Empathy is a term that’s been going around a lot lately, along with its side-effect, emotional sponge. I can explain this phenomenon best by personal experience.
This will be a blend of metaphysical and psychological investigation. Keep reading!
I recently got into the morning practice of clearing my energy. The results are so amazing, that for hours to follow, I continue to feel very light and peaceful. You can read about the 5 ways I maintain my mood, everyday.
But one morning, I made the mistake of checking my phone too soon.
I had received a message from an anxious and flustered friend, who was dealing with a problem. Though my friend is sensible and was only bouncing the problem to get a second opinion, I immediately felt heavier. I was annoyed and angry too, now.
I became an emotional sponge. In other words, I was so empathic towards the person’s problems, I absorbed some of their emotions. And then, I made them my own!
I immediately became alert and stirred by what had happened, because the dip in energy level was significant. So this time, it didn’t go undetected. And, I was able to look at it from a more conscious and critical view.
This is where psychology pops in to say hello! We have just experienced a sign of an unhealthy Emotional Boundary.
In being a good listener, I am holding TOO much space. And as a consequence, it is getting into my own space. But why did this happen in the first place?
There’s a phenomenon called Mirror Neurons. In countless science experiments conducted around human behavior, they’ve observed things like:
- If someone simply watches the other person dip their hand in cold water, the temperature of their own hand becomes cooler;
- When one friend leans to the side, another involuntarily mimics them;
In fact, the other day, my husband told me how he experienced sadness the whole day because I had told him I was feeling sad. Cute! But also, problematic. As empaths, we are constantly trying to protect our energy and build the ‘don’t care’ muscle. To no avail. Because we do care, that’s second nature to us!
Of course I never write without solutions, so here it comes.
In dealing with other people’s problems, we need to create a safe space for ourselves to comfortably listen from.
Like visualizing yourself in an impermeable bubble of Divine Light.
Or imagining an object placed between you and the listener, that becomes the emotional sponge in your place.
We don’t need to lock ourselves away from the world or try to ‘not care’. We in fact need to remind ourselves mentally that we can remain detached and still help others.
Detachment being the key word, let’s walk our way back to the spiritual side.
Detachment means to be able to hear a problem, and then foresee a better outcome. Without being shaken by the problem itself.
It means operating from a higher frequency of thought.
This, thus, means always choosing a higher frequency until it becomes second nature – that I am AWARE I am able to make this choice freely and voluntarily every time.
What are these frequencies I am talking about?
I love the Nicheren Buddhism philosophy that suggests, each being holds 10 different states of mind within themselves. These are called the Ten Worlds.
Our behavior fluctuates between each of these states. Well, it fluctuates as long as we are unconscious and operating on auto-pilot. But we can choose the frequency by repeatedly staying aware and growing gentle in our ‘reaction’ in situations.
The Ten Worlds are, in ascending order of the degree of free will, compassion and happiness one feels, the worlds of: (1) hell, (2) hungry spirits, (3) animals, (4) asuras, (5) human beings (6) heavenly beings, (7) voice-hearers, (8) cause-awakened ones, (9) bodhisattvas, and (10) Buddhas.As explained on the Sokka Gakkai website
Operating from higher frequencies becomes our way to experience detachment.
But is compassion even possible, if we are detached?
True compassion can be understood when we hear stories of enlightened Masters such as the Buddha that would become teary-eyed in seeing another’s pain, in seeing the plight of the world around.
Compassion may not necessarily mean attachment – it means sometimes, to be able to experience the emotion by letting it pass through you. What does that mean? It means not holding back, understanding that is a byproduct of humanness and simply holding the space for yourself to process the emotion out of your system.
Yet at the same time, we are staying rooted in the knowing, that we are not the emotions we are experiencing and that we are holding space for another person to share their load.
This led me to think – is THIS why we feel better when we share our problems? Because we literally share our problem?
I don’t want this talk about emotional sponge to scare the empaths of the world. I want all this to empower you, by showing you that yes, you are a being of great capacity, that has immense love and care. The skills that you need to work on now are detachment and healthy emotional boundaries.
A good way to manage this experience is to practice clearing your energy at the end of every interaction (or at least before you go to bed). Here’s a free, powerful self-healing tool to help you release anything that’s not yours.
All the empaths reading this, give me a holler and let me know if this changes things for you! 🙂
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Very useful article, thank you!
Glad this could be of service to you, Andrea! ✨
Hello thank u so much for this. My question is can all empaths feel spirit ? Are all empaths considered clairsentient or is being clairsentient more of a psychic thing. Thank u, Gina
Every person experiences spirit in the way their experience allows them to — so for some, spirit is a feather or angel number, for others it might be messages from their guides, and so on.
Everyone is able to experience the creator, but depending on how spiritually inclined you are, you will see it as such.
Worst case, a skeptic brushes it off as a coincidence, but they too experience spirit 🙂
This makes so much sense. I like the idea of clearing energy and staying, for a time, off of communication devices, upon waking.
Also, I do not want to pass on the chance to say how much I appreciate this blog, the work you are doing, and all of the help you have offered to those, both around you, and around the world.
One way to raise my “vibration”, is to think of wonder, that we are from the same source. You are doing great things.
Zakary Reif says
As I have woken to my true deep self I have realized just how much we all have empathy. Just a question of awareness. And this leads to true deep love and compassion. True self. The universal truth within us all. Just takes awareness and practice to stay centered although sometimes challenging.
Yes, finding the line between staying connected to provide guidance when needed and not absorbing their energy. Great aricle
Adventures with Shelby says
I never really thought about this but this happens to me as well!
We are so empathic, it takes a while to realize what emotion is/isn’t ours!
YES!! Attempting to distinguish other’s thoughts/emotions from our own is challenging, especially residing w/family or being in close quarters with many people.
Practicing checking in with myself through out the day, “asking is this mine” gets easier the more you do it. We can also ask for help from the spiritual realms ex: “to please remove all energies less than love” command back to Source & replace released energies with: love,Joy,peace..ext.
Alexandra Craig says
Yes! I definitely can relate to this. I truly believe you have to be aware of how other peoples energy effects you and then set certain, even if unspoken, boundaries in order to keep you energy vibe up to where it usually is.
mainak biswas says
My sister is also super sensitive emotionally… I can completely relate to this..
Oh! I hope she resonates with this too – do share it with her 💕
Sanjota Purohit says
According to my being emotional is not wrong, you just need to know how and where to bring them out.
Yup that’s what the post talks about, being aware of these emotions so they can be managed gracefully 😊
Suanlian TangpuaSuanlian tangpua says
Great post. I need to practice to say NO!
A little effort will go a long way! ⭐
Such a great read. Never realized that I’m the same way. It’s always good to realize these type of things!
Aw, I’m glad you found this relevant! More power to you 🙂
thanks for sharing this, very interesting story & learn more about emotional sponge, guess I am too
Aw, thank you! Love and light to you ❣️
This is a great article, I can relate to this. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you enjoyed 😊
Talat Yasmin says
It is so important to hold on to your own space and keep peace. Loved reading the helpful article.
Yes, it all starts with inner peace. Glad you found this resourceful 🙂
Can definitely relate!! It is a tough spot to be in.
Definitely is, but can be overcome with just a little conscious effort! 🙂
I’m also an emotional sponge but now I try to not take others’ problems into my head as I already have so many of my own.
I totally need to practice detachment more often. I’m always taking on other peoples problems and making them my own.
YES! And it gets easier with time, we only need to shift our attention towards this lesson at hand 🙂 Hugs!
Crickette, The Things I Have to Say says
I know this so well. Sometimes I become too involved with my bestfriends problems, it drains me–so I’ve learned to detach. Sometimes I just refuse to open my phone, so I can focus on work instead of her problems.
Some people can really be quite draining. I love my bestfriend but she can be quite heavy sometimes so I have to develop a means to protect myself.
Aw, I can feel every word of this. More power to you for holding space for your best friend, whilst setting healthier boundaries for yourself! An exemplary display of what I was talking about in this post – detached compassion. 🙌💕
Sally Pederson says
Great article. I think many people, myself included, have a bit of a struggle finding the balance of the two. I’m sure the more we learn about ourselves and the more we focus on what we need the easier it becomes.
Absolutely Sally! And thank you 😊
You, Me and Benny says
I used to be like this! It’s a really hard habit to break!
It definitely gets better once we understand detached compassion!
great read. im more of a emotional lead block lol
Haha, there’s always room for a little more self-realization, whatever be our emotional situation. Thanks Jimmy!
I feel like I use to be this exact way! Now I feel like I’m more on the desensitized side 🙈 which isn’t much better! Is there a happy medium?
Hehe, we’re like pendulums! We ultimately do learn to find the balance. Which is what this post is about – how to attain detached compassion. Hope the second half will answer your question 💕
Cyndi Buchanan says
I am terrible about being an emotional sponge. Meditation has helped me stop this habit.
I hear you Cyndi! Meditation has changed so many things in my life too.
Traci Edwards says
I am a Leo and man I feel like my emotions are always so over place, I appreciate you writing this. It takes so much to be really in tune with what is going on with your emotions AND to be able to put it into words.
Aw, bless! Emotional sensitivity is a blessing in disguise, as soon as we learn to handle it better, we’re already so much more compassionate than the rest of the world that’s still getting there. 🙂
Never soak up other people’s emotional burden! Thanks for sharing this article.
Yes, absolutely. Holding space without giving away our own! ⭐
I’m terrible about being an emotional sponge. Meditation has helped with this a little.
High five! I’m an empath too and absorbed other people’s emotions easily which causes me emotional tiredness. Practicing detachment is the key.
Oh yes, the emotional fatigue. Phew! Precisely, detached compassion is the ultimate goal.
If someone asks too much of you, politely tell them “no.” It’s not necessary to explain why. As the saying goes, “No is a complete sentence.”
Absolutely! Rightly said, my friend!