The ability to understand the emotional expression, experience and magnitude of another individual is known as empathy. Someone who is able to use this easily and freely is known as being empathetic. This is a wonderful skill set to have if you are an empathetic person because it can allow you to connect, build, and communicate more effectively with the individuals in the world around you. If you think you do not have this ability-don’t worry-that is still okay!
Empathy, while it can be something one naturally adapts, can also be learned too. In most cases, friendships and romantic relationships build on the ability to be empathetic with others-which is why you enter into such relations. These relations rely on you for support and guidance. Now the question is, how do you avoid second-hand sadness when a friend or partner is thrusting their negative emotions on you-the empathetic one?
Second-hand sadness happens when you take on the sadness and negative emotional experience of another as your own. This can hinder your own personal growth, development, and impair your mental health as well. Second-hand sadness is often more common among friends and partners and when it happens you often don’t realize that it is happening. If this is happening to you then perhaps you need stronger boundaries.
It is okay to mention to your partner or your friends if you do not feel comfortable or equipped to handle the conversation they are telling you-that is why therapist and counselors do their jobs. The only emotional state you should be fully attentive and focused on is your own. Yes, it is noble to try to help others but not at the cost of your own mental health longevity either. Set some boundaries. Put some guidance in place and most of all be honest when you feel uncomfortable. It actually may help more than you know!
Be proud of yourself! Reach out to a counselor in Orlando for counseling if you need help setting healthy boundaries. For more information on individual counseling in Orlando or expert couples therapy for relationships, reach out to schedule an appointment today!
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.