Focusing Tip #758 – “My adult daughter offloads on me…”
What if you pick up on the other person’s mood and their stressful feelings stress you? Read on…
My adult daughter offloads to me whenever she gets stressed!
I notice whenever she gets like that I pick up on her mood and I come away from her feeling very stressed myself! Whenever she is happy and in good form I come away happy and in good form. It’s as if my mood depends on her mood!
It’s very natural for the mood of a person we love to affect our mood. But it sounds like you are being affected by your daughter’s moods more than you need to be.
For some people it can be a big revelation to discover that love doesn’t require us to feel all our loved one’s feelings. And empathy doesn’t presuppose that we feel the same things, and just as strongly, as the other person is feeling.
I don’t even think we want the other person to feel our feelings as we do. I bet your daughter would prefer you didn’t feel her stress as much as she does!
So what can you do?
Well, my tip would be to practice feeling your own feelings in the presence of the other person. Silently say, “And how I feel is ______” as you listen to your daughter.
I remember a time when I felt other everyone else’s feelings more strongly than my own. I guess it came from my childhood training in how to be a female in the 50s! It was only when I learned Focusing that I found out I could have different feelings from the people around me… even though my own feelings were often hard to define and describe.
It helped that other people were interested in how I felt. “How is that for you?” was a common question in the Focusing community… and I loved it.
Maybe you can invite your daughter to trade with you.
“Let’s have a time when you tell me how you feel and I listen… and then I’ll tell you how I feel and you listen. I’ve heard this help people feel closer and process their feelings better. Want to give it a try?”
Even if she doesn’t want to listen to you like this — and it can be a bit unusual! — you can still listen to yourself. I know right now it feels like your mood is the same as hers. But over time, allowing room for how you yourself feel, I think this will start to change.