Archives for Self-soothing
Strengthening relationships and feeling less lonely is a challenge for emotionally sensitive people and can be overwhelming. Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges offers a step-by step model that is easily understood and gives the reader a way to move forward. I am grateful to Lori Deschene, the author, for answering a few questions about her work. How did you get the idea for Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges? I knew I wanted to write a book about strengthening our relationships, both because authentic connection is such a huge part of Tiny Buddha, and because I’ve personally experienced the consequences of shutting people out. For years when I was younger I isolated myself in shame, afraid that people would reject me if they knew about my struggles and shortcomings.
The sun's up, the alarm clock sounds off and you peel your eyes open. What are your thoughts? I'm wondering if you squeeze your eyes shut and wish the day were over. Maybe you wake up tense with a boulder in your throat and an upset stomach. Maybe you have a low-grade sadness that the day just doesn't matter. I've had that experience. For too long I struggled with anxiety about facing the day. Unfortunately I allowed a narcissist into my life. No matter how much you give to people who feel entitled, it's never enough. When you don't give them what they want, they will make it their mission to make you miserable.
Emotionally sensitive people are often affected strongly by their environment and different people are soothed by different types of settings. Maybe a loft in an artsy area of town or a house in the country or a townhome in a busy area of the city fits with the environment you love. But maybe you are living in suburbia when you are a city person at heart or a nature lover living in a big city. While it may not be feasible to change your address to fit your personality, you can work on the interior of your home being more reflective of your personality. Having a home that is a personal refuge means paying attention to what is soothing to you and arranging your habitat in ways that fit your personality. Sometimes out of fear of criticism, rejection from others, or not taking time to focus on their own needs, emotionally sensitive people may not venture from a tried and true decor. Such an atmosphere might not be upsetting but it also not likely to be comforting.
Emotionally sensitive people are often artistic. Being artistic usually means having a strong appreciation of the senses, and information taken in through seeing, hearing, touching and tasting. They may also have a love of movement, such as dance. The emotionally sensitive person may have an active imagination and create works of visual art or spend time writing. They are often passionate about helping others. These attributes are gifts, and can also be ways to cope with intense feelings that can be overwhelming at times. Consider the following examples:
The cost of judging is quite high, particularly for emotionally sensitive people. Think how you would live your life if you weren't afraid of being judged, either by yourself of others? Judging and fear of being judged often keeps people in a trap - an emotional jail. Instead of living your life the way you would love to, you live safely, doing what is acceptable, so you aren't labelled as crazy, stupid, worthless, a failure, lazy or some other hateful word. You may try to fit into molds that aren't right for you or that aren't even possible for human beings. Humans simply aren't perfect.
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.
In the book, "Why We Make Mistakes," Joseph Hallinan relates an amazing story about a 1972 airplane crash. When Captain Robert Lofe, the pilot of Eastern Airlines Flight 401, was making his final approach to Miami International Airport, he noticed something was wrong. He had put the landing gear down, but the indicator light didn't come on. He circled around and decided to level off to determine what the problem was. He didn't have a clue, so he called in the first officer. The first officer didn't know either so they called in the flight engineer. Pretty soon no one was flying the plane, which was going lower and lower. The captain's last words reportedly were "Hey! What's happening here?" The plane crashed into the Everglades and burst into flames, killing ninety-nine people, including Captain Loft. The reason for the crash was because the crew became so engrossed in a task that they lost awareness of their situation--all because of a $12 light bulb.
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.