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How to stop absorbing other people’s negativity like a sponge (Part 1)

By Michal Spiegelman

It always surprises me how many of my Reiki students introduce themselves at the beginning of class by saying things like, “I’m here to learn how to protect my energy” or “I’m tired of taking on other people’s stuff.”

As these people start explaining what brought them to Reiki, it’s clear that many of them have felt “different” from an early age. They grew up believing that their sensitivity was a weakness because the people around them told them it was.

Not all of them have the awareness or the knowledge to understand that their sensitivity has a name and that, not only is it not a weakness, it is actually a gift.

Growing up, I used to cry quietly in my room with my head under the pillow when I had difficult moments. The confusing message I received from my mom was that crying was for immature girls, and good girls didn’t cry.

Have others ever told you that you are too sensitive?

Have you ever felt that something is wrong with you?

If you know that you are an empath or highly sensitive to energy, keep reading. If you’re not sure if you’re an empath, take the Empath Quiz first, and then keep reading.

The gift of an empath

As an empath, you often feel like an emotional sponge. You continuously absorb other people’s negativity, and, as a result, it is hard for you to release those feelings.

Holding on to negative emotions is unhealthy. Over time, these emotions can manifest physically in the body.

In my many years of experience as a social worker, a mentor, and an empath myself, I have learned this one very important thing:

Once you accept the responsibility to care for yourself, you can learn how to manage your sensitivity and turn being an empath into a gift.

The important role of empaths in the world

There is a lot of negativity around us these days, but we empaths are capable of raising the vibration in the world. That’s why now, more than ever before, we are a gift to humanity—one that is very much needed.

Let’s start exploring ways to stop absorbing other people’s negativity.

You need to feel it to heal it.

If you have a tendency to absorb negativity, you often develop unhealthy behaviors, such as numbing your emotions or running away from them.

Feeling sad, scared, or angry is neither good nor bad. They are emotions. Emotions need to be recognized and honored. If your tendency is to skip the “feeling it” part, you need to undo. Only if you feel the emotion can you heal and release it.

Practice the Beacons of Change RFR Formula for clearing emotions:

RFR = Recognize it. Feel it. Release it.

You’re on the phone with aunt Judy, and she is dumping all her negativity on you? Before you know it, you feel resentment. You’re angry at her for making you feel drained. You’re angry at yourself for absorbing her negativity. Allow yourself to be human! See the anger as a messenger: something is off and needs your attention.

It will only take you five minutes to sit quietly with yourself. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your solar plexus. Take a deep breath, and ask your inner goddess, “How do we feel right now?” Check in with your body and recognize how you feel. Give yourself permission to feel. Don’t hold on to the emotions for too long. Once you recognize and feel them, release them.

If you are an empath, you cannot afford to get drained by holding on to the energy you are absorbing from others.

Learn to put the brakes on before you say “yes”

One of the many tips I share with the women I mentor is that every time you are about to say “yes” and make a commitment, pause and say, “Let me check my schedule. I’ll get back to you soon.” When you understand the “power of the pause,” and you give yourself some time to think before saying “yes,” you are accepting responsibility for your life and well-being.

Pausing before saying “yes” is not enough. It’s a good start when you are intentional about strengthening your boundaries. But you need to do deeper work around boundaries.

In my private practice, I work with empaths on evaluating their favorite style in setting boundaries. I divide the boundary-setting styles into four types: the Fence With a Gate Boundary, the Sidewalk Boundary, the Hula Hoop Boundary, and the Bubble Boundary.

If you want to learn a smart way to strengthen your boundaries so you can stop absorbing other people’s negativity, read this article and choose your favorite style of boundary-setting.

There are many more ways to stop absorbing other people’s negativity. But I don’t want to overwhelm you, Beacon, (We empaths can easily get overwhelmed), so I am going to stop here to let you process and apply the strategies I shared today. I am going to share more strategies (including a complete list of resources I developed for empaths) in part two of this article.

What is your biggest takeaway from this article, Beacon?

Share it in the comments area. I would love to hear from you!

Meet Michal
Michal Spiegelman

Michal Spiegelman is Medical Intuitive who helps women get to the root source behind disease, disharmony, imbalance, stress, and trauma-related conditions.

Having studied in Israel, Germany, England, and the U.S., Michal is a Certified Professional Coach, a Reiki Master, and a former social worker who brings years of experience working with a variety of modalities into her intuitive teachings, coaching and mentoring.

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  1. Jessica Lamar

    RFR = Recognize it. Feel it. Release it. Before making a commitment inform the person that let me check my schedule. Always make time for myself to release any negative energy off or around me.

    • Michal

      Great summary, Jessica! Enjoy applying the tools to your own life.

  2. Sandi

    The pause seems very important.”I will get back to you on this “, as I tend to say yes before even giving it much thought.

    • Michal

      That was me, Sandi! It was my default to always way yes on the spot. This small “trick” helped me. I hope it will help you as well.


    My greatest hurtle is letting go of the pain that I absorb.
    If I could have one dream come true it would be that I was not an empath.
    I am 55, and from the age of 8, I knew I was different.

    • michal

      That makes me sad, Carol! I hope that you will be able to appreciate and love yourself as an empath. Your light is needed in the world. You are right: you are different. You are a gift. Email me at [email protected] so we can explore ways you can receive support.

  4. gmpicket

    There’s a Star Trek (original series) episode about an empath. I saw it at age 15 or 16 – and thought, that’s me! I take on other people’s suffering. I also desperately wanted to heal others thru touch like that empath did. Around age 45, I studied Tibetan Buddhism and learned their technique to take somebody’s suffering and turn it into a wish for joy and happiness for that person. I found this very helpful because it gave me a way to dissolve the suffering rather than mentally living it.

  5. Michal

    Beautiful! Taking somebody’s suffering and turning it into a wish for joy and happiness for that person. Thank you for sharing that!

  6. Wanda Hernandez

    I like the pause. Sometimes I say no right away without thinking about it. Its always better to sit with a request for a while before responding with a yes or a no that we may not be comfortable with.

  7. Michal

    You are right, Wanda! Pausing and taking some time before responding is a good way to approach both the “Yes’s” and the “No’s”!

  8. Karen Lee Rinkiewicz

    To pause…this is IMPORTANT..I quickly say yes and then regret it.

    • Michal

      True, Karen! And this one word – PAUSE – can reminds us to think before we say yes.

  9. Anun

    Thank you Michal for this great article. I call myself a warden who takes responsibility to establish harmony in this world. My empathy is growing every day because I want it so. This is a gift as well as a burden. My life will never be the same. I know now. I have to go out … I have to go to the people … I have to go to dark places … to bring light and harmony. I will need you all to establish peace and satisfaction on this earth.

    This is my way of doing it:

    I hope you will join me one day. I’ll be there for you. I love you all. Spread the love.



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