Your Questions, Answered
I thought it was about time to answer some of the excellent questions
you've been posting on my blog.
The questions have been edited for brevity and clarity; they can
be read in their entirety on the Your Biggest Questions page on
the blog. Each question raises the topic of working with emotions.
Is it normal to hide out to avoid upsetting
and overstimulating situations?
On April 18, 2006, Jessica
"My biggest question is if it's 'normal' for a highly sensitive
person to cry, run away, hide out in their room, and avoid all future
situations where their sensitivity was strongly provoked or brought
out? I'm 20 years old. Anyone would think I'd already be driving
a car, going to clubs with my friends, having 150 friends at that,
going to college, having a job, making money for myself, or just
living my LIFE outside of my bedroom, my computer, my books and
my sketchbooks. But I don't because I have very, very strong emotional
reactions to situations.
"Everyone says to just 'get over it' but they don't tell me how.
'Suck it up and shut up. Stop caring. Move on. Get a job. Go to
school. Drive. Go out.' It alienates me and makes me feel as though
I am abnormal, in a bad way."
I answered your question because it reminded me very much of how I
felt when I was 20. First of all, yes, I do think it's normal to
avoid situations that have felt traumatizing. Second, there is nothing
wrong with you for being sensitive. Third, what I suggest you focus
on is letting go of the notion that you "should" be like
a non-sensitive person and live a non-sensitive's life. This doesn't
mean that you won't socialize, have jobs, or go out. But it does
mean that you'll do it in a way that works with your sensitivity
rather than against it.
Pushing through what doesn't work for you will only increase your
aversion to it. Instead, I suggest that you begin exploring what
YOU, Jessica, would LIKE to do and would feel comfortable with,
and head in that direction. For example, it sounds like you love
to sketch. Perhaps a comfortable place to connect with others would
be in an art class or small sketching group. Gradually venturing
out in ways that you enjoy will help you feel more comfortable and
more self-confident, which will gradually build your ability to
tolerate emotional challenges. Also take a look at my answer to
Karyn, below, for more about handling emotions.
* * * * * * * *
How can I feel my feelings without such intensity?
On April 20, 2006, Karyn
asked: "Without realizing it, I sometimes avoid feelings because
they are so strong. I recognize that stepping over one's feelings
does not work. But I also wonder how to feel the feelings without
such intensity. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated."
You make the point that avoiding feelings doesn't ultimately work,
which I believe is part of your answer. The expression "What
we resist, persists," applies here. Since many sensitive souls
have been shamed for being "too emotional," and because
our culture isn't exactly emotionally permissive, many of us try
to repress our emotions as much as possible. This in turn makes
them feel MORE intense.
I also think that many of us have a deep fear that if we "go into"
our emotions, they will never end. As much as we might like to think
this is true, it is not. We will not die, or be swallowed by pain
as we fear, if we allow ourselves to experience our feelings. In
fact, allowing ourselves to fully experience our feelings is what
ultimately makes them feel less intense.
Our emotions are part of our own powerful inner guidance system. For
instance, anger can be an indicator that our boundaries have been
violated. (Read more about this in the October 2005 e-zine).
Or, depression can let us know that our spirits have left -- usually
because we are trying to force ourselves to do something we don't
want to do (like trying to live a non-sensitive's life). Our upsets
let us know that something is off for us, and needs correcting.
The key is allowing yourself to tune into your emotions and discover
what they are here to tell you. Your emotions are a source of valuable
information. Think of them as your friends, guides, allies, and
healers, and see how that shifts your experience of their intensity.
* * * * * * * *
How can I stop crying when my daughter
And here's an older one: On October 8, 2005, Donna
asked: "In addition to being sensitive, I'm also very emotional.
I wear my emotions on my face. I couldn't wear a deadpan expression
if I tried! Is there a technique I can use to stop an embarrassing
emotional response I have in public or anywhere, whenever my daughter
sings? I start to cry! I can't stop. It wells up inside of me and
my eyes start to water.
"Mind you, she has made other people cry too! She has a lovely
soprano voice which belies her years -- she's only 8 -- and we're
told she's going to go all the way. (Her dream is to be an opera
singer when she grows up.) You can imagine how I feel each time
I hear her sing -- that amazing voice coming out of her little body.
But this crying business is so embarrassing. How can I stop it?"
The tricky part about your question is that many people will agree
with you that crying in public is embarrassing. However, I want
to suggest to you that your tears are a beautiful expression of
your love for your daughter and a true reflection of the gloriousness
of her singing. It sounds like it touches you deeply, and why wouldn't
it? Her voice seems to clearly be a gift from Spirit.
As I said to Karyn: "What we resist, persists." Consider
allowing your honest and authentic emotional expression to come
forth, rather than struggling against it. That may shift the discomfort
you feel about it. Breathe while you cry, and allow the tears. (I
think we stop breathing when tears come as a way to resist them.)
Your tears are beautiful and welcome.
I believe that our culture is uncomfortable with tears because
we are collectively uncomfortable with emotions, not because crying
is inherently bad. You can be a powerful model for truth and beauty
in the world. Why would you ever stop?
|Do you want your questions answered? Jenna responds to questions on her blog and in this e-zine when she can. Post your questions on the blog here and Jenna will periodically answer a few selected items. Or, if you'd like a personal or e-mail consultation with Jenna, sign up on her website, here.