What’s Your Protective Armor in Relationships?

By Karyn Hall, PhD

NYAF/NYCC

When you are emotionally sensitive, your feelings are quicker to come about, more intense and last longer than those of other people. When you’re seen as being different, particularly in a way that others don’t understand, then relationships are difficult to maintain. Others often don’t understand your emotional reactions.

Emotionally sensitive people have many ways of  putting on armor to protect themselves from the  painful judgments and rejections of others. You’ve learned that when you show your emotional sensitivity you’ll be labeled as flawed or broken or at least not understood.  The heightened fear of being rejected that many of you fear is often based in reality.

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Joy Blockers

By Karyn Hall, PhD

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I’ve just completed several months of intense work, all by my choice. Today I do not have any deadlines that are pressing and nothing that I have to do. There is much I could do, but nothing I have to do. I can just breathe, enjoy the moments of the day, and be grateful.

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Make a Difference: Accept Your Emotional Sensitivity

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 sparkling heart - have a sparkling weekend ;)

Emotionally sensitive people are among the most compassionate and passionate people in the world. Often creative, you have talents as artists, writers, and musicians. You add to the caring and beauty of the world. Many times you also struggle with self-hatred, depression, anxiety, and horrible feelings of alienation. Those struggles are likely not due to your being emotionally sensitive. Much of your suffering may come from self-doubt and from an agonizing experience of being broken. That likely comes from what you are told and experience as a child.

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An Epidemic of Urgency

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 Churchill DownsCreative Commons License

Urgency means requiring swift action and seems to include a nuance of importance. If something is urgent, it is important and needs to be done quickly. Somehow my urgency sensor is stuck in the “on” position. I perceive urgency and react as if my activity is critically urgent when all I’m doing is going to the grocery store or taking a shower. I  feel pressure that time is passing and I’m not going to get it all done, or won’t get it done on time.  What “all” is and why it has to be done is not clear, if I even consider it.  When I drive to the office, there’s an urgency to get there on time. When I’m going through my day, there’s an urgency keep to the schedule. When I’m at the gym, I am focused on getting the workout done so I can get on to the next activity.

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Three Blocks on the Path To Radical Acceptance

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

 

Stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment and respect when you don't even show that to yourself.

Radical Acceptance means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart, your mind, and body. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting reality you suffer less. That means you don’t feel hot anger in your stomach whenever you see the person who got the promotion you deserved and you don’t seethe with resentment when you see your best friend who is now dating your boyfriend. You accept that what is, is. You learn and you go forward. Radical acceptance is easier to understand than it is to practice.  There are many obstacles to giving up the suffering of resentments and anger, particularly for emotionally sensitive people.

1. But I don’t want to let them off the hook.  Holding on to your anger can seem like you are punishing the offending person, whoever did a wrong to you. As long as you are angry then they aren’t getting away with whatever they did to harm you. Your anger serves as a marker, a memorial almost, of their actions. If you let go and radically accept then it is like it never happened and you don’t want it to be that easy. When your feelings are deep and intense, you want the other person to understand they hurt they have caused. Plus your resentment is pretty intense too and difficult to manage.

That sounds good. The problem is that it doesn’t really work that way. When someone has treated you unfairly, he either knows it or doesn’t know it. If he recognizes his actions were unkind, then your anger serves only to distract from his facing his own failings and guilt. If he doesn’t recognize his unkindness (or worse), then your anger changes nothing. Your anger will not teach another person about compassion and kindness or respect of others.

Radical acceptance does not mean that you embrace the person who hurt you as if nothing happened.  You go forward with knowledge you didn’t have before. Stand up for yourself with respect. Take the anger and resentment as messages to be more careful in the future or to stand up for yourself in effective ways or to strengthen your support system, or to use whatever knowledge you gained to be more effective in living your life. Holding onto the anger or resentment handcuffs you to the past and keeps you reliving a painful event.

The same information is true if you are angry with yourself.

2.  Accepting means I agree and I will never agree. I think the problem is that the word “accept” often means approving of something or agreeing with someone, such as accepting a job offer means agreeing to take the job. Radical acceptance does not mean you are agreeing to a situation or action. It means you are acknowledging that the event happened and is real. Acceptance means not fighting reality. There are many ways to fight reality.

Your language is a clue that you are not accepting reality. You say something, for example a wedding, shouldn’t have happened, that you will never accept that he married her, that you will hold it against him to his dying day, and that you will never acknowledge their relationship. The suffering is yours. The reality is that he did marry her. Your refusal to accept it doesn’t change the facts and only holds onto to emotional pain for you.

The same information is true if you are not accepting your own behaviors. The truth is that you did whatever you did. You don’t have to approve or agree, but the facts are the facts.

3. I need to be angry to protect myself.  Radical acceptance can seem very risky to emotionally sensitive people. Anger, withdrawal and resentment can seem like armor to protect yourself. You may be protecting yourself from the person who hurt you, believing that you forgive too easily and forget that someone behaves in certain ways so that you get hurt again. The problem is that you are not applying the knowledge you gained from the hurtful event. Staying angry hurts you too. The answer is not to protect yourself from possible future suffering by doing something that creates suffering in the present. In this case, finding a way to go forward in a different way, with wisdom, so you don’t let the same scenario happen again and again. My guess is attempting to use anger in that way works only for a short time anyway.

You may be using anger to protect yourself from more painful feelings such as hurt, sadness and emotional pain. As long as you stay angry you don’t feel as vulnerable. Feeling sad and hurt can seem scary vulnerable. In this case anger is a secondary emotion and you are blocking your primary emotions. As long as you block your primary emotions you cannot heal.

Practicing radical acceptance can be very difficult. The relief from suffering that results is worth the effort.

 

 

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Learning from Gamers: Making Reality More Rewarding

By Karyn Hall, PhD

Ciber Cafe

Many youth and young adults are immersed in virtual worlds and online games. They spend every possible moment using their skills and ingenuity to get to the next level of complex multiplayer games. Your attempts to get them to spend time offline are met with strong resistance and may be doomed.

Jane McGonigal, in her book Reality is Broken:  Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World points out that games offer a sense of being fully alive, focused and engaged in every moment. Games offer a sense of power, heroic purpose and community as well as the thrill of success and team victory. Games were designed to maximize interest and motivation with no personal attacks. Games are inspiring and create a sense of community. Games satisfy the hunger for more satisfying work and a sense of a more engaging life.

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Emotional Bruising

By Karyn Hall, PhD

Karate Kitten

 

When you are emotionally sensitive, getting through each day can feel like walking through a carnival full of interesting booths and people but alert to small dangers everywhere. The path is uneven, people are running in the crowds without looking where they are going, some of the games are rigged and mosquitos are buzzing around ready to bite. While most people barely register these issues, they can ruin the day for you. Someone making an off-hand comment, being criticized, learning that a friend didn’t invite you to join her and other friends for a movie, a boyfriend breaking a date–all are painful for you. While it’s not I-can’t-stand-it kind of pain, it’s enough to create difficult feelings of sadness and rejection, even when you know these routine events happen to everyone and weren’t meant to harm you. At the end of most days you’re covered with emotional bruises. And those bruises add up.

Emotional bruises are those hurts that make it more difficult to get through the day and bring your mood down. You’re tired and wounded–know the feeling?

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Learn to Love Small Changes

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

End Of the Day II

When your emotions are intense, you may find yourself playing it safe in life. You don’t want to take risks for fear that you would be rejected, fail, or not be able to handle new experiences. Really, what if you lose it completely and break out in tears in front of total strangers? Maybe you don’t trust yourself to take reasonable risks. Maybe in the past when you’ve broken out of your routine you’ve gone to an extreme and the consequences weren’t pleasant. Selling all your belongings and moving to Mexico is not the type of change that I’m talking about.

Maybe you’re afraid of change though you don’t really know why. The idea of not waking up in the same place and seeing the same people and following your routine is most unpleasant.

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The Challenge of Being Happy For Our Friends

By Karyn Hall, PhD

 

Friendship

Sam and Ellen were best friends. Together they shared movies, devoured pizza, and watched football. They talked about whatever thoughts came into their heads and they were comfortable with silence too. If  Sam needed help, he could count on Ellen. If  Ellen had a rough day, Sam was there to help her get past it.  When Sam couldn’t find a job, Ellen looked at ads and gave him leads she got through her friends. They supported each other through the hard times.

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Building Resiliency

By Karyn Hall, PhD


When I was working in a Children’s Protective Services Shelter I met children who were scared from being whipped with extension cords, had suffered broken bones from being hit and who lived on the streets, surviving as best they could. I also met a young man, a former medical student, who volunteered at the shelter. He had hit his head when he dove into a swimming pool and was paralyzed from the neck down. Like this young man, some of the children exhibited an admirable ability to find joy and meaning despite the traumas and stress they had suffered. Those children shared similar qualities as this young man: they were resilient. Not only did they survive, but they were able to become passionate thrivers. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity and stress, a key quality for your emotional and physical health.

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Savvy
The Power of Validation
The Power of Validation
The Power of Validation
Karyn Hall, PhD is the author of the above books.
Check out their details by clicking on the cover.


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