Being Mindful of the Gray
Sometimes people who are emotionally sensitive are controlled by their emotions. When they are feeling happy and joyful, they think positive thoughts and all may seem right with the world. When they are upset, they may not remember how good they felt before and be unable to believe that they may feel good again. During those times their thoughts are often pessimistic and they may see all as hopeless.
Emotionally sensitive people may also experience mood dependent behavior. When they are happy or content, they are active with their friends and interested in the events of the day. When they are depressed, sad, or scared they may withdraw and isolate. Their behavior depends on their mood, more so than for people who are not emotionally sensitive. In addition, the way they see themselves may be controlled by their mood. They may hate themselves when they are angry, sad or disappointed. When they are content or happy, they may accept themselves or at least not feel such intense self-dislike.
These shifts in moods, thoughts, and behavior are part of an emotional roller coaster that is exhausting and confusing both for the emotionally sensitive and for those who love them. Extremes usually lead to misery.
Finding a Balance
To lessen the extremes of mood, thought and behavior involves seeking the gray, or the middle of the road position between black and white extremes. Being mindful of middle of road thoughts is one way to do this. For example, even when very difficult situations occur, there are usually some positives to be found. And in exciting situations there are often cautions to be considered as well. When you receive an invitation to lunch from a friend you haven’t seen in a while, that may be an exciting and happy event. Going into that experience focusing only on the positive, forgetting that you tend to compare yourself to this friend in such a way that you feel discouraged about yourself, may lead to discouragement and disappointment. Remembering the challenges of being around this friend gives you an opportunity to think of ways to cope with your self-judgments and find a balance between your excitement and your discouragement. Keeping both in mind helps you stay more balanced in your emotions.
Being willing to consider the less positive aspects of a situation when feeling happy and the positive components of your life when you are upset can be challenging. Intense sadness, anger, and hurt are painful. When excited, happy and content, emotionally sensitive people may wish to avoid thinking of any issues that might trigger painful emotions.Considering both the down side as well as the up side of an experience may seem to risk losing the joy that they treasure. At the same time, when feeling hurt or upset, they may discount any positives. Accepting and valuing the gray takes practice.
Another way to find the gray areas or an emotional balance is to be mindful of all the emotions you are experiencing. Typically, though one emotion may be primary, we experience many different feelings at the same time. We may be happy about finding a new job, sad about leaving good friends and a bit scared of the new challenge while at the same time we are hurt by something a family member said. If we focus on on only one of those emotions, we lose information and balance.
Sometimes it may seem that remembering the positives when you are upset minimizes to others the pain that you feel. Actually, we can experience many different emotions at the same time and one emotion doesn’t cancel out another.
There are many ways to find a balance between the extremes. What are some of the ways that you do it?
Note to Readers
If you are emotionally sensitive, please consider taking my survey about understanding loneliness. I appreciate your time and your contribution to better understanding emotional sensitivity.
Hall, K. (2012). Being Mindful of the Gray. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/emotionally-sensitive/2012/10/being-mindful-of-the-gray/