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We were halfway through the conversation when I had an emotional breakdown.
I had an uncontrollable burst of anger and smashed my phone after hanging up with the person who had triggered me.
I remained calm throughout our conversation and stayed for more than an hour on the phone listening, empathizing, and trying to help. My sudden and uncontrollable rage came as a shock, but once I calmed down, I understood why I had lost my temper:
I’ve become that person’s punching bag.
They’ve been vomiting their emotions all over the place, and I was on the receiving end.
Although that person meant no harm and was simply looking for an exit or a solution, I realized in that moment of anger that they crossed my boundaries—the boundaries I have never set.
The ugly truth is that we might be other people’s emotional punching bag without even realizing it. Only when we lose our sh*t do we realize that some people might be taking our patience for granted.
But it’s not okay. It’s necessary to listen to our friends, family, or partner, but it’s not necessary to become so invested in their problems that we lose our emotional energy and peace.
Especially if you’re a sensitive and empathetic person like me, soothing someone else might quickly escalate and we become the ones who need soothing and a way out.
I am not an emotional dumping ground for anyone’s problems and you shouldn’t be either.
Here’s how to set healthy boundaries:
Learn the difference between kindness and letting someone walk all over you.
One of the reasons that I tend to become someone else’s emotional bag is because I’m inherently kind and have never treated anyone unfairly. However, sometimes, my unconditional and endless kindness lets other people walk all over me. And whenever I try to establish healthy boundaries, I feel guilty and get this icky feeling that stops me in my tracks. I’ve recently realized that boundaries protect my inner peace, and I can still be kind and compassionate while also communicating my needs.
Spot when a conversation turns into an emotional dumping ground.
When I’m having a conversation with someone who’s seeking advice or support, I tend to forget about how I feel and focus on what the other person wants, feels, or needs. But this negligence is what drives me to becoming an emotional punching bag. I listen so closely to the other person that I forget to listen to what my body is telling me. When I lost it over the phone, my negative emotions were building up and trying to send me a warning sign, but turning a deaf ear resulted in an unexpected anger burst. Stay in touch with your emotions when you’re listening to someone else and notice when the conversation goes south.
Kindly ask them to stop.
If someone else is releasing all their anger and negativity on you, you have the right to ask them to stop. Be honest and open and gently explain to them that their pent-up emotions have been taking a toll on you. You can still be their confidant without them emotionally dragging you down. You can even suggest other practices that might benefit them, such as taking a meditation class, walking, journaling, or seeing a therapist. You can also encourage them to communicate directly with the party involved.
Prioritize the relationship you have with yourself.
Oftentimes, I neglect myself. I neglect self-care and all the practices that lift me up. Consequently, I end up prioritizing all the other relationships I have in my life—especially the toxic ones. Before being nice to anyone else, we must be nice toward ourselves. Listen to what your body needs. Listen to your intuition. Develop a healthier and better relationship with yourself so you could nurture the other relationships in your life. When you take care of you, you stop accepting other people’s drama.