I had a really uncomfortable dance last night and picked up on the person’s obsessive and spiraling emotions. My aim is to stop empathing other people’s stuff and create a much better energetic boundary between me and other people.
Feeling this guy’s feelings and the awful, jangly mood I ended up in (and the fact that I immediately came down with a cold after this experience), gave me an opportunity to think about the way certain emotional habits in other people (dissociating, checking out, shame/self-worth spirals) are a big trigger for me to drop my personal defenses and get into their shit, which is both super destructive to my own mental health and really invasive and useless to them. We both end up in the shit for no good reason.
I am working to transcend this habit in myself. There is ambivalence around this habit of mine, and here are some thoughts and feelings that came up last night in the hours I spend trying to come back into myself after this experience.
Take responsibility for myself and my feelings and boundaries.
Take responsibility for ending dynamics that are making me uncomfortable.
Do not dance with someone if I’m uncomfortable. There were multiple times when I started to get uncomfortable where I could have stopped the pattern / dance before it flipped into an intolerable state that overwhelmed me and made my night difficult.
The inverse to my fear of people checking out is my compulsive need for connection
I can be comfortable with people checking out without having to stay with them. Other people’s ability to stay present is not my problem.
The fact that it feels like my problem (feels unsafe) when other people check out is leftover child trauma stuff, where I needed to keep my caregivers engaged in order to be safe / nurtured / fed / cared for.
Letting go of my need / compulsion around other people checking out or staying present will lead to true autonomy.
“But how will I be special!?!?!?” the child self asks. If I let go of my compulsion to keep other people checked in, I let go of my child self’s survival strategy – caretaker / healer / codependent / the one with no needs.
Caretaking kills joy. This realisation came actually the night before this dance, in a long conversation with Adam, and this experience was a really direct opportunity to experience how this dynamic plays out in my life.
What does this all mean other than just walking away from these interactions? For now, the idea to create physical distance. This strategy (staying away from people who push my buttons so that I lose track of my own selfhood) has served me well in breaking other habits – most notably, in not getting mixed up with people with strong narcissistic tendencies. I do not need to right now understand why I do this, the main thing at this point is to create some mental health hygiene for myself so I can start to heal from this ingrained habit.
It seems impossibly simple but if I walk away I get to see what the next stage of healing is, work with what will come after I change the habit. There is always a next step down the road. What happens if I don’t try to solve someone else’s pain for them?
My joy can not dependent on how other people are feeling.
My joy can’t be contingent on other people. Autonomous joy that no one can take away from me (even if they don’t dance with me or like me).
“I want to be (i.e. appear) joyful so that other people will like me,” the childself says. I am only good if I am useful and able to create experiences for other people. My feelings only matter in relation to how they affect other people. My feelings exist as a mirror to how other people are feeling. I am a mirror that reflects back what people want to see.
Don’t get aversive to this guy or situations like this. Don’t try to fix or caretake. Create physical boundaries rather than shutting down. Aim for neutral equanimity. Aversive is as emotionally problematic as care taking since my energy and thoughts are focused on avoiding the other person and their problems, which makes them too prominent in my experience. How can I not take on other people’s emotions, or if I do – as I might from time to time while I develop this new skill – just let them go?