How To Not Let Someone Else's Mood Affect You, According To Experts
Sometimes a good day can go right down the tubes, all because of someone else's bad mood. Whether your mom was worrying about finances on your nightly phone call, or your boss threw you some out-of-nowhere shade, other people's emotions often have a way of taking over your own. In a sense, it's fascinating because it indicates that, as humans, we can't help but be empathetic. The struggle, though, comes when other people's stresses begin to affect you negatively. When that becomes the issue, it's important to figure out how to not let someone else's mood affect you, because while it's good to be able to relate to others so well, you have to look out for your own well-being first and foremost.
Michele Moore, a professional counselor, certified coach, and relationship expert at Marriage Mojo, tells Elite Daily that what researchers are now calling "emotional contagion" is a very real experience for most of us on a daily basis: "We're influenced constantly by the positive or negative emotions of others, including co-workers, friends, and partners," she explains.
Paul Christoffersen, of Christoffersen Coaching, tells Elite Daily something similar: Other people tend to affect your mood when you (usually unconsciously) put the control of your mood in someone else's hands. "When we do that, we allow them to 'make' us feel a certain way," he says.
But emotional contagion doesn't have to control you, and how you feel, day in and day out. Here's how you can keep doing you, even in the midst of navigating a whole world filled with other people's ever-changing moods.
1. Consider How You Think About Your Emotions
In order to understand how other people's emotions might impact you, understand how you deal with your own emotions first.
When you're feeling really affected by someone else's mood, Christofferson tells Elite Daily, the way to stop this, or at least reduce the impact it has on you, is to understand the meanings and rules you assign to your emotions. Whether you consciously realize it or not, every negative emotion you have represents a kind of message that's telling you to do something, he explains.
Christoffersen shares an example of what this might mean in real life: "When we get angry, that is a message that someone violated one of our rules. When we are hurt, it means an expectation has not been met," he says. "So, let's look at that rule, and make sure it is serving us. Is it an old rule that we don't need anymore?"
2. Stop, Breathe, And Check In With Yourself
Take a deep breath, and "take a moment to talk to yourself," Natasha Tracy, a mental health advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar, tells Elite Daily.
"Talk to yourself about how you are an individual, and that while you do empathize with others, it's not healthy to take on their problems," she explains, adding that "breathing will ground you to the here and now and put you back into your body, rather than temporarily residing in theirs."
Dr. Adam Gonzalez, assistant professor of psychiatry and founding director of the Mind-Body Clinical Research Center at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, recommends something similar: "First, try to remain present in the moment, and check in with yourself around how your mind and body are reacting," he tells Elite Daily. "This first step is useful to increasing your awareness of your reactions."
3. Remind Yourself That Their Pain Is Not Your Pain
If you want to learn how to separate your emotions from the emotions of others, you have to recognize that the way other people feel is just that: the way they feel. Tracy tells Elite Daily that "you need to remind yourself that their stress or pain is not your stress or pain."
When a friend, family member, or co-worker is going through something difficult, or you can tell they feel really stressed out, remind yourself that you are not going through that situation yourself. You don't necessarily have to shut this person out, Tracy explains; you can offer support without actually taking on their pain.
4. Remember That Your Emotions Can Affect Others, Too
Even the good ones! Moore reminds us that anyone has the ability to influence the morale of those around them, so why not harness that power by actively displaying positive, constructive energy?
"Our attitude becomes like a force field around us that may influence [the people around us] to feel happier as a result," she tells Elite Daily.
5. Consider The Solutions Before You React
"We can choose to act in a way that refutes the negative emotions," Moore tells Elite Daily. "For example, if a co-worker comes into your cubby to complain about the boss, suggest that you schedule a joint meeting to talk about the issues."
Coming up with a solution before your emotions even have a chance to get involved can help decrease or eliminate the negative emotions altogether, Moore explains, and this essentially puts everyone back on the path of positive action. You don't necessarily have to agree with what the other person is saying or how they feel. And even if you do, Moore says, you don't have to lean into or engage with the negative emotions or thoughts. It's all about keeping a healthy distance and thinking of solutions before letting your emotions get the best of you.
6. Anticipate Someone Else's Mood
According to Moore, the moods that tend to affect you most are those that come from the people closest to you, such as partners, friends, or family members. She tells Elite Daily that because you know these people so well, you're likely able to observe the signs that they might have "gotten up on the wrong side of the bed" before they even have a chance to communicate it to you.
If you pick up on how someone else is feeling, you can "consciously choose to refuse to react to it," Moore tells Elite Daily.
7. Remove Yourself Or Take A Break From The Situation
According to Dr. Gonzalez, it's totally OK to let the other person know that you cannot talk right now, or that you are starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.
"Setting good boundaries with colleagues and loved ones is very important when trying to provide support and manage your own emotional responses in a healthy way," he tells Elite Daily.
Leave the room for some water, go take a walk, or put in your headphones and listen to a song that makes you smile. Remember, your well-being comes first.