Living Rent-Free

No, I am not talking about the literal definition of living rent-free. If you are allowing someone else to live rent-free in your head, that could be a problem.

Disclaimer: I believe this idea is more of an advanced concept in personal growth and development because the hardest part is being able to identify and address it as it is happening. This means that we need to already have developed a type of mindfulness that is often found in more advanced personal-development practices. It’s also a lot harder to teach people about the benefits of this concept for themselves, so I want you to keep an open mind while reading. Let’s begin, shall we?

♡ Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

My husband often tells me that I unintentionally give other people free rein to live rent-free in my head and it has been really affecting me in a negative way. I know he is right, and that’s why I want to address what living rent-free actually is and how we can catch ourselves doing it before it consumes us. It’s not just about mental health — living rent-free is also very taxing on the human body in all aspects. It takes up space in our brains, causing us to not have the energy or room to be the best version of ourselves, and drains our stamina to do more productive things. Yikes.

It’s important to always stay aware of the cause and identify what you can do about it so that you get relief. Figuring out how to break the cycle of negative thoughts is hard, but it does get easier the more you work at it. Furthermore, it’s important to know that there are a number of ways to help you break out of this cycle by learning the underlying causes behind your energy drain and where this “energy zap” is coming from.

(っ◔◡◔)っFYI: What does it mean to live rent-free?

Rent-free is a term used by young people to mean, “allowing someone to occupy your thoughts.” It is also a slang expression and catchphrase used to describe how someone holds a grudge or allows an individual to occupy their thoughts, often meant to mock that person. This can be seen as an insult because it suggests that the person does not have any control over their own mind. Believe it or not, this is becoming a major problem in today’s society and people are too lenient with themselves and others. It’s interesting to think about how negative energy affects our mental state.

♡ Related Article: Boundaries Matter

What are the consequences?

Living in someone else’s head can be difficult to deal with, especially if the relationship is one-sided. One of the many side effects is constantly thinking about them and letting their presence linger in your thoughts. This can be very difficult to live with, not only because it feels like you’re never getting a break from that person, but also because it tends to make your mental state worse. If you don’t do anything about it, it could manifest into feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and depression — all of which are detrimental to our mental health.

Struggling with these thoughts and feelings can be a painful experience, but the only way to truly move on is to process them. Other people may struggle with intrusive thoughts and feelings as well, but this doesn’t mean that they are alone because there are many ways to overcome these difficulties. Trust me — I have experienced it first hand. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing about this topic.

“Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” — Ann Landers

If you are experiencing intrusive thoughts and feelings, it is important to be aware that these can really leave you feeling overwhelmed and weighed down emotionally. However, the most effective way to deal with these emotions is to learn how to process them and understand them. If we try to ignore these negative emotions or push them down, then they will continue to live in our heads.

Remember, you are not weak because you have let someone live rent-free in your head. You have been strong and you have prevailed. The last thing I want you to think is that you’re the victim because that’s just not true. You have more control over the situation than you might think! 💪

(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥

Finally, I can’t tell you how to process this stuff. All that I ask is that you get the help you need if therapy is a good option for you. Everyone has their own way of dealing with people, but if your strong and negative emotions are making it hard for you to function, then therapy could be the right option for you. Thus, I encourage you to explore different options and find what’s best for you.

If you have any thoughts that you would like to share with me, please leave a comment by joining the conversation below ↓ I had previously posted this blog post on Medium, which now has a paywall. If you want to support me on my writing journey, I would greatly appreciate it if you read my articles over at Medium (a starving writer needs to eat), but if you don’t have a Medium Membership that’s totally understandable.

Thanks for stopping by! ❤

20 thoughts on “Living Rent-Free

  1. Ekta Saxena says:

    Thanks for writing on this topic. My question to you is whether being overconcerned about the flaws in your child’s personality and keep on trying to guide him at each and every point also comes under the same purview? Because I feel completely drained out after trying to make him understand things, now that he is a teenager. Pls let me know your views. Would therapy help me. Thanks in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hmm… that’s a tough question and there’s a lot to unravel here. I feel like I’m in no position to give advice on whether or not to seek therapy. The decision to seek therapy is ultimately up to you. My question for you is whether your son is affecting you to the point where you feel that therapy is needed.

      We as parents want the best for our children. I think it’s normal for children to want to rebel and seek independence. And what kind of flaws does your son have exactly? We have zero control over someone else, including their flaws. If this is something that’s bothering you to the point where you’re unable to accept your son for the way he is, then yes I would suggest therapy.


  2. Pooja G says:

    I’m like you- I let people live rent free in my head and it’s really frustrating because in the end it effects me more than anyone. Therapy and meditation has helped me a lot with this but it’s still an issue to an extent. I think the problem is that I tend to be the kind of person that holds on to things. I wish I wasn’t but I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      It’s crazy how negative thoughts can spiral to the point where we end up taking our anger out on the people around us, even indirectly. I find that I do this, where I will snap at people or reply with snarky comments. I’m usually snarkier when I’m having a bad day or someone rubbed me the wrong way. I like how you brought awareness to this topic – thank you Pooja!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pooja G says:

        Yeah it’s really crazy but at the same time I feel like as an adult if you have that much anger in you get some professional help. Lashing out at strangers on the internet for no reason is a really unhealthy response. Leaving a snarky comment or having an off day is normal but writing a whole post about someone is… a lot 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        I guess people have different way of dealing with strong negative reactions. I know what you mean – taking your anger out online is just as bad as taking your anger out at someone offline.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pooja G says:

        Yeah and if you’re at that point I feel like you may not be doing well mentally and should try to get help cos that could actually help deal with your anger in a healthy way. People online are still people.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Vanessa 🤟🏼 The Wellbeing Blogger (@TheWblogger) says:

    Another great post and this is such an accurate depiction of what happens when we let someone live rent-free in our head. It can be so hard to let them go but I agree with you. It’s important to do a regular audit and find energy leaks because, otherwise, we might reach a point in which we have no energy and we may not even know why. I find that journaling can help a bit as it increases our awareness of feelings and thoughts about situations but each one of us needs to find the best way to personally cope and let them go for good 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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