Sometimes, when others let all of their emotions out and tell you every single detail of their burdening experiences, you feel beyond overwhelmed and burned out.
On such occasions, instead of being helpful and understanding, you become distracted and often annoyed by the fact that not everything is under your control. When someone needs your full attention, your mind is wandering and wondering how to get out of the situation as quickly as possible, without, of course, hurting the other person.
If you want to be truly supportive of the people who vent to you, you need to learn how to manage yourself in the presence of their anxiety.
Here are 5 skills that will help you be more empathetic without getting sucked into the problems of others:
1. See others’ emotions as a symptom, not as the actual issue.
Oftentimes, when someone vents to you and lets all of their emotions out, you may automatically decide that these overwhelming feelings are the problem. Usually, in such situations, you would try to come up with a solution to ‘solve’ their emotions. That’s when you invest all of your energy into giving them the best pieces of advice you can think of.
Although we have this person’s best interest at heart, we fail to realize that their feelings are not the issue but only a product of it. Instead of trying to ‘get rid’ of their emotions, be curious about what causes them. Your empathy will definitely be appreciated.
2. Recall a time when you felt the same.
When someone decides they trust you enough to share their personal problems with you, you need to respect that choice and make sure you treat them with empathy. And if you find it hard to put yourself in their shoes, try to recall a time in your life when you felt the same. Relating to their emotional trauma will make you acknowledge their struggle and understand what they are going through. Therefore, you will be more supportive.
3. Practice reflective listening.
Reflective listening represents the act of mirroring the words someone is telling you. You can do it either literally or with your own understanding. By doing so, you will make this person feel comfortable in your company. Once they do, you will be able to build a genuine connection with one another. This will create the perfect atmosphere for your companion to feel free to share their feelings without the fear of being judged.
4. Remember that your emotions matter too.
While offering your helping hand and opening heart to someone else’s problems, make sure you acknowledge your emotions as well. Remind yourself that your feelings matter too, and their intensity is perfectly reasonable. In order to help someone else, you first need to be able to validate your own emotions.
5. Don’t act like it is your responsibility.
The fact that you cannot control others’ feelings does not imply that you are responsible for them. So, stop expect of yourself to be able to fix everyone’s problems. If you want to actually connect with these people and become genuinely supportive, you need to stop making it so hard on yourself, especially when things are not under your control.