Do you think you are very empathetic people and that this ability sometimes causes you too much suffering? If so, this article is for you.
Last update: May 26, 2020
Some people are very sensitive by character and others, under certain circumstances, become too perceptive and vulnerable. In both cases there is an effect that causes them to behave like emotional sponges, that is, to have the property of easily absorbing emotions from the environment.
Although, in principle, the condition of "emotional sponges" offers a certain advantage over others, a high capacity of perception is also a factor that can be emotionally overloading. It is not uncommon, therefore, to be constantly the victim of stress and tension that are difficult to dissolve.
Being an emotional sponge can mean easily feeling overwhelmed. What may seem like a strength, therefore, turns into a ballast.
There is another downside: showing too much empathy and receptivity lead us to become an easy target of the emotional stress of others.
Researchers who compared Shanghai elementary school pupils with Canadian pupils found that in China the quietest and most sensitive children are among the most respected by their peers, while in Canada the opposite is true.
People emotional sponges
Emotional sponges have some specific characteristics. In general, they are good at sensing the mood of others, but also sensitive to the atmosphere of a group. The main peculiarities of highly sensitive people are:
- Intuition. They don't need words to understand if the other is feeling good or bad. They pick it up easily.
- Excess of empathy. Not only are they capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others, but they do it excessively. In other words, they tend to make other people's emotions their own.
- Feeling responsible for the well-being of others. They think they need to help others when they are in pain. They feel angry with themselves if they don't.
- They seek solutions. Their excessive empathy and embracing the pain of others lead them to invest much of their time in devising solutions to others' problems.
- They are overwhelmed with emotions (not their own). For emotional sponge people, it is more difficult to keep in touch with their emotions. They literally appropriate the negative emotions of others.
- They attract toxic people. They are easily besieged by people who are full of problems or who tend to emotionally exploit others.
- They put others first. They behave as if they had a mission: to give up their own well-being in favor of that of others.
Emotional sponges people end up hurting themselves with their own hands because of their excess of sensitivity, empathy and solidarity. Generally, they are already used to taking on the problems of others, including parents, as children. They are expected to understand, to help, simply because it comes easy to them, having a natural predisposition.
The problem is that they unwittingly end up forgetting themselves; most of the time driven by the selfish needs of those who use them and seek them out of necessity.
In this way, hypersensitivity and enormous empathy lead them to accept the role of external "emotional regulators". The cost can be very high: becoming invisible to yourself, becoming potential victims of emotional abuse.
A very sensitive person can cloud their identity due to the enormous influence that others have on his emotions. A mother accuses her daughter of being numb because she doesn't call her often.
If we take a closer look at the situation, however, perhaps the positions will reverse. Perhaps it is the mother who is insensitive to her daughter, who blames her for her own limitations. This behavior responds to a defense mechanism called projective identification.
How to act in this case? The first thing an emotional sponge person can do is be aware of one's tendency to become a victim of toxic behavior. Second, he will have to learn how to manage the sense of guilt by directing it and preventing him from taking command of his actions.
The solution also involves learning to value your feelings, setting limits where necessary.