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Kerrie Li

HSP

HSP/HSS? How to Manage Your Energy in the Time of an Outbreak

For HSPs/HSS, it’s extra easy allow the news cycle to dictate your moods, energy rhythms and patterns throughout the day. The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, so it’s completely normal to feel thrown off and uncertain – and to hang on to every news article. Each headline seems to bring another low or feeling of doom.

Yet maintaining a semblance of normalcy and stability is a must for mental health. We must remind ourselves that feeling more doom isn’t helpful, least of all to ourselves, even as we inevitably tune into the collective sense of anxiety and worry.

Know that by being kind to ourselves, we contribute to the collective as well. We can then harness this energy into responding instead of reacting. Many of us are in some form of self-isolation now, and it can be challenging to know what to do and where to channel our energy when we’re spending all day at home. Here are some tips on managing your energy and practicing coming back to your optimal zone of stimulation.

Managing the cycles of under/overstimulation

  • Especially for HSP/HSS, this can be an especially challenging time staying within your optimal zone of stimulation*, especially when you are stuck at home, which cuts you off from your usual activities and sources of stimulation. It can take time to recalibrate your new normal, and a big part of this is learning how to manage your energy.
  • *Optimal zone of stimulation: when you feel focused, calm, able to carry out tasks, complete your work without too much strain or stress.
    • That said, these tips aren’t about ‘being productive’ or holding yourself to the same standard of how you were operating pre-outbreak. Practicing identifying and returning to your optimal state of stimulation can help you retain a sense of normalcy and a degree of control over your day-to-day life, which can in turn keep your mood up.

Identifying the cycle:

  • Signs of feeling under-stimulated: boredom, depressed mood, lack of energy, procrastination, feeling lethargic, fatigued. 
  • The brain then wants to return to a state of optimal stimulation, which could prompt you to scroll on your phone, obsessively checking social media and news outlets; you could also overeat or start ruminating incessantly in order to get a hit of stimulation.
  • However, these activities can quickly lead to a state of overstimulation
  • Signs of overstimulation: Feelings of overwhelm, panic, helplessness, anger, anxiety, fatigue after doing all of the activities above
  • Exhausted, you then lose all motivation and energy, and may end up procrastinating on tasks and priorities that you had intended to focus on

The solution: break the cycle

  • Prepare for this cycle to happen. Make a to-do list when you’re feeling calm and focused (e.g. early in the morning), including prioritizing tasks. 
  • List making and strategic planning isn’t an ideal activity for an antsy state of mind, so it’s good to figure out when you feel most calm and do some planning and strategizing during those times.
  • When in need of stimulation, instead of checking on your phone or doing things that will quickly overstimulate you, pick an item on your list and check them off instead, so you don’t have to spend time thinking of activities when you’re already feeling the need for stimulation, which could easily lead to distraction and going down the news update rabbit hole.
  • If you don’t have any tasks/priorities in mind, here’s an idea: things that require you to move your body and hands are ideal. Activities that require you to move your body are grounding; you can also use them as a mindfulness practice. Organizing your sock drawer, tending to your laundry, cleaning. Focus on how you’re folding. Really look at the items you’re organizing; who knows, you might decide to do an impromptu spring cleaning. 
  • Physical exertion is always helpful. Doing a few squats, taking on a 14-day abs challenge: thank goddess for the Internet because YouTube offers such a wealth of information. Picture your energy coming back down and into your body when you’ve been overthinking and all your energy is focused in your head.
  • Crystals that are useful for grounding your energy and boosting your creativity: Tiger’s Eye, Rhodochrosite, Rhondonite, Carnelian

Holding on to a sense of stability in your energy patterns, even as uncertainty swirls all around us, is helpful to the collective. Here breathing in and out with you (from a safe distance).

Much love,

Kerrie

Sensitivity

How to Get Out of the Guilt Trap

One of the reasons why people get stuck in the dance of the drama triangle is because it isn’t a logical process, it’s a purely emotional one. It gets to us on the emotional plane, where a lot of our actions stem from. It pulls knee-jerk reactions out of us.

A major driving emotion of the drama triangle is guilt. Guilt and its little voice nagging at the back of our minds… “If I don’t do this, it means that I am doing something wrong.” And what happens if I do something wrong? It means others will find out and disapprove of me. Approval is how I experience love. If I do the wrong thing, I will not be loved. I am only safe if others approve of me. I am only allowed to experience good feelings if I am making others happy (doing what they want me to do). 

Ouch! Stuff that goes right into the heart of us. No wonder we act so reflexively; no wonder it takes so much effort to change this cycle. Because it’s the stuff that taps into that dark, anxiety-filled space where our deepest fears reside. Much of what gives us feelings of guilt were programmed into us in early childhood. Since most of us probably did not experience the most perfect of childhoods, it’s such an easy way to hook us in – most of us have had felt the need to perform for others in some way in order to gain approval. If we disappoint others, we are doing something wrong. If we don’t do what they ask of us, we are selfish. 

This is especially true for those who grew up in households where caregivers tended to use emotional blackmail as a way to get children to comply, where ‘love’ (approval) was meted out based on how ‘obedient’ a child is. Some of us have bigger fears and wounds than others, and this creates conditions that predispose one towards others’ manipulation.

What are the core beliefs underlying guilt? 

Guilt usually arises when you are attempting to take an action (based on your own wants and needs) that goes against what the other party wants.

For example, no longer:

  • Agreeing to listen to someone complain endlessly about their grievances
  • Sacrificing your own time/energy/wellbeing to comply to someone else’s requests
  • Accepting one-sided interactions where you are the ‘clown’, punching bag or free therapist
  • Being used for any type of interaction where the benefits only go one way, and efforts are seldom, if ever, reciprocated

A sure sign of being on the drama triangle is when you are afraid of how the other person may react if express your true needs and desires. This is a sign of you giving your power away to the other person to dictate how you feel about yourself.

“You owe me (your time/energy/effort/attention). If you don’t do this for me, it means that you are doing something wrong. If you’re not available to me unconditionally it means that you are selfish. You are responsible for my feelings about myself,” says the person taking up the Bully position on the drama triangle.

In reality, you are filling up an essential emptiness (that cannot be filled by any external party) for that person. The both of you are matching puzzle pieces: both wounded, just with different ways of expressing the core wound.

That person, too, has a wound regarding their self-worth. Their self-worth is dependent on your time and attention towards them. They have a false belief that they are loved, worthy, and exist because of others’ efforts and attentions towards them. That without which, they are not allowed to feel good about themselves. Their bullying behavior may be underpinned by rage, fear, shame, grief that they are not willing or able to feel and examine. You are made responsible for any negative feelings that may arise as a result of them not getting what they want.

They derive their good feelings – or more likely than not, are able to stuff down their bad feelings about themselves – through your continued enabling of their behaviors, or sacrificing of yourself to cater to them.

Managing guilt

An important step towards healing guilt is changing core beliefs. Here are some healthier ones you can consider replacing your current beliefs with:

  1. You are not responsible for how someone feels about themselves (especially when you are not their parent, caregiver; you are not acting maliciously towards them on purpose)
  2. You are worthy of feeling good about yourself. You are deserving of your own space, energy, and time. 
  3. You are worthy of feeling pleasure. 
  4. They cannot hurt you unless you allow them to. (Barring actual physical threats, in which case, call the police!) 
  5. If they do not care about your needs and wants, they never cared about you anyway – so you’re not really losing anything by saying no and potentially ‘losing’ the relationship. You’re just letting go of the facade of what the relationship was about, or simply allowing it to evolve and take its course. 

Additionally, you can also ask yourself:

  1. What are you getting out of rescuing others and diverting your own precious energy away from your own life? 
  2. Is it a matter of habit? 
  3. Or is it a way of managing your own anxiety?
  4. Do you buy into the belief that you are bad/less than for taking time for yourself? 
  5. Who told you that you were bad? Are their views still true? Were they making you feel that way so they could get something (i.e. compliance) out of you?
  6. What do others get out of you staying small? What do you get out of staying small? 

Examining family/cultural beliefs:

  1. What were you told about what family means? 
  2. Was there a storyline about how being family means sacrificing themselves for others?
  3. Did you see your mother/grandmother/sister/aunt sacrificing themselves for others in your family? Was that normalized and seen as the way things ‘should’ be? 
  4. How does your gender play into the way you are expected to act in your family? What is the punishment for breaking out of this role?

If you truly want to help the other, no longer allowing guilt and obligation to drive your behaviors is the best way to do so. When you step out of the way, you allow the other to experience their emotions. (They will not break as a result of it. We are much stronger than we think.) Only those who are willing to feel their pain will be motivated towards change. If you do not allow others to feel their pain, they will likely never have to embark on that path.

Guilt is a tough emotion because it’s tied into cultural and familial norms about how one should behave. Yet, breaking free of guilt is a big step – allowing you to move into becoming an empowered individual, acting from an authentic place from within you. Until then, you are trapped in playing roles that keep you small and your energy bound to acting out unnecessary chores.

Managing this tricky emotion, along with learning how to assert your boundaries, will help you experience the relationships you really want in your life.

The flip side of guilt is pleasure

Another helpful way of stepping out of the guilt trap is to see it as reclaiming time for your own joy, purpose and pleasure. You are freeing up energy to make space for what makes you happy and to uplift yourself – and consequently others – as a byproduct. (Pleasure is really such a big topic that it deserves its own post – so hang on for that!) Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in the guilt trap, the best time to break out of it is right now.

You can’t wait for others to remember their own divine natures, their purpose on being here on earth. We are all here for love, joy, service, and creativity. Just because others have forgotten, doesn’t mean that you need to hold yourself back from doing so. Do not abandon yourself and your own self-knowledge. Do not betray what you already know. 

They have forgotten their own divine power – or are simply not aware of it. This is not your responsibility! You are empowered to heal yourself and your own life, and to reclaim your energy, time and wellbeing right now.

 

HSP Sensitivity

Upgrading relationships in 2020

All relationships that aren’t an equal give-and-take will no longer fly in 2020. In the past, being locked into unequal power dynamics and drama triangles used to take ages to play out. For example, staying together for financial security; settling for a partner and denying oneself of true needs and desires; being friends with someone because you rely on them to feel better about yourself; being around someone out of guilt and obligation. It was pretty much the norm and in some paradigms, still is – but for many of us, it will become increasingly difficult to stay in these relationships without pain and discomfort.

Do a quick relationship audit:

  • Are there any relationships that consistently leave you feeling drained, resentful, annoyed etc?
  • What are some of the reasons/beliefs that keep bringing you back to this person?
    • “We have been friends for years/we are (insert family member role) and this is what loyalty looks like.
    • “I need validation from this person to feel good about myself.”
    • “This person needs me to help them with their lives, if not, they will (insert unfavorable outcome).”
  • What are you seeking from them/what are they seeking from you that they have neglected to give to themselves?

Remember, all of us are connected to Source. None of us have a monopoly on truth, healing, love, and peace. We are not here to be any one person’s battery source. When we feel like we need another to validate or see us, that is a sign we need to stop, and tend to where a wound is playing out again. We need to stop and see ourselves and give ourselves the affirmation we need.

You are worthy of equal, loving relationships. These relationships must be freely entered into; any party is free to leave at any time. (No matter what cultural programming dictates.)

Getting to the core of what holds a certain relationships together (usually a fear-based belief) will help you to unravel the knot. Stepping out of the transaction will allow you to see the true nature of the relationship – do they return because they care about you? Or do they stop coming round because they are no longer getting what they need from you? This only works if you do your part of the homework too: will you be around this person if you can no longer get what you want from them? What’s the fear that allowed you to hang on for all this time?

The ability to be unflinchingly honest with yourself is a practice. It takes ego strength to be able to look at yourself without breaking from the pain. It is worth it to free yourself and step more firmly into your power. But, if you are able to do so, the healing that takes place can be immense.

Relationships that are ready to evolve along with you will adjust.

Also, be compassionate with yourself during this process. Most of us don’t create these relationships on purpose; they usually arise out of an inaccurate belief about our own inadequacy. We falsely believe that another soul can offer us what we lack, when in actual fact we are whole and sovereign, and always connected to Source no matter what – and it is Source/Universe/All That Is that will bring us the places, things and opportunities we need to grow and evolve. This will be a year to take another step in freeing yourself from unequal and unfulfilling relationships.

 

Sensitivity

What keeps you safe doesn’t make you happy

We live in a head-centric society. Most of us live from the neck up – meaning solely by our intellects. However, this is a recipe for unhappiness, because our brains are wired to keep us safe, not happy. Our brains do not care that we’re happy, it cares that we are alive. This is why choices that keep us safe – i.e. avoiding all types of anxiety-provoking, uncomfortable feelings – don’t always bring us joy or contentment.

For example, what makes me feel safe is to be by myself, and to essentially hide myself away. I do not like attention, it is very overstimulating for me. But what brings me joy is writing and expressing myself, and this necessarily brings with it some attention and a need to interact with others. These are conflicting needs, and it takes conscious choice daily to take small steps out of my comfort zone. But in walking my talk, it allows me to empathize with others who go through the same struggle of safety versus happiness.

Dr Elaine Aron mentioned in her HSP book how it can be dangerous to give a highly sensitive person too much safety, because then we can cling to it and get lost in the addictive and hypnotizing sense of security. I find that to be true – but what actually brings me out of my comfort zone is the fact that I am also a HSS – as a high sensation seeker, I cannot dwell in safety for long without getting painfully bored and needing something to shake things up. Without some variety in my routine, I start to get antsy and over time, depressed.

How to balance need for safety and novelty

Have you found yourself falling into a rut? I know I need help getting out of that rut, too, sometimes. Here are some ways I have found useful when I get a little too comfortable.

  1. Build novelty into your routines. Prioritize novelty and turn it into a habit. For example, make it a fun game – e.g. go check out a new store, new part of town, new restaurant every Sunday.
  2. Do a different version of the same thing for a small, not overly stimulating dose of novelty. For example, instead of picking up an entirely new sport or exercise, do a different version of it. Like yoga? Try hot yoga. Enjoy going to the gym? (Ugh.) Try out a new gym.
  3. Understand your brain. Your body + brain love habit energy. Your soul is creative energy – creative energy is necessarily unpredictable, thrives on novelty and spontaneity. Both parts of you are equally valid. Both parts need to be expressed!
  4. Time novelty well. Know that new things can be stressful, even if it is something positive and enjoyable. You may not be keen to take on new/fun things when you’re already going through a period of change, like changing new jobs or moving house. Give yourself more time than you think you need – for example, give yourself 6 months to settle into a new job, and a year to feel truly comfortable there. You’re more likely to enjoy novel things when you’re not feeling stressed out by the other parts of your life, which makes it more likely for you to repeat the experience.
  5. Plan for recovery time. For example, avoid doing something new and overstimulating on consecutive weekends. Plan for quiet evenings around the weekend that you know you’re going to be doing something new.

It took some years of observation for me to know that my sense of contentment and joy is pretty much correlated to the amount of stimulation I’m receiving. Instead of allowing my thoughts to spiral into ‘what is wrong with my life in general’ when I start to feel my mood go down, I have learned to meet my stimulation needs, either by ramping it up or dialing it down so that I am optimally stimulated. Sometimes it really is just as simple as checking out a new museum exhibit or cafe, or meeting a friend or taking a walk in a park. Other times it’s simply taking a quiet weekend to spend some time recharging. It takes practice to know where your optimal zone of stimulation lies, so never give up exploring and being curious about it!

 

Empath

Having trouble asserting boundaries?

I think that if there’s any one thing that has the potential to change your life and your well-being as a sensitive person, it’s really the act of confidently holding and asserting boundaries. However, I have also learned through trial and error that it’s not necessarily a linear and straightforward process.

The reason is if we were not raised to respect our own boundaries, and/or had it constantly be pushed against or disregarded, it’s hard to know how it feels like in the body to possess strong boundaries. And when one starts to insist on and assert boundaries, it can feel weird, foreign, or uncomfortable, and thus seemingly wrong. This is when doubts and fears may arise. This is a classic example of when you should not act based on how you feel – but rather, take these feelings as just another form of information.

Like the process of adopting any new habit, there’s a period of discomfort as one goes through the changes. Not only that, people around you will start to react or respond to your changes, so that’s a whole process as well – getting used to what happens when one starts developing strong boundaries. This is especially so if the act of asserting boundaries overturns some unconscious dynamics that have been going on.

The ripple effects can be enormous, and it’s not an easy undertaking because it requires one to be present to the changes. And as you know, being a sensitive being, changes can impact us more than the average person, especially on our nervous systems.   

The contexts we exist within matter as well; they inform us about our right to hold and maintain boundaries. (Even though the spiritual truth is that as sovereign beings we are ALL entitled to have boundaries, simply because we exist.) There are a myriad of factors that influence how comfortable we are holding and asserting boundaries, or even our belief in whether or not we deserve to have those boundaries:

  • Being female in a patriarchal society
  • Growing up in a hierarchical family and occupying a relatively powerless position
  • Race/ethnicity and the relative power your ethnic group holds in society
  • Socioeconomic class

The point is that our starting points – where we begin to ‘awaken’ and learn to value our true selves – may not be the same. Some of us have more to work through because of the contexts we grew up in, and factors beyond our control. Each person’s journey is individual, unique, and should be treated that way. A lot of the information online is necessarily generalized and distilled to convey core truths – and so if something isn’t working for you, then it’s most likely a matter of finding the right mirror to reflect your own unique truth!

When I first started writing about boundaries I really was beginning to intellectually process and accept the concept of boundaries. For example:

My feelings are my own.

Their feelings are not my responsibility. 

In reality, it took me quite a bit of time to really embody these truths.

Understanding and embodying the truth that I am *only* responsible for my own emotions took a while, especially since I grew up within emotionally enmeshed family dynamics. This process proved to be more complicated than initially anticipated, because I had a lot to unlearn.

One of the most challenging aspects was how I had to first experience in my body the discomfort of holding my own feelings without attempting to blame or shame myself or anyone else for ‘making’ me feel that way (which is usually the painful sensation of overstimulation). I had to learn that I have the power to change my thoughts and behaviors around my feelings, and disrupting that the usual flow of events that occur, or actions I tend to take when painful feelings are triggered.

I also had to de-program my core belief that it was weakness to be overstimulated by anyone else, which often causes me to want to get ahead of myself and pretend that I am ‘already okay’. Being a classic overachiever, I started to blame myself for being ‘not trained enough’. Empaths, if we are not careful, can use anything to make ourselves feel shittier and smaller. 

Over time, I realized that what works is patience and self-compassion, and having the willingness to be present with yourself every step of the journey. For me, this worked:  

  • Note how it feels in your body when you feel overwhelmed as a result of porous boundaries (you’re taking on someone else’s feelings; you’re trying to fix something or someone that’s not yours to fix; you’ve entered into a drama etc.)
  • Practice boundaried BEHAVIOR and THOUGHTS first, and then note how it feels like in your body (do you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel guilty or are you experiencing doubts? Then you’re most likely on the right track!)
  • Keep practicing and holding discomfort until it becomes a new habit, and the sensation of discomfort will naturally lessen

It’s okay if it still doesn’t feel natural the first 10 times or 100 times of saying ‘No’ or standing firm; it can be very uncomfortable and overstimulating to be up against someone who may be intent on getting their way or having their needs met at the expense of yours – especially if that had been the dynamic for years and years. If it was easy, we would all be masters at it in no time, and where’s the fun in that?!

It’s all about unraveling the layers and becoming stronger and more self-assured in the process. I have begun to see and truly feel now that we are here to lead lives of joy and fullness, peace and creativity. It takes time and effort to birth this life into being, while rising from ashes of the lives we were leading before. Trust in yourself and your journey, you’re uniquely equipped for the challenges of your life.

 

 

Empath

Can you really retire as an empath?

Ever since Maryam Hasnaa introduced the idea of ‘retiring as an empath’, I found myself mulling over the concept. Is that really possible? Her work has informed some of my practices, and I have found a lot of her writings useful and accessible.

Well, my answer is yes, if you follow her reasoning. I think she takes issue with how many people conflate suffering with what being an empath is all about. Of course you want to fix people when you ‘can’t help’ but feel what they’re feeling. Who wants that, all the time? We all know how exhausting it is. We all know how crazy you can feel when all you do all day is take on the moods and drama of others.

So yes, retiring from taking on others’ feelings reflexively and not from a place of your own volition makes complete and total sense.

I think it’s also a kind of reaction to how the concept of ’empath’ that has been romanticized. I started this blog a few years ago and for better or worse, the ‘spirituality’ scene has blown up. And I remember how stumbling upon explanations of first being a HSP and then an empath was so mind-blowing to me. It was like, wow, I’ve finally found an explanation of how I have been feeling all these years.

But since then, these terms are all over the internet – e.g. easy-to-digest and weirdly compelling lists ’10 Signs You’re an Empath’, Instagram posts and memes… Distortion and over-simplification are inevitable. It’s the nature of the Internet – people’s attention spans have become shorter, and we demand increasingly for bite-sized information that’s easily snack-able. McSpirituality. If it’s not easy, convenient, in a 10-point list or shorter, forget about people reading it. (I sometimes worry about the consequence of this, and am consciously trying to guard myself against this short attention span epidemic…)

(Also, it’s actually pretty tough to find good quality information and guidance out there now on this trait. I still turn to my trusted sources (books I’ve listed on the sidebar), and my own experience to guide me.)

But ultimately, I still find utility in the term. For me, the label ’empath’ is something neutral. It is just a word that describes a person who is able to absorb the feelings of others. The key word here is ‘able’ and not ‘must do so at all costs’. It is an ability. And for convenience, it serves as a useful label to help organize the information around this trait. Especially to differentiate between the more technical/scientifically researched trait of ‘highly sensitive’ versus ’empath’. And so, it’s not necessarily something I can retire from. I can’t change the way I was wired, but I can change some of the ways this wiring manifests in terms of thoughts, feelings and behaviors.

Why the term ‘Empath’ has been romanticized and distorted

One of the reasons is probably because people get caught up in wanting to feel special and unique about this trait – I know I did, and sometimes still do – and so perhaps have trouble committing to learning the proper ways to master this ability. Taking on other people’s emotions and participating in drama can also become a habit, and like any other habit, needs conscious, dedicated effort to unlearn. Many people are also perfectly content being caught in a drama triangle, because despite the emotional turmoil, it’s still a kind of homeostasis – there’s something predictable and thus comfortable about the devil you know.

Learning the proper ways to master this ability does take a lot of work – but it’s really more about having a willingness for self-inquiry. Some level of insight and patience is needed. There’s no way around it: it takes mindfulness and awareness to learn how to stay within the bounds of your own consciousness; it takes a lot of work to be aware of any potential drama that one is stepping into; it takes  work to unlearn and unravel patterns of victim/rescuer/bully behavior. When for whatever reason I haven’t been scrupulously watching over my own emotional state, I can still find myself sliding into drama patterns I’ve not yet healed or cleared. And then it takes work to figure out the emotional truth underlying whatever just happened, and to confront and clear it.

All empaths have felt at some point singled out, alienated, or victimized because of their feelings. I think it is a perfectly normal and natural thing to say ‘But I feel so much in this world that feels so very little’ – and wanting to be somehow applauded and seen as special for it. But the truth is, wanting to feel special for it can still come from woundedness – we’re still seeking external validation to make being who we are all okay.

The goal is to gain our main source of validation from ourselves. To know, believe and embody that we are intrinsically okay and that we have a right to be who we are – simply because we exist.

How about you? Do you still find the term ’empath’ useful or accurate for you in terms of understanding your traits and abilities?

Side note about this blog

On an unrelated note, I think the blogging landscape has changed SO MUCH and as a human being with multiple things going on and being easily overstimulated, I have honestly been too overwhelmed to keep up. I think I let it discourage me from writing for quite a long while. I thought: how could I ever compete for attention? How am I going to keep producing shiny new content when some things just need to be…lived out, and that takes time? But I have recently come to the conclusion that I LOVE writing, I love sharing. I do it primarily for me, because of this need I have to express and share, and if you get something from it, then great. So many of my favorite writers or poets have disappeared from the Internet or are planning to… And I have nostalgia for those days, when it was all more.. organic?

Yes. I am old-fashioned.

And above all, I have a relationship with words. I love how they sound, how they vibrate, the nuances of different languages. I have a love-hate relationship with the way we are oversaturated with words on the Internet and I will always crave for authenticity and connection. Which of course, I am cultivating offline – but it was nice when that wasn’t an entirely naive hope when it came to the online space!

So all that to say, I will still be blogging. I am not abandoning this blog. It may take on different forms, especially as I grow professionally. But I will still be writing. And if you’re still reading this, then maybe you’re totally an old-fashioned person like me, and that means I like you already 😉

Sensitivity

Maybe you’re just not in the right place yet

When someone says you’re too this or too that, the response isn’t to somehow tamp yourself down to fit into their preconceived notions of what you ‘should’ be. Maybe the issue here is just that you’re not in the right place yet. In the right place your imperfections make perfect sense. In the right place your idiosyncrasies are the norm. In the right place, you don’t have to look like them on the surface – it is in the way your light matches theirs that matters. It’s not about how it looks. It’s about how it feels. In the right place it feels right. In the right place you are not an oddity, there is a rightness of fit and there is a logic to your existence. Even though existence is not logical. Even if this right place only exists in your heart at first.

We must not linger too long where we do not belong.

I think most people walk around trying to fit other people into the box they’ve already designated in their minds for them. Few people walk around with open hearts and wide eyes trying to see you for who you really are and to connect soul-to-soul. I think most people, for the sake of any kind of connection at all and not wanting to be alone, willingly play up to expectations or ‘type’. And you can lose yourself in the process. You can lose yourself if you’re more sensitive and attuned to others’ underlying needs. Others’ needs for you to be their mummy or daddy or child or servant or any other role that has been lacking in their lives. So many people walk around with wide gaping wounds where their hearts are supposed to be, and if you see, if you are sensitive, your heart responds before your mind does. And then you play up to the role you never consciously agreed to.

Our jobs are to shed the roles we never agreed to.

 

Sensitivity

Reconnecting with my Intention

 

I want anyone who is burdened by things that they don’t have to be burdened by (especially related to their sensitivity), to be able to lessen their burdens, especially if they are willing, ready and able to put in the often hard work of digging deep.

If they put in the work of getting to know their own psyche, their responses, the way they think, understand and conceptualize their world and themselves, then I intend to assist and aid them on this journey.

And by burdens, I am referring to all the negative programming that a sensitive, intuitive person has received about them just being who they are, their emotional responses, their strengths and weaknesses.

I am referring to the needless suffering that is caused by believing and internalizing messages of unworthiness, smallness, being trapped, not knowing or valuing the self. I have walked this path, and know so well how believing in all these things causes so much pain and suffering. These were partly a result of my sensitivity, but also my unique place in the world as a Chinese woman, growing up in Singapore, having my ancestral lineage, etc. You will have your own unique story to unravel.

I feel relief today and I know who I am – which to me, honestly, is the ultimate prize and victory on this journey. Because I used to wander the world just being a reflection of whoever anyone wanted me to be –  even as I developed a ego-personality, I had a sense of my likes and dislikes, and by all appearances I was just a ‘normal’ person – I was essentially energetically pulled everywhere, all at once. I felt empty. I did not know who I was, and I was often filled with so much fear.

Yet walking this path will not take away every difficult thought, feeling, or emotion, because that is not what sensitivity mastery is about. It’s not what life is about. You will not get to a point where everything will be magically comfortable forever.

Sensitivity mastery is finally being able to know who you really are, after excavating yourself out from under all the debris and dirt and stuff that’s thrown at you from day 1. And it never really ends; it deepens, it broadens, it evolves, but at least you now have an inkling of how to go about doing it, because you now have a sense of who you are. Having this unshakeable sense means that you will never be alone no matter where you go. You will have you. You will never abandon yourself again.

I am putting together a class, part of which will be offered at low or no cost, which will help you to begin this journey, based on my unique experience.  There will be no gimmicks, no overpromising, no fluff. I am committed to this path and I hope that everything I have learned so far will be of service to you.

Please sign up for my email list, if you haven’t already done so, in order to be informed when this class is available.

HSP Self-care

Tired? Me, too.

I see overfunctioning (a.k.a Doing Too Much) like the glue that flows in and keeps all the moving pieces together. These pieces may in fact be broken tiles, not neat, square ones. Some have jagged edges, some are oversized, some are badly chipped and on the verge of crumbling. Yet glue is poured over these disparate pieces, filling in the cracks, keeping these tiles together. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing, but it’s there. It keeps everything together.

…Even when it’s not supposed to be that way.

Maybe some tiles are meant to be replaced. Maybe some reshuffling is needed. Maybe some tiles need to be re-shaped, filed down. But the glue comes in, fills in every crevice, traps every piece, and pulls them all together. On the outside, this may seem like a beautiful thing. People pass by and say, oh, this mosaic looks wonderful, it looks intact, things are being kept together.

But maybe the overall intention wasn’t supposed to be a mosaic. Maybe the end product was supposed to be the tiles on your bathroom floor. Maybe they were all meant to be neat and square, not jumbled up and messy. But the glue came in and provided a solution… even if the solution didn’t exactly meet the end goal.

I used to be this glue, reflexively. To some extent, I still have to be super conscious about not being the overfunctioning one. (I fail often.) I see problems and I want to fix them. I analyze issues and then I want to jump in and provide solutions.

This isn’t all bad. Change can happen as a result. This impulse is in fact a neutral one, and can even be a positive one when applied with discernment.

But sometimes there are reasons why things are a certain way. Some things cannot be fixed by an external party, especially when human beings with free will are involved.

Maybe some have chosen a reality for themselves and nothing you do or say will be able to shift this reality. Maybe some need to be able to learn by making their own mistakes.

Maybe all that is needed is for you to play your part – and that’s it. Maybe going above and beyond isn’t always necessary. Perceiving a problem doesn’t always mean that you are the one who’s meant to provide a solution to the problem…

Especially when burn out and resentment occur. Especially when you end up taking on the lion’s share of the work, all the time – in all areas of your life.

How does one take a step back?

Because of how quickly I act and how impulsive I can be, I often realize I’m overfunctioning when I start getting grouchy, angry and really tired. Like, exhausted. I usually realize that it’s because I have:

  1. Set some kind of expectation or standard for myself and others that I wasn’t consciously aware of, and I’m now singlehandedly trying to push everyone to meet that invisible standard I set in my mind…
  2. Instead of communicating it, I have decided that it’s easier to do it ALL BY MYSELF
  3. Some problem is causing me angst and frustration, and I have subconsciously decided that in order to quell the angst, I have to fix the issue (instead of simply sitting with the emotion for a bit) and taking my time to decide on the best response.

Then at some point, when I finally get exhausted, I may all of a sudden decide that I’m DONE, and get maybe just a tiny little bit passive aggressive about it. I feel like I’m the victim because POOR ME LOOK HOW MUCH I’M DOING.

Sometimes though, I find that I am merely responding to the subtle dynamics that have already been set up, i.e. the drama triangle. I have slipped into a role that has been energetically set up for whatever reason… waiting for the perfect person who chronically over-functions to take on the mantle.

PSA: Girls are often put in the role of the over-functioner, and are socialized to respond to unconscious needs. Sensitivity comes into play because sensitivity allows people to be more perceptive, and to more quickly gather the subtleties of any context they find themselves in, including any problems that need fixing. Family of origin stuff also come into play: if you grew up playing a certain role in your family, familiarity alone can keep you stuck in the loop of doing the same things over and over again… with the same end results. Honestly, I can analyze this from 50 other angles and I’m positive I will have the opportunity to write about this again after yet another cycle of overfunctioning, so stay tuned! I just fail better and better each time. 😉

Each time it happens I realize I simply have more work to do in holding back, refraining, sitting with emotions, and getting to know my impulsive side. There is no quick fix. No one-size-fits-all rule. None of the whole this is WRONG and this is the absolutely RIGHT way to do it.

It also means a shifting of my lens… Instead of looking for things to fix, I think, what brings me joy? This is also way more radical than it sounds, having an orientation towards joy.

Let me know if you are similarly afflicted by over-functioning tendencies too and what you do (or don’t do) when you fall into a pattern…

Sensitivity

On those who do not allow themselves to feel

Most people do not slow down enough to even acknowledge their feelings, let alone fully allow themselves to fully feel them. They do not let their feelings ripen; they don’t let their feelings soften them. And in avoiding this task they reinforce a world where harshness rules. Hardness rules.

Feelings are irrelevant to the rush they get conquering and attempting to win. Conquering what? Winning what?

At the heart of it lies the desire to vanquish the ghosts of vulnerability forever. To gain mastery over the things that make them feel small, weak… human.

I recognize this person by the look they have in their eyes. Guarded and fearful under a veneer of self-assuredness. They are never there, never fully present. They are always trying to fix you, fix themselves, offer advice, move on to the next thing. They are anywhere but here.

For if they stay in one place too long they may be forced to sit, and stay, and to witness: witness the devastation that was wrought upon them once upon a time. The dreams they were forced to give up. The darkness they had to see, without anyone explaining to them that light is a choice. The heartbreak of not being seen, heard and understood. And how they too, were forced to move on, told to get over it. Told that it was no big deal. And while they were bleeding, someone said to them: That little thing? Stop whining. I bled too, and I got over it.

Soon it stopped bleeding.

Soon everything stopped bleeding. Blood had run cold. Soon everything stopped feeling like anything.

And so for you who feels, and who fought so hard to feel again, and who seeks to use your feelings as a connection to your soul and spirit: Do not offer up these feelings as sacrifice to those who would only feed on them for a temporary high. Do not let them cast you in the role of the weaker one. Do not expect reciprocation from someone who has long ago relegated their own feelings to the dungeons of their consciousness, for whatever reason.

Move out of their way so that instead of them getting their fix from you, probably the only person in their life who reminds them of something they used to feel… they could maybe reach that point where they finally have to sit. And stay. And witness.

If you feel up to it, you could say to them: “I notice you never talk about how you really feel.” “You don’t seem to allow yourself to feel.” “This seems to bother you more than you are allowing yourself to admit.”

See how they respond. If they respond in rage, anger, or defensiveness, then you know. They are not ready. You do not have to save them. You are not responsible for their feelings.

And in the meantime, it is wiser to stay out of the way.

Focus on feeling your own feelings and allow them to inform you, enrich you, soften you; widen your capacity to move towards that which brings you joy and peace, instead.