How To Stop Yourself Getting Emotionally Mugged

Today I want to talk about emotional mugging.

Say what?

Right…it looks a bit like this. On a recent weekend, I had planned to head out to gorgeous, gorgeous Oxford to stay with a good friend. I hopped on the coach and snagged a seat and went back to the front to wait for the driver to return so I could pay for my ticket.

It was a beautiful spring day too. Proper ice-cream weather. I was in a great mood…until. Until the coach driver exploded at me. He went crazy about the fact that I’d hopped on the bus with out waiting for him to come back.

I was going about my day, minding my own business and suddenly, when I least expected it, I got mugged of my bright mood. I bet you can relate – answered the phone to a friend who’s so down and depressed by the time you hang up you are too? Even snarky service can rob you of your sunny demeanor.

So how do you defend yourself? Know your enemy!

The Exploding Doormat

You’re at work and your some junior member of your team has been moping about all morning. You sit down to have a team meeting, divvy up what needs to be done and by when and before you know it, she’s flounced off and is crying in the loo.

This is the Exploding Doormat in action. She doesn’t stand up for herself until her emotions have reached boiling point and then she goes off like 4th July with barely any provocation from you.

How To Defend Yourself – stay open. It’s not about you. Questions like “You seem angry…what’s really on your mind?” can help you get to the bottom of what’s going on and figure out how to help grump-face from mugging you at work again.

The Hole In Your Balloon

I have an ex-boyfriend who was SO this person. I’d get some good news about something, you know…promotion, job offer, sister’s new boyfriend. Whatever. No matter what it was or how excited I was about the news, he’d suck the fun out of it by pointing out the bad side of whatever my news was.

His defense? If you’re a pessimist, you’re never disappointed. Urgh…no thank you.

How To Defend Yourself – people who do this almost always have a story somewhere in their past about feeling totally crushed by some event. Now, they’re just upholding tradition. I learned first hand that they don’t respond well to discussion, so after a while I stopped bothering and just rejected his pessimism. When some down-beat comment gets flung your way, just pop your defector shield up – cha-ching!

Mood Hoovers

To be happy, all of us are trying to create meaning and joy from the raw materials of our lives. It ain’t easy and you’ve got to figure out your own personal way of doing it.

Some people either haven’t figured out how or can’t be bothered, so they hoover up your positive energy. Got a friend who rings you up when she’s depressed and miserable, leaving you drained of your joy-juice? Mood hoover.

How To Defend Yourself – stop responding with the always available shoulder to cry on because if you give an inch other people will take a yard. That’s not their fault, it’s yours because you’ve taught them that you’re available for an emo-mugging. It’s time to get tougher with your boundaries, a light and cheery “You’re so resourceful, I know you can solve the problem!” will have them scurrying off.

After An Assault

No matter how well prepared you are, you can still get caught off guard. My hunch is that my coach driver was an exploding doormat…pissed off by annoying customers all morning long, he exploded at me.

My first temptation was to retaliate, filled as I was with righteous indignation. But I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I could either allow myself to get mugged, or I could remind myself that this nasty, lingering vibe was his deal and not mine. Cha-ching – up went my shield and on went my beautiful day.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals