21 Habits of Stress-less People

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Why, in a world full of potential stress triggers, when exposed to identical stressors, do some people seem to be immune, while others fall over like flies? While researching material for my books, I have ploughed through mountains of scholarly articles, case histories, experiments, research and conclusions about why people succumb to stress – with the statistics to back them up.

But there seems to be very little research allocated to success stories.

Why is there such an emphasis on the problem? Why aren’t we spending equal or greater amounts of time and resources on studying the exceptions to the rule; people who live in a high stress environment or experience periods of incredible pressure, without succumbing to the negative effects of stress? In fact many emerge fitter and feistier than before. What do these people do differently? This is what I wanted to know.

And these are some common themes I found.  

What Stress-less People Focus On

Stress-less people know that the thoughts they think, the words they speak, the food they eat, the books they read, the movies they watch, the games they play, the expectations they have, the people they hang out with, their daily habits—and most of all their dominant feelings, shape their lives.

The exercise habit

It seems that some people would rather eat rat poison than exercise. Extraordinary I know, but these are some common excuses I hear:

I hate exercise. More than you love being healthy and relaxed you mean? What does this say about the relationship you have with your body? If you haven’t tried every form of exercise there is and hated every one, this is untrue.

I have family commitments. And do these include being a role model for how to be healthy – or not? Do these family commitments include the risk of early degeneration and death? And what is preventing family exercise?

I don’t have time. And do you have time to be stressed and ill? What is stopping you re-arranging your priorities, or combining exercise with work or socializing?

I can’t afford it. Do you have any idea how many types of free exercise there are? Have you researched the potential cost of not exercising?

Exercise is a powerful act of self love; a prayer of appreciation; an absolute non negotiable for building immunity to stress.

The water habit

The African baobab tree, because its habitat is so arid and dry, has a unique ability to store large volumes of water. We do not! The human body is composed of around 85% water. This provides structural support for our billions of cellular citizens. It supports complex biochemical reactions and is the major component of our blood and other body fluids.

Like the canals in Venice, our internal transport system is waterborne.

It is this water supply that distributes what we ingest throughout our bodies. It is water that flushes toxic waste from every part of this miraculous ecosystem, preventing us from turning into toxic swamps.  As long as enough water and oxygen are available, everything works smoothly.

Yet there are staggering numbers of people on our planet who rarely or never drink water.

The late F. Batmanghelidj, MD, author of Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, spent years researching the profound benefits water has on the physiological functions of the body – and the lethal impact of dehydration. From the new perspective of my twenty two years of clinical and scientific research into molecular physiology of dehydration, he wrote, I can safely say the 60 million Americans with hypertension, the 110 million with chronic pains, and the 15 million with allergies….all waited to get thirsty.

The sleep habit

Most of us sleep significantly less than we did fifty years ago. Many people think sleep is a waste of time. Research is ongoing and although we may not yet know exactly what sleep does, we do know that lack of it has multiple negative knock-on effects.

It hasn’t been used as a torture tool throughout history for no reason.

According to various surveys, sleep deprivation among children may have a profound impact on ADHD symptoms. When adults are tired they usually become sluggish. When children are tired they tend to overcompensate and go into overdrive. This is why sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children. Children (and adults) may also be inattentive, impulsive, moody, emotionally explosive, or aggressive as a result of sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep and stress go hand in hand.

The eating habit

Unsatisfied emotional hunger often results in an over-dependence on nurturing from food. Being a product of Africa, where the specter of starvation often stalks, it’s a bit of a stretch for me to understand the scourge of obesity that is equally lethal.

Half the world is dying from need. The other half is dying from greed.

And greed is just another form of need.  Then in the midst of greed, people are dying from self inflicted need (anorexia or bulimia.) Yes, I’m confused too!

The weight of an obese body is only partly due to an imbalance between food and exercise. What about the weight of despair, shame, loneliness, resentment, and lack of self love? Obese bodies are carrying burdens they were not designed to carry – and seeking solace from an ineffective source.

Imagine having a twenty, thirty or fifty year backlog of unresolved issues in storage; stuffed into the warehouse that is your body. Of course your body has to stretch to accommodate them. So it has to keep expanding in order to contain this mountain of unresolved stuff.

Our bodies were designed to process the experiences of life—not store them in dispatch!

Enlist professional help and have a spring clean, just as you would in your home; get rid of anything you don’t use on a daily basis and is taking up valuable mental real estate. Our most compelling desire is not for food. Our most compelling desire is for love, respect and acceptance.

A good therapist can help to disentangle physical hunger from emotional hunger and when emotional hunger is satisfied, physical hunger is easy to satisfy in a healthy, balanced, enjoyable way.

The mental cleanliness habit

When your vehicle gets dirty, you take it to the car wash. When your clothes get grubby you put them into a washing machine. What then do you do with your mind and emotions when they get mucky?

The amygdala, a part of our second brain is our memory museum.

Memories attached to strong emotions (whether intensely pleasurable or intensely painful) are more likely to be stored in here.

When the amygdala registers impressions emailed to it by our sense of smell, taste, sight, touch or hearing, it processes it by ‘speed dialing’ previously stored information to find a match. This is a valuable time saving function. But it can be problematical because people, situations and events that are even indirectly related to this memory, can trigger an overreaction.

Say for instance, you were involved in a tragic car accident on a mountain road in snowy conditions, the stored memories might trigger an instant fear of similar smells, sights, sounds or sensations. If you were humiliated, bullied or abused by a muscle bound man with red hair and an Irish accent your speed dial function might trigger an instant dislike or fear of anyone answering even part of that description.

Our prejudices, fears and stress triggers are often based on these false memories.

The oxygen habit

Dr. Otto Warburg, a two-time Nobel Prize winner reveals that the cause of most disease is lack of sufficient oxygen in the body. Oxygen deficiency fosters the build-up of disease, which, over a period of time overwhelms the body’s immune system.

Most strains of harmful bacteria, as well as cancer cells are anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

Under ideal circumstances, our atmosphere contains about 20% oxygen, although it has recently been reported that in many of our more polluted cities, levels have dropped to around 10%. It’s obvious that our oxygen needs are not being met. Several of the most common ailments now affecting our population especially in the polluted metropolitan areas are directly related to oxygen starvation. It’s hard to be de-stressed and oxygen starved at the same time.

The wellness habit

I’m wondering whether the world of medicine and therapy is running out of diagnosis labels, and manufacturing illnesses. For every conceivable feeling, emotion, thought, or physical characteristic they seem to create a diagnosis, an appropriately official label—and of course medication to manage it.

I guess disease mongering is pretty lucrative.

So that psychopathic bully in the playground is just a poor misunderstood boy suffering from Defensive Reaction Syndrome. And that habitually obnoxious colleague you work with? Well, you mustn’t make him feel marginalized; he’s just suffering from a Social Personality Challenge. The employee you’re about to dismiss because she’s so lazy she makes a slug look hyperactive—well, she’s just suffering from Delayed Motivation Syndrome.

Come to think of it, I would undoubtedly be a candidate for a diagnosis.

I’m terminally happy and unnaturally solution oriented. I take abnormal responsibility for the quality of my life at every level, I laugh far too much, I’m too damn healthy, my weight hasn’t varied in thirty five years, I lavish my loved ones with too much affection and greet each day with excessive anticipation! There must be a label for this condition.

This emphasis on illness instead of wellness has encouraged many people to develop an illness dependency.

At some point in their past it received positive feedback and rewards. It proved an effective way to get attention and feel nurtured. It met their needs, and so it stuck. We’re all attention seekers by nature. So if we’re not getting attention and appreciation through constructive strategies we’ll use whatever works. Entire cultures have evolved that reward illness and penalize wellness. I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill, I’m definitely stressed.

The love habit

If you were given a multi million dollar mansion at birth – would you allow it to deteriorate into a seedy, unsanitary squat, with a leaky roof, cracked and peeling walls tattooed with graffiti, and a blocked sewerage system?

So why do we allow the opinions, trends, expectations, benchmarks and criticisms our environments bombard us with, to devalue this truly miraculous organism with which we live so intimately twenty four hours a day?

When we love ourselves, and are loved by others, a cocktail of healing chemicals are released, which in turn triggers the release of anti-stress and anti-aging hormones. These speed cellular repair.

Only when we deviate from our natural biological balance, does our body rebel.

The 21 Habits Of Stress-Less People

Stress-less people:

  1. Make their health a priority – especially when under pressure
  2. Don’t warehouse mental or emotional ‘weight’ and keep their internal environment clean
  3. Drink plenty of clean water
  4. Breathe clean air
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Don’t deprive themselves of sleep
  7. Know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger
  8. Ask for and accept help when they need it
  9. Are not dependent on other people’s approval – they already have their own
  10. Are not slaves to societal trends
  11. Instinctively look beyond life’s challenges for messages and solutions
  12. Can detach when necessary and have good emotional management skills
  13. Focus on wellness and balance – not illness and imbalance
  14. Treat their minds, bodies and emotions with respect – especially when under pressure
  15. Consciously choose the words they speak
  16. Consciously choose the fuel they feed themselves
  17. Know that what they put in they get out
  18. Surround themselves with supportive, uplifting people
  19. Deliberately adopt productive daily habits
  20. Feel joyful and positive most of the time
  21. Love themselves – without reservation

Would you like to become immune to stress? Then contact me at pam@paminamullins.com

What habits would you add?

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25 Ways to Handle Anger Productively

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I observe with slack jawed awe as a customer has a meltdown of manic intensity over an account payment query that would bring the New York stock exchange to its knees—the amount in question? Ten dollars! Like a large indignant toad she looms over the cashier who exhibits superhuman maturity and restraint. Without raising her voice, she smiles and gives a logical step by step explanation of why there is no error.

This information is obviously not penetrating the customer’s self righteous fog so the cashier offers to credit her account. At this, the customer hisses I’m not a charity case! I don’t want a credit! I’m a bookkeeper; this account is wrong; you’ve made a mistake! The cashier points out that it’s an automated accounts system and asks whether she should cancel the credit. Yes yells the customer.

When I walk by twenty minutes later, the combat weary but still calm cashier is asking so can we get this clear? Would you like me to credit your account or not? The customer by this time is the subject of ill concealed humor from others. Her ego temporarily punctured, she whips the printout from the cashier’s grasp and departs.

What Was That All About?

Why expend all that energy making a major production out of a minor issue? Why did she so desperately need to be right while making the cashier wrong? The amount in question was absurdly small so it wasn’t about the money.

Obviously her sense of value was disproportionately dependant on being right. When your sense of value is fragile the propaganda machine inside your head often attributes malevolent intent to people when none exists. I know you’re laughing at me….I know you’re out to get me so I’m going to get you first.

But Anger In Itself Isn’t Bad

Like the stress response, it’s a messenger. Anger has a purpose and is frequently misunderstood. Used productively in the right context, it can be a powerful force for good.

  • Anger helps us draw boundaries
  • Anger tells us what is and is not acceptable
  • Anger alerts us when we’re giving too much and receiving too little
  • When someone’s words or actions make us angry, it tells us what WE need to change to feel safe and comfortable again
  • Anger invites us to look inward—rather than the knee jerk reaction of lashing out.

Don’t Believe Me?

Rewind the movie of your life to a time when you felt trapped, victimized, backed into a corner—and suddenly something snapped “enough! I will not tolerate this! I am worth more, and this has to change now” you screamed. I’m willing to bet that desperate, angry outburst led to a quantum leap forward in some area of your life—a dead end work situation, a painful relationship, an overdue lifestyle makeover or an increase in self value. Anger can catapult us out of a comfort zone that has ceased to be comfortable.

25 Ways To Handle Anger Productively

  1. To derail the momentum of someone’s rage—replace the anger trance with a sudden change of subject, or authoritative command. The verbal equivalent of slapping someone out of hysteria.
  2. Although being disemboweled by a leopard might be more appealing—agree with her, show empathy, invite her to sit down, relax and build rapport you must have had a really rough day…..I know how frustrating it is….this deflates anger instantly.
  3. Count to ten or visualize a tranquil scene….yes it does work! It allows the adrenalin surge to subside.
  4. Instead of reacting like a sleep deprived snake, challenge your perception of the issue; reframe the picture in your mind. Perhaps his intent isn’t malicious. You wouldn’t get mad at a toddler for his limited communication skills, would you?
  5. Breathe—slowly and deeply! It is biologically impossible to remain tense or angry while doing this. Try it!
  6. Anger is a condition in which the tongue works faster than the brain; walk away—mentally and/or physically. It could save someone’s life.
  7. Before radically redecorating your aggressor’s face, press the pause button and ask yourself what underlying fear or insecurity pulled your anger trigger.
  8. Get to know your anger triggers intimately.
  9. Use your mental zoom out facility. See the whole picture, not just part of it. Put things into perspective.

10. If it feels as though you’re trying to reason with a stick of dynamite, hold up a ‘red card’ or ‘stop sign’ to call a halt, while you all cool down and evaluate the situation.

11. Channel your rage into physical exercise—go for a walk, run, ride a bike, dance or pummel a punch bag. Regular exercise reduces the anger impulse.

12. If you can visualize eviscerating him or her, you can visualize floating safely above the war zone in a bulletproof bubble.

13. Toilet train your impulses, instead of exploding lock yourself in the bathroom and vent.

14. When your self esteem is strong, you’re confident about where you stand, so you don’t need to keep ‘growling’ to prove it.

15. Suppressed anger makes you sick. It’s as productive as ingesting arsenic. Pour it out on paper, do some emotional vomiting. You might even end up with a bestselling book.

16. Find constructive alternatives to yelling, swearing, attacking, throwing things or ingesting substances. Have a personal life goal that you are passionate about. Think about it, talk about it, study and research it and work towards it—especially when you feel threatened, overwhelmed and powerless.

17. Laugh! If it’s likely to fuel the fire—lock yourself away and laugh. Use your overflow valve.

18. Talk anger triggers through with a counselor, therapist or good friend.

19. Build firm personal boundaries so that it’s harder for people to pull your triggers.

20. Cut or limit contact with people who are anger triggers in your life. Pump up your verbal self defense skills.

21. Recharge your batteries regularly in a quiet ‘safe space’ that no people or noise can invade.

22. Remember our brains cannot discriminate between what is real or imagined. What you consistently watch, listen to; participate in, focus on and who you hang out with colors the way you react to the world.

23. If you do explode, once you have calmed down—apologize; it costs nothing and has a profound impact.

24. Use your resources—get professional help.

25. Use anger CONstructively instead of DEstructively.

Is Contentment Possible?

How Do You Find Contentment? - HSP Health Blog

Do ever get asked a question that hits you like a ton of bricks?

Years ago a good friend of mine asked me something that I’ll never forget.

At the time I was pretty much all over the place. Feeling emotions very intensely, even taking on other people’s stuff. It was a huge energy suck. At the time I had no idea of my HSP trait. I just thought I was a little crazy.

So when I was asked this question it caught me off guard. Like somebody had “found me out.”

“Are you ever just content?”

Of Course I Feel Contentment!

My first thought when I heard this was to scream out and defend myself: “Yes! Of course I am!” But I knew it wasn’t true.

So I stood there, kind of stunned.

You see, I was truly all over the map with my emotions. I was in college, stressed to the core, and had zero ways to deal with it.

What was so eye opening about hearing this question was that it brought me face to face with just how stressed I was.

I was either really happy, or down in the dumps. There wasn’t much of a healthy middle ground.

Even though I was feeling exposed in that moment, I was grateful that someone had the guts to check in with me at that level.

Where Is Your Contentment?

Now I want to check in with you. Do you ever just feel contentment?

Are you able to be with what is in your life, while still dreaming up whatever is next for you?

Being stressed can make us feel stuck because we are either reaching for the past or the future. Living on an emotional rollercoaster can keep us playing the “up and down” game – happy when things are up and sad when things are down.

But where does that leave you in all of this?

Where is the constant in your life, the underlying sense of “I’m OK”?

And how do you live in that place more often?

Something I love to do to help re-set and actually look at what is going on in my life is to schedule quiet time every day – even if it’s just five 5 or 10 minutes.

Close the door, turn off the computer, silence the phone. Take these few precious minutes to do what feels good to you and recharge your battery. Cultivate the awareness of how you feel when you are about to get into a “burn out” state, and give yourself a break before you begin to get to that state.

If you find yourself easily swayed by whatever’s going on in your life, this is a must. Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

What else brings you back to center, to your healthy middle ground? Let me know in the comments. Can’t wait to hear.

Why Impatience Is SO Bad For You

Why Impatience Is So Bad For You - HSP Health Blog

Impatience is so bad for you.

It is one of the most seductive emotional states.

It is a great way to make life more difficult and relationships challenging.

Impatience is like playing a child’s game of bumper cars with real life and adult consequences.

Worshipping At The Altar Of Speed

I find the adoration of speed in our culture to be curious.

When I am going fast, I stop thinking.

Speed demands focus on the task at hand and so it cannot be a time to contemplate what you are doing.

To be truly effective at warp speed, you need to have contemplated, evaluated and assessed your intended actions before you engage in them,

Does our cultural speedfest really allow for that?

In my opinion, no.

Speed For Conquest

When the speed of daily life is ramped up, there are consequences. One of them is what happens with our attention and intention.

When we function at a slower pace, we spend time contemplating what we are doing, what we want to do,  and what we need to do.

We think about the implications of our actions, the alternative courses of action and the possibilities that our choices present.

We can own our intention.

When we have to go faster something has to give. What gives is usually the way we direct our attention.

A high speed life makes us more task oriented and more focused on the short-term.

That means that we delegate the long term to others. In doing so we disempower ourselves.

Faster living means that we have been made one down almost like objects or parts on a conveyor belt. We are the wheels on the bumper cars and someone else is doing the driving.

Our attention has to be elevated but we have lost our intention in the process.

Impatience Is Controlling

Moving at high speed means that there is not a lot of time for considering our purpose and agendas. Our attention is usually directed to working off items on our to-do lists. The really important stuff of life usually does not make our list and so without realizing it, our lives stop being our own.

We are living in speed, even in a state of perpetual emergency.

When you are in an emergency you do not have time to stop and ask why, you simply have to deal with it.

Someone else has set the priorities. While we think we are making choices, we are really filling in the blanks in a sentence created by someone else.

Observe impatient people. They are masters at making something wrong with you if you are not performing as they expect you to, or are not busy enough as if your busyness was a sign of your goodness.

How Impatience Took Us Over

Impatience is important as a social tool. It used to be that we aligned ourselves with nature. Our lives depended on an effective interaction with the source of our nourishment – the physical world we live in.

Nature is slow and always in process. It is interdependent. We have to work with and learn from nature. Imposing our will usually does not work vey well.

With the Industrial Revolution and the development of machines, markets took over from nature and became the center of our lives. We were diminished as was nature, simply servants of the market system.

The machine became almighty. We became dependent on:

  • the political machine
  • the machines of government
  • the machines of finance
  • the machines of war
  • mechanized business.

A machine doesn’t see you or relate to you.

You have to keep up with it, bend to it, and support it. This is why in spite of all the improvements in our living conditions, most of us feel an unspeakable loss. We never had it so good or so bad.

Taking Our Lives Back

Slowing down is the beginning of taking your life back.

It helps to see the mechanized structures of our lives as detrimental to intentional living, and look for ways to be as present as possible to all aspects of our lives.

We are not here to serve some machine.

We are here to live fully.

The impatient life of markets takes so much from us. Letting go of it, being willing to be without it as much as possible restores you to a right relation with your own life.

It’s worth doing.

It’s a great place to be.

Feelings—A Sensory Tracking Device For An Overstimulated World

Feelings—A Sensory Tracking Device For An Overstimulated World - HSP Health Blog

Feelings are our sensory feedback system. They provide us with vital information that we need to take care of ourselves and keep ourselves on track. But we’re trapped in a blizzard of ever increasing stimuli.

The sensory pressures many of us are exposed to on a daily basis are enough to kill a cage full of lab rats. Sensory overload is becoming a way of life—but are our biological systems designed for this kind of sensory terrorism?

Overstimulation Affects Sensory Processing

Over stimulation occurs when exposure to sensory experiences is too overwhelming for our nervous systems to successfully process.

Picture a busy street, shopping mall or club where the smell of exhaust fumes, smoke, perfume, sweat, food and ‘fresheners’ compete for air space;voices talking, singing or shouting, screaming children, car engines revving, horns blaring, sirens wailing, the crescendo of jet engines, electronic screeches, burps and beeps, mobile ring tones, the drone of television commentaries and public address systems, deafening music, being pummeled, jostled and pushed in a crowd; the visual impact of blinking lights, rapid video sound bites, speeding vehicles, billboard advertisements, a chaotic kaleidoscope of colors, movement and flashing lights, people dancing or running or vehicles roaring by in a blur.

A relentless flood of sensory experiences like these overwhelming our nervous systems can lead to sensory shut down, angry outbursts or irrational behavior, because we cannot efficiently process this level of conflicting stimuli.

Media And Social Stress Add To Overstimulation

Added to this, the daily news media’s drip feed of tragedy and chaos, destruction, deprivation or looming disasters create a palpable level of mass anxiety.

Now pile more bricks onto this relentless load—intense personal challenges like job loss, financial debt, divorce, abuse, disease or death of a loved one. Add the burden of personal trauma, loss or low self esteem and we have a recipe for emotional disaster. We are creating a culture dominated by stress, tension, and fear—a response pattern characterized by high frequency brain waves termed beta waves. We are functioning on high alert all the time. Our senses are in danger of disintegrating in a sea of excess stimulation, while our emotions become mired in confusion, pain and powerlessness.

No wonder many of us have lost contact with our feelings—a vital feedback system.

Because it’s a way of life, these pressures are incremental and cumulative. They build up over time until we’re caught in a spiral of emotional turbulence—or shut down. And since our feedback system has been disabled, we don’t realize how deeply we’ve been sucked into this destructive vortex.

The advertising media then swamps us with a smorgasbord of chemical quick fixes, to further shut down our sensory alarm system! Unsurprisingly, when greeted with the traditional how are you—we respond robotically, fine—even if we’re in the middle of a meltdown or have succumbed to emotional paralysis!

The truth is many of us no longer know how we feel. We’ve just resigned ourselves to being victims of our environment.

In the next installment of this blog we’ll talk about Reconnecting with your Feelings.

 

Tips For The Urban HSP

Tips For Urban HSPs

As an HSP, I sometimes think I must be truly nuts to be living in New York City, a place that seems like the very embodiment of the word “overstimulation.”

Crowded, loud, bright and always on, it can be a nightmare for the senses.

If you let it.

I’ve lived here for nearly 15 years now, and I’ve found ways to make it work. (I have a bit of a dream writing job, and this is one of the only places I can really do it, which is why I don’t leave, in case you’re wondering. Also, nearly everyone I love is here, which adds weight to the case for sticking around.)

 Attitude For An Urban HSP

I think the lessons I’ve learned as a Big Apple HSP can be helpful for all, particularly those who might be living in other, smaller urban environments. I think you have to start by just seeing city life slightly differently than many. Here, I think there’s often a default attitude of, “Only in New York! Gotta love it!” when, for example, you’re on a crowded train at 9 a.m. and all of a sudden theres’s a mariachi band furiously playing, mere inches away from your face.

No.

You actually don’t have to love it. (I suspect very few people love it, but I applaud their generally optimistic ability to pretend that they do.)

So here are a few of the survival tips I’ve come up with to make being an NYC urban HSP work for me.

Protect Your Hearing

1) Get good headphones, and don’t be afraid to use them.
I’ve always been shocked that so many people are willing to put up with the crappy white headphones that come with an Apple product. They make my ears sore after only a few minutes of listening, and they don’t fit well enough to filter out ambient noise (nor do they stop everyone around you from hearing your music, one of my big pet peeves about public transportation these days: if you’re not wearing headphones yourself, you are more often than not subjected to the contents of someone else’s).

No, I’m talking about getting some of those little rubbery ear buds, or, if you’re loaded, a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones (they’re on my wish list). A little of your own curated music can radically change a walk through a chaotic city street, a subway car filled with yammering people and blaring conductor announcements, or a store where four overly cheerful salespeople come up to you within the span of a minute and say, “How ARE you today? Can I help you find anything?” Just point sheepishly to your headphones, as if they are surgically implanted in your head and totally beyond your control, and move away.

2) If you’ve got a smartphone, get a white noise app.
Music is good in many situations, but I find that when I need to really concentrate on reading or writing something, it’s too distracting. My white noise app is the best thing about my iPhone by far. Mine lets me create my own mixes of soothing sounds: beach waves crashing and light rain! Tree frogs and oscillating fan! Or just plain old white noise. Actually, brown noise, which is softer than white noise. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. Any of these will instantly reduce my HSP stress by half. It’s also genius for hotel rooms while traveling (more on this in my upcoming sleep tips post).

Protect Your Boundaries

3) Make subway rides work for you. As Elaine Aron might put it, use your boundaries. Don’t worry about everyone else’s feelings so much. My instinct is generally to try to make other people feel good, so I’m not all that comfortable saying no or shutting things down even when I really need a break from human beings (which is pretty often).

But I’ve found that in order to stay sane, you have to just power through that instinct and be a little protective of yourself. For example: when riding on the train, someone sits down next to me eating an egg sandwich. She seems perfectly nice otherwise and part of me doesn’t want her to feel like a leper if I get up and move. But you know what? An egg sandwich smells disgusting, and it’s ruining the precious half-hour of down time I have in the morning. So I’m gone.

Ditto someone who’s having a loud, laughing cell phone conversation next to me. Or twitching just slightly oddly in a way that suggests they might be a bit off. Or wearing pungent perfume. Just get up and move. You’ll feel so much better when you do.

Similarly, when I’m leaving work and someone tries to catch me and take the train with me, I generally come up with a reason to split off (“I have to make a call first,” or “I have to run an errand”). I find that when my subway ride gets diverted into chitchat or small talk, I tend to reach my destination feeling depleted and annoyed, which reduces my ability to be present for whatever my next activity was. So I just find non-mean ways of getting out of the shared subway ride.

It’s best for everyone.

The Challenge Of Smelly Air

4) Get an air filter
One of my least favorite things about New York is the smells. And I’m not even talking about the stereotypical pee and garbage aromas, which tend, in my experience, to be a bit overstated. No, it’s the cooking smells that really do me in.

Apartment building living just inevitably comes with having to share the air with other people who like different food than you, and if you’re an HSP, those odors can feel like a punch in the face. Someone down the hall from me must, I think, own a deep fryer, because nearly every night it smells like Popeye’s in the hallway. This is not OK. This smell makes me deeply sad. But I can deal with it, because I have a pretty decent air filter going in my apartment’s entryway. It also just offers some psychological support, knowing I have a little mechanical sentry between me and the olfactory chaos going on outside my door. (In a pinch, I find that a Yankee Candle also works pretty well. Who knew? But it’s nothing compared to an air filter.)

Bottom line, just because you live surrounded by other people doesn’t mean you have to feel violated by their ill-advised culinary choices.

Create Your Own Lifestyle

5) Get a dog
In a way, this might seem odd advice, because a dog does come with its own set of stressors: they cost money, they require lots of attention, they may wake you up barking at absolutely nothing in the middle of the night. But if you get a good one, they can also offer a brilliantly convenient excuse for getting out of things and living a lower-key life than you might otherwise be expected to do as a city-dweller.

Everyone in your office going out for happy hour, and you’re sort of expected to go, even though the thought of being stuck in a noisy bar making small talk makes you want to bang your head against a wall? Don’t sweat it, you have to go home and walk the dog. Sorry! Additionally, your dog will ensure that you must go on multiple rambles around the neighborhood daily, which is a practice that’s highly beneficial for soothing the HSP’s system. Which brings me to my next tip.

6) Live near a park
It doesn’t have to be Central Park (or your city’s version of Central Park). But if you have someplace you can get to reasonably easily where you can be among trees instead of human beings, that’s going to increase your quality of life a whole lot. (As well as your dog’s.) Go regularly. Go every day. Take deep breaths and always know, when you’re in the midst of the urban circus, that this will always be here waiting for you. Don’t live near a park? Make it a habit to walk through one on your way to work, if you can. Get off the train a few stops early and incorporate a park walk into your commute.

7) Get plants
Plants! It’s like having a mini park in your apartment.

8) When all else fails, Xanax.
Just kidding. (Not really.)

Why Ayurveda Works For Stress Reduction In HSPs

Ayurveda For Stress Reduction - HSP Health Blog

As a highly sensitive person, I experience a lot of stress.

Most highly sensitive people do.

It is not a choice. Our nervous systems are sponges for the stimulus around us.

We become flooded and overwhelmed. If we are not careful we can drown and become unable to function.

Stress Reduction: A Necessity For Highly Sensitive People

Stress reduction is as much a necessity for highly sensitive people as air is for everyone. We simply cannot live without it.

When the pace of the world was slower, highly sensitive people could manage the stresses of their nervous systems better. Now that there is so much activity in our social space, the challenge of stress reduction for highly sensitive people has become more difficult and even acute.

Highly sensitive people require:

  • the opportunity to process whatever they take in
  • rest when their nervous systems are overtaxed
  • a lifestyle that supports their stress reduction requirements
  • work that supports their health and quality of life.

How Stress Reduction Problems Become Worse

Highly sensitive people can suffer more when their lifestyles do not support their needs or make their health challenges worse.

The demands of being highly sensitive require that we commit a certain amount of our energy to it. When our energy is too low or diverted elsewhere, then we will suffer and most likely become sick.

The following can make it more difficult for us to handle our sensitive natures:

  1. water, air, and noise pollution
  2. processes food
  3. food with additives
  4. GMO foods
  5. leftover foods
  6. fried and fermented foods
  7. meat which is harder to digest than other foods
  8. staying up too late
  9. lack of exercise
  10. an irregular schedule which will upset the nervous system
  11. work that is too high pressure or too much drudgery
  12. relationships that are unsupportive, competitive or demanding

Much of the modern Western lifestyle is aggravating to highly sensitive people. It is not a fault of highly sensitive people but is is a reality we have to deal with.

Why Ayurveda Makes Stress Reduction Easier For Highly Sensitive People

There are so many challenges in modern life that make life hard for highly sensitive people.

I have tried many different methods to become healthier including juicing, vitamins, supplements of various kinds, meditation, Ayurveda, reiki, affirmations and the Sedona Method. I have read many books about health and well being.

I have discovered that most methods are a form of “managing the symptoms.” I did not just want to manage symptoms. I wanted to be healthy.

Being healthy is a different goal than not having symptoms of illness. I have learned that few approaches really get the job done.

Only one that I have found has really helped me to become well and that is Ayurveda.

Why Ayurveda Works For Stress Reduction In Highly Sensitive People

As a highly sensitive person, I need to simplify whenever I can.

Health can be complicated since we are complex beings – particularly if you are highly sensitive.

Ayurveda is the one discipline that actually lets me simplify my health regimen because

  • it is a group of health practices customized to support the highest well being of each individual
  • it is holistic and total.
  • it offers a set of daily practices that let me be at my best
  • its diet strategies ensure that the problems of food in our current world are not my problem
  • TM, the Ayurvedic meditation practice is easy. It relieves stress, heals the nervous system and supports the higher self. I have been doing it for almost 20 years and love it..
  • Ayurveda has a magnificent understanding of food and herbs. Their herbal remedies have helped me immensely.

There is a lot to learn in Ayurveda. Frankly I consider myself a student and always will.

Implementing Ayurveda

I have been integrating Ayurveda into my life slowly over time. I have noticed, however, that the more I do the less I am affected by stress.

I use the following Ayurvedic practices:

  • TM has been especially helpful since I find I am less affected by drama around me after practicing TM for so long. I have been told that it works on the nervous system and heals it, which I have found to be the case.
  • I find that the daily schedule has helped me reduce stress. I like to go to bed around 9PM and rise between 5-6AM.
  • I also like the daily massage, called Abhyangha. It is self massage using oil. It helps with detoxification and stress reduction.
  • the diet is very soothing. When you eat food that is wrong for you, it creates stress in the body. The digestive system becomes weaker and toxins build up in the body. The Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle work to prevent that outcome.
  • There are times when I have had difficulty maintaining the diet for schedule reasons. I have however, maintained a regimen of herbal remedies that support me and help me detox in spite of dietary lapses. The two herbs that I use religiously are triphala and neem.
  • Ayurveda offers herbs for stress. Ashwaghandha is the best known and I take it for stress relief.

I highly recommend Ayurveda for highly sensitive people for relieving stress and putting themselves onto a path that can work to achieve quality of life: something we deserve.

I believe that it is better to put your effort into becoming adept at a health system that eliminates problems that to continually try to fix that which does not work. Micromanaging health symptoms is not the same as becoming healthy.

The best book for learning about Ayurveda as a beginner is Deepak Chopra’s book, Perfect Health. It is a very accessible introduction to an old and skillful health tradition.

I love Ayurveda and hope you will give it a try.

How Highly Sensitive People Can Prevent Burnout

How To Prevent Burnout - HSP Health Blog

 

If you feel stretched beyond your limit you are not alone. The crushing workloads and stress of so many highly sensitive people  are a prescription for burnout.

You would think that avoiding burnout would simply be a matter of not crossing a threshold of fatigue.

Burnout is not that simple.

Many people in our fast-paced world burn out from the daily demands even if they are not highly sensitive.

For highly sensitive people the problem of burnout is amplified by their naturally higher stress levels caused. The overstimulation we experience is caused by a fast paced, noisy and sensory intense world.

Sources Of Burnout For Highly Sensitive People

Burnout can come from many sources for highly sensitive people:

  • work because we are increasingly expected to be as highly productive and fast-paced as our economic system demands
  • creative burnout since HSPs tend to be highly creative. Creativity does not follow a rigid schedule. However,  the expectation is that it will. Creativity can create pressure all by itself, but with time pressures added, creative burnout can be a result.
  • high empathy can result in serious burnout problems. Our empathy may cause us to dig deep and be extremely conscientious which is an added demand that we place on ourselves. It may not be rewarded, but is something we do to be at peace with ourselves.
  • too much sensory stimulation from all forms of noise, light, chemicals, and electronics to name a few can add also to our burnout potential.
  • toxic relationships, at home and at work are contributing factors as well.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is not just an emotional problem. Merriam-Webster  defines burnout as “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”

These factors sound simple and probably reflect the reality of non=HSPs. However that does not mean that they do not apply equally to highly sensitive people.

In the case of HSPs, both can be serious factors because our need for rest is high and frequent and because many forms of work do not suit us, in particular all forms of drudgery.

But there are additional factors for highly sensitive people:

  • the rest we need from being around people too much
  • the rest we need from all forms of excessive stimulation:
    • light
    • sound
    • fabric and touch
    • entertainment
    • crowds
    • high pressure situations
    • competitive situations
    • toxic social environments

Work burnout can also occur

  1. when the work we are doing doesn’t suit our skills or interests.
  2. when we know we are not interested in a particular job or task and force ourselves to do it too often
  3. when our work environment is fear-based and highly political
  4. when we have too many emergencies, both at work and at home
  5. when we are sick or a family member is sick causing us to burn the candle at both ends.

Work is a particularly challenging subject for highly sensitive people since we have the need for work that is meaningful, self-paced and our “calling.”

All these factors – the presence of some or absence of others create stress for highly sensitive people. Since our systems are so sensitive, poor health habits will only make all of the potential burnout factors worse.

When we are well we can withstand some turbulence in our lives. When rough spots last too long they start to debilitate us. Life is not meant to be a long emergency.

Assessing Burnout Potential In Your Life

To assess burnout potential in your life, evaluate each aspect of your life below on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being low in stress and burnout potential and 10 being extreme burnout potential.

  1. consider your physical condition:
    • if you are strong and have physical reserves, you may be an HSP who has the ability to withstand long-term stressful situations.
    • if you are an HSP with lower resilience, you need to be careful about how much stress you tolerate and make adjustments to prevent physical burnout.
    • you become fatigued easily
    • you are sick or get sick easily
  2. consider your work situation.
    • are you valued?
    • are you doing work you love r is a lot of it drudgery?
    • do you have the skills you need to succeed in your field?
    • do you work with people who are good for you including taking your sensitivity into account?
    • is the organization well managed so that you are not affected by constant emergencies?
    • do you have to overwork too much?
    • are you compensated well? Are your benefits good?
  3. consider your relationships.
    • start with your family. Is it a warm, loving and supportive family? Are you accepted or are you generally frustrated by the disregard and unhappiness in your family?
    • do you have close supportive friends who accept and understand your sensitivity?
    • do you have a community you are a part of that is also supportive of your HSP trait?
    • are you happy with your social life?
    • are your work relationships good and productive?
  4. consider the time of year.
    • are there certain times when you are more overloaded than others and at risk of burnout?
    • are there times when the people around you are overloaded and your responsibilities increase as a result?
  5. consider the overall stress conditions in your life?
    • do you have burnout in some or two area spilling over into others and are you able to take time to heal?
    • do you see the potential for burnout to develop in any area in the future?
    • when you look at your burnout assessment how does it look to you? piece of cake? manageable? serious burnout potential?

There are no right answers and no score to determine your burnout potential. Your assessment is a map of your current situation so that you can easily get a high level view of your current situation.

With your assessment in hand, it might be useful to consider whether your burnout challenges are people challenges, time management challenges, or a need to develop skills. Sometimes we lack a skill set that could make our life easier, save time and reduce stress.

Steps To Prevent Burnout

Anyone can suffer from burnout. Highly sensitive people are likely to be more quickly affected than others by a high demand culture. But there are some steps you can take to insulate from the worst effects of burnout.

Here are 9 things you can do to prevent your sensitivity from turning into full blown burnout:

  1. strengthen your body first.  Improve your energy by getting a great night’s sleep, exercising, keeping hydrated and eating well.  Detox your body since toxins can build up causing debility over time. Take herbs to support your nervous system and defuse the impact of stress on your body.
  2. learn to meditate to relieve stress and help you with emotional balance. A long term meditation practice can help you detach from toxic people and helps restore your nervous system.
  3. make a list of all the areas of your health that you need to work on and set priorities for them.
  4. research on the internet about areas of your life that need significant improvement. Do not be afraid to tackle large issues like career choices and family problems.
  5. do not be afraid to cut back on commitments that are too draining.  Your other commitments will benefit from your improved attention. You are not responsible for others expectations.
  6. upgrade your skills to keep yourself marketable and functioning well and minimize job stress.
  7. for the tasks you hate, you have several options: drop them if they are really unimportant, break them up into small bite size work units so that you only have to so it for a short time, delegate them, or trade your undesired task with someone else’s undesired task. Avoid drudgery. It is notoriously draining for HSPs.
  8. determine what is most important to you so that you increase your time spent on your high value activities and therefore increase your satisfaction. It will cushion you from less pleasant experiences.
  9. treat burnout as a life-time concern that you can eliminate but taking good care of your life. It is a serious challenge for HSPs but one worth taking on.

Everyone’s life matters and everyone deserves to enjoy their life.

HSPs need to learn to say no. You do not have to carry the world on your shoulders.

When you are flexible, mindful about commitments and your highly sensitive nature and take excellent care of yourself you are doing what is necessary to beat burnout.

Preventing burnout is one of the most important things a highly sensitive person can do.

It is worth the effort.

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7 Paths to Reducing Sensitivity And Overwhelm For HSPs

You’re driving your car to work. The heat hasn’t kicked in.

Suddenly, you notice that you forgot to cut off a sewn in tag on the back of your shirt collar. It’s irritating your skin.

Sadness and frustration wash over you as you witness a child being drug by the arm through a cross walk a bit too fast for her tiny legs to keep up.

Down the road despair for the death of a tiny animal creeps in to your heart as you swerve to avoid what others blow off as just road kill.

A few minutes later, you walk in the door to your toasty office and the frown on a coworker’s face tells a story others seem to miss, and your day hasn’t even begun. Can you relate?

This is the world of the Highly Sensitive Person.

The HSPs Heightened Nervous System

As Highly Sensitive People, we are sensitive to light and color, harsh or excessive smells, loud, repetitive and unexpected noise, particular tastes and textures of food, and to the things and people around us us. We are sensitive to subtle changes and differences in our environment and, although not always recognized, we are sensitive to things unseen, such as electrical frequencies (EMFs), other’s emotions, and even the spirit world.

Highly Sensitive People are also empathic. Meaning, we are able to pick up on the emotions of others. And, it’s not just a matter of reading a person’s body language, like Tim Roth does on the TV show Lie To Me, although HSPs are exceptional readers of body language as well. We actually feel and carry other’s emotions as if they are our own. We absorb everything. And, what’s really disturbing is that most of us don’t know we are Highly Sensitive People and that not everyone shares our abilities.

It can be easy to want to shut down, stop seeing, stop feeling, and stop sensing, especially when our sensitivities make us feel physically dis-eased. But, that is to merely exist, to just breathe in and out, and who really wants just that? Well, maybe during meditation, but not in day to day life. Life is for living abundantly and joyfully through our senses.

Yet, some of us feel cornered, held back, and cheated by life, by our sensitivities. And, for those of us who feel that way, if we are not careful, we can end up believing we are victims of a cruel fate or negative karma, especially when we don’t understand why we are the way we are.

Highly Sensitive People, Emotions & Overwhelm

But, first, what is overwhelm? Overwhelm is experienced any time we feel, think, or experience something we feel we cannot handle. Overwhelm leads to negative emotions, which come from, both, our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Emotions are not just something in our minds. They are, indeed, molecules of energetic expression meant to precede a physical action, which, in turn, is meant to offer us relief.  HSPs reach overwhelm faster than others because we process emotions more physically than nonsensitive people do.

Emotions have the power to trigger chemical responses in the body, which impact our immune systems. Headache, stomach issues, chronic pain and phobias are symptoms caused by overwhelm to the nervous system by emotions. When we leave our emotions unresolved or misdirect them without a positive physical outlet, an action, we become dis-eased. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and other autoimmune disorders to appear due to sensory overwhelm, sometimes called overload.

Plenty of Highly Sensitive People have been given clean bills of health by their health providers and/or told their condition is all in their mind. After experimenting with strict diets, exercise, and prescriptions for anxiety and depression that don’t work, some HSP opt for self-medicating with recreational drugs or alcohol just to survive their senses. The good news is that by engaging in the right body-based therapies we can give our emotions the positive outlets (actions) they need to prevent overwhelm.

Why Sensory Avoidance Increases Sensitivity

Much of the energy drain Highly Sensitive People experience comes from trying to avoid our sensitivities rather than using them. In some circles this is called sensory defensiveness, which means you become defensive and avoid whatever stimuli makes you feel uncomfortable. Avoidance behavior only creates more sensitivity because of the energy required to sustain resistance and the additional stress it causes. It also leads to isolation, low-self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

I often tell people that if they are in the midst of a panic attack to use up the energy that’s trying to be expressed. Don’t resist. Walk briskly, run, dance in place, shadow box, take several deep breaths, or stamp your feet very hard. In other words, use up the adrenaline. I also say to use your senses.

Senses are like fine muscles. Stop using your senses and they’ll over-react, exaggeratedly to your emotions and the world around you. By engaging your senses in positive body-based activities often your senses will help you to maintain energy, balance, and calm. This creates joy.

Why ‘Mind-Based’ Therapies Don’t Work for HSPs

There are several theories as to what causes sensitivity. You can read about them most anywhere. But, how you came to be highly sensitive isn’t as important as knowing what to do about it. Often, HSPs seek counseling thinking it will help towards controlling their sensitivities, only to discover it won’t.

That’s not to say mind-based therapies (counseling, journaling, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, hypnotism, meditation, etc.) are not beneficial to Highly Sensitive People having suffered ongoing emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and Near Death Experiences (NDEs). These therapies can help to prevent, manage, and even erase unhealthy thoughts and emotions. And, who doesn’t need that? However, being a Highly Sensitive Person is not the same as having an anxiety order and should never be confused as such.

I choose to believe being sensitive is a way of being and not a disorder. And, while mind-based therapies work very well for trauma and abuse issues, they will not reduce overwhelm caused by a genetically sensitive nervous system. For the HSP to reduce overwhelm it requires something more. It requires body-based therapies.

The HSPs 7 Paths to Reducing Overwhelm

#7. The Spiritual Path, (also The Path of Spirit) which corresponds to the Crown Chakra, the colors Violet, Gold and White, the essential oil Frankincense, the gemstones Amethyst and Crystal, the food Purple Grapes, and understanding of ourselves and others. Remedies for The Spiritual Path may include introspection, connecting to a higher power, and learning to protect one’s self through ritual.

#6. The Path of Intuition (also related to The Path of Sound), which corresponds to the Brow Chakra, the color Indigo, the essential oil Vervain, the gemstone Lapis lazuli, the food Plums, and extra-sensory perception (the 6th Sense). Remedies for The Path of Intuition may include meditation, an area of study, or turning to unconventional methods of intuiting.

#5. The Path of Sound, which corresponds with the Throat Chakra, the color Blue, the essential oil Vanilla, the gemstone Turquoise, the food Blueberries, and expression. Remedies for The Path of Sound may include using your voice, speaking up, and expressing how you really feel.

#4. The Path of Touch, which corresponds to the Heart Chakra, the colors Green and Pink, the essential oils Lavender and Jasmine, the gemstone Emerald, the food Avocado, and love. Remedies for The Path of Touch involve learning to love yourself and others unconditionally.

#3. The Path of Sight, which corresponds to the Solar Plexus Chakra, the color Yellow, the essential oil Cedar, the gemstone Citrine, the food Yellow Squash, and personal power. Remedies for The Path of Sight may include intellectual stimulation, playfulness, and a healthy support network.

#2. The Path of Taste, which corresponds to the Sacral Chakra, the color Orange, the essential oil Sandalwood, the gemstone Moonstone, the food Pumpkin, and intimacy, as in closeness. Remedies for The Path of Taste may include healing negative emotions associated with the pelvic region, such as surgery, miscarriage, unhappy sexual experiences, or sexual abuse.

#1. The Physical Path (also The Path of Smell), which corresponds to the Root Chakra, the color Red, the essential oil Patchouli, the gemstone Ruby, the food Licorice, and survival of our body on the physical plain. Remedies for the Physical Path may include diet and nutrition modifications, sound sleep, exercise, and work.

Chakras are the energy centers located along your spine responsible for maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. A blockage in any of your chakras will create specific dis-eases depending on the chakra affected. For example, a blockage (low energy) in the Solar Plexus Chakra may cause stomach problems, such as acid reflux or loss of appetite. Emotional disorders might include confusion, irritbility, or loneliness. It is important to know that when one chakra is unbalanced it affects the energy levels of the other chakras.

It is well worth your while to investigate any possible energy blockages you may be experiencing through my Aura Energy Self-Test for Highly Sensitive People, which is freely available on my website, The Captains Lady at www.thecaptainslady.com. Once you know where these blockages are located, you’ll be able to choose appropriate, therapies to create better balance between your senses (The 7 Paths), which will help to reduce sensitivity.  You will find the majority of the therapies helping to create and restore chakra balance are body-based therapies involving the senses.

A Quick Approach to Reducing Sensitivity

If this information sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo and you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, don’t despair.

Although it is helpful to have ideas and methods made available to you as far as diet and remedies are concerned, especially when you suffer from stressful symptoms and syndromes, you don’t need to take aura tests and read a bunch of literature to understand how to use your senses in positive ways. There’s a quicker approach.

Try this exercise. Think of all of the things you have thought about doing over the past few days, months, or even years. What have you wanted to do more of, but haven’t? Perhaps, you’ve wanted to listen to music more often, visit friends, take a walk on the beach (HSP need expansive settings from time to time), spend more time in bed sleeping, hug more, laugh more, buy a new fragrance, make that traditional pot roast, or send someone a thank you card. Stop wasting energy avoiding these things. Avoidance is resistance. It wastes your energy. Spend your energy wisely through your senses of Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, and Smell, doing what you truly enjoy. However, remain moderate and try not to over-indulge any one particular sense.

Within just a couple of weeks after engaging your senses in the body-based therapies of your choice, you should notice you feel better and have more energy, both, physically and mentally. Avoidance, drudgery (boredom and monotony), and negative emotions begin to fade away. You begin to trust your emotions not to make you react fearfully. Self-esteem begins to rise.

That’s not to say you will never have another negative emotion, but, ultimately, by taking action through your senses you can empower yourself to truly live life instead of merely surviving, perhaps for the very first time.

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Identity And Thoughts: Changing The Narrative For Highly Sensitive People

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shutterstock_56815777

Do your thoughts drive you crazy?

Do you ruminate a lot and feel that you are going around in circles?

Do you think that your thoughts control you?

What Are Our Thoughts?

Our thoughts are mental pictures that we create.  They often seem automatic and out-of-control. They are a natural consequence of our interaction with daily life and are your way of processing and dealing with what is happening around you and to you.

Our thoughts are our mind’s desire to take care of us. They also are a way of our dealing with the unknown and unknowable. Our thoughts support our assumed identities and try to identify our place in the world. They help us to belong.

Unfortunately, our thoughts often seem to be running our lives.

Why Are Our Thoughts So Painful?

For many thoughts can be very painful because through our thoughts we determine here we stand in life. Our thoughts are essentially left brained operating in a linear way and aligned with the manifested world. They are mathematical and materialistic.

If we identify with our left brained thoughts then we are only looking at a small part of reality and not necessarily what is true.

One of the reasons thoughts can be painful is because they attempt to place us in an identity that works in a world that often has preconceived ideas about who we are and should be.

Our Thoughts And The Cultural Narrative

Our thoughts can be a lot of things. They can be about personal aspects of our lives as well as the public aspects. Sometimes they have a short term focus. Sometimes not.

Most often they seem to be a way of interpreting and dealing with the cultural narrative around us. The problem with continually engaging in this way is that the cultural narrative usually has a life of its own. For highly sensitive people, the cultural narrative is usually about non-HSP life and lifestyles so it is basically not about them.

We can, therefore, feel left out and our thoughts do not necessarily help us with that.

However, we are not here to serve a social structure. We are here to become our best self. Sometimes the social structure and our evolution are at odds and we are not suppose to fit in.

Reclaiming Your Narrative

It is important to have a sense of yourself separate from the narrative around you.

Narratives about life are just stories as the research on human evolution in Spiral Dynamics show. Narratives are the social structure created to support and justify a particular cultural embodiment. They change when we need to change. They are not sacred. One person’s narrative is not necessarily another person’s narrative.

Narratives are not necessarily the TRUTH.

When you try to be a part of the cultural narrative and take your identity from it, you may be creating problems for yourself.

Identifying with the cultural narrative works for many non-HSPs since the narrative usually reflects them.  It may feel wrong that they can be so comfortable in the cultural narrative when as a highly sensitive person you feel like an outsider.

For that reason you have to identify a narrative for yourself or your thoughts will be dominated by ideas related to a narrative that doesn’t suit you and only causes you mental frustration.

Creating Your Own Narrative

Highly sensitive people need to create their own narrative.

We need to separate ourselves from the dominant narrative. To do so we need to make some mental adjustments:

  • see the existing cultural narrative as hanging rather than fixed.
  • align your narrative with the evolutionary process going on around you. That way you support improvements in life and are not simply fighting the existing cultural narrative.
  • notice how your narrative can be helpful to others as a way to help you maintain your ability to connect with others.

When you take back you narrative, you can eliminate a lot of the thoughts you have about your place in the existing system and let your thoughts now serve where you are going and what you are becoming.

It is a great way to stop ruminating and start creating the life you deserve.

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