The other day, I was at a family gathering and I noticed myself starting to get very stressed out. I needed air. When I removed myself from the situation, my cousin approached me and asked what I was so anxious and upset about. I felt the room spinning and my heart racing, but when I opened my mouth to answer, nothing came out. I didn’t have anything to say, other than I was frazzled and frustrated, but couldn’t fully explain why. 

The truth was, I personally wasn’t actually stressed, not in the slightest. When I walked away from the kerfuffle my family was transfixed on, I felt lighter, but only later did I realize I was completely immersing myself in their energy. I was taking on their stresses as my own. No wonder I had no clue how to verbalize it. 

In moments like this, we often mistake the feelings and thoughts others experience as our own. If they feel anger, frustration or stress, it can be transmitted our way and sometimes comes out through us. The issue is that because this energy does not originate within us, we don’t know how to identify it, understand it or dissipate its intensity. This is also why secondary hurt is often much harder to overcome. As the person truly going through the experience moves through it, outsiders are left confused and hanging onto old emotions suspended in time.