For highly sensitive people, everyday life experiences can feel like a huge struggle. Little things that don't bother other people can completely overwhelm us. (Jenn Granneman)
How true this has been for me! I carry embarrassment and shame about how I've reacted to various situations when feeling overwhelmed. At first, my strong and very negative reactions were because I didn't know I was highly sensitive and I didn't understand what I was feeling or why I was feeling that way. I just knew there was discomfort and I reacted with any defense mechanism that was within reach.
As I learned about and explored my sensitivity, I started to practice responding differently to situations. Instead of lashing out, for example, I'm practicing speaking up about what I need, or what is making me feel overwhelmed. If I feel unrealistic demands have been placed on me, I say why it's challenging and offer up an alternative that's more realistic. If I'm feeling overstimulated, I'll remove myself from the situation if I can, or figure out what I need in that moment to reduce the stimulation.
Some days I get through the hard stuff feeling pretty good about how I handled everything. Other days, not so much. I've noticed when I'm tired or hungry, it's harder to respond thoughtfully. And some days, things happen in such rapid succession that I don't even realize I'm overwhelmed until after I've lashed out.
Learning to live with my sensitivity has been very challenging, and I've learned that I can't use it to excuse away hurtful behavior. The more I understand it, the easier it becomes to work with it and integrate it in more helpful ways. I still make a lot of mistakes, reacting from the place of my strong emotions rather than pausing and choosing a more helpful response. But I'm quicker to notice it, apologize, and move forward more productively. I'm learning to be more compassionate and forgiving of myself, too. 💜
I read awhile back that once we decide we're ready to learn how to *really* love ourself, the universe will conspire to help us. We'll encounter all kinds of experiences, circumstances, and people that will help us see all the ways we are not. We'll be forced to examine what's going on inside our mind and our heart and study our reactions to the situations we experience and the people we interact with. We'll have to face all the old stories we believe about our worth and our lovability. We'll come to see how self-critical and self-judgmental we are. We'll see all the ways we hold ourself back and sabotage our own joy.
We'll be invited to look at every obstacle and challenge as a lesson in self love. We'll be asked to explore our choices and actions and inquire how we could love ourself better with different choices. We'll be encouraged to discover our own truth and listen to our inner guidance. We'll be invited to take better care of our mind, body and soul, to discover our true needs, to set boundaries and stand up for ourself. After years of not doing this well, it'll feel really hard, selfish even. We'll worry about what people will think and we'll fear pissing people off.
This kind of deep personal transformation is challenging for anyone. Letting go of old behavior patterns, old beliefs and stories, and old ways of thinking about ourself is hard. We're losing the very identity we spent our whole life creating. But when you're a highly sensitive person, it can feel excruciating. We may not know what to do with the strong waves of emotion we feel. While we're in it, we need to practice self-appreciation, self-compassion and self-kindness. When we come through the other side, we can look back and see what we learned and how we've evolved. Learning to love ourself is a continual practice. Sometimes we'll do it really well and sometimes we'll fail miserably. But we'll try again. Because we *are* worth it.
I've been in a bit of a slump lately regarding my work. After a lot of reflection and journaling, I discovered that I've been holding back and playing it safe. There is some stuff I've been doing that doesn't light me up the way it used to. And I was having a hard time with the idea of letting it go because I feel like I *should* continue doing it. We're taught not to quit.
But, one of the first things I learned as a coach (which I still struggle with on occasion) was that we have to stop "shoulding" all over ourselves. We need to release the things we do only because we're worried about what other people think or because we're trying to meet other people's expectations. We need to do what's right for us. And sometimes that means quitting.
This morning I took a little "time out" and facilitated myself through an intense visioning session to get clear on what I *do* want. I have a desire to more fully integrate my passions into my work and I included those ideas into my vision. Just writing it all down and claiming it was both freeing and empowering. Now I'm standing in my home office, feeling energized and inspired!
So my encouragement to you is this: pay attention to how you feel about the stuff you do. If something isn't making your heart sing anymore, can you let it go? Explore what you *do* want. Write it down. Feeeeel the excitement. Then do something, even if it's a baby step, to move your vision forward! We are the author of our own life and if a chapter isn't working, we can rewrite it!
Lately, I've been paying attention to the areas of my life for which I feel less energy and lower excitement than usual. Usually when this happens, I try to analyze or think my way into an answer. We're generally solution-driven people. We want the answers so we can just get on with it already. But sometimes, Life wants us to slow down, to wait, to go with the flow and to let things emerge naturally. And it's challenging to do that when we're used to taking action. We want answers!
This time, instead of pushing for answers and taking swift action, I've been just noticing and observing for awhile...paying attention to what specifically energizes me and what it is that's draining me or causing low motivation. I've spent a good portion of my day today just softening into a new level of receptivity, being open to what I'm noticing, how I'm feeling, and allowing the meaning behind those feelings to sink in. I've kept my journal close by and every now and again, do a little writing to support the new awareness that's brewing.
By allowing this space and time and letting things emerge naturally over the last couple of weeks, I've come to a level of clarity today that I wouldn't have reached otherwise.
Somewhere inside us, the answer is waiting. Waiting for us to slow down enough to be *able* to hear it and waiting for us to be *ready* to hear it. We need to be okay with *not knowing* for awhile. Because if we *think* our way into an answer, we'll likely miss or dismiss the truth. Slow down. Stay open. Pay attention. Be receptive.
My home office. My creative space. My sacred space. With this being a multipurpose room, I had previously partitioned off separate sections with furniture and plants. Good intentions, but I had been feeling cramped and blocked in here. It looked busy and felt heavy and tight. I moved my desk against the wall and shuffled several small tables and bigger plants. Now I and the energy can move freely around the room. This is important because my creativity, my spirituality, and my work are inter-connected and I want the energy to flow freely among them. I often physically move among the different areas throughout my day as well. If I'm feeling blocked in my work, I might get up and do a little journaling, meditation, or art making. Or sometimes I'm making art or journaling and get an idea for my business that I want to capture. This new design will facilitate that free movement.
I removed 2 pieces of furniture that weren't visually appealing or providing the functionality I needed, an awkward bookshelf and the card table I was using for art, and ordered replacements for both. Aesthetics are important in a space too, because if I hate to look at a piece of furniture, whether I'm aware of it or not, it creates negative feelings everytime I am in the room which blocks the positive energy.
Our home should be our sanctuary, a sacred place where we relax and rejuvenate. And if it's not providing that, then change is needed. I notice that I'm already feeling lighter when I walk in here. If you have a space in your home that's not working for you, take a step back and notice what it is that's not working. What do you need the space to provide? How do you want to use the space? How do you want to feel in the space? What small changes can you make to improve functionality, flow, or aesthetics?