Is Secondhand Stress Eating Away at You? - Dignify
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Is Secondhand Stress Eating Away at You?

Wednesday, October 11, 2023 - Joe Kiedinger

Have you ever felt that shift in a room when someone walks in and, without them saying a word, you just know something’s up?

Or have you ever experienced an extended family member going through a hard time and felt the pain of what they’re going through yourself? Whether it was a surgery, a divorce or a death in the family, you just deeply felt for what they were going through even though you weren’t affected directly.

Many of us have an innate sense of others’ energy that science hasn’t fully unpacked yet. Because of this innate sense of empathy, it’s easy to mentally and physically take on the stress of others.

Yes, really! How crazy is that? We can feel the very real physical symptoms of anxiety, stress, or a depressive heaviness in our bodies based on an experience someone else is going through.

Who experiences Secondhand Stress the most?

We have such a rich source of data in our Dignify system, so I had my team do a little digging on this. They discoveredthat there are certain groups of people that may be more susceptible to Secondhand Stress. Those who are Soft-natured with many People Traits are more likely toreport feelings of Secondhand Stress. Traits like: Sympathetic, Loves People,Faithful, Good Listener, Thoughtful, Watch People, and Sensitive all feel this phenomenon deeply.

In the Dignify System, 51% of people are Soft-natured and 48% call Peace their Home Country.  So, about half of you likely are very susceptible to Secondhand Stress.

A small minority, 6% have more than 40% People Traits in their Motivational Breakdown. These people are most likely to be greatly affected by the stress of others.

If you’ve taken the Dignify Survey yourself, pull out your Snapshot and see if this data rings true for you too! Are you Soft-natured? From Peace Country? Are you among that top 6% who are most drastically affected?

How to loosen the grip of Secondhand Stress

As they say, awareness is the first step. Now that I’ve gotten you thinking about how others’ stress is impacting you, let’s figure out how to prevent it in the first place or begin unraveling the stressful situations you’re in.

  1. If you know you’re triggered by a certain person or a situation, you can prep yourself before the next conversation. Have a meeting with someone that regularly stresses you out? Before you walk in, choose your mindset. Repeat to yourself, “I control my thoughts here.”
  2. When you’re caught in a moment with someone and feel stress rising, whether it’s slanted toward anger, sadness or a sense of overwhelm, just pause. Receive the information, pause and think about it. Then choose how you want to respond.

    You’re not a victim. You can decide what information and emotions are helpful to you and which ones aren’t. As we teach in our trainings, events that happen to you are just information. You get to choose what they mean.
  3. Check in with yourself. Schedule some time once a week to just ponder. When I can swing it, I like a quiet moment in the morning with a cup of coffee to do some thinking before the day kicks into gear.

    During this time, ask yourself if you’ve noticed any stress triggers over the course of the week. See any themes?

Life is full of so many amazing things to get caught up in the stress of others. You have the power to keep that Secondhand Stress in check. So, let’s get after it!


ACTION PLAN: Make sure you’re subscribed to Prophit Co. Post so you’re notified when the next WOW comes out. I’ll be unpacking Secondhand Stress’ impact on teams and companies.

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