From a very young age, I’ve been emotional and sensitive. Being around arguments made me beyond uncomfortable and I always felt like I absorbed the emotional state of everyone around me. I grew up around a lot of alcoholism and fighting, and often felt like I couldn’t talk about it to anyone because they wouldn’t understand. Aside from not understanding, I didn’t want to complain and be a negative person; so I kept it all to myself. We each have things like that.
For me, as I got older, I realized I had a really difficult time letting things go. Break ups, losing touch with friends, being misunderstood/ not liked – these were all things that were unusually hard. I felt like I was always the person who cared more, and I often didn’t feel seen or heard.
At 29, I can say that my 20’s were absolutely transformational. Although I’m the same person, the last decade of life experience has rendered much introspection and wisdom overall. I see the ways in which I have done a disservice to myself, have been toxic toward myself or others, and have choicefully held myself back when all I needed to do was make the choice not to.
I say this with love and grace for myself, as I believe that each action ultimately leads us to the people we need to meet, the experience we need to have, and the lessons we need to learn.
“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships”
How I view things today: There have been a few life experiences this year that have really shaken my world. Over the last few months, I find myself reverting back to old ways. Feeling sorry for myself, isolating, losing patience with people who don’t understand, feeling sad (a lot), and just feeling bad in general.
But then I think to myself – there is always always that choice. I can choose to listen to the sad songs, let the memories play like a slideshow in the background of my day, complain, become inundated with anxiety, and let myself sit in that headspace for weeks/ months; or I can simply choose differently.
And I acknowledge that there is some privilege in this way of thinking, and I’m lucky that it’s doable for me and my life. I acknowledge that in some instances, this may not be the case; but under most circumstances, we can make this choice.
What’s most important to call out, especially if you resonate with being sensitive/ emotional, is that it’s not like you’re born this way and that’s it & it’s who you are forever. That is a fixed mindset, and it’s imperative to switch to a growth mindset. Yes, we’re born with certain personality traits and I’m not saying anything is inherently wrong with being emotional and sensitive (these are often poorly perceived in society, but there are so many benefits to being both sensitive and emotional). But what I’m saying is sometimes, even our greatest strengths can have toxic impacts – especially when it comes to ourselves and the overuse of these characteristics.
For emotional and sensitive people, we can analyze and overthink ad nauseam. For me, when I start to recognize those old patterns, I put on a song that makes me happy. I call a friend and have an uplifting and positive conversation. I meditate, work out, or go on a walk. I do something I enjoy – maybe cook a meal, watch a funny movie, take a bath, read a book, play with my pet. There are so many things you can do to lift yourself out of that headspace in a healthy way.
Lastly, I’m not advocating that we bury our feelings or sweep them under the rug. There’s just a balance. A sweet spot. A time for honoring what we feel and letting it flow in, through, and out; and also a time to parent ourselves and find strength to go on. Often this can come in learning, finding purpose, and ultimately finding peace and happiness within yourself. Having faith is also another important one for me.
So that’s it. We’re all going to have hard times at one point or another. Building resilience and strength is paramount, I’m finding. Positivity is something I’m always aiming for; because the opposite just isn’t the life I want. So today, I choose happiness, and even in the hardest of times, I’m going to try to leverage what I know and choose happiness then, too.
How do you feel about this topic? Are you similar? Different? Let me know.