How to avoid taking on emotions and responsibilities that aren’t yours

HSPs often see what needs to be done, and jump into taking action or responsibility. It’s an instinctive reaction, and a recipe for exhaustion.

Recently, I was listening to a Marie Forleo podcast.  I love her bite-sized chunks of wisdom, and her mantra that ‘everything is figureoutable’.

The nugget of wisdom that caught my attention that day was, “Observe, don’t absorb“.  Could have been written for HSPs!

We can be present for someone without taking on their emotions and responsibilities. We can listen and acknowledge without jumping into ‘doing‘.

It reminds me of another saying, ‘Respond, don’t react’. Don’t know who said it but it’s another nugget.

When we react, we’re more likely to do something, especially when someone has a problem.  But if we take 10 seconds, just 10 seconds, we give ourself space to ask a few questions.

Is this mine to do? If it is, do I need to do it right now? If it’s not, how can I acknowledge what I’m hearing and leave responsibility for action with the other person?

Years ago, someone I was on a residential course with said to me, “Do you realise how many people come to you with their problems and how much you take on?”.

She gave me three examples from the previous 24 hours.  Oh-oh!

The next day, three more people came to me with problems in quick succession.  I decided to try something different.

I didn’t jump into action when the first person approached me.  I listened, sympathised and said I hoped they’d find a solution.

They looked a little surprised – maybe even disappointed – but went off … to solve their problem.  I responded in the same way with the other two people.  Same result.

It was a revelation.  I’d responded but not taken responsibility.  I hadn’t added to my ‘to-do’ list. And, to my surprise, I felt relief rather than that I’d let someone down.

It empowered others to take charge of what mattered to them. And left emotions and responsibilities in their rightful place.

It also helped me preserve my precious HSP energy.

Try it yourself and see what happens…