Growing up with nine siblings, all with big personalities, was quite a rich and deep experience. My role in such a large Irish Catholic family was “the peacemaker”. With everyone close in age there were always arguments over who got the prize at the bottom of the cereal box, or fighting over socks and Catholic school uniforms.
Often I had to have my “feelers” out to see if some turmoil was brewing, so I could navigate my exit or try to simmer the screaming match. Being in an environment where everyone was truly expressing their unedited selves was raw and authentic, and gave me the ability to be comfortable in almost any setting.
A characteristic that I did pick up was the ability to take other people’s emotional temperature, in order to calculate my next move. The problem with focusing on others, is that I forgot to focus on myself. I began to live outside my body, by continually placing my attention on others and their needs.
There is nothing wrong with assessing the moods around you, but when it is done in excess it becomes extremely unhealthy. Balance is really the key in this situation. Here are some steps to maintaining healthy relationships with both family members and friends:

1.Check in with yourself first before focusing on others. The quickest way is through conscious breathing.
2.Make sure your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional self is fed first before focusing on other’s needs.
3.If people around you are having a fit, that shouldn’t determine your mood.
4.Let how you feel become more dominant than how those around you feel, in other words become more selfish.
5.No matter what, take your own temperature first, similar to using an oxygen mask on an airplane, and then your family next.

In order to truly help those around me I need to help myself first, and then able to help others. I cannot be of service to those around me if I am running on fumes. A personal full tank is essential, so that my temperature is truly 98.6. Otherwise, I am of no help to anyone or anything and my fever will run high with both resentment and bitterness.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Foxley is certified life coach, yoga instructor, and bodyworker in Santa Monica, California. Susan has been teaching and lecturing for over 18 years, and has studied in India, as well as the United States, with many masters. She currently teaches 15 yoga classes per week, and conducts a public monthly life coaching class. For more information about Susan Foxley check out her website at