My Emotional Hangover

“One day I woke up with an atrocious hangover,  

and it hurt so badly that I told myself, ‘It’s time to stop.  

I can’t do it anymore. It’s not good. It hurts too much’.” ~Jordan Knight 

 {This post refers to emotional “hangovers”.  It is in no way intended to diminish the seriousness of  substance-induced hangovers.  If you think it might trigger you in any way, please stop reading now.} 

Although I do not drink alcohol, I do get an occasional hangover – an emotional hangover, that is.  Almost always, it results from my interactions with insensitive people.   Since I love people, it takes a lot to rattle me or offend me.  But, when I risk being vulnerable with someone close and it seems to backfire, I can get thrown off kilter despite all the skills I have in my toolbox to keep myself centered. 

The truth is my most recent hangover was largely my fault.   I turned to a friend who has a good heart but has missed the mark with me for as long as I can remember.  She tends to hear what she wants to hear and then jump into judgment mode.  It’s her way or the highway.  This time around, she threw a difficult issue from the past into my face in the midst of the issue I was trying to solve.  I called her out on it immediately, but she got defensive, shamed me for even mentioning it, and refused to talk it through.  I won’t lie; it hurt.  

I came away from the conversation feeling much worse than I did beforehand.  I was wiped out!  I told myself that she has a good heart, and I do think that is true.  But, it is obviously beyond her capacity to empathize and problem-solve with me.  Her emotional intelligence skills seem very low.  And, since I know this, I had set myself up for hurt by confiding in her.  Deep down, I simply could not comprehend how she would respond in any way different than what I had needed and anticipated.   

Emotional Hangover Recipe

Just like turning to alcohol to soothe oneself, repeatedly turning to people who do not have the capacity to support you the way you need them to is a recipe for a hangover.  I knew from experience that this individual tends to be critical rather than supportive in vulnerable, problem-solving conversations.  If I had managed my expectations better, I would have felt less emotional pain.   Lesson finally learned! 

What’s interesting is that I have worked with clients and heard from countless people who are shocked and hurt by the insensitivity and viewpoints of others.  Our world seems, increasingly, upside down.  In my humble opinion, social media has increased the tendency to be quick to judge without considering all angles of a situation or person and (sadly) reduced the ability to constructively reason and empathize.  Too much screen time has caused a decline in healthy, real-life human conditions.  There is a loneliness epidemic in our society, fueled by political division and the ability to hide behind computer screens and apps.  You are not alone if you sometimes feel ignored, misunderstood, and lonely.  By sharing my own experience, I hope to normalize the interpersonal challenges we all face from time to time.

Personal Power

In our fast-paced world, it can be hard to find quality friends who take the time to truly understand your perspective and life situation.  Although it can be very challenging, it is necessary to try not to take insensitive conversations personally.  It is important to understand that people will focus on their own problems and tasks the large majority of the time, and they view life through a lens created by their own beliefs and experiences.  We all do it as a way to survive.  No one can understand your life experience as well as you can.   Be careful not to surrender personal power to individuals who attempt to control you because they believe they know better than you do about your own life. 

Toxic Friendships

Occasionally, relationships and friendships have run their course or should not have formed in the first place.   Being surrounded by the wrong company influences your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors whether you realize it or not.  In an attempt to gain acceptance, we tend to unconsciously go along to get along.  

It’s okay to let toxic situations go and move on for your own personal peace.  Do so with compassion, well-wishes, and gratitude for the good times you shared.   If you decide to stay in the relationship, consider limiting time together and the information you reveal about yourself.  I have written about toxic friendships many times in the past.  See for more information. 

Find Your People

As humans, we are hard-wired for connection.  Although you may go through periods of loneliness during your lifetime, it is possible to develop a strong support system.  Seek out lifelong learners who share your values and seem to demonstrate patience, tolerance, and compassion with others.  Remember to check your own behavior.  What do you bring to the table for your friends and lovers? What habits and thought processes can you change as you work on developing yourself?   

It is impossible to have everybody be for you.  You need the right people to be for you.  Finding supportive people –  “your people” – will improve your life in ways you cannot imagine.  Be ready for those relationships when they enter your life by channeling any negative feelings about previous relationships into your own personal development. 

Self-Care – An Emotional Hangover Cure

As for my hangover, I took some extra time to myself to practice self-care that I knew would work for me in the moment.  I spent some time outside, watched comedy, did a relaxing foot massage and pedicure, and released the negative feelings that were triggered by my clueless friend.  Afterwards, I was recharged and ready to connect with some of the more positive people in my life. 

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