Along with the daily challenges of living with ADHD, many of us also have the genetic trait of being highly sensitive people (HSP’s). The double-whammy of these got the better of me last week.
Here are the strategies I used to turn it around. Maybe you too will find these tips helpful when life gets overwhelming.
1. Check my thoughts and emotions.
Challenge: Record high temperatures all week. Grass is dying; plants are wilting. The fruit trees were killed in March by a freak thaw followed by a killing frost. I love our planet and the evidence all around me tells me it’s dying.
Quick fix: Notice my inner response to what’s happening. Re-frame thoughts and take action! Change worry into opportunity by spreading the word about drought-resistant plants; send out reminders about the medicinal and culinary properties of so-called weeds as a more natural and healthier alternative to groomed lawns; promote and encourage herbal knowledge to nourish ourselves in hard times and create self-reliance. Promote herbalist friend.
2. Stay focused.
Challenge: All week, friends and friends-of-friends were struggling with serious illnesses and chronic pain. I got distracted and worried about their struggles and forgot my own goals and responsibilities.
Quick fix: Remind myself that neglecting my life will ensure that I place myself amongst those whom others are worrying about. Help where I can, stay strong and focused!
3. Remind myself of my own sphere of influence.
Challenge: Overheard loud domestic altercation through neighbor’s open window when pulling into my friend’s driveway. Became emotionally distraught, tortured by mental images of violence and child abuse. Confused about whether to intervene, worried about putting myself at risk, worried about jeopardizing my friend if I call the police (her neighbor might think it was her, not me, who blew the whistle and retaliate). Couldn’t shake worry and mental images for days.
Quick fix: Trust my perceptions that physical abuse was not occurring. Remind myself that I did my best, and I can’t single-handedly save the world. Forgive myself for my confusion in a tough situation and for not intervening. Learn to make a decision and then let it go and let it be.
Remember the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
4. Don’t give advice when it’s not asked for. Be a good listener.
Challenge: Giving advice to others who haven’t asked for it. Feeling rejected when the (unasked for) advice isn’t taken. Feeling impotent in the face of others’ suffering.
Quick fix: Question need to “help” when unasked. (i.e. Butt Out!)
Remind myself that listening without judgment or giving advice (unless asked) is the most respectful and best way to help.
5. Cultivate wise, positive friends.
Challenge: Feeling overwhelmed, lonely, isolated, confused.
Quick fix: Share the week’s challenges with a positive friend. Commiserate! Listen to friend’s wise counsel. Find renewed clarity; feel refreshed, restored, connected and calm.
Last week’s events triggered some highly sensitive reactions on my part. By reaching out to a friend to re-frame what had happened, I was reminded that being highly sensitive is neutral in and of itself; it can lead to feeling emotionally overwhelmed or to insight and wisdom.
I was reminded of the importance of managing emotional sensitivity wisely, and of the gift of having friends who can help you to do that.
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Last reviewed: 9 Jul 2012