Most people have multiple ways of judging themselves, and often that involves comparing themselves to others. Maybe you have a role-model in mind, a person you think has it all together. Maybe you choose the best of several other people to compare yourself to–the role model for your professional life is different than the person you look up to in your personal life, and the person you admire for her mothering skills may not be the same person you want to look like in a swimsuit.
Most people don’t consider themselves good enough. We’re not good enough at work, as a parent, or as a spouse. Our bodies don’t look good enough at a pool party and we aren’t pretty enough or successful enough at the high school reunion. We don’t have enough friends and we don’t have the right car.
Emotionally sensitive people are more likely to judge themselves harshly. We live life as if it were a competition.
When you’re feeling upset, it’s difficult to problem-solve or think of what actions might help. Keeping a list of what works for you could be an important step for coping successfully. It’s also true that building strong basics in your life will help you cope more effectively when you are faced with pain.
13: For this week, notice something YOU did right each day. Sometimes people focus so much on what needs to change that they forget how much is perfect just as it is. This is related to noticing what went right, only this time it’s about your actions, what you did right. Remember small right actions add up, so count the small steps.
Living a values-based life is not an easy goal. You get up in the morning, you’ve got tasks to do. Sometimes you just do tasks without considering how you are allocating your time. Sometimes you just keep going all day until you are done, then fall into bed exhausted. Often it seems there isn’t enough time to think about living your life with meaning or putting your energy into what you believe in.
You may believe in family, contributing to those less fortunate, friendships or making positive difference in your community. Many times though, people don’t put their values into action. They don’t live their beliefs.
Paying Attention to Who You Are
Your values are an important part of your identity. What are your top five values? How much of your life do you spend consistent with those values?
Understanding emotions, being able to observe them in ourselves, and knowing the information they give us is an important part of living effectively. For example, fear tells us to take action or freeze to protect ourselves. When fear is based on true facts versus imagined or misinterpreted information, that message to self-protect can be lifesaving. That message is perfectly clear — you are in danger.
Sometimes, though, the message our emotions are giving us is more difficult to understand. That’s true of shame.
Webster defines shame as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, and ridiculous done by oneself or another. It is a kind of injury to one’s pride or self-respect.
Do you ever feel like you simply can’t listen to another word about a difficult experience or loss? You may be experiencing compassion fatigue.
Therapists, nurses, doctors, nannies, childcare workers, nursing home caregivers and other people who focus on helping on a regular basis often experience compassion fatigue. Listening to heartbreak and caring about the troubles of others can be stressful and emotionally tiring.
The emotionally sensitive, who are keenly aware of the emotions of others, are at risk for compassion fatigue even if they aren’t in a care-taking situation. Driving past an animal shelter or seeing a homeless person on the street can bring about overwhelming compassion and over time result in compassion fatigue.
Caring deeply day after day can be emotionally exhausting.
Kelly’s weekdays are filled with pain. She’s a caring friend; one who takes on the pain of the people in her life. Her college student niece whose heart is broken, the young wife next door who feels empty and hollow despite having the life she once dreamed of and the middle-aged friend whose life hasn’t met his expectations.
All their emotions, and those of others, stay with her in one way or another until she replenishes herself and lets them go. Being an emotionally sensitive person and an introvert, time to recoup through solitary activities like reading is crucial for her to live a contented life.
It’s the first chapter in her owner’s manual for herself.
Many of us might wish there weren’t so many problems in life. “If only” keeps us stuck, just like, “Why me?” We’d rather have a life that flows effortlessly. Given that life is full of problems, maybe the best option is to get really good at solving them.
Sometimes problems come because we make bad decisions. Some come because of our relationships with others and some come through the thoughtlessness of others. Some of our problems come from our own feelings and ways of looking at life.
Effective problem-solving improve your sense of well-being, your mood, your hope and self-confidence. Learning how to solve problems can improve your overall health. Moreover, problem-solving skills can be taught. People aren’t born knowing how to solve problems.
“He’s a stupid idiot,” “I’m a total loser,” or “I’ve just had a horrible day” are common statements we make when we are frustrated, tired, overwhelmed or embarrassed. Such statements often serve to express intense feelings after difficult events. So what’s the harm?
In general, the main issue is that judgmental statements tend to increase our emotional upset. But there are other concerns as well.
Judgements Hide Consequences
We label events and actions as good or bad as a shorthand way of talking. We say getting a traffic ticket is bad or not paying the rent is bad. We say getting a raise is good. But we forget that we’re using shorthand. What we’re really saying is that events and actions have consequences that are desirable or not desirable.
While it’s not true for everyone, many emotionally sensitive people tend to use food as self-comfort. Eating is one of those strategies that works in the short-term but can have long-term consequences that add to your stress level.
When you go into your closet and nothing fits, that’s a miserable feeling. When your chest is tight and you feel so stuffed with food you can’t move, that’s miserable too.
One of the reasons that emotionally sensitive people use food as comfort is likely due to cortisol. Cortisol’s job is to get you all prepared to fight that tiger lurking outside your cave. It gets your energy up by increasing your heart rate and the blood pumping to your muscles. Cortisol tells the body to release sugar to bloodstream, which is why when you’re upset about your boss criticizing you at work, your body is all on alert to fight, as if there were a tiger about to attack.
You just want to calm down and get rid of this tension and agitation, so you stop at the grocery for cookies, potato chips and dark chocolate ice cream. One of the reasons for this is that high levels of cortisol can create cravings for high fat and sweet foods. High cortisol reactors have been shown to eat more food.
Recently the leader of a girls’ school in England planned a “failure week.” The idea was to teach students to be willing to take risks and build their resilience, their ability to bounce back when they didn’t succeed or do well at something they tried. What a great idea.
How many of us know how to fail? Failure is a part of succeeding, especially when your goal is a difficult one to achieve. Persistence is said to be the key to success. Persistence means to keep going even when a door closes.
So what’s the difference between people who keep going and crave a challenge and those who give up?