How to Say No: An essential guide to setting boundaries for helpers

Since compassionate helpers want to please others and help, it is often foreign for them to set a limit or say no. When empathic givers say no, they are often plagued with guilt. Sometimes this is solely within themselves, other times it is from absorbing other’s manipulations. When empathic people teach others they are limitless in their giving, this leads other people to expect constant help and in some cases, even demand it.

The importance of boundaries

The risk of not setting boundaries for the helper can range from anxiety, depression, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and even burnout. If you would like to learn more about compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout, I have included this video for you to watch. Remember, boundaries are a part of self-care.

Boundaries teach others how to treat you. Limits show without a doubt what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. These invisible lines protect you from abuse. Boundaries allow you to have your own separate feelings, thoughts and actions. Now, you know why it is important to have boundaries, let’s get to how to actually do it.

Identify what is your boundary

This part of the process, increases your self-awareness and is not to be shared with anyone else. Take a moment and write down what you want and why. Others do not need to know your reasons for limit setting, but you do. If you have a close relationship you may want to share when you set a boundary or at a later date, why this is important to you. Sharing your why is not required or even necessary. Sometimes your explanation waters down your message. The next time you say, yes, think about why you say, yes. Is this something you want to do or are you trying to avoid fear or confrontation?

Communicate

It is important to be direct about what you want and need. You do not need to explain or justify your reason for a limit. Say what you want in simple terms, without apologizing.

For example:

It is inappropriate when you____________________________ (speak that way or touch me)

Then you may need to redirect the person’s behavior. I would appreciate if you ask me rather than assuming I will do it for you, etc. If you are dealing with a patient who is touching you, Re-direct them and say place your hands here instead.

When someone asks or requests your help and you are unsure of your answer, feel free to ask additional questions. How long do you expect this task will last? Perhaps you can help in a different way then requested and offer that. If you don’t know your answer, give yourself the space to figure it out. Tell the other person, I will have to get back to you tomorrow or I have to check my schedule first.

If you are impulsive with your answers, you may want to read How to slow down impulsive decisions and improve relationships

Practice saying no

First start saying no to little things, then work your way up to the big things you do not want to do. Sometimes saying no is not as big of a deal as you think it will be. Often your anticipatory anxiety, the anxiety you feel before you say no, makes it worse than the reality of saying it.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

When you set a limit, expect some people to be upset with you. People pleasers who feel other’s disappointment or anger, can feel threatened. When a person feels threatened, we want to avoid the threat at all costs. You can survive other’s negative feelings towards you. You will do this by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Remind yourself, you are setting a limit to help others. Sometimes people don’t need help but rather need to learn for themselves or even hit rock bottom.

Instill consequences

Boundaries are not meant to be a punishment but rather a natural consequence of behavior. A consequence needs to be firm. For example. If you continue to talk to me this way, I will end our phone call until you can talk to me calmly. If you continue to yell at me, I will be in the other room. Feel free to join me when you want to talk calmly. If you break plans with me at the last minute or do not show up or call me, I will call you out on your behaviors and let you know how I feel.

Practice, practice, practice

The well-known proverb says, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Practice setting limits with yourself and others. The more you do it, the less anxious you will feel.

What is your experience with setting boundaries and saying no?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Be your quirky, unique self- Aquarius Full Moon

Empathic helpers often have difficulty stepping outside of their shell. With great sensitivity comes a tendency to go deep within. Couple this with others insensitivity, it takes a lot of courage for these people to shine their inner light. Today, I am writing and including a video reading about the Aquarius full moon, which occurs July 23rd.

Full Moon Energy

Empathic helpers, being sensitive to energy, are often influenced by lunar and planetary changes. The good news is the more you are aware of these shifts, the better you can manage your moods and thoughts.

A full moon is a reminder to surrender to the Divine. You can let go of physical items, emotional baggage or creative blocks. Whatever is getting in the way of what you want in life, release it all. You can focus on letting go during the full moon and up to forty-eight hours afterwards.

The Aquarius Full Moon

The full moon in Aquarius supports the energy of showing the world the real you! If you have been following my previous months videos, we had the message from the Cancer moon of speaking your truth and coming out of your shell. The previous Gemini moon’s energy, encouraged you to assert yourself, be courageous and follow your gut instincts.

Now is the time, to express your feelings from your heart, without blame and take responsibility. Your thoughts may be more towards humanity. You may be thinking, what is my life’s purpose and what is getting in the way of my helping humanity?

Allow life to unfold, without becoming too detached. Aquarius energy can get stuck in thoughts. Don’t detach from you, be yourself! This means your unique, quirky self. We need everyone’s light to shine bright on this planet.

With the full moon, be prepared for letting go. You may need to move on, in order to make room for the new. What needs to go? Listen deep within. Remember, your answers may not be conventional. When it comes to the emotions, expect the unexpected and unusual. Calm any nervous energy at this time, through meditation, prayer and being by the water.

Video Reading

We are right on the cusp of cancer and Leo. Leo/Cancer and Aquarius people and other empathic souls, this reading may resonate with you if you have a birthday in Cancer sun, moon or rising sign. I always say, all empaths, no matter what your astrological sign, can be affected because you are sensitive to energies.

Listen to the video for the full reading and to see what cards I pick. These are what you most need to focus on during this full moon in Aquarius.

What is something about you that makes you quirky or unique? Let’s celebrate our differences!

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Get out of a Creative Rut

There are many reasons or theories why we find ourselves blocked creatively. Sometimes you will need to take action, while other times, you will need to heal the underlying root cause first. In this blog, I will discuss a few reasons why the inspirational flow seems to dry up and then you will learn how to get back into the flow again.

Why are you experiencing a creative block?

Fearful thoughts

Many creative blocks are born within your own mind. Faulty or distorted thinking can throw a wrench into any kind of artistic work.

Your thoughts are powerful. If you believe, you aren’t good enough, have a fear of success or even a fear of visibility, you will struggle with these areas. Cognitive therapy works well to restructure insecure thoughts and create a new reality.

Is trauma at play?

For some, the block may not be in their thoughts but rather a trauma reaction. Trauma re-wires your brain away from the creative process into a protective process of fight, flight or freeze syndrome. In this instance; heal the trauma, heal the creative block.

Are you absorbing other’s energy?

When you spent time with a person who is jealous or insecure of your success, you will be on the receiving end of unsupportive comments or actions. If you are dealing with a person who has a personality disorder, these behaviors can be downright abusive.

The problem occurs when you accept their negative thoughts as true or take their behavior personally. In these instances, your creative energy is vulnerable to becoming blocked. Proper energetic boundaries are needed to deflect other’s negativity and lower energies. As an empath or empathic person, you need to ask; Is this me or someone else’s energy I am absorbing and living out?

What can a creative do?

Don’t think, just do.

For some people, it isn’t important to know why their creativity is blocked but rather to take some form of action. If you are amongst this group, exploring thoughts and feelings aren’t as important as moving forward. You know and trust, you are creative. It will return again through taking the proper steps.

Schedule dates in your calendar to be creative. Creativity just doesn’t happen for some of us, it comes through commitment and work. Make a plan each day to write, sing or paint.

Let it all go!

The more you try to make the writing or art happen, the worse it gets. Do anything else but the creative work. Release any resistance and fear.

Try something brand new or something you haven’t done in a really long time.

When you feel bored or stagnant, creativity suffers. Many people have been feeling as if they have been living in a Groundhog Day movie because of the pandemic. You know, the same routine day in and day out. Even though the restrictions are lifted, it does not mean the energy magically shifts. Try a new creative activity or pull out something you haven’t done in a long time.

Go within.

Listen to the wisdom of your soul. What would make you happy right now? Go and do that. Sit and breathe, allow any and all feelings to surface. Feel them and release them.

Don’t give up.

National bestselling author, Julia Cameron, who wrote, The Artist Way said, “It is through quantity that you find quality.” Write down all your ideas and suspend judgment. You need one really good idea for a concept or for your creativity to take off. Believe, hold hope close to your heart and have faith.

Practice being open.

We have all been through a lot this past year. It is challenging to be open and feel when you have experienced heartache. It is through the state of “being”, ideas flow into your mind and heart. Remember, the best creative works come from our darkest hours. You can help others through the struggles you face.

Get support.

Every successful, happy, and healthy creative seeks out support from others. Psychotherapy sessions, with a licensed professional, work with you to help you heal and uncover hidden motivations, faulty thoughts and trauma. Together, we release patterns that block your growth and creativity.

What causes your creative ruts and how do you get out of them?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Why You Absolutely Deserve More Alone Time

We have been through a lot this past year, personally and collectively. None of us have had the opportunity to fully process and integrate what has happened. This is because it is difficult to process trauma when you are living in it or in the middle of it. Now is the time, if you haven’t already, to reach out for support, talk to others and strengthen those coping skills. As we move towards “normalcy”, I professionally believe, the compassionate amongst ourselves are going to need more alone time. We want to understand and comprehend all we have lived through.

As a compassionate helper, you may require sudden alone time, in which you feel drained in a social situation. It is also important to have planned downtime. No matter what kind of solitude you crave, it is normal and okay. The irony is empaths or those who are highly sensitive, are often shunned and invalidated for being different, yet you are the ones sought out for your wisdom. You can only access this inner knowing by having time apart from society at large.

Take as much time as you need and remind yourself of these various reasons.

You need a boundary between your inner world and the outer world.

As a sensitive person, you naturally absorb or take in too much input from the people and places around you. By breaking away from the world, you can re-connect within and listen to the wisdom of your soul.

To recharge and rejuvenate your energy.

You need to unplug, recharge and rejuvenate. Find the activities you enjoy doing. This could be reading, writing, spending time in nature or meditating. Whatever helps you refill your cup, go and do that.

To get personal physical space.

Many empathic people are not looking forward to the end of social distancing. The six feet between people gave us more distance between our energy and others. Now, the limits are relaxed, it is important to take time away and give your body a rest, as you re-acclimate into society. Do not be surprised if you are experiencing more anxiety and fatigue. You are feeling a lot more energy from others, than you have in a long time.

Even though you have a deep connection to certain people, it is important to maintain a deep connection within.

Living with and working with others can be challenging for empaths. For many, our families have been home with us all day. The boundaries between work and rest are blurred.  It is difficult to maintain perfect boundaries, all day long. The increased hours of talking on the phone and holding video chats also stress your energy. There are times you need to get away, take a vacation or even schedule a retreat to connect within.

Now you know why it is important to have time apart from others, you need to work on releasing the guilt. Remember you require time away to take care of you. The more time you devote to yourself, the better able you are to take care of others.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Slow Down Impulsive Decisions & Improve Your Relationships

Impulsive decisions can wreak havoc on your boundary setting and relationships. When you act without thinking, you can contradict the very limit you were attempting to set with someone. This leaves you appearing to negate what you previously said or did for others. Understandably, people will question whether you have integrity or if you can be trusted.

People in today’s world are more impulsive. Many of us react to whatever is seen or said, without pausing to think first. We expect and some of us demand, instant gratification. I see impulsive behaviors on social media, whether it is reactions to posts, posting without thinking and even expecting an instant answer or response through messages. Sometimes people get blocked, ghosted or impulsively cut out of others’ lives.

Impulsivity as a Symptom

Addictive behaviors thrive on impulsivity. This can include people pleasing, social media, along with any type of substance or alcohol abuse. Many mental health issues feature impulsivity as a symptom. Some are bipolar/mania, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Cluster B personality disorders (borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc.) and impulse control disorders. You can also find people act impulsively when they are anxious or experiencing trauma. If you are suffering from a mental health issue, treatment is available to help decrease these kinds of impulsive behaviors.  

It’s Not All Bad

As with everything, there is a healing and a destructive side. The healing side of impulsivity is taking action whereas you wouldn’t have before. This push can help you step outside of the box and explore new ways of being. Much of our intuition and gut feelings lead us to take immediate action without thought. It is important to trust these drives, which protect and guide us.

What Fuels your Impulsive Behavior?

Often people act impulsively to get rid of anxiety or anger. By acting to remove your discomfort, you end up creating more discomfort.

Ask yourself;

Is my impulsivity from a learned behavior through society, a mental health condition, people pleasing or a combination of these?

Ways to Decrease Impulsive People Pleasing

Growing up and sometimes as an adult, I felt compelled to jump in and help, whenever a need arose. I automatically said yes to all requests, as if I didn’t have a choice. I did not take the time to consider if this was something I wanted to do. This is how impulsive people pleasing cuts you off from your own feelings and thoughts. 

Whether you identify as empath, empathic or a people pleaser, here are some ways to decrease impulsivity and connect within. The next time someone asks you for a favor or help, try these phrases to give yourself the space to process;

1. Let me sleep on it.
2. I will consider it.
3. Give me some time to check my schedule.
4. Let me get back to you. 

These phrases give you the option to make a choice based on what you want. In this space, check in with your body and mind. Observe your thoughts and feelings. 

Ask yourself;

Does this feel right for me? 
What does my gut tell me?

Ways to Decrease Reactivity in all Situations

When you feel triggered by another person or situation, this is the time to not respond. It may go against everything you feel within and seem wrong, but do not do it. Create a space of calmness and try these activities instead;

Write out all your thoughts and feelings uncensored. Shred the page.

Talk to a trusted friend and ask their opinion.

Go for a walk.

Practice deep breathing and stay in the present moment.

Pray.

Final Thoughts

The more you can build awareness, take responsibility and be specific, the better you can manage impulsivity. When you react out of fear or anger, take responsibility for your part. In unhealthy relationships, we contribute something to keep them going. Look at your own patterns and heal these.

You do not have to say yes to every request on your time and energy. If you are repeating your boundaries multiple times to the same person, it is time to detach and possibly disconnect from this person. You do not need or require another’s permission or approval to heal yourself. Remember, we are all on our own journey of healing. Some people will not be traveling with us.

You do not have to share every thought that comes into your mind. In fact, it is often best when you don’t.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Compassionate People Need Boundaries Now More Than Ever

Boundaries are essential for those people who have big hearts and a desire to help others. As we approach the one year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic began, continuing political unrest, and an awakening of multiple injustices, our society needs all hands on deck.

When I write about the word boundary, I am describing a professional or personal limit. Some examples of professional boundaries are mindfully self-disclosing, leaving work at work and taking your vacation time. Personal limits are your self-care and self-compassion practices. Whether your boundaries are personal or professional, they all represent self-care and self-compassion.

Warning Signs

Stress symptoms indicate a need to increase your boundaries. Stress manifests itself physically (headaches, muscle tension, digestive disorders), emotionally (irritability, restlessness, concentration problems), in relationship with others (communication difficulties or avoiding others), and through behaviors (overeating, increased use of alcohol or drugs). These resulting experiences can set off more stress, leading you into a vicious cycle.

Little or no boundaries can contribute to burnout, illness, and even addiction. Stress is not a sign of failure but rather a warning or indication self-care needs to be increased. Stress reminds us, we are human and we have limits. You can learn how to manage it and feel better.

When You Care Too Much

Too much empathy is not a good thing for compassionate people. Too much sympathy, or working with empathy without proper boundaries drains helpers of energy. This makes you vulnerable to compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout.

Compassion fatigue develops when you care too much and lack boundaries. Empaths often suffer from this type of fatigue when they cannot separate their energy from others. This over connection, leads to exhaustion. It can prevent you from empathizing or having compassion, towards others and even yourself. To remedy compassion fatigue, any personal energy management technique will work well. A starting point you may consider is the book I created, I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers. You could also benefit from assertiveness training, boundary setting and cognitive therapy.

Vicarious trauma– During and after a trauma or period of intense stress, such as living through a pandemic, it is normal to feel shell-shocked and reactive. We have been and are still going through a lot. For some compassionate people, it is traumatizing to hear about others trauma or too much trauma all day long. You may experience the symptoms of posttraumatic stress, even though you have not directly witnessed the trauma. For example, you may experience nightmares, flashbacks or memories of the trauma you heard about. There are several treatments to help you process and integrate trauma. Some are talk therapy, expressive arts therapy or EMDR. (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing). Trauma will not go away on its own.

Burnout is the physical and emotional exhaustion compassionate people experience when they have low job satisfaction, feel powerless and overwhelmed at work. This can result from too much work or not enough support from higher ups in the organization you work for. Some people change jobs or their line of work and find burnout goes away. This is different from compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma, which would not lessen with a job change. Some other causes of burnout and compassion fatigue can result from perfectionism or being overly involved with other people’s issues. Cognitive therapy works well with this type of thinking.

In order to prevent or decrease cases of burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization among compassionate people, it is important to receive education on the signs and symptoms of each. This increases your awareness and allows you to recognize any early warning signs. The next step is reaching out to a professional psychotherapist to help you learn the skills to protect, restore and rejuvenate your personal energy.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

Why narcissists avoid you and your boundaries

One surefire way to know if you are dealing with a narcissistic personality is to set a boundary. If the person has an angry outburst or gives you the silent treatment, that is your answer. People who are mentally healthy keep the lines of communication open, respect and honor other’s limits.

What is a narcissistic personality?

In a nut shell, a person with a narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, relationships problems, and a lack of empathy for others. Their behavior occurs the majority of the time, not as an isolated incident. These people have big EGO’s and take offense at the slightest criticism. This can be what you say or you setting a boundary. Either of these may not be a criticism but they perceive it that way.

Below are five specific reasons narcissists hate boundaries and why they avoid them.

1. They have a sense of entitlement and feel superior to others. Narcissistic people think limits or boundaries are beneath them. These rules may apply to other people but not to them because they are special people, who deserve special treatment. They expect favors and unquestioning loyalty. Your boundary, no matter how healthy it is, can cause them to feel offended. How dare you set a boundary with me! Don’t you know who I am?

2. They use chaos as a way to control others. Narcissistic people have to be in control. One way they do this is to either delegate or create chaos. Interestingly, when this type of person delegates work or planning to others, they often change the timing or plan at the last moment to suit them, without any regard for your schedule.

A part of their chaotic presentation is their narcissistic rage. This type of personality has difficulty controlling and regulating their anger. You will experience their outrage, a pouty silence or both. Sometimes they intentionally start drama to see what you will do. They don’t like limits because you can’t have chaotic behavior, if you have healthy boundaries.

3. They refuse to take responsibility for anything. If you assertively point out a narcissist’s poor behavior and set a limit around it, he or she will refuse to acknowledge the behavior as harmful. In fact, they may project their poor behavior onto you. Somehow it is your fault or responsibility, they have acted this way. Don’t take the bait. Either they will rage, cut you off through the silent treatment or disappear completely (ghosting you).

4. They want to be enmeshed with you. They do not know how to be a separate person. Together you are one and they like it this way. This sounds romantic but it is a recipe for disaster. A narcissist feeds off of your energy, in order to feel powerful. Their self-centeredness leads them to believe their feelings are your feelings and vice versa.

When you are enmeshed, they can control your identify, thoughts, feelings, and even opinions. The narcissist wants to mold you to give them an endless supply of whatever they need. They want you to anticipate their needs before they even speak them. This type of personality does not want you to have your own sense of self.

5. They don’t like the word, “no”– Much like a toddler, the narcissistic personality disordered person has a temper tantrum, when a limit is set on his or her behavior. They feel rejected as a person and insulted. No to them says I don’t care about you, when in fact you are saying, I don’t care for this behavior.

Exit stage left

A true narcissist is an opportunist and will use anyone to get what he or she wants. Once they see no usefulness for you to stay in their life, you will be discarded. This is when they avoid or drop you. If this person has a need for you to be in their life, he or she will attempt to manipulate your boundary in order for you to change your mind. The bottom line is, a person with narcissistic personality disorder will not respect you or your boundaries.

To learn more about boundaries here are two blogs to read: 3 Ways to Maintain Good Boundaries and How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered Learn more about Narcissistic Personalities with this blog: Why Narcissists Overreact When They Don’t Get Their Way and watch this video: When Narcissists Claim to be Empaths

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

7 Simple Ways to Calm an Overstimulated Mind

We all have experienced an excess of energy, known as an overstimulated mind. This occurs when you exceed your brain’s ability to process information. The result is a lack of clarity with your thoughts, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, headaches, digestive issues and even heart palpitations.

The biggest culprits of overstimulation

Modern Technology-Searching the internet, social media surfing and working too many hours on the computer, all contribute to overstimulation. It is not unusual to have multiple windows open and running in the background. This is symbolic of our own minds, trying to be in the present moment, yet getting distracted by x, y and z.

Obsessive Thinking- Many people believe the more time you think about a problem, the faster you get to a solution. The opposite occurs because you can get stuck in obsessional thinking. Over thinking is an attempt to control and is fueled by anxiety. The more anxious and out of control you feel, the faster you run on the hamster wheel. Getting no where, fast.

Analysis Paralysis- Creative people are blessed and cursed with too many thoughts. Too much head energy can lead to creative and writer’s block. Analysis paralysis is often fueled by perfection. Your mind falsely believes there is only one right action and fears you won’t choose the right one.

How do you get out of this behavioral loop?

No matter what causes overstimulation, the solution is to let go and begin small. Slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and respond. Now you have the power to choose what to do next. Here, I outline seven ways to get you started.

  1. Unplug from Social Media for at least one day a week. Give your brain a break.
  2. Have a Healing Session– Some examples are: Reiki helps you release energy and restore balance. You may also want to move the excess energy from the head into the heart, through your breath and conscious intention. Place one hand on your forehead and the other on your chest. As you breathe slowly envision the energy balancing between the head and heart. Massage grounds your energy and establishes a connection with the physical body. Psychotherapy can help you gain self-awareness and insight. Find out why you are busy and distracted. Not only will you release stress but also learn new coping strategies. Having a psychological evaluation can determine if other mental health issues are contributing to overstimulation.
  3. Write- Get all of the thoughts in your head out and onto the page in fifteen minutes. Use creativity as a vehicle to transform chaos into calm.
  4. Meditation and Mindfulness– Slowing down the brain and your impulses will help you be in the present moment and make healthier choices. Combine walking with mindfulness, to shift the energy. Do something physical to move the energy from your head into your body. Go for a walk, clean the kitchen or your closets.
  5. Avoid Crowds and Large Gatherings- Minimize shopping online and in stores as much as possible, until your mind feels at peace again.
  6. Rest and Replenish- Create quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, computer and be alone with your thoughts. Create stillness and drink lots of water. Get out into nature.
  7. Pray. Connect to your Higher Self. Ask for healing and guidance from the Divine. Accept and Surrender. Admit you are overthinking and choose to give up control. The serenity prayer can work wonders in this type of situation. The world will not fall apart if you let go of your thoughts. In fact when you let go of busy thoughts, inspiration has room to enter your mind with new ideas.

To further prevent and decrease overstimulation, you may want to read: Important Information about How Your Senses Get Overloaded

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my You Tube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

How to Recognize Emotional Abuse & Rise Above It

Emotional abuse can be difficult to identify. Unlike other forms of abuse, there are no physical wounds. It is subtle, making it difficult to pinpoint the problem. Since, there appears to be a lack of evidence, the person who acts abusively, often denies any type of trauma has taken place. This rejection of reality, can cause long lasting damage to a person’s self-esteem and mental health.

Similar to physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse is cyclical. This means you will experience a period of emotional abuse followed by what “seems” like a normal relationship.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a way to control another person through the manipulation of communication or action. Some overt forms of abuse are criticism, rage or making threats. Others use covert forms of abuse such as withholding communication, money or love.

People who act emotionally abusive seek to dominate all aspects of the relationship. This can include making all of or changing up plans, telling you what you wear and who you spend your time with. They will demand respect and loyalty, yet show you none. It is their way or the highway.

I have experienced both overt and covert forms of emotional abuse from family members, a grade school teacher and people who I thought were friends. When you experience emotional abuse at an early age, you are more likely to experience it as an adult, until you heal the pattern. Here is what I have learned and what I teach others:

Why Empaths are Vulnerable to This Type of Abuse

Many empaths are born to care deeply and find themselves being raised in emotionally restrictive or explosive families. Since, there is a lack of healthy feelings being expressed, the empath becomes the feeler of all the feelings in the family system. You not only carry everyone’s emotions energetically but also feel responsible for them. Talk about exhaustion! Your reactions go into soothing and comforting others, while walking on eggshells. This also reinforces the faulty thought; since you feel other’s emotions, you are supposed to do something about them.

It is not your job to fix others. As children, many empaths, are told they have the power to make others happy by doing what they want. No one asks what makes the empath happy, not even themselves. This is how you get accustomed to others manipulating you, while you become the ultimate people pleaser, at any cost.

How to Rise Above It

Separate Yourself from Those Who Use Emotional Abuse: When someone tries to shame and guilt you, don’t take the bait. Know you deserve better. Spend less time with this person and if the person refuses to take responsibility for their actions, end the relationship.

Learn about the Various Kinds of Emotional Abuse: Education builds your awareness to identify overt and covert signs of abuse.

Step into Your Own Power: Apply empathy and healing to your own wounds. Spend time building your self-esteem and confidence.

Where do you give your power away? Those who act abusive often play on your needs or areas of vulnerability. This can include financial help, how much you value the idea of a relationship or experiencing a sense of belonging and approval.

Forgive yourself for not seeing or recognizing the early signs of abuse and for not knowing better at that time. Remember, this is the most difficult kind of abuse to identify and many people often miss the signs.

If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Seek out psychotherapy to help you heal past patterns of abuse and find a safe way to leave a current abusive situation.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Are you the ultimate mirror? Recognizing your empathic abilities

Empaths are meant to be mirrors of energy, not sponges. As a compassionate helper, you have different spiritual potentials or paths within your own field of work. For example, you may explore creativity, personal truth, integrity or like myself, a path of expression. No matter what your destiny is, you are here to heal not only yourself but also others through your unique method. It doesn’t matter if you do this through writing, being a psychotherapist, medium, coach or nurse, as long as you are learning and growing, according to your life path.

Your life path will be your greatest joy and your biggest challenge. For example, I have encountered people who try to repress or control my personal expression. This occurs when someone is blocked and does not have a desire to grow in their own healthy expression. When I was younger, I absorbed their negativity and felt guilty for speaking up. Through years of healing and personal work, I understand the majority of this energy is their guilt and shame transferred onto me. Knowing this, I now mirror or reflect that energy back.

A Fun House of Mirrors

We all project our thoughts, feelings and ideas into the space around us. This makes you wonder; do I really see people as they are or how I want to see them?

The world of our ego wants to divide, keep people separate, have enemies and keep us all stuck in this illusion. This force seeks to control your environment and all the people in it. You think what you perceive is reality but it is so much more. Look beyond the surface and get to the real story, about ourselves and others.

The Mirror Works Both Ways

Most people don’t like the status quo to be challenged, even us empaths. There are times someone’s insecurity, fears, doubts and powerlessness sticks to your energy field. This is when you need to look at yourself and ask; are they mirroring back to me?

When you feel secure and are standing in your power, you will not feel a pull. If you feel a twinge in your gut or an annoyed feeling, it is sign you have work to do in this area. We are never finished projects, look for opportunities to grow and be grateful when this experience appears for you.

How to Mirror

  1. Become a witness and observe. Do not take what others say or do personally. Through mindfulness, which is the practice of being in the present moment, you will detach and see clearly. You may have an A-HA! moment saying to yourself, “This is your block, not mine.” When you are not affected, this is very easy to understand. Everyone on this planet needs lots of practice in this area.
  2. Learn about your life path. Self-awareness is essential for empaths. When you know who you are, your strengths and blind spots, you can recognize what is your psychological stuff and what is others. I highly recommend this book and have utilized it for over fifteen years, in my private practice. It accurately identifies, based on your date of birth, what, on a soul level, you came into this lifetime to achieve. The Secret Language of Destiny: A Complete Personology Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers
  3. Heal your issues. Where you are wounded, you attach to others pain and take it on as your own. Do not avoid what you feel. Learn how to be strong in your energy, despite feeling triggered. For myself, I needed to learn communication, assertiveness skills and self -esteem. When I express assertively, it may cause a reaction in someone else, but I know I am in the clear.

You may not mirror back perfectly. Often you do not have to say a word, it is best not to. Verbal mirroring is best kept to the psychotherapist office or coaching session. If you feel you must speak. Ask someone if he or she is open to feedback. You can simply say; Are you open to some feedback? If they are not looking for feedback, do an energetic mirroring with steps one through three above.

When you drop the scripts and stories in your head, you see a larger purpose. If someone else can’t see their illusions and projections, remember to detach from other people’s stuff. This is their karma not yours.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net