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How to Protect Yourself From Other People’s Negativity

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When I was a kid, it seemed like I felt pain more than anyone else around me. Not just physical pain, but emotional pain. I cried easily, over many things. I had an especially hard time when people were fighting around me, and I didn’t even have to be involved. I could feel the negative energy and felt upset and overwhelmed. I didn’t have a constructive way of handling it.

Maybe other people felt just as much pain as me and were simply better at not showing it. Or maybe they learned how to not let it get under their skin the way I did. I will never know. (I don’t believe being sensitive is a bad personality trait that we need to get rid of. It’s driven me to become good at relationships and communication and it’s in large part the reason why I have a compassionate and empathetic personality.)

For years I’ve searched for ways to maintain inner peace, or ways to stop mental and emotional chaos once it’s started.

Here’s the most powerful lessons I’ve learned, broken down into five sections below:

1. The real source of our pain

Your thoughts and judgments cause emotional pain – not other people’s words or actions. I used to focus my attention on trying to get other people to change, or my environment to change, to make myself feel better. Although these things can influence how we feel, if we focus only on changing our surroundings and not ourselves, we’ll be playing a game we can never win. Eventually, I grasped the idea that trying to control another person’s behavior is impossible. I shifted my attention to the only thing I could control: myself.

Once I began researching this idea more in depth, I came to understand that not only is controlling someone else’s behavior impossible, it’s also pointless. Whatever problem we’re blaming them for really resides within our thinking.

Here’s what I mean: Two different people can witness the same interaction and perceive different levels of negativity in the exchange. This is due to our own unique set of beliefs through which we view the world. 

“Negative” interactions can actually give us opportunities to change something profound in ourselves if we let them. If we perceive things as negative, we are affected negatively. If we perceive things as positive, or at least try to find a silver lining, we are affected positively.

2. Responsibility

Learning that my perceptions and judgments were the true source of my emotional pain is changed my outlook on life significantly. I learned I could influence how much or whether or not I suffered, and I no longer felt afraid of how others were going to act or how I was going to react.

It’s empowering knowing this. But, like Uncle Ben says in Spiderman, “…with great power comes great responsibility.” Once you understand that your interpretations of things matter more than whatever anyone else does, you can’t deny your responsibility – for the way you treat others, the way you treat yourself, and how happy or miserable you are.

It’s easier to blame other people than take responsibility for your inner peace. You feel better about yourself if you can blame others. You get to be the victim and receive attention from others for your suffering which makes you temporarily feel better. You can’t blame others for your suffering anymore. If you do, you’re lying to yourself.

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen R. Covey

3. The two selves: love and fear

I believe that we are more than our bodies and our minds. I believe we have some sort of soul, spirit, or higher consciousness that is beyond our bodies and minds that we have yet to fully understand. 

This part of us is said to be our true self – which is pure unconditional love, creative, limitless, cannot be harmed, and never dies. In many spiritual schools of thought, this higher part of us is made up of the same energy that makes up the entire universe and binds everything together.

Some people call this part of us God, or at least say that it’s connected with God. However, when we are young and begin to develop language and understand our place in the world, our minds create an idea about who we think we are (called the Ego in psychology), and how we think the world works based on fear, lack, and limitation. We suffer because we believe the lies our mind creates and try to live as if they were true.

4. The more someone is hurting, the more hurtful they will usually act

Remember the last time you heard someone say something to you that hurt you? The truth is more than likely they were stressed out and/or upset. They were probably functioning from fear. If you reacted by feeling attacked/defensive and wanting to attack back, that means you let their fear pull you in so that you started operating from fear as well.

Albert Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.” You can’t solve fear with more fear. The only way to solve fear is to meet it with love. If you can recognize that when someone is attacking you they’re in a state of fear and then you respond from love instead of attacking back, you will help them as well as yourself.

Of course, you can still communicate to them how you felt about what happened and stick to your boundaries, and that doesn’t mean you’re coming from fear. It means you’re acknowledging the situation and having an honest dialogue to improve your relationship. Acting rude, cold, passive aggressive, or attacking back means you’ve let fear win.

“If you do not have control over your mouth, you will not have control over your future.” – Germany Kent

5. Accept your emotions – don’t try to change them

Sometimes when I’d get upset about other people’s negativity, I would end up being more upset about how I felt about it than about what originally happened. Because I did not want to be so easily upset all the time, I would get upset with myself for feeling upset! As you can imagine that only made things worse. If you understand that your feelings can’t hurt you unless you stay in that negative state for a long time, you can accept them and move on much easier.

You can say to yourself, yes, I feel really pissed off and really upset about what happened and that’s okay. Your feelings will pass like clouds in the sky. When you don’t like how you feel, you try to make yourself feel differently. That’s when you get stuck. You’re trying to force your feelings away because you see them as being bad, and you will only feel worse and worse. Acknowledging that it’s okay to feel upset will lead to a much faster turnaround from your state.

What strategies do you use for handling other people’s negativity? Add your favorites in the comments below!

Mandie Bigelow is a Wellness and Life Satisfaction Coach and writer. She runs a blog discussing mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, human potential, and relationships for those who want to break through any limitations holding them back and live a life of joy, passion, and meaning. In her spare time, Mandie enjoys playing Spikeball (roundnet), training in martial arts, and hanging out with her husband and two cats. She and her husband are writing a book called The Enlightened Relationship. Find her on Facebook @bloggermandie, or on Instagram or Twitter @mandiebigelow

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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