April 27, 2016

Fences for Fragile Hearts: How to Deal with Negativity.

Hernán Piñera/Flickr

We are allowed to protect our own hearts.

We’re allowed to say when enough is enough.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone that quickly turned into an argument. No matter how many times I clearly stated that the topic was not open to discussion and that unsolicited advice would not be well-received, the other person continued to push their point. It went from an in-person conversation to a phone call to texts that lasted for hours, even when I stopped responding.

Let’s be clear: this type of communication is an assault. It can be emotionally abusive, certainly emotionally manipulative in this circumstance, and it ignored every boundary that I put in place.

Before this dialogue took place, I was content and calm. I had a wonderful day and was looking forward to a relaxing evening. After the dialogue, I was angry, frustrated and felt violated at a deeply spiritual level. I felt that the sanctity of my own home had even been violated because all of my boundaries were overrun with the continued texts throughout the night. No matter how many times I flat-out said “stop” and “that’s enough” and “this is not welcome and is inappropriate,” the other person continued the onslaught.

In the end, I had to stop reading the messages. I had stopped responding to them hours before. I also had to figure out what my soul needed at that moment to recover my equilibrium so that I could settle for the night in order to be able to get enough rest to get up the next morning to be the single mother that my children need. I decided to take a long, hot bath with a glass of wine, to call a friend, to complete a short session of restorative yoga, and then to take a few minutes for a guided meditation. After that was done, I turned on a favorite playlist, and I settled in for the night. Yes, I was so stressed that it required several coping methods to be able to achieve a state of calm. By that point, I was calm enough to sleep.

Oftentimes we find that in the wake of this type of conflict, the negative feelings remain with us after the actual conflict has passed. We soon learn that the people who engage with us in this type of verbal assault rarely offer true support or validation or encouragement in our lives. There will instead be criticism and confrontation because that is how they operate. We must learn to accept this and find ways of balancing ourselves when our senses are assaulted with their misplaced “good” intentions.

As an empath, I find it very difficult to protect myself from this type of strong negative energy. I often absorb the energy and then struggle to find my balance afterward. It leaves a nasty energy imprint behind, and I have to work hard to clear it. I’m still learning how to be strong enough to accept others for this unkindness and also to protect myself from absorbing the negative energy that naturally results from such an encounter. I once read that the most balanced people are more easily unbalanced by small events. I don’t remember where I read this, but I can say that this is true for me. When I find myself staying in a place of harmony, one ugly encounter can upset the balance of my world for days at a time. Luckily, I am able to draw on my resources to practice the coping skills I have learned to return myself to a state of peace.

It’s important to learn how to fortify our boundaries so that they are more easily enforced. We can also explore ways of minimizing our contact with the people who create stress rather than provide support or love in our lives. In order to practice self-care, we sometimes must choose to eliminate these relationships in our lives or spend limited time in the company of those who bring an onslaught of negativity into our lives.

Oftentimes, it may help to focus on the people in our lives who support us. The simple practice of gratitude and the act of devoting our time to these relationships can help distance us from the harmful relationships in our lives. This practice can seem simple with friends and even colleagues, but with family members, it can be challenging to put appropriate boundaries into place and even to choose the option of distance or a total absence of communication in order to practice healthy boundaries and relationships.

In the end, we do have the right to say that enough is enough and to do whatever it takes to protect our fragile hearts from being intentionally (or even unintentionally) harmed. We have a responsibility to ourselves to practice self-care in this way. By stating our boundaries clearly and standing by them, the people in our lives can either get with the program or learn that they will be excluded from it. Far from being an unkind action, this action is one that allows everyone in the situation to be able to benefit from the relationship or lack thereof, depending on the outcome.

Our hearts are beautiful and fragile, and we must protect them.

At the end of the day, we’ll be able to offer more love to the people left in our lives when we stop giving our love, time and attention away to the people who drain us of the very energy and happiness we need to be fully present.


Bonus! A Buddhist perspective on dealing with negativity:


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Hernán Piñera/Flickr 

Editor: Emily Bartran

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