Being an Emotional Sponge

Do you ever feel like you are an emotional sponge, soaking up negativity? If so, you are not alone. Empathetic people often place themselves so firmly in someone else's shoes that they take on his or her stress. They listen to sorrowful woes attentively, imagine how a distressed person feels, and experience those feelings themselves.

At other times, sensitive people inadvertently put themselves at the mercy of individuals who seem to drain their energy. Replacing lost zest is tough, and letting go of someone else's distress can be just as hard. It is far easier to learn how to protect yourself against energy vampires and not to accept feelings that do not belong to you.


If you are an emotional sponge, you need to learn how to separate yourself from feelings that are not yours. It can be helpful to understand what someone is feeling if he or she comes to you for support. However, if you take on his or her emotion you will be in a similar state, which will not help anyone. Thinking about what an upset individual tells you in a practical sense, rather than an emotional one, can help you draw the line at soaking up sadness you do not own.

Avoiding energy drainage

If an energy vulture starts to overwhelm you, know your limits and back off, if he or she does not. People who soak up your energy want something from you, but it is not really your life force, as they are after your understanding, and recognition that are important. Provide what they want, as far as you are willing and able to, and they may cease to bother you.

People who drain your energy will often repeat themselves because they do not feel heard. They are likely to speak quickly because they are concerned about getting their message across before you leave. In addition, they will talk about themselves and their feelings a great deal because they are in a stuck state, where they can see little else.

Unless you're a therapist, they are probably talking to the wrong person. When someone cannot let go of a problem he or she usually needs professional help, which is why, instead of attempting to solve difficulties presented to you, it may be best to suggest that help is sought from a counselor.

Once they stop seeing you as their crutch, you can provide less intensive support by asking them how their therapy is going, if they have taken heed of your advice. If not, keep telling them that you are not a counselor and they will get the picture.

Replenishing strength

Sometimes, even when you have separated yourself from someone else's feelings of distress, and refused to let him or her drain you, you may still feel depleted of energy. When this happens, remove yourself from their presence and spend time replenishing your vigor.

How you accomplish this is up to you. Perhaps you will choose to meditate, listen to uplifting music, or take a walk in the countryside and let nature's beauty heal you.

Being an emotional sponge may not seem like a choice, but you can gain back your personal strength by setting boundaries and taking a practical approach to dealing with distress. And you will serve as a healthy example to others in doing so.

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