Originally posted by dave_welch
I have enough of my own problems as it is, and I'm tired of feeling other people's emotions. Is this common? Is there a way to control this?
Yes. It can be a big problem, it can make your life hell. I remember when I saw the movie "The Hours" I cried to see how well this was illustrated
by the part played by Julianne Moore. Some people may feel drawn to protect you, but a whole lot of them feel drawn to use you as a drop off bin for
all their negative emotions. And it become impossible to cope sometimes.
First? Drop all the ideas you have heard and might have ingested about the "evils of ego".
This idea is valid only for those who have the opposite problem of yourself- a lack of sensitivity, of empathy.
If you will, ego provides walls between self and others, and it can be more or less thick, and where some people might have it three feet thick others
don't have one at all. The first ones can't communicate with those around and exchange emotions, but the second get invaded and walked through and
your yard riddled with their trash.
Start by making efforts, in everyday events to Be Selfish. To say no to others, to distinguish yourself from others- this is what people are doing
when they disagree with another openly. They are drawing a line- "You are on that side of the line, I am on this side."
Drop ideas you may have picked up about the importance of being agreable.Leave those to the people with the thick walls that need to remind themselves
to be considerate of others. Your job is to learn to be considerate of your self. It is okay to disagree with people, and it doesn't have to be
hostile or aggressive. It can be a calm, friendly and considerate "agreement to disagree".
Practice debate with friends, and not to win, but just the process of argumentation and reasoning. Keep in mind the goal if just to well structure
your point- not convince the other or make them change their mind. It is for YOUR mind to be reinforced, for you to know well what you think and feel
Use "I am..;" I feel" "I think.". statements as often as possible.
I personally find it is not productive to spend time saying "You feel this or you feel that, "in trying to draw that line and distinguish. A lot of
people use that, but I find the problem is that one can too easily project their own feelings on another. Let them speak for themself, you speak for
Besides, in the end emotions sometimes just are and they don't belong to anyone. If you are in presence of someone who is producing an emotion, you
know you will feel it, pick it up and it will then be both of yours, no matter where it started from. But you don't have to associate it to anything-
to decide it was caused by something or someone, to find blame. This is where the spiritual practices which aim to learn to accept negative feelings
and suffering as part of life come in handy. When you pick up suffering from another, then the more ideas you form about what you are feeling, the
more they will stay with you and continue even when you are no longer in the presence of that person.
Sometimes we think it is important to remember and hold on to the suffering of others, in order to be a good person. Consider though, the value of
compassion- which recognizes that sometimes people (consciously or not) CHOOSE painful experiences for various reasons- so judging the experience as
something that shouldn't happen is not always necessary.
The ego is a mental construction, so it is your thoughts and views which build it. Build those, make sure they are strong, and don't have holes or
weak spots in logic.
Sometimes it can be helpful to imagine this is your masculine side. It is the male inside that is self aware, and he has to be big enough to equal the
power of your feminine side- the one which is aware of other.
You will probably never be less sensitive, but you can live with that sensitivity and finds ways to use it constructively and not have it tear you
down. Don't let the mantras of the bad ego get into you, most of all. They are on a different path. Yours is building a self, and allowing self
Jobs where you need to take care of others, the handicapped, the sick, the elderly or young, animals, are good choices, and also make it clear why
self preservation is necessary- you cannot aid another if you are sick too. If you fall apart, you can't help others pull themself together. Remember
the airplane emergency directions, to put on your own oxygen mask before you aid others with theirs!