How I Realised I’m an Emotional “SPONGE”

What is an Emotional Sponge? And how can you deal with it, both spiritually and psychologically.

Empathy is a term that’s being going around a lot lately, along with its side-effect, “emotional sponge”. I can explain it best by a personal experience.

This will be both a spiritual (energy) and psychological investigation into the phenomenon. Keep reading!

I recently got into the morning practice of clearing my energy, and the results are so amazing, that for hours to follow, I continue to feel very light and peaceful. (Yes – I will talk about these energy clearing practices in another post)

But one morning, I made the mistake of checking my phone too soon.
Phone, Female, Lady, Black, African

I had received a message from an anxious and flustered friend, that was dealing with a problem. Though my friend is sensible and was only bouncing the problem to get a second opinion about it, I immediately felt my energy become heavy. I was annoyed and angry too, now.

I became an emotional sponge. In other words, I was so empathic towards the person’s problems, that I absorbed some of their emotions and 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 the good listener, I am holding TOO much space and as a consequence, it is getting into my own space.

Face, Head, Empathy, Meet, Sensitivity

Ofcourse I never write without solutions, so here it comes.

In dealing with other people’s problems, we need to create a safe space for us to comfortably listen from and be in – and remind ourselves mentally that we can remain detached and still help others.

Detachment being the key word, lets walk our way back to the spiritual side.

Detachment to me, means to be able to hear a problem, and advise a solution or see a better outcome of it without being shaken by the problem itself. It means operating from a higher frequency.

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.

It is believed that our behaviour 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 how can we still be compassionate, if we are detached?
Empathy, Person, Human Waves, Compassion

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?
Empathy, Head, Brain, Wave, Compassion

I don’t want this 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.

All the empaths reading this, give me a holler and let me know if this changes things for you! 🙂

-*-*-*-

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Do You ‘Love Too Much’?

You’ll need to ‘see’ this post, just as much you need to ‘read’ it to understand the analogy behind loving too much. Wait for the pictures to load!

“I do a lot for other people, but I never feel as appreciated.”

If this sounds like you, keep reading.

Today, we’re going to use an analogy to understand what’s going on. And hopefully, how to overcome it.

NOTE: This analogy is not limited to romantic relationships. But we’re using it, because it’ll be easier to get. You’ll see what I mean!

Imagine that you are a shopkeeper who sells rice.

Why rice, you ask? Because that’s my food of choice. I’m an Asian. Shall we proceed, now?

Okay, so.

One day, your crush comes up to you and asks you for a small bag of rice. Trying to impress, you offer her/him a medium bag. FOR THE PRICE OF A SMALL BAG.

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She walks off happy with your extra rice and heart.

She comes back after a week. This time, she’s brought money for the medium rice. You play it cool, you only give her a medium bag of rice, just like she asked. She walks off disappointed though, and you have a feeling she’s not coming back.

“God, just please bring her back!”

You’ll ‘up’ your game the next time, you promise.

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She doesn’t come back for a couple of weeks, but when she finally does, she’s with a new guy. That’s it! You’ve got to make your best move now! You hand her the large bag of rice, for the price of a medium. New guy – 0, You – 1.

As for your finances, it’s a minus 1. But love conquers all, everyone knows that! Don’t be stingy! Money is an illusion anyway. Right?

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Over time, you both begin to build a good relationship. You share a couple of laughs, have coffee and cute moments like all rice-couples probably do. You’re ‘more than friends’. Or so, you’ve started to believe.

But one day, she’s back at your shop with new guy. And you realize, he’s got his arm around her. He isn’t new guy anymore, he’s the guy. In a moment of panic, you do what you do best. You place an irresistible offer. You offer a medium bag of rice, free with the large bag, only for the cost of a large. You’re broke anyway at this point, but if you can save this relation, things will be alright.

She’s hesitant. “That’s too much”, she says. You insist that it’s for ‘old-time’s sake’. With a cordial nod, she takes the bags, and they begin to walk away.

But what’s that? She hands the free bag to her guy. Gulp. You just got LOVE-MUGGED.

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By this point, you’ve invested a LOT of rice in this crush. And your crush has ‘used you’, ended up crush-ing you. And all that free-loading has cost you a huge loss. You are suffering, not just emotionally, but financially too.

One day, a wealthy customer comes up to your shop. Her angelic face is a reflection of her heart of gold. This could have been the love of your life, your partner in crime, the perfect gravy to your rice.

But all the stress finally caught up with you – you’re closing down.

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Does any part of this sound familiar?

I know that it’s a crude way to look at our emotional investment in other people. But unfortunately, we can’t see love like the undervalued rice. We can’t quantify it in bags, and put a price tag on it.

And thus, because of the mistreatment and taken-for-granted relationships, so many people spend their lives doing more than they need to, for those that don’t need it, and thus don’t appreciate it.

“I will never trust/love/marry again”.

By the time life gives them a chance to form better relations, they’re emotionally depleted. Scarred for life! So many people lose their focus from work, go into depression and become victims of substance abuse.

So what’s the takeaway, and how can we overcome this?

Just because you can offer more rice, doesn’t mean the other person needs it.

In reality, the best way to check this is, if you stopped doing some of your out-of-the-way gestures, would this person even notice? Probably not.

Even if they did, it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for them. The person that’s so used to being ‘spoiled’ might throw a couple of taunts and tantrums, but trust me – they’re not going anywhere! You’ll still be happy together. And imagine what you could do now, with all that spare time/effort!

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Hang out more with the people that enjoy your rice.

Ever heard the saying, “marry someone that loves you, not someone that you love”? Ofcourse you don’t have to enter a pretentious relation where you don’t feel invested, but everyone deserves security.

Whether it’s a friend or romantic interest, if you are constantly admitting that this person is ‘out of your league’, there’s a chance that your rice is made for someone else.

Don’t quit any relations, just go spend more of your time (probably saved from doing less, from the point above) with people that make you feel more loved!

keepthechange

Don’t close your shop. Use the rice that’s left for yourself. Take a break, and come back with a better brand.

Don’t become ‘cold-hearted’. Don’t become a raging alcoholic. Don’t change yourself!
Use solitude, traveling, new hobbies, new friendships – handle it maturely. Invest your rice, your love in YOU. And the best thing about self-love, is that unlike rice which requires more money and planning, self-love generates on its own overtime, within YOU.

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Self-love is a whole other topic to talk about though. If you’re looking for more ideas, take a look at this video.

This post is dedicated to every single person that’s loved a friend or romantic partner with all their heart, and still lost.

Don’t give up, it wasn’t really a loss. You just haven’t met your kind of people yet.

Keep going 🙂

Once a month, I send a Self-Love and Spiritual newsletter containing highlights from the month.

I also include exclusive content such as e-books, guided meditations and numerous other resources – all of which you get access to as soon as you sign up!

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