Emotionally sensitive people react to events quickly and with intense emotions, and then have difficulty getting their emotional reactions to subside. Finding ways to manage emotions effectively can decrease the pain they experience.
Below are some suggestions for coping with intense emotions.
1. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and stress for everyone. Consider a way to practice mindfulness everyday that is easy to remember. Maybe mindfully brush your teeth or mindfully drink your coffee. Consider using a bracelet or a sticky note to remind yourself.
2: Play. If possible, find a way to laugh today. Be silly. Giggle. Dance, watch a comedy, run in the park, buy a balloon, dabble with paints, gather friends for games or play games designed for one player. Just for a few minutes. Enjoy a simple pleasure and focus completely on the activity – not on your concerns.
3. Practice gratitude. Each evening go through your day and list three things you are grateful for. Be specific. Then focus on those three experiences or interactions or things. Savor the positive
4: Nurture relationships. Friends will likely always make you angry or upset, but having friendships is one of the keys to contentment. When you spend time with friends, focus on what you like, what energizes you. Review the positive experiences in your mind to equal out the natural inclination to go over and over painful experiences.
5: Give up your attachment to outcomes. Being too attached to certain outcomes or living a certain way or having a certain solution limits you and leads to suffering. Be open to what comes.
6. Learn something new. You don’t have to choose something difficult. Learn a little about another culture or learn a new word or two. Read a magazine about a hobby you know nothing about or read about life in a different country. Cook a new dish, play a new game, or explore an area of town that is new to you. See the world anew, with the eyes of a child.
7: Let go of urgency. Sometimes we feel urgent about everyday tasks, persuading someone to agree with us, achieving goals, getting the gift that we want or getting our way about an issue. We create desperation and pain when very few tasks or experiences are truly urgent, and acting as if situations are emergencies only gets in our way and creates anxiety and suffering. Be mindful, let go of urgency when it isn’t really a 911 situation. Slow down, breathe, take small steps
8: Stay focused on what is in your control. Attempting to control other people or events creates anxiety, anger, feelings of helplessness and turmoil. For example, you can’t control how someone else treats you, but you can often choose how much time you spend with them or work on how you react to the way they treat you. You can’t control that someone you love chose to spend the weekend with other friends, but you can control how you spend your weekend.
9: Accept Imperfection. Life is messy and imperfect. Striving for perfection that doesn’t exist crushes joy and contentment.
10: Stop comparing to others who have it better. Comparing is a way of evaluating and judging ourselves and others. Most often we compare ourselves to a characteristic of someone else who we see as superior to us. It’s also a way of competing. See yourself as part of a community where each person’s success benefits us all. Practice saying, “Good for them, good for us all.”
11: Get out of the box of pre-defined holiday celebrations. Having a big family get together with lots of activities is just one way to celebrate and not necessarily the preferred way for everyone. Walking mindfully along the ocean with yourself, watching old movies with friends, meditating and recuperating from all the activity of the year, and focusing on a spiritual journey are just some of the alternatives.
12: Make a point of noticing what works. Did you get to your job without a problem? Did you enjoy your dinner with a friend? Did you use a skill when you needed it? Did someone help you with a task? it is easy to overlook what goes right!
I’ll post the remaining 13 suggestions in a future post. What would you add?
Note to Readers: My sincere thanks to everyone who has completed our second survey. If you haven’t participated, please consider answering the questions on my new survey about being emotionally sensitive. I’ll be closing the survey soon. Results will be given in a future post.