What you will learn from this blog:
- The real reason why we feel drained by toxic people and environments
- How to take a practical and gradual approach to take charge of your own energy and wellbeing
As therapists offering mental health counselling and emotional therapy, we see many clients who struggle with maintaining their mental well-being in toxic home, work and social environments. They feel drained, tired and agitated due to the negativity of people around them.
In this article, we explore why we get affected by our environment, and what can we do about it.
Why We Are Affected by Our Environment
The reality is that no one can take away your energy or control your emotions.
Your energy levels and emotions are primarily a result of your mental state.
Positive thoughts lead to positive emotions, and negative thoughts lead to negative emotions.
As highly sensitive people ourselves, we (Kavitha and Kester) have struggled with being affected by others’ emotions and our environment. It is through many trials and errors, and trying different strategies, that we have managed to find ways to maintain our mental well-being.
In the past, we saw our sensitivity as a weakness. But now, we now see our sensitivity as a strength in supporting people through our work of mental health counselling and emotional therapy.
The reason why others’ negativity affects us is that their words and behaviours trigger certain thoughts and beliefs in us that cause negative emotional responses and drain our energy.
Consider this for example – a person may have a boss who expects them to work overtime. But, because of their fear of losing approval and their job, this person never says “no”. This makes them feel angry and stuck.
The cause of their emotional state is not only their toxic boss but also their belief that “I am not good enough if I do not please others”.
Or take another example – a person may have a home or workplace with a highly defensive culture, where people always find someone to blame rather than focus on solutions.
The cause of this person’s anxiety and stress is not only the toxic environment but possibly also the person’s belief that “It is always my fault” and fear of being shamed and hurt if they are blamed.
What can we do practically to deal with toxic environments?
Wouldn’t it be perfect if we can just remove ourselves from toxic environments? Sometimes we can. But sometimes, it is not possible or realistic.
Ultimately, we want to aim towards being so secure and confident in ourselves that we are not affected by our environments. But most of us still carry insecurities and self-limiting beliefs, and it is just not possible to become completely fearless overnight.
Therefore, we tell our clients who come to us for emotional therapy to take a practical and gradual approach:
- The first step is to move from a state of powerlessness (where we feel we are a victim of our environment) to a state of being in control
- Next, as we gradually heal our fears and learn greater self-love, we would find less and less of a need to “protect” ourselves from negativity around us
Here are three practical steps to take charge of your mental well-being in toxic environments:
1. Create A Safe Space Around Yourself
Some ways you can do this are to:
- Visualise an energetic boundary around you filled with bright light
- Listen to calming music
- Fill your space with calming smells (e.g. essential oils or space-enhancing herbs such as sage and palo santo)
- Use items that give you a sense of comfort and safety (e.g. photos, sacred items, crystals)
2. Be Present in Yourself
A common reason why we feel drained and get emotionally affected by our environment is because our awareness and energy are scattered.
We focus a lot on what others are doing (or not doing) and get sucked into what’s happening around us.
One powerful way to pull your energy back to yourself is to bring your awareness back to your breath and body. This helps you centre, ground and anchor yourself.
3. Identify and Heal Your Triggers
To do this, try reflecting on:
- What in your environment triggers you?
- What words and actions of others trigger you?
- What do you feel when you get triggered?
- What beliefs in you make you feel that way?
- What experiences in your past led you to have those beliefs?
When we heal our triggers and change our self-limiting beliefs, we start to feel empowered and go from being a victim of our environment to a catalyst for change in our environment.
Our work at Intracresco is grounded in our own life experiences of overcoming emotional challenges, and finding ourselves once more after feeling lost by chasing external ideas of “success”.