Thursday, January 13, 2022

Emotional Contagion and Self-Care

As someone with a very empathetic personality, I have had trouble my whole life with sort of absorbing other people’s pain and problems. But this problem is not limited just to those of us who are somewhat overly sensitive—emotional contagion is a legit scientific term. You’ve seen it yourself: those people who seem to be able to light up a room, that guy at work who is always cranky and brings the whole office down, the increase in stress from just being present in an airport. According to the very scholarly source, Wikipedia (lol), emotional contagion is important to personal relationships because it fosters emotional synchrony between individuals. A broader definition of the phenomenon suggested by Schoenewolf is "a process in which a person or group influences the emotions or behavior of another person or group through the conscious or unconscious induction of emotion states and behavioral attitudes"

Now, while empathy and the ability to feel for those around you is often a GOOD thing, it can be detrimental as well:

You know that one friend who always has some sort of drama?

That family member that just cannot be pleased?

The coworker that only ever complains?

Did you ever notice how being around these people affects you? It can be super draining, right? One bad apple and all that. It can seriously ruin your mood—even though nothing bad has actually happened to you.

This brings me to today’s meme:

It’s important to relate to the people in your life and to be there for them. However, you’ve got to take care of yourself and your mental well-being as well. You have to recognize the people bringing garbage to your station and send them (politely if possible) on their way. A friend or family member might need to share difficult emotions or situations with you, but that doesn’t mean you should let them park them in your yard. You can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.