What Energizes and Uplifts Highly Empathic People?

By Rachel Puryear

For people who are highly empathic, introverted, or highly neurosensitive; life can be full of things we find more tiring and draining than most other people do. That doesn’t mean, however, that we were destined to go through life constantly exhausted and depleted.

There are plenty of things which energize and uplift us – and for the things that do energize and uplift us, we often benefit from those to an even greater extent than most other people do! This is because we tend to feel things more deeply than the general population – so the disparity works both ways.

With that in mind, here are some things which uplift and energize highly empathic people:

A small-looking silhouette of a person looking up at the night sky, with the Milky Way brilliantly visible. By Greg Rakozy.

Nature and the Outdoors

Empathic people have a special love of the outdoors, and Earth unspoiled by humans. Spending some time outside, in quiet and peaceful natural surroundings, will pick us up big time. This should be done frequently by highly empathic people, or at least as often as possible.

Green hills, viewed from above. By Qingbao Meng.

Physical Affection (With People You’re Comfortable With)

So long as we’re with people we feel comfortable and safe with, a great many empathic people get a huge lift from hugs, cuddling, snuggling, and physical affection in general.

A group of people hugging each other, black and white photo. By Josue Escoto.

Deep Connection With Others, Including Mutual Empathy and Giving

Empathic people aren’t big on small talk, but that’s not because we don’t crave connection with others – it’s just that instead, we want something deeper than just sticking to a shallow surface.

We want to truly connect with others, and we want those others to also want to connect more deeply with us. We want to know others on a deeper level, and also – when enough trust has been first established – share of ourselves more deeply with others.

This can be accomplished with the help of Big Talk, as opposed to small talk.

Silhouette of two hands reaching out for one another. By Anderson Rian.

Doing Something Creative

Empathic people tend to feel at home when they’re creating something – be it painting, drawing, building, writing, coming up with original ideas, and other creative and artistic pursuits. It’s a part and parcel of who we are. We need creative activities – whether it’s how we make our living, or a passion we do when we can. These help to energize us, fulfill us, and make us feel more whole.

A canvas with lots of different paint colors all over it, paintbrushes, paint bottles, pencils, and a hand reach over it. By Dragos Gontariu.

Rest, Relaxation, and Self-Care

This one sounds obvious, but it can be hard to stay on top of when life gets very busy and complicated. Nonetheless, much-needed down-time is essential for people who are empathic, introverted, or otherwise neurosensitive. A little down time can reap rewards later on which are bigger than the time taken for such, in the form of feeling a lot better and getting more needed things done later on.

If at all possible, this should include time with animals and pets!

Man napping in bed, next to a brown-red dog. By Jamie Street.

Self-Compassion, and Setting Boundaries

Empathic people in particular can get down on themselves, probably more than most – we can tend to judge everything we do, shame ourselves, and carry a lot of guilt. We also may have a harder time saying “no” to others, even when we probably should. All of this can sap our energy, and make us feel more tired and drained – even if we may not always connect this cause and effect.

However, giving ourselves some of the compassion that we tend to readily give to others can help restore some of that sapped energy, and give us a much-needed lift. We can treat ourselves the way we would treat a friend in a similar situation, instead of viewing ourselves through the lens that the harshest enemy would.

Empathic people must also set realistic boundaries with others. That doesn’t mean we can never be helpful again – but instead, that before automatically saying yes without thinking, that we can stop for a moment and think things through first, and be really honest with ourselves about whether a commitment is realistic; and whether or not we’re doing something for someone else out of a genuine desire, or more along the lines of guilt and shame around saying no. If you need to think about it, there’s nothing wrong with simply saying, “I don’t know. Let me think about it and get back to you.” (And someone who doesn’t respect that is probably someone you should distance yourself from more.)

Wood fence running through a grassy, misty field. By Jan Canty.

Acceptance of Ourselves

Self-doubt, excessive self-criticism (as contrasted with constructive self-criticism, which is healthy), and constantly not feeling good enough can weigh down everyone, and highly empathic people may be even more prone to such tendencies than the general population. Accordingly; practicing better acceptance of ourselves is not only a good thing in its own right, but it can help highly empathic people preserve more of our energy.

Woman hugging herself, looking off to the side and smiling, and wearing a yellow shirt. By Vanessa Kintaudi.

Awareness of the Present

It’s a good idea for anyone, at least now and then, to slow down and be aware of the present moment – what’s going on around you, what feelings and sensations you’re having, and what you’re aware of. This can be especially good for highly empathic people, though – because we tend to get lost in our thoughts more than most other people do; and also because we may get an even more intense benefit than others from better awareness of the present, and better awareness of what’s going on inside of us, and why. Greater awareness of the present can help discharge thoughts and sensations that we were trying to block out, as trying to block things out is a huge drag on our energy. Accordingly, better awareness of the present helps to keep our energy levels lifted up.

A hand reaching out and touching purple flowers. By Rosario Janza.

Spirituality (the Positive, Evolved Kind)

A regular spiritual practice, so long as it’s of the variety of things like being a better person, love, compassion, giving, and other prosocial values; can be a great source of energization and upliftment for anyone, and especially for highly empathic people (who tend to be naturally drawn to such prosocial values). It can also be a great source of connection with others, and communities of kindred spirits, as discussed next.

Hands lighting tea light candles. By Eddie Wingertsahn.

Community of Kindred Spirits

Connection is important, and community builds upon connection as well as offering opportunities for connection. Highly empathic people need one another, and we thrive together. Therefore, it is important to seek out and find communities where lots of highly empathic people can be found – which only requires a bit of imagination, which thankfully we tend to have. Finding communities where we can meet other highly empathic people is a key source of energization and upliftment for highly empathic people, as well.

Several pairs of feet, with shoes on them, dangling over a mountainside. By James Baldwin.

What about you? What else gives you energy and uplifts you, as a highly empathic person? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to that which uplifts and energizes us, as highly empathic people. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Emotional Generosity, Contrasted With Emotional Stinginess

By Rachel Puryear

There are many kinds of generosity that we all love to feel from others – including generosity of time, money, and efforts on behalf of people and various causes. We also all hate it when people are stingy with us, with any of those things.

However, there’s another kind of generosity that’s just as critical for healthy relationships and caring for others, even though we tend to recognize it much less – that kind is emotional generosity. It also has its opposite, in emotional stinginess – the latter being toxic and even destructive for relationships.

Emotional generosity – or emotional stinginess, as the case may be – is an important aspect of human character, and how one will tend to relate to others.

As highly empathic people tend to be emotionally generous, understanding more about emotional generosity and the lack thereof – and how it varies amongst different humans – helps empaths also better understand themselves.

So, what does it mean for someone to be emotionally generous? What does emotional stinginess look like?

One candle lighting another candle.

Emotionally generous people tend to do the following things:

  • Listen well to others, without excessive interruptions.
  • Empathize with others.
  • Show affection and kindness where appropriate, unless there is a good reason not to.
  • Are happy for others’ success, and recognize where others have earned their success.
  • Tend to be understanding, as they often imagine themselves in other people’s shoes, and try to understand where others are coming from rather than rushing to quick judgments.
  • Tend to give others the benefit of the doubt, unless there is a good reason not to do so.
  • Tend to be merciful, and relatively forgiving towards others’ mistakes and transgressions, even if the other person did screw up – particularly if they believe that the other person is sorry for what they did, and tries to make it right.
  • Tend to be compassionate towards others, and sympathize with the difficult circumstances of others.
  • Tend to help others in need, especially people they love, and to the extent that they can; unless there is a good reason not to.
  • Tend to see and acknowledge their own mistakes, so long as they are aware of such mistakes, rather than rushing to blame others instead.
  • Make an effort to meet emotional needs of others in difficult moments – perhaps even when they are in an argument, rather than focusing solely on themselves.
  • Recognize where they are fortunate, are grateful for what they have, are humbled to realize such.
  • Are open to different viewpoints – even if they don’t agree with every viewpoint they hear (and no one should agree with every view), they are at least open to better understanding how other people view the world differently.
  • In conversation; tend to listen more than they talk, ask others about themselves, and be genuinely curious about others.

Emotionally stingy people – those who lack in emotional generosity – tend to do the following things:

  • Talk more than they listen, don’t listen well, and often interrupt others.
  • Have difficulty empathizing with others.
  • Show little or no affection or kindness to others – unless it gets them something in return, maybe.
  • Are jealous of others’ success, and assume that successful people must have had things easy.
  • Are judgmental and quick to look down on others, and are not interested in understanding viewpoints different from their own.
  • Rarely give the benefit of the doubt, and quickly assume the worst about people – even where cutting some slack is clearly warranted.
  • Are harsh and unforgiving of mistakes and transgressions of others, even where someone did not intend harm, did their best to make amends, no serious harm was done, and the person apologized.
  • Lack compassion, and have difficulty sympathizing with challenges of other people.
  • Are unwilling to help others in need, even when they could do so without hardship.
  • Rarely acknowledge or take responsibility for their own mistakes, instead blaming others for everything – yet, they are quick to notice and point out the mistakes of others.
  • Are selfish during difficult moments, disregarding others’ emotional needs, and failing to offer support even when they are able to do so.
  • Deny where they are fortunate and/or feel that any good fortune they have is because they are superior, and yet they always feel entitled to more; are resentful of those who have more and assuming their success is ill-gotten, while looking down on those who have less and assuming their struggle is because they are inferior.
  • Believe that their viewpoints are the only correct ones, that people who disagree with them are simply wrong (or stupid), and are not open to different views of the world than their own.
  • In conversation; tend to talk more than they listen, keep the focus mainly on themselves, and show a lack of interest in others.

Emotional generosity – as well as the lack thereof, in emotional stinginess – is an important subject. It’s one I have come to appreciate more about lately, and believe that everyone should know more about it as well. Accordingly, while this post was an introduction to it, there is much more to be said about it. Therefore, future posts will continue to cover it in more depth, and it will become a recurring theme for this blog, and fits in well with the overall subjects within this blog.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to greater emotional generosity. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Empathic People and Anti-Entitlement

By Rachel Puryear

There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot about entitlement lately – entitled people, entitled children, entitled relatives, entitled whomever, a more entitled society; the list goes on and on. Articles and self-help books and advice abound about how to deal with entitled people, as well as how to avoid raising entitled children (although people actively concerned about doing the latter, though, are probably unlikely to actually do so).

This is, of course, because people with attitudes of strong entitlement are an enormous pain in the ass to deal with, and can also cause a lot of destruction. It’s not clear whether people are becoming more entitled on the whole, or if they always were and more people are starting to notice it now. In any event, though, it’s a widespread problem.

Empathic people, however, are different from most others when it comes to entitlement. Empathic people probably worry more than most about whether or not they are too entitled, and the impact it could have on others if they are. They tend to be careful not to be entitled. However, in reality, they actually tend to have the opposite problem instead – anti-entitlement.

Woman hands place together like praying in front of nature green bokeh and blue sky background.

Wait – what is anti-entitlement? You’ve probably never heard of that. That’s because anti-entitlement usually gets lost and drowned out among the loud and dramatic bellowing over entitlement, accusations flying over, “You’re entitled!” “No, YOU’RE entitled!” and so forth. No one disagrees that entitlement exists, but many balk at the idea of owning up to entitlement issues.

We know what entitlement is – a feeling that oneself is more deserving and important than others, without a good reason for meriting such. A feeling that everything should revolve around oneself, and that others should always give oneself what oneself wants; regardless of the needs or perspectives of others, and without a sense of obligation for or giving enough back to others.

Anti-entitlement is the opposite of entitlement: Anti-entitlement is a feeling that others are more important and deserving than oneself, even when oneself would have good reason to merit receiving more than others around them. A feeling that oneself should come last, and always put others before oneself; regardless of oneself’s needs or considerations, and whether or not others will ever give back to oneself, or even try to.

So, the world has lots of people who fall into either one of two categories:

  • Those who actually are too entitled, but don’t think they have an entitlement problem; insisting that it’s others who have an entitlement problem.
  • People who worry about being too entitled, yet they actually have more of a problem with anti-entitlement.
  • There are also, of course, people who don’t fall neatly into the other two categories, so don’t worry if you don’t.

So, if many people incorrectly perceive their own actual level of entitlement; then how does one know whether they are more entitled, or more anti-entitled? It seems that if they are genuinely concerned about whether they are too entitled or not; they are probably not overly entitled, and may instead be anti-entitled. If they’ve never had a second thought about whether they themselves are too entitled, but are quick to point out others’ entitlement (either actual or perceived); then chances are, they are too entitled themselves, at least to some extent.

Having a strong amount of humility, combined with a willingness to self-examine; is the type of personality in which a big sense of entitlement just would not last. People who are highly entitled and remain so tend to, therefore, have low levels of humility and do not tend to self-examine. Unsurprisingly; highly empathic people tend to have the former qualities, while people with low levels of empathy tend to have the latter ones.

So, if you are a highly empathic person, and you worry about whether you are too entitled; you may not be as entitled as you think – and, it’s possible that you are instead more anti-entitled. This is where self-examination is a great and helpful habit.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to empathic people recognizing their anti-entitlement, and accordingly not being so hard on themselves. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Acknowledging Pain and Hardships Does Not Make One a Victim – But Here’s What Does

By Rachel Puryear

When someone frequently plays the victim, it can be toxic and destructive – for themselves, as well as for other people around them.

We’re all guilty of playing the victim sometimes. Doing so now and then is a part of human nature, as we tend to much more easily see ways in which others have harmed us, than we tend to see the ways in which we have harmed others. We also much more readily recognize and acknowledge where we are disadvantaged in relation to someone else (whether that’s actual or perceived), than where we are the ones advantaged over others.

There are some people, however, who play the victim regularly as their modus operandi, and it can even be a form of abuse – playing the victim is an underrated abuser tactic that’s more subtle than overt violence, but is still quite harmful and maddening.

Some kinds of situations push people to play the victim, even when they don’t usually do so; such as when they are feeling highly stressed, or as though they are being excluded or treated poorly by others, or as though they don’t have fair chances in life compared with many others, or feeling hopeless and out of control in their lives. When these types of things happen, it’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves.

Self-pity can even be a helpful coping mechanism to a limited extent. Outrage over feeling victimized can give us a needed sense of purpose and energy in pushing back against truly unjust situations.

However, given the heavy price of a chronic victim mindset, it’s important not to let a sense of victimization overtake oneself too often. If someone lets themselves slip into playing the victim regularly, and as a first resort; it not only becomes a habit, but it also becomes a highly addictive one.

Tiny green plant growing out of brick floor.

So, how is a non-destructive, temporary, benign level of occasionally feeling victimized distinguished from a destructive, toxic level of chronically living with a victim mindset?

The difference is in letting oneself be defined by a sense of victimization as an integral part of their identity, versus not.

Once a person begins to strongly identify with their sense of victimization, which may be conscious or not; they tend to constantly see themselves as the victim to the exclusion of anything else. This keeps them trapped in a self-destructive spiral. It’s quite difficult to improve oneself while viewing oneself as perpetually being a victim of life.

When a person identifies with chronically being a victim, they have strong emotional incentives to maintain that sense of victimization. This mindset tends to influence their life choices for the worse – thereby pushing them to choose relationships, jobs, and other life circumstances which are unhealthy; in order to maintain that sense of victimization. This gives them more to complain about, and thereby supports their victim mindset.

Once a person feels like they must maintain a victim identity, they then insist that others view them that way, too. They become a “one-downer”. Whereas a “one-upper” likes to make themselves appear to always have a better job, house, marriage, family, body, looks, more money, and so forth to everyone else; the “one-downer” does the opposite.

If you aren’t feeling well, the one-downer will tell you that they were even sicker than you were. If you’re having relationship troubles, they’ll tell you their ex was way worse than yours. If you’re miserable at your job or struggling financially, they’ll tell you that your boss is a saint compared to theirs, they’re much poorer than you, and so forth. What they claim may or may not be true – but for these purposes, it doesn’t even matter. They will still claim that they had it worse than anyone else, and that they deserve special consideration to the exclusion of anyone else, even though they give nothing to anyone else having a hard time.

The one-downer/chronic victim doesn’t want anyone else to be seen as having been through more than themselves, and they want everyone to believe that they themselves have suffered the most. They don’t want anyone else to get more sympathy and attention than they do. They want all the focus to be on them, what a big victim they are, and for everyone to feel sorry for them – and only for them.

Do they ever reciprocate the tremendous amounts of compassion, sympathy and empathy to others when others need it? Of course not. It’s a one-way street for them. People who chronically view themselves as the victim are usually takers, not givers.

When someone behaves this way, it’s very difficult to help them, or motivate them to change. For instance; if you suggest they try a fresh approach to relationships, they’ll tell you that it won’t make a difference, because all men/women will just treat them poorly anyway/they can’t attract anyone good because they aren’t pretty/rich/whatever enough (and they think you are supposed to console and cheerlead them at this point, even though they will still refuse to be satisfied).

For another instance, if you show them new job listings for better positions, they’ll tell you that you just couldn’t understand how hard it is for them, they can’t get good jobs as easily as you, and they’ll probably also ask you for some money at this point (and tell you you’re a selfish asshole if you don’t give it.)

To be clear, this is not to say that some of the above excuses are not valid for some people, at some times. But someone with a victim mindset will always have an excuse for why they cannot try to improve their lives, and be defensive about it, yet they will still complain endlessly about it. They don’t want help, they want sympathy – and often, handouts as well. They want you to lavish them with attention, but they also want to brush it off so you still feel like a failure – it’s part of their emotional control over you, and never letting anything you do be enough. They want others to feel guilty for being (actually or perceived) better off than they are. They will feel victimized by you even suggesting any possible solutions, and not “understanding” why that won’t work for them.

Know – and remember – that you will not be able to change such a person, nor will you ever be able to satisfy or help them for very long, either. Trying to do so will not only not work, it will just bring you down with them – you could make yourself crazy, and suffer a lot of harm emotionally and otherwise. Accordingly, you are usually best off just staying away from these people.

As far as yourself, know that it’s okay to acknowledge your own hardships in life. You can acknowledge your pain. You can acknowledge where you’ve been treated unfairly, where bad things have happened to good people, and where things just don’t seem to make sense. In fact, it can be cathartic and healing to acknowledge all of these things to yourself; without judgment, and without shame.

At the same time, avoid slipping into the victim mindset. Resist the temptation to let your sense of victimization define you. Believe me, this is very hard, and I don’t expect anyone to do it easily – I do know how hard it can be to resist that very temptation when life seems very hard, and many problems seem so unsolvable. But given the high price of what someone becomes once they let their sense of victimization define them, doing so must nonetheless be avoided, even if it takes a tremendous amount of constant effort.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to not letting feelings of victimization define us. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

A Life Lesson We Can All Learn from Circus Elephants

By Rachel Puryear

Ever been to the circus? If so, watching the animals perform is always an amazing part of the show. You might have also wondered where the circus gets these animals, and how they are trained for performance.

There are wildlife rescue organizations around the world who take in orphaned baby animals and care for them, as such little creatures are often not yet equipped to survive on their own in the wild. In many parts of the world, these organizations are greatly underfunded, and a hefty donation to them can go a long way.

Circus managers will sometimes travel to parts of the world where elephants live, and take home a baby elephant in exchange for a nice donation to the organization.

When the circus managers get the baby elephants home, they begin training them for the circus life.

Elephants performing at the circus. By Becky Phan.

While an elephant in training as a baby, the trainers will place a collar around the elephant’s neck, and the collar will be attached to a chain and stake. This will prevent the baby elephant from being able to move around freely and escape. Eventually, the baby elephant will give up trying to escape, and submit to the trainers, because they will have learned that they are unable to escape.

An adult elephant, however, is one of the largest and most powerful animals on the planet. They are capable of not only easily escaping this sort of confinement, but they could also easily crush anyone who gets in their way.

So why doesn’t a baby elephant try to escape once they reach adulthood? Why do they still continue to remain confined, even when they could easily physically overpower any human?

Because they learned early on that they could not escape, and that belief that they cannot escape still stays with them. Even when they are long past the point where the confinement that held them back as a baby could still possibly restrain them anymore. They are conditioned to believe that they cannot escape, and they don’t realize that that’s changed now that they are much bigger and stronger.

So, what lessons can humans learn from this? Particularly, humans who feel stuck in life, and believe that they cannot do better than where they are at right now?

Think about the metaphorical chained collars that still bind you – in your mind, that is. What lessons did you learn early on in your life that no longer serve you, and that don’t actually hold you back now that you are bigger and stronger – but that you might believe still hold you back?

Are you feeling stuck in life, but aren’t sure how to get past something holding you back? Want to talk to someone who’s also been there? Reach out here for a no-charge, confidential consultation (remotely) with an experienced life coach. A fresh perspective can be tremendously helpful.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to overcoming what used to hold us back, starting with realizing that it doesn’t have to hold us back anymore. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Challenging People When They Say, ‘You Couldn’t Possibly Understand…’

By Rachel Puryear

Have you ever been in a highly emotionally charged argument with someone, and the other person countered your points with something like…”Well, of course you would see it that way. What could you possibly understand about my situation? You couldn’t possibly understand. You’ve never been there.”

If we’re being honest, we’ve probably all used this type of argument at some point, and also had it used on us. In some situations, it’s justified. For instance, it is appropriate to tell someone something to the effect of, “Walk a mile in my shoes before judging me.”

However, someone who habitually tells others, “You couldn’t possibly understand where I’m coming from…”, especially when they frequently do it to invalidate other people’s views without any consideration; may be doing it to emotionally manipulate others.

There are people who routinely use this type of argument as a means of shutting down even valid counterpoints. The essence of what they’re saying, when they say something like, “You couldn’t possibly understand…” is often actually, “I’m a bigger victim than you, so you cannot criticize me, ever.” Someone who does this is playing the victim – whether intentionally or not. If their behavior is intentional, they may also be a crybully.

There’s a profound difference between saying, “Try to understand me before making judgments”, versus, “You cannot understand, no matter what, so you just have to accept what I say without any criticism or counterpoints or different viewpoints.”

Now, why is the latter tactic often emotional manipulation?

A chess game, with one king capturing another king. By GR Stocks.

It gives no due consideration to the fact that human beings come to understand people with different perspectives, life experiences, and viewpoints all the time. For all the hatred and violence and injustice that exists in the world, people do an amazing job of improving their understanding of others and challenging their own views all the time. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t tend to grab headlines the same way that conflict and polarization does.

A key part of what makes us all human is our ongoing efforts to try to better understand one another. This is, and has always been, an essential element of all human progress.

People with vast differences in life experience, perspective, and viewpoints can and have been able to reach a better mutual understanding of one another, by making some simple – but deeply powerful – efforts. Whatever differences you are having with another person, you can be assured that other people with differences as great or even greater than yours have been able to better understand one another before.

Therefore, when an emotional manipulator/crybully claims that you couldn’t possibly understand them, it’s usually not true, and they may very well know that on some level. So instead, they may be trying to get you to feel bad for them, so that you’ll give them what they want even though it doesn’t really make sense.

So what can you do when someone uses the “you couldn’t possibly understand…” on you? Well, fortunately, you have some options.

  • Tell them to make you understand. Insist that they express themselves, and also listen and try to see more about where they are coming from. Ultimately, you may not see things their way, and you may not come to an agreement – but this is the way people naturally come to understand one another, and has always been key to us doing so.
  • If they won’t at least attempt to communicate with you where they are coming from, and try to share how they feel with you and what’s on their mind, there’s probably not a lot of hope for that relationship in the longer run. It’s just going to be a lot of heartache and stress and giving more than your fair share, for not a lot in return and not meeting your needs very well. In this case, you might really want to rethink this relationship, and ask yourself what you’re actually getting out of it to put this much into it without much reciprocity.
  • Make sure the problem is not that you’re just not listening, or not making space for them to talk to you without unintentionally shutting them down. Sometimes, people might say “you couldn’t possibly understand…” not necessarily because they are emotional manipulators, but because they are exasperated from trying to communicate their way of seeing things in order to be better understood, and the other person doesn’t truly listen or is simply dismissive or overly argumentative or is defensive.
  • If they do try to explain to you where they are coming from, and why they view things differently than you do, listen. Don’t just think of counterarguments in your mind – just hear what they have to say. You can accept their different view and better appreciate where they are coming from, whether or not you actually change your own mind. At the end of the day, though, neither of you has to convince the other to adopt your point of view, in order to live together peacefully.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to making the effort to better understand others, and to also helping others better understand us. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Signs a Friendship Has Run Its Course

By Rachel Puryear

Let’s face it – people often have a romanticized view of platonic friendships, too, in addition to romantic ones. There’s an ideal of friends being besties for life; but in the real world, things often don’t work out that way.

There are friendships out there that do last happily and healthily until one person dies, but most friendships we make in our lives will not last forever. If you have a friend you’re very close to and have known for many years, and you guys stay close for a lifetime; count yourselves very lucky, and treasure that relationship – because that sort of a friendship is increasingly rare nowadays.

With that in mind, sometimes it can be difficult to know whether a friendship has simply run its course, or whether there is still life left in it. Therefore, here are some signs that a friendship has simply run its course and reached a dead end, so it’s time to move on.

Note: The below signs are not necessarily indicative of a toxic relationship – that’s a subject big enough for a separate post. However, given the less dramatic nature of friendships that simply expired as opposed to toxic ones, that’s why the former is often more subtle.

Finger pointing at the expiry date on canned food.

It’s Become One-Sided

Do you hear from someone only when they need something? They call you when they want to whine and complain, they won’t listen to your feedback, and they’re nowhere to be found when you need a friend? Or, do they give you a sob story every time they need money, but never pay you back or do anything else to help you in return? Do you seem to be an endless source of favors for them; but you don’t feel any reciprocity or mutual support from them?

Maybe the friendship has recently become this way because they don’t care anymore, or maybe it was always this way and you’re just now starting to notice. Either way, it’s an indication that the friendship is likely past its prime.

Only One Person Makes the Effort Anymore

It’s no fun being the only one reaching out to stay in touch, make plans, and generally keep the friendship alive. And you know what? It feels that bad for a reason – because it reflects that the other person is not as interested in the friendship anymore as you are, and that hurts.

Would you guys ever speak or see each other if you waited for them to make the effort? If the answer is a resounding “no”, then this friendship has probably seen better days.

It Feels Forced

Do you continue to talk to and see the other person because you really want to, and it feels right; or do you instead do it because you feel obligated, or can’t bring yourself to stop doing it?

If you are still in the friendship out of habit or because you don’t really want to be the “bad guy” in ending things, then one or both of you has probably already mentally checked out of this friendship.

You Don’t Know What’s Going on In Each Other’s Lives Anymore – and You Don’t Ask, Either

Maybe you used to chat frequently, and share all the little details of your everyday lives. Not just the overarching themes – their family and love life, their career and work, their current hobbies and interests, and so forth – but lots of little things, too. Everything was shared.

Nowadays, not only do you no longer know the nitty gritty details of their lives; but maybe you don’t even know much about the big stuff. If you’re not asking one another – or sharing, either; that demonstrates a lack of interest, indicating that you aren’t really that into one another anymore.

You Don’t Miss Each Other When It’s Been a While

Did you happen to realize it’s been weeks or months since you last spoke, but you hadn’t been aware of it until now? Or maybe, you reach out but they take forever to get back to you, and seem kind of halfhearted about it when they do?

This is a sign that you’re not on one another’s minds a lot, and even when you are, you don’t have strong feelings towards one another anymore. This is a strong indication that the friendship has waned significantly over more recent years.

You Have Different Social Circles, Different Interests, or Are Maybe Long-Distance Now

We tend to think of friendships and other relationships as involving just two people, and remaining static over time. While the dynamic between any two given people is unique, people are usually package deals in reality. We all come with families of origin, we come with other friends, we come with broader social networks. Who we’re likely to meet in the first place, who we’re likely to be connected with now, and yes – who we’re likely to form a lasting personal relationship with; are all strongly influenced by that greater social network surrounding you.

Geography and circumstances also play a huge role in who we meet and connect with socially. (See here for more about that.)

Often, where interests, social networks, and circumstances diverge; it’s an old friendship that goes back many years – and maybe the two of you had largely overlapping social circles and similar interests at one time, but now you’ve both gone in different directions. Therefore, you are now more on the periphery of one another’s lives than playing a central role.

Sometimes, old friends do grow apart, and their interests change over time. However, such a change can weaken the glue that once held the friendship together. This, even if true, is NOT, in and of itself; a reason to automatically end a friendship. Nonetheless, it will take a mutual and willing effort to stay in touch at this point – which will happen only if the friendship is still important enough to BOTH people involved.

This sign can also be a canary in the coal mine – in that, where your social circles and interests are changing out of sync with one another’s; it can point to a much deeper drift beneath the surface.

It means that, whether either of you intended to or not, you’ve each gone your separate ways, emotionally speaking (and maybe physically, too, in the case of long distance). It probably doesn’t mean that anyone did or said anything wrong, it just means that you’re both different people now, and so the friendship may or may not fit you well anymore.

You’re Friends Mainly Because of Your Past, Rather Than Your Present

Sometimes, we can hold on to friendships and other relationships mainly because of sentimental value.

This also often happens where you’ve been friends with someone since you were both much younger, and you’ve subsequently grown apart – however, the friendship was very important to you at one time, and you still have a lot of great memories with the person.

So, in this case, the friendship becomes about reminiscing on the past, and what you used to do – rather than continuing to have much in common in the present. This is another case where, again, it’s not automatically a reason to end the friendship entirely – you can keep one like this on the periphery of your social circle, and enjoy reminiscing together when you do see one another, but just know that it won’t likely go back to the BFF status it had earlier on in the friendship.

You Stay in Touch Mainly Via Social Media

In an age where social media is so prevalent, we all have some people on our friends lists who we would never stay in touch with or hear from again, most likely, without social media. We know who some of these people are.

There’s nothing wrong with staying connected with these people – or, more generally, with maintaining some relationships on the periphery of your social circle – but just don’t confuse relationships which have devolved into mere acquaintanceships; with those that are still active, dependable, strong, fulfilling friendships and other relationships.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to letting go of that which no longer serves anyone, and embracing new opportunities more suitable for the present. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Understanding the Differences Between Kindness and Love Bombing

By Rachel Puryear

We all want to feel loved. It’s human nature. Many of the things we all do but don’t understand why are rooted in our desire to love and to be loved. That’s a good point to always keep in mind.

Efforts to love and be loved are nothing to be ashamed of. This simply means you are human. However, in pursuing your need to be loved, don’t go down a path that leads you instead to a very unloving place – let me explain.

If you’re getting a lot of attention and being showered with affection from a certain someone as of late, make sure that it’s coming from a sincere and genuine place, and being done for the right reasons – as opposed to just love bombing.

A grenade covered in little red hearts.

How does love bombing differ from the normal high emotions and excitement of new love or friendship (also called new relationship energy)? The difference is less in the flashy behaviors, and more in the underlying goals.

Someone who genuinely likes you and wants to express their feelings for you has the goal of winning you over because they want to get closer to you, and it’s coming from a good and loving place.

On the other hand, someone who is love bombing you wants to use you for their own benefit, and that’s coming from a dishonest and malicious place.

Love bombing is associated largely with con artists, domestic abusers, and cults – and for good reason. Such people target others by showering them with affection in order to secure the target’s trust and love – and for many people, it’s surprisingly effective. Later on, when the target is hooked, the true colors of the love bomber show. If the love bomber was honest about their intentions from the get-go, they would hook in very few people.

Detecting the difference between love bombing and genuine affection is a skill that can be learned with experience and practice. There are signs to look for, but this requires vigilance. If someone seems to be coming on too fast, and your instincts tell you that it’s too soon for a person to have developed genuine feelings for you, it’s best to look at the situation objectively rather than getting caught up in the emotional excitement.

No matter how wonderful and lovable you are – and, you certainly are those things – people don’t just fall in love overnight. They can like you overnight, they can lust you overnight, they can be interested overnight; but they do not develop deep and lasting feelings of love immediately. Something that will last and is real takes some time to develop.

When you are around someone who genuinely likes you, even if it has not yet developed into full-blown love, you should generally feel good, relaxed, supported, and fulfilled inside after spending time with that person. That feeling should increase over time as you spend more and more time with that person.

When you’re in the company of a love bomber, however, it doesn’t feel that way. You may feel thrilled and exhilarated while you’re with the person – but when they’re not around, you might suddenly feel tired and drained shortly after spending time with them. If you don’t see or hear from them for a while, you may become anxious and even depressed. You might even feel like you’re dependent on them to feel okay again. It’s not unlike how dependency on alcohol and many other drugs works. And while you may have fun with them and find them exciting to be around, they don’t really meet your needs on a deeper level.

Furthermore, if you’re unsure about someone, talk to other people who know them well – their family members, close friends, colleagues. If they don’t seem close to anyone or won’t let you meet any such people, that in itself is concerning. See what people who love them and have known them a long time say about them, and pay attention – if you find yourself getting defensive about what they say, remember that they’ve probably known this person a lot longer than you have.

If you’re ensnared by a love bomber, the best way to free yourself from their emotional grips is – and, this will be really hard, because you likely have strong feelings around them – but you must distance yourself from them for at least a little while, and see if you truly miss them – or if instead, you instead start to feel more like your normal self again.

If you’re not ready to burn the bridge, that’s okay, and you could say you need some space for a short time – like a few days, or a week or two – rather than outright breaking it off. If you’re fairly sure they’re a love bomber, they would likely dump or just ghost you the moment they’re not getting what they want or you become inconvenient to them, so don’t feel bad about protecting yourself here. If this person is reluctant to give you a little bit of space or gets hostile about the idea, there’s a good chance there’s an unhealthy dynamic to this relationship, whether or not you are getting love bombed.

A big word of caution, though: If you think you might be dealing with a cult or a domestic abuser, things can turn dangerous and violent if you’re suddenly trying to get out of it. Be sure to utilize local domestic violence assistance resources if that’s the case.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to knowing the difference between real love and fake charm. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

Crybullies: Bullies Who Victimize by Playing the Victim

By Rachel Puryear

When most of us think of bullies, we tend to visualize someone powerful and tough. We imagine a bully getting their way through intimidation, and well-founded threats of harm.

We tend to think of male bullies as big and strong, and relying on their ability to beat people up in order to get their way.

We tend to think of female bullies as “mean girl” types. While they are probably less likely to use physical force than their male counterparts, they are likely more skilled in emotional manipulation, and in turning other people against the victim.

Certainly, there are many bullies who fit the above descriptions, and those types inflict a lot of damage.

However, there is also another type of bully, one which is more subtle – but is nonetheless insidious, destructive, and mercenary. One who not only harms without remorse or pity, but who leaves their victims feeling as though they themselves are the ones in the wrong, and feeling accordingly ashamed. Or, at least, the crybully has made others around the victim believe that the victim is the one in the wrong.

I’m talking about none other than the crybully – a type of bully who victimizes others by themselves playing the victim.

Crying emoji isolated on white background, dramatic with waterfalls of tears.

Why is the crybully so dangerous? Because crybullies exploit the most prosocial of human traits; such as compassion, empathy, a desire to alleviate the suffering of others, and so forth. Meanwhile, the crybully themselves shows none of these prosocial traits to others.

So, how does a crybully harm their victims? A crybully will insist that they are the one being victimized when they do not get their way. They do this to make others feel guilty and sympathize with the crybully, and also to rally onlookers to make anyone not giving the crybully their way feel ashamed and embarrassed. According to the crybully, anyone who doesn’t do what the crybully wants is just mean and selfish – no matter how unreasonable or one-sided the crybully is behaving.

Crybully tactics are also a big form of gaslighting and emotional manipulation.

Most, if not all other people, have dealt with a crybully before. It’s never fun – in fact, these are some of the most heinous and vicious people you can deal with, because at first they can appear so vulnerable and sympathetic. But make no mistake – they will take without remorse and give nothing back even when they easily could, and they will not show a shred of the empathy they demand from others.

Nonetheless, many people do not recognize a crybully for what they are, unless they learn to spot them. In particular, empathic people (those who have not yet learned better) can get ensnared by a crybully, because empathic people have a lot of empathy for such a crybully to exploit. Therefore, it is essential for people generally – but especially for empathic people – to learn to recognize a crybully when they see one.

Empathic people can learn to identify those who would exploit their empathetic nature, and resist such people. Given the level of subtlety and contextual emotional manipulation involved in this type of emotional abuse, however, this is usually best demonstrated through multiple examples. Therefore, this post is intended to introduce the concept – but future posts will tell real-life stories, and provide examples in order to help empathic people better identify – and free themselves from – crybullies and emotional manipulators who would exploit their empathy and compassion.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to honoring your own empathy, while not letting others exploit it – and to honoring your own boundaries. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo

What if We’ve Been Wrong All Along About the So-Called “Midlife Crisis”?

By Rachel Puryear

There’s a common cliché in our culture known as the “midlife crisis”. The phenomenon is widely perceived as someone throwing away a good life path for questionable choices – such as, for example; “abruptly” leaving a “successful” career, and at the cost of one’s professional and social reputation – or, some variation of reliving youthful indiscretions.

People believe that fast-appearing changes in midlife are rooted in a person’s fears about aging, and despair over their dwindling youthfulness. People also associate midlife crises mainly with lost, immature men.

There are a lot of judgments and misconceptions about the so-called “midlife crisis”. So let’s challenge common notions, and view what happens in a more balanced light.

A happy middle-aged couple enjoying a foggy, tree-dense forest.

Frequently, as people reach a certain age, they experience an inner shift. Contrary to popular belief, it’s often not a crisis, but rather a transformation.

Such internal transformations are also more inclusive than we believe – while they don’t occur for every person, they can and do happen for people of all genders; and they are also common for people who are mature, and self-aware.

Sometimes, changes in a person that seem all of a sudden to observers have in fact been a long time coming for the individual. A person may have felt social pressure to follow a particular path earlier in life; and now, they are finally doing something they have wanted to do for a long time.

People commonly choose careers early on in life that prove later on to be deeply unsatisfying. (It happened to me, too.) There are many reasons why. Peer pressure, family expectations, a need to earn a living and support a family, limited opportunities (or the perception of such), a lack of confidence to follow one’s passion, and many more.

However, as people get older, they may become less and less willing to put up with something that just isn’t working anymore (or maybe, that never worked well). They may be more able to leave behind a career they no longer enjoy (or never enjoyed) – and pursue one instead that’s a lot more in line with their talents, desired lifestyle, and personality. They are now likely much better able to identify what fits them and what doesn’t. They also have much more confidence to choose their own path, and to not let others derail their way.

So, when someone appears to suddenly leave a career path they’ve been on for a long time later on in life, people around them may believe that the person is in crisis. After all, they think, why would someone leave a “safe” path to do something untested? And, why now?

Well, first of all, it’s usually not such an “all of a sudden” change as it might seem to onlookers. It’s probably something that’s been brewing a long time, but the person is only now finally opening up about it. They probably didn’t want to mention it until they were pretty sure they were ready to do it, rather than announce something that they were not likely to actually follow through on.

Furthermore, the notion that one is better off staying on the “safe” and “successful” path doesn’t take into account that there actually is no “safe” path, and that what is “successful” can be highly subjective from one person to the next. Enduring something you hate and that doesn’t fit you or serve you anymore isn’t actually “safe” – health problems due to excessive stress, and depression and anxiety claim a lot of lives prematurely every year, while diminishing the quality of life and personal relationships of many more. Additionally, “success” includes good quality of life and purpose for many people, in addition to making good money – and even in terms of making good money, again, doing something you hate can end up impoverishing you anyway if it destroys your health and your quality of life.

Accordingly, perhaps we should stop calling it a “mid-life crisis”, and think of it as more of a “life transformation”. When something isn’t working anymore, rather than remaining in a dysfunctional situation, people should instead be encouraged to pursue a change to something more fulfilling.

Are you struggling and in need of a change in life, but aren’t sure yet how to get there? Are you trying to figure out where to go? Want to talk to someone who’s also been there? Reach out here for a no-charge, confidential consultation (remotely) with an experienced life coach. A fresh perspective can be tremendously helpful.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to growth and learning throughout one’s life. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you have not done so already. xoxo