Posts by Liz:
Discovering the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) changed my life.
I learned why I operate the way I do. Why I struggle in some areas and shine in others. And why boundaries around my time and energy are vital to my well-being.
Dr. Elaine Aaron is the psychotherapist and researcher who coined the term Highly Sensitive Person, also know as Sensory-Processing Sensitivity. She identifies Sensory Processing Sensitivity as a normal temperament trait, not a disorder, found in approximately 20% of the population.
In a nutshell, you have a more sensitive nervous system and process things more deeply. According to her research, biologists have found this trait in over 100 species from birds, to dogs and cats, to horses.
The world has stereotyped sensitive souls to be weak and broken, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It is often the sensitive souls who are the ones striving to create a more fair, humane and just world. And there are far more of us than you might think.
Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Princess Diana, Jane Goodall, Scarlette Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Taye Diggs, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Elton Jon, Alanis Morissette, Jim Morrison, Jewel, Jack Johnson, Dolly Parton, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, E.E. Cummings, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, and so many more.
If you’re just learning the term HSP or if you’ve heard it before but aren’t sure if you fall within its realm, here are 25 signs (the good & the bad) that you might be a highly sensitive person:
1. You feel it all
You’ve likely been labeled as too sensitive or too emotional throughout your life.
Your emotions get triggered easily. Whether watching a movie, listening to music or seeing a beautiful piece of art, the feelings being conveyed captivate you and quickly send you into an emotional realm.
You are deeply empathetic to the pain of others. Their hurt is your hurt. You are a bleeding heart for world issues and often take on social causes, always wishing you could do more to help those in need.
When you’re in a safe environment where you don’t have to keep your guard up, you cry often. Your emotions are right there at the surface.
You simply feel it all and wish the world was kinder and more sympathetic to the struggles of others than it is.
2. You read between the lines
You seem to notice the invisible and unspoken. You pick up on the energies around you quickly.
The mood of a person, the vibe of a conversation you walk into, the words that are left unspoken, you feel them instantly.
You can see people’s eagerness or withdrawal, their insecurities or ego, whether they’re being authentic or putting on an act.
You know if something feels off with someone or within a relationship. You can often even tell if someone is lying or holding things back.
3. You were labeled as a shy or timid child
You likely always felt a little different as a child. And if you weren’t in an environment that supported or understood your sensitivity, you may have withdrawn.
The more you withdrew, the more you were perceived as shy and the more isolated you felt, only further perpetuating your shyness.
4. You need time alone, often
You need alone time like you need oxygen. Without it you completely deplete your energy reserves and unravel.
Because you process things so deeply, interactions with others and the outside world take a lot out of you. You need time completely alone to recover and recharge.
If you are often exhausted without understanding why, it’s likely that you’re not carving out enough time alone.
5. You feel a special connection to animals
You feel a deeper connection to animals than most. In some ways, it feels almost spiritual.
You cannot stand to see them hurt. You treat them with as much kindness and respect as you would treat a person.
And animals sense this in you. They are drawn to you, even if they are timid. They know they are safe in your presence.
6. You are a nurturer
Nurturing others comes naturally to you.
You give your all to take care of those who are counting on you. A comforting embrace, food on the table, your devoted time and attention. You go the extra mile to give your love.
This is a strength but you’re prone to giving too much of yourself. If you don’t prioritize your needs your energy will deplete quickly making it very hard for you to show up at your best.
7. You are deeply intuitive
You get gut feelings about things and those feelings usually prove to be true.
You can sense things about people’s characters that others don’t see and can predict things before they happen based on those senses.
Your intuition leads you in the right direction even when you don’t fully understand why. Sometimes it strongly contradicts what others are telling you but you later realize just how right it was.
And every time you don’t listen to it, you regret it.
8. You get overwhelmed easily
If too much stimuli is coming at you at once or if you are trying to do too many things at once, you quickly feel anxious and overwhelmed.
If those around you are creating a chaotic energy or if there is a lot of yelling in your home, you feel consumed with anxiety.
You cherish peacefulness and simplicity and constantly search for it in every area of your life.
9. You are very conscientious
You believe in the words “please” and “thank you.” You mean it when you say them.
You honor the power of communication and love it when others share this value. Just as you thank others generously, you also like to receive thanks for all that you give of yourself.
You struggle when others don’t respect the power of their words and communicate irresponsibly.
10. You feel let down frequently
You see such strong value in treating others with kindness that you often cannot fathom the cruel things people say and do.
You often feel let down by the world around you and struggle to make sense of it all.
You may have even grown a hard shell to try and protect yourself from the cruelness of the world.
11. You have a hard time making decisions
You are extremely analytical. So when confronted with too many options, you struggle to make a decision.
You imagine the outcomes of all scenarios and worry about making the wrong choice and suffering the consequences.
This often leaves you feeling stuck, anxious and worried.
12. You react strongly to perceived wrongs
You are extremely rattled by very insensitive people and often have strong reactions to them.
It enrages you to see how selfish, hurtful and harsh others can be. You find it hard to control your reactions to these people if you are consumed with emotion. This can sometimes lead you to say things you regret.
13. You’ve had unexplainable physical illnesses
You may have gotten sick a lot throughout your life without a clear medical diagnosis or understanding of why.
Stomach problems, headaches, brain fog, chronic fatigue… your body is as sensitive as your soul and it reacts to any stressful or negative stimuli around you in unpredictable ways.
The more in tune you are with your sensitivity, the more you’ll understand your body’s reactions.
14. Stimulants affect you strongly
Your sensitive body responds quickly to stimulants like caffeine and reacts in unpredictable ways to medications. While some people can drink multiple cups of coffee per day, too much (or any) caffeine leaves you feeling anxious for hours.
You may also have unusual reactions to certain foods or chemicals and it can be very difficult to pin point exactly what is causing those reactions.
You might crave sweets if your energy is depleting, but too much sugar will just have you feeling even more depleted and foggy once the rush wears off.
15. You have a creative spirit
You are wonderfully imaginative and constantly day dreaming. You have an eye for subtle beauty.
You love to express yourself creatively whether through art, acting, writing or any other pursuit that allows you to release all of the emotions that are circulating through you.
You feel it all so you can capture those feelings artistically more easily than others. Creativity allows you to channel all of your emotions in a way that feels both peaceful and invigorating.
16. You are incredibly detail oriented
You have an unrelenting eye for detail.
You see things others miss, you work best with detailed checklists, and you are often not satisfied until every bit of minutia has been taken care of.
While this makes you a reliable and diligent worker, you sometimes forget to step back and see the bigger picture. And you often struggle with perfectionism which can prevent you from accomplishing the things you need to.
17. You are a people pleaser
It is in your soul, you love to make others happy.
Your people pleasing nature makes you reliable, trustworthy, and a hard worker. You often put the needs of others above yourself.
However, you often work yourself to the bone to make others happy and do things simply to avoid disappointing people or receiving criticism.
You often have trouble saying no and give too much of yourself. In doing so, you put your needs and interests last, leading you to feel unhappy and unsatisfied.
18. You are easily offended by harsh words
Harsh words cut you to your core.
You might put on a stiff upper lip and not respond, but the pain of those words lingers within you for a very long time.
You will carry that pain with you even if deep down you know those words don’t have truth to them.
Learning how to handle the sting of harsh words is vital to your emotional health and well-being.
19. You work better alone but collaborate well
You need solitude to focus. If there are too many co-workers or noises around you, you struggle to get things done.
You are often too courteous to fend off co-workers who seem to constantly want to chat so you struggle to be as productive as you would like to be in an open office environment. When you are given the space you need, you can diligently hammer through tasks with extreme focus.
But because you are such a diligent and conscientious worker, you do well collaborating with a team .
20. You don’t like being in large crowds
Concerts, parades, sporting events with huge crowds of people, etc., put you on edge and fill you with anxiety.
The yelling, people pushing and frenzied energy can feel like sensory overload.
You try to have fun, and perhaps you do enjoy yourself for some time, but you often can’t wait to get home while others are in no rush to leave.
21. You react strongly to noises, lights and textures
Loud noises and bright lights overwhelm you. You like your environments to be quiet and dim (but natural sunlight is great).
You startle very easily. You are also sensitive to rough fabrics, you like things to be soft and comfortable.
22. You crave peace
You thrive in calm, peaceful and supportive environments.
Negative environments push you over the edge. You can’t stand to be around too much yelling, harshness or chaos as you absorb those energies more than most.
You strive to make your home a calm, peaceful sanctuary and are likely a bit of a homebody.
23. You give free therapy
Because you are so empathetic, people are often drawn to you and quickly share their problems with you.
You are a deep thinker, analytical, emotionally intelligent and you love to lend a helping hand.
You know how to make people feel seen, heard and comforted.
Your natural instinct is to help, but sometimes you give too much of yourself. You need to be careful of people who try to take advantage of your conscientiousness and constantly unload their problems on you.
24. You romanticize
You love intensely. You fall hard and fast.
Love can consume you. When you find it you hold on to it tightly. This makes you a loyal partner but can sometimes cause you to hold on to a failing relationship for longer than you should.
In friendships you go deep not broad. You likely have a small handful of lifelong friends you can count on through the thick and thin.
You don’t feel the need to be friends with everyone but would rather keep your circle small and stable.
25. You are strong
Society may have equated sensitivity with weakness but that’s a misconception. You have a deep and reliable strength that sometimes surprises you.
You are a fully awake to the world and emotionally intelligent. You are the advisors, the encouragers, the artists and the compassionate souls who help to make this a more colorful and humane world.
You believe in lifting others up, instead of diminishing them. You believe in the power of kindness. You believe in doing what is right, even when it’s not easy.
You are the light in a sometimes very dark world. And the world is counting on you to let your light shine.
Did the majority of these signs ring true for you? If you’d like to learn more about being an HSP, check out Dr. Elaine Aaron’s website: The Highly Sensitive Person
If you like this post, please “like it”, share it & leave a comment. I love hearing your thoughts <3
This is my favorite time of year. The lead up to Christmas. The sparkling lights on the tree. The music. Even the icy New York weather. I love it all.
But for many years there’s also been a part of me that’s dreaded it. The endless amount of presents that need to be purchased, often at the last minute. The overeating and food hangovers. And for us, we’ve spent the last decade rushing to three separate houses in the span of two days (Christmas eve and Christmas day) to see our various family members. By the time it’s all over, I’m completely fried.
If you’re like me, and you often toss your needs and well-being aside to meet holiday expectations, here are some tips to help you survive this holiday season (and a free Holiday Survival Guide you can download at the end of the post):
Create a Guiding Feeling
This year, I want the holidays to feel like *magic*.
Now that my little ones are full blown toddlers, I want them to experience magic, not overwhelm. With this feeling in mind, I will spend less time shopping, and more time creating new traditions and memories.
Letters to Santa that are filled with more gratitude than requests, ornaments that we make ourselves, vegan sugar cookies in the oven. Simple instead of hectic. Experiences more than purchases. Magic. That feeling won’t happen all on its on, I need to consciously create it with new traditions and intentional limitations, so that’s what I’m working on.
What feeling are you longing for this holiday season? How can you use it to consciously create your holiday experience and guide you through each day of the season?
Be a Little Selfish
For the first time in over a decade, we won’t be driving all over New York to three separate families in two days. It’s what we’ve always done, what’s expected of us, but we’re creating new traditions for our little ones and exhaustion isn’t one of them.
This change in our holiday plans feels selfish and I fill with guilt at the mere thought of it. But I also fill with relief, knowing that I am honoring the feeling that’s guiding me as our family has evolved.
How can you take better care of yourself this holiday season? Even if it means being a little selfish.
When overwhelm starts to take over, pausing to take deep breaths can calm and center you. Whether you meditate regularly or not, the simple practice of taking slow deep breaths can ease your anxiety, reduce your overwhelm and help you make decisions faster. Stretching your muscles afterward can also do wonders to reduce stress, and it can be done in just a couple of minutes.
Feeling overwhelmed? Remember, there is nothing you can’t handle. You are stronger than any overwhelm that comes your way. Pause and breathe deeply and you will be reminded of that.
This year I refuse to subject myself to last minute stressful holiday shopping. I have scheduled time in my calendar to have all presents purchased by December 12th. Considering I’ve been known to run around purchasing presents up until the day before Christmas, this is an improvement. I want to enjoy the lead up to Christmas, without stress and shopping malls.
By when would you like to have all of your holiday to-dos accomplished? Make a list of everything you need to purchase and schedule time for it in your calendar so that you’re not putting undue stress on yourself at the last minute.
I have always struggled with the focus on material items during the holidays. There have been countless years where I found myself buying item after item as if that would prove to someone just how much I loved them. In reality, all it does it add to their amount of “stuff” and put a gaping hole in my bank account. This year, I’m focusing on thoughtfulness over quantity, with no more than two presents per person (well, the kids will get a little more). I’ve also already asked our family to please keep the gifts to a minimum, as we already have all we need.
If you’re struggling financially, or if you also don’t love getting caught up in the consumer driven culture of the holidays, remember that there are so many ways to show love and create the holiday spirit. What really matters is the feeling you create for your loved ones, not the money you spend.
To help make this holiday season as stress-free for you as possible, I created a Holiday Survival Guide printable. It’s free, you can download it here: Holiday Survival Guide
I hope it helps to keep you stress-free, focused on what matters, and organized as you head into the holidays.
How will you create a little more magic and a little less overwhelm for yourself this holiday season?
I try to start my car, nothing happens.
We’re at my daughter’s school and it’s freezing. The wind is blowing so hard I can barely open the car door. My little girl is in the backseat, eagerly waiting for the heat to turn on.
I try again and again and again. Nothing.
I bundle her up in my oversized scarf. Her school is closed, all the parents are gone, it’s about to get dark, the car is at a hydrant, and my phone is almost dead. Panic and overwhelm start to creep in. It was one of those days where everything seemed to be going wrong.
I call for help and pray my phone doesn’t fail me.
Someone arrives to give me a jump start. What should have taken a few minutes ends up taking over half an hour. He tries and tries to no avail, while standing out in the cold, with no coat on. No matter what he does, the car just won’t start.
Nothing is working, but as I watch this man, I fill with gratitude. For his effort, his time and his determination.
At this point, my daughter is shaking. I take her out of the car and walk towards her school, praying someone is still there. I ring the bell, there is one teacher left, she offers to watch my daughter while I deal with getting the car towed. I head back out in the cold, my warm scarf still wrapped tightly around my little girl.
I have no idea how long I’ll have to wait, but as I walk away, I fill with gratitude. For this teacher’s presence, patience and generosity.
I sit in the cold car, the window is all the way down and with the battery dead I can’t roll it up. My husband makes it to the school in record time so I can wait inside.
I didn’t like feeling so helpless, but as I look at him, I fill with gratitude. For his speed, comfort and protective spirit.
And for the next hour, my daughter and I play inside her classroom, during what becomes our windy night adventure…
Learning How to Find Gratitude
Life can be so hard. From simple things like a broken down car at an inconvenient time, to massive health or family issues. And it can be hard to see the gratitude. But the more you look, the more it’s there.
When I became a mother of one, I was drowning in gratitude. When I became a mother of two, I was drowning in overwhelm and exhaustion. I couldn’t see the forrest through the trees anymore. I was so deeply tired and struggling far more than I could ever admit out loud.
And then a failed project helped to save me…
When the holidays rolled around last year, I wanted to gift my husband with a family photo album. I imagined how beautiful it would be, carefully capturing so many special moments. But it was so much work. I had two babies and a job, and I just couldn’t get it done.
I filled with disappointment and quickly made a calendar of photos instead. It was simpler and faster. That was the best I could do.
After I gave it to him and the days rolled on I started making little notes in that calendar. Notes about the cute things the girls said or did. The funny words or antics they used. The small things I cherished but knew I would forget.
Before I knew it, filling in that calendar became my grounding ritual amongst the chaos and exhaustion of life.
With each tiny update to our calendar, I taught myself how to look for gratitude. How to wait for it patiently, knowing that it would come each day. I didn’t dare leave a blank spot on our calendar of life.
This little calendar has taught me so much. It’s taught me that gratitude can be simple and easy. Just a few short words. Tiny moments captured that create huge shifts in perspective.
It’s taught me that we don’t have to wait for life to be perfect, to be easy, to be less overwhelming. We can find gratitude in every ordinary day, every hard day, every day that pushes our sensitive nerves to their limits. We can even find it in the toughest of relationships.
On the days where life seemed impossible, the demands were too much, my energy was too low and my overwhelm too high, I’d wait to find my special moments. The little moments that would save me from overwhelm and bring me back to what matters.
Because of my calendar, those moments wouldn’t go unnoticed.
Life may not always go exactly as we like and overwhelm may take over at times but the more we search for gratitude, the more it will ground and save us.
When my car broke down on a cold New York night, noticing each moment I had to be grateful for is what eased my anxiety and helped me remain calm for my little one and turn a frustrating situation into our adventure.
When I can never keep up with my endless to-do list and I have to scratch things off my list not because they are accomplished but because I just have to let them go, I remind myself that failed projects can lead to cherished treasures.
When the house is a mess, the dishes are piled high, the girls need a bath, the dog needs a walk, and I feel so stretched thin, but then my little one runs over and hugs my legs, shaking her body with uncontrollable excitement as she yells “Mama!,” it is my calendar of gratitude that reminds me to focus on how beautiful each moment is amongst the chaos.
Life isn’t always full of picture perfect moments. Nor are the holidays. But the calendar moments are always there when we look for them.
For those who might be feeling weary this Thanksgiving. For those who will sit at the table with strained relationships, for those who might even be sitting alone, perhaps you can look for your calendar moments and see where they lead you, see how they lift you up, see what treasures they unlock.
Each small gesture, each hard lesson learned, each loving moment that doesn’t go unnoticed can transform your outlook, your holidays and your life.
One tiny moment at a time.
For those who celebrate, I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.
My daughter celebrated her 4th birthday this past weekend.
Her sister thoroughly enjoyed the vegan chocolate cupcakes!
hold onto me…
’cause I’m a little unsteady
a little unsteady…”
As we drove to the polls on Tuesday, I was completely frazzled.
So much was on the line for our country, and I was not at my best.
I had just spent a few long days with my little ones, running from birthday parties to house hunting, to grocery shopping, to seeing family, to the chaos of cooking and cleaning a home constantly subject to the whims of two growing toddlers.
Zero alone time in days. Two kids constantly wanting to be carried, comforted and coddled. A body that never fully healed from my second pregnancy. Tantrums, demands and messes from morning till night.
My sensitive cells were exploding. I ached for alone time like a junkie in withdrawal. I was completely unraveling.
Tuesday morning arrives. My husband suggested we take the girls to the polls with us so they could participate in such a historical election. We were so excited by the thought that our little girls might grow up in a world where having a female president is no big deal, totally normal. A world where trying to do what’s right wins over bullying.
But my longing to be on my own was overwhelming. I expected to walk to the polls quietly, all by myself, wrapped in healing comfort of my thoughts. But I loved my husband’s vision and the beautiful memory he wanted to create, so I agreed. And he patiently held space for my unsteadiness.
As we walked inside the polling station, there were smiling faces everywhere. It didn’t feel like a room full of division, as the race had been, it felt like a room full of unity, hope and excitement.
And with each shining face that greeted us, my frazzled cells began to calm.
Immediately upon our arrival a man offered to let me skip him in line, he could see how I struggled to carry my heavy toddler amongst the chaos. It was the tiniest most simple gesture, but it melted me.
I had wanted to be invisible, but I healed far more from his small act of kindness. I was drowning, but suddenly felt seen.
“… please never stop believing that
fighting for what’s right is worth it.” Hillary Clinton
Another woman wholeheartedly chatted up my three-year-old, complimenting her fancy star studded tutu and asking her all sorts of questions. This woman was glowing with joy and spreading it free of charge. My little girl’s face beamed and blushed at such attention.
I had wanted to be alone, but my daughter’s face in that moment was worth every frazzled nerve. I was so grateful for this joy spreading woman, and hoped that with a little more self-care, I could soon be more like her.
“… if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences…
our best days are still ahead of us.” HC
My husband had our daughter help pencil in his voting bubble so she could begin to learn the value of leaving her mark on the world, explaining things to her in simple carefully chosen words. Gently teaching her that no matter what the outcome of things are, she gets to have a voice. Watching him and the memory he was wise enough to create, filled my soul with awe and gratitude.
I had wanted to walk alone, but in the uncertainty of this historical moment, we were stronger together. And while the outcome of this election may not have been what we expected, it only serves to confirm that now more than ever we must empower our hearts and the future voices of our world.
“And to all of the little girls who are watching this,
never doubt that you are valuable and powerful
and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world
to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” HC
With each bit of love I experienced in this magical voting center, my cells relaxed, my anxiety eased and my heart opened.
This was the ugliest, most divisive election in history. But when I went to the polls that day, there was love everywhere.
Enough love to heal the maxed out fraying nerves of an overextended sensitive mama and to remind her that it’s okay to unravel sometimes and it’s okay to ask for help, when life gets hard.
Enough love to let others know they are seen in their struggles.
Enough love to gleefully spread joy to others without asking for a thing in return.
Enough love to show little girls how important it is for them to have a voice.
Enough love to make others want to do better, be better, and spread more of the love they receive with grateful humbled hearts.
Enough love to show that we are stronger together than we are apart.
Enough love to prove that despite the divisions in the world, we are all one, and together we can do, heal and overcome anything.
The power of this love lies within each of us. Every action matters. Each small gesture. Each generous smile. Each kind word.
Each reminder that though our struggles are hard and real, we can get through them. Though it may feel like we are unraveling, we can get to the other side. And along the way, we can be a light for someone else. We can be the person who offers their spot in line. Who makes someone feel seen and adored. Who patiently holds space for someone, when they feel so unsteady.
I was reminded that day that no matter what we or this country experiences, we can choose to fight for the love within and around us. We can choose to empower ourselves with kind words and a gentle perspective. We can choose to see the miracles that surround us everyday.
Every single day we can caste our vote to unite and heal the broken aching parts of ourselves, each other and this beautiful but vulnerable world.
If you like this post, please “like it”, share it & leave a comment. I love hearing your thoughts <3
It was the perfect day.
My husband and I spent the day with our kids walking through the park. Close friends from out of town we hadn’t seen in years joined us.
The weather was gorgeous. Our kids were laughing. Everything felt so peaceful and happy.
After we said goodbye to our friends we went to grab an early dinner. We found a restaurant we loved that allowed our dog to sit outside with us. The perfect ending to our perfect day.
Until she showed up…
An old woman walked by and sat down at the table next to us. She told the waitress she wasn’t going to order anything, she was just resting. There was something odd about her, her eyes were ice cold. I wondered if she was homeless.
As she sat there, she began to stare at us, wickedly.
Before we knew it, she started yelling at us. Calling us “disgusting pigs” and making comments to the wait staff about my dog.
She continued to harass my family and even got up and walked closer to our table yelling all sorts of nasty things at us, most of which were aimed directly at me. Given our mixed raced family, I couldn’t help but wonder if her comments were racially motivated.
I could feel every cell in my body filling with anger. Who was this nasty woman who was ruining our dinner and who dared to act like this in front of young children?
I wanted to shout a few choice words at her but my kids were there. I felt so much pressure to both protect them and set a good example for them on how to handle confrontations. But truthfully, I had no idea what to do…
I finally told her that if she didn’t back away from our table, I would call the police.
She responded “Good, call them so I can tell them what a disgusting pig you are!” as she waved a crooked finger in my face. I said okay. And I dialed 911.
In the meantime, the manager was trying to get her away from the restaurant, but she refused to leave and continued to stand there, screaming at us. When she finally heard me on the phone with the police, she quickly walked away. A true coward.
By the time the police came she was gone. They mentioned they’ve received several calls about a cranky old lady in the neighborhood who harasses people.
Now, I knew this woman was crazy, but as a sensitive person I’m extremely affected by other people’s energies and words and her venom had completely consumed me. Every cell of my body felt enraged, shaken and angry. I felt like our entire day had been ruined by this ten minute ordeal.
And I even had the creeping feeling that maybe, somehow, I was deserving of such abuse…
The Choice You Must Make
Just a few minutes after the police left, an old man walked by our table as we were still trying to gather ourselves. He looked at us with our young kids on our lap, dog at our side, and said:
“Enjoy guys, these are the best years of your life…”
His expression was so kind, and his simple words were so full of truth and love.
It was as if, within a span of just a few minutes, we had received messages from both the darkest and brightest sides of humanity, and it was up to us to choose which side we internalized.
I wanted so badly to embrace the message from the wise old man, but it was the mean old lady whose words infected me entirely. I could barely think about what that man had said, let alone be present for my daughters. And that frustrated me even more.
I was determined not to let this woman win the war for my thoughts so I did everything in my mental power to work through the experience and pull my thoughts out of her icy grasp.
If you’ve ever been subject to the cruel and venomous words of a toxic person, here are some of the things that helped me recover and gain control of my thoughts:
Don’t Believe the Lie
That cruel woman’s words had no truth to them. She didn’t know me or my family. But when someone tells you how disgusting or stupid or fat or whatever you are, even if it’s a complete stranger, there’s a small part of you that allows those words to creep in as your truth.
Fight against those lies, don’t believe them. You can determine your truth. You can choose which words you open yourself up to and which ones you close the door on. To get through this experience, I fought hard to make the words from the wise old man my truth.
Ask for the Love You Need
After all the noise that woman shouted at us, I needed the silence of a quiet embrace. So I asked my husband to hold me, so that I could feel grounded. In that moment I knew I needed his presence, love and comfort, more than I needed words.
My husband would never have known this if I didn’t ask for it. Love yourself enough to ask for exactly what you need.
Use Nature’s Healing Power
Toxic words are so poisonous, it can be hard to get them out of your mind. Following that ordeal I was having trouble being present for my daughters so after we got home I took a walk through the woods with my dog.
I could feel my cells relaxing with each rustle of the wind in the trees. When negativity consumes you, nature is always there to show you how soft and beautiful the world can be. It will bring you back to you.
Find Compassion for Your Attacker
At first I hated this woman, she seemed so evil. But then I considered a different perspective. She probably had dementia or some other mental illness. The ugliness that came out of her mouth likely reflected that illness, more than a true evil.
Perhaps this woman, as harsh as she was, needed my compassion. Once I took that perspective, I no longer felt like a victim. No matter who your attacker is, finding a compassionate outlook for their struggle can elevate and strengthen you.
Take Your Time
It can take a long time to recover from venomous words. Trying to rush or bury the emotions they’ve stirred only makes the poison seep deeper. Take the time you need to process things and heal. However long, it will be worth it.
I have two little girls counting on me to channel my best, no matter what life throws at me. I needed to ask for the embrace, go on the walk and take the time to heal, so that I can show up for them, fully present, as they deserve.
Choose Your Focus
Once I had calmed down and no longer felt like that woman’s words held me in their grasp, the words from the wise old man took center stage. And they still do today.
Every time I feel overwhelmed, spread too thin or run down as a mother (which is often!), I remind myself that these are the absolute best years of my life, just as his kind words promised.
Move Forward with Love
We all hear awful words. We all experience awful things. We all struggle in hard relationships. But we always have a choice. We can choose to internalize someone’s venomous words or actions as a reflection of our self-worth, or we can fight hard for ourselves. We can choose our truth, ask for what we need, and find deeper compassion for both the ones who hurt us and for ourselves.
Whose words are you believing that are based on lies, manipulation, condescension or lack?
Whose words are telling you that you’re not good enough? Perhaps the harsh words are even coming from yourself.
How can you fight harder for yourself and your well-being? How can you separate yourself from the harsh words and find your truth?
Perhaps hardest of all, how can you find compassion for the person hurting you, and more compassion for yourself?
And how can you honor the people who need you and your love, by living from a place of worth?
I will forever be grateful for that wise old man who so innocently blessed us with his kind words, never knowing the harrowing experience we had just had. His serendipitous kindness showed me that no matter what, there is always a choice. We can either believe the things that makes us feel small, or we can fight hard for ourselves and our worth.
My hope is that you will always choose to fight for yourself. No matter where you are in life, or what you’ve been through in the past, you are worth it.
If you like this post, please “like it”, share it & leave a comment. I love hearing your thoughts <3
“And if you hurt me
That’s OK, baby, only words bleed
Inside these pages you just hold me
And I won’t ever let you go
Wait for me to come home…”
Ed Sheehan, Photohtaph
“Will you hold my hand?” he said.
It was our anniversary, and we had a fight.
We don’t get many date nights since we entered the world of parenthood, so I had been looking forward to our night out. But it didn’t go as I envisioned, and our dinner was soon filled with frustration.
I told him I was ready to go home. We got the check and walked outside to hail a cab.
But then he stopped me. He asked to hold my hand and walk for awhile.
I was so tired, and longed for my bed. But I agreed.
And so we walked. Hand in hand. Connected despite our emotional splinters. And from that connection, we found the words to heal the wounds. And our commitment to our unity led us back to each other.
Hand in hand to arm in arm. I closed my eyes and leaned on his shoulder. So thankful for our marriage, for a partner who wants to hold my hand more than a grudge.
“Take as long as you need,” she wrote to me in card. “I will always be here.”
I was in my first year of law school and I had midterms. I was young and broken and constantly allowed myself to drown in overwhelm.
But she was my best friend since high school, and we were emotionally inseparable. Kindred spirits who constantly healed each other’s broken pieces. We seemed to speak the same emotional language and travel on the same electrical current.
And she wanted me to know, that despite my overwhelm, she would be there when I came up for air. Her gentle stability cradling me as I walked forward into my stress and chaos.
“Miss me” she said to me months later over the phone. It was early September, I was starting a new school year and had a brief due, and she was busy with her finance work. We weren’t going to speak for a few days and for some reason we were both in tears. A few days just felt too long. It seemed so silly in that moment.
“I will,” I promised. Never imagining that those would be the last words we would ever share. Her life stolen from this earth just a few days later.
But to me, her love is always here, just as she promised. Constantly reminding me of what friendship can feel like. A feeling that shapes the sisterhoods I hold today.
“I will always protect you,” I told my three-year-old the other night in bed.
I was just starting to teach her the dangers of talking to strangers. She was asking so many questions, and I was trying to choose my words carefully.
“If someone ever tries to make me go with them mama, I will always stand behind you.” And with her innocent words, I knew just how strongly I would always fight for her. For her safety, for her well being, for her self-acceptance, for her voice and power.
I wasn’t sure I ever wanted children. I had wounds to heal and was afraid of having that much influence over a child’s life.
But as my daughters grow, I see how powerful my sensitive heart is. How it both cradles and empowers them.
Just as my husband’s stability and commitment cradles and empowers our love and our home. And how my friend’s gentle words constantly cradled and empowered my spirit when it was at it’s most broken.
I thrive in gentle relationships. Whether there are disagreements or scary issues to address, my sensitive cells flow peacefully.
In my younger years, I had a harder time. I always felt like the sensitive “misfit” of my family. Very well intentioned people, I just came with a different blueprint, which always presented challenges for me and for them. From the comments I receive from readers, I know many sensitive souls experience struggles of this sort. And that can come with a lot of pain and misunderstanding.
Relationships can feel hard, intimidating and unstable. Emotionally draining.
To a sensitive soul it can feel like love is harsh and vulnerability is a liability. You might long for love that holds you in peace and stability. Love that cradles when you’re at your worst, and empowers when you’re ready to fly.
If you struggle as a sensitive soul with feeling misunderstood by your family or feeling like your values simply don’t match theirs, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. People love differently.
Being born into a family doesn’t mean your souls will share the same values. The younger you are, the harder it is to understand that. How each person finds peace with that is a unique journey but you cannot force others to love the way you want them to love, just as they cannot force you to do the same. You cannot make someone adopt your blueprint for love.
Relationships are hard and part of learning how to manage them is learning how to adapt to or set boundaries with those in your life who simply love differently than you do – whether right or wrong, good or bad, it’s different.
2. Your reactions determine everything.
If you’re sensitive, you likely have very high standards for words and tone that others in your family may not share. But you may also struggle with being overly reactive, especially when you’re worn down by external factors. After all, your emotions are strong, your triggers are sharp and you deplete easily. I used to be so reactive to every relationship I struggled with, and quite frankly, those reactions never got me anywhere.
“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” Rita Mae Brown
Stay in control of who you are and who you strive to be. Don’t let your triggers determine your behavior. Choose your responses carefully, instead of allowing emotional reactions to steal the best of you.
3. You must do the work.
The harder your relationships were, the more work you’ll need to do to understand those struggles and, if necessary, heal your spirit. It’s life work we must all do, with no completion date. But slowly but surely, with each story you share, each book you read, each new relationship you nourish, you can heal any bits of yourself that got scrambled up in someone else’s story.
Trying to ignore any pain from your past will only make you enter relationships with the same mismatched values. Do the work to learn who you are and what you need to thrive in your relationships.
4. Tough relationships have great value.
The fastest way to learn what you want is to experience the opposite. Some relationships, family or otherwise, just won’t work out. Some will remain but require strong boundaries. Some will stay as they are with large amounts of acceptance for each other’s differences. I was once in a terrible relationship with a man, but I’m grateful for it, as it taught me so many lessons on love. Lessons that led me to my husband.
All of the struggles you experience create a set of ideals. Ideals that are unique to you that you can then carry forward into new relationships. Ideals you never would have valued so strongly if you hadn’t experienced what it’s like to live and love without them.
5. You have power over all of your relationships.
You have power over the relationships you were born into through the boundaries you set. And you have power over each new relationship you create because you get to choose who’s in your life, and there’s such magic to that. You can create an entire family of people who love in ways that flow beautifully with your unique love blueprint.
My husband and I could not be more different, but the way we love fits together perfectly. Trust in your ideals and they will lead you forward towards those who share them.
6. You can give the love you long for.
When you’re born into a family, you don’t get to choose how you’re loved. And that can be hard if your souls feel like a complete mismatch. But as a sensitive soul, learning about love is a likely a strong suit of yours. And you can apply all that you learn to the relationships you create for yourself.
As I raise my daughters my biggest hope is not that they succeed in ways I’ve predetermined for them. My hope is that I give them the kind of love that both cradles and empowers them so that they live wholeheartedly as their fullest selves.
And so they always know that in our home they are free to be exactly who they are. At their very best or their very worst, they can come exactly as they are, never needing to prove or change themselves to be worthy of my love.
7. We are all just learning about love.
I used to think the value of life was measured by how successful you are and what your accomplishments or degrees are. But the more I learn about life, the more I think we are all here to learn about love. To learn how to love, how to heal from love, how to love again, how to love in ways that empower, and ultimately, how to love ourselves and others better.
We are all on our unique journey through and towards love, and each member of our families is on theirs. You can love them, and all of the other relationships you create, in unique ways.
And when you find the relationships that put your soul at ease, that fit your unique blueprint, hold on to them. Through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, let them come exactly as they are. And watch as those relationships cradle and empower you, gently walking you to your destined home.
“Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul
And it’s the only thing that I know”
May you always feel held, worthy, loved, cradled and empowered by the relationships you cherish. xx
“I trust you,” I tell my three-year-old all the time.
When she doesn’t want to clean up her mess, share her toys, take her vitamins.
“I trust you.”
No response. But I know my words are lingering. Working their way through her impressionable mind.
“I trust you.”
I walk away. I leave the mess. I leave the toys. I leave the vitamins. Yearning to parent without shame and constant punishments.
“I trust you.”
Moments later, she picks up her trash, walks it to the garbage, without a word.
“I trust you.”
She hands her toy to her little sister, as I watch from a distance.
“I trust you.”
I return. I pick up the vitamin dropper. She looks up at me, and opens her mouth.
“I trust you.”
Because there’s a little girl in front of me, and I need her to learn the feeling of trusting herself. Not the feeling of shame, just so I can get a behavior I want. Because that shame leaves a stamp, a stamp with no boundaries.
And when that little girl turns into a woman, I pray that the trust I give to her will be the voice that continues to linger in her mind, instead of the wicked one so many of us carry.
So when she needs her voice, when she’s faced with life-changing choices, when she dares to dream, she’ll be led by her trusting heart, not the voice of doubt and inadequacy.
The voice that leads us down dark alleys, that causes us to do things we regret, that silences us when we so desperately need to be heard. The voice I’ll work to defend my little girls from, every day of my life. Because once that voice creeps in, its poison knows no boundaries.
The voice I’m learning to defend myself from, more and more each day. Ever looking for the antedote. And finding that perhaps the antedote lies within that searching. In the refusal to succumb, no matter how hard the road behind us has been.
Because there is no quick fix. No pill to swallow. No magic shame eraser.
But if we continue to stamp small pieces of trust onto our hearts, over and over again, perhaps its stamp will also find that there are no boundaries. No limits to where that trust will take us. No fence around the acceptance and courage it will dissolve into our souls.
Learning to trust my heart has been leading me down new paths. I recently left a job I loved. A job where I played with words, my favorite thing. A job where I helped people every single day, people who were spreading positive messages into the world through their writing. A job that finally showed me what it’s like to work within my strengths instead of having to pretend I’m somebody I’m not.
My wicked inner voice aches to call me a fool.
But I longed to be a more balanced and less over-scheduled mama while my kids are still so little. I longed to pursue my own dreams in the spare moments motherhood leaves me, dreams that job solidified for me. And I longed to honor the next steps that were calling me forward.
So I took a leap of faith, and decided to hold trust in the uncertainty. And while I don’t know what lies at the end of this new road, I know that for the first time the voice in my head is one of comfort, trust and love, instead of wicked words of mockery.
And perhaps that’s the point. We don’t need to know the outcome of our courageous moments. We just need to place small stamps of trust onto our hearts, and let them linger. And pray that with each small stamp, our life will align more and more with our potential.
So that the words that start to linger in our heads, more than any other, become:
“I trust you.”
How can you trust in yourself more today?
If you liked this post, please “like” it, share it and leave a comment.
This post was inspired by the teachings of Janet Lansbury, whose respectful parenting wisdom I hold as sacred.
Some recent pics w/my kiddos 🙂
For almost two years, I couldn’t cry. Not one drop.
The old me would shed tears over a sad commercial. The new me? A tragedy could unfold at my feet and my eyes would be as dry as a desert.
I was sleep deprived and energetically depleted. Two emotionally tough pregnancies and child rearing two little angels so close in age (while maintaining a job) took everything out of me. I had nothing left. Not one tear to spare.
I didn’t realize it at first. For a while I just assumed I was becoming less sensitive. I was hardening, toughening up. Motherhood was making an emotional rock out of me. Nothing could shake me.
I might have thought that toughness would feel like a nice break. A break from feeling so much and being so easily affected by the world around me.
But it didn’t feel nice. It felt disconnected and empty, like I was no longer tapped into the emotional electricity that connects the world.
It was odd and barren, and far less soft and loving.
The Burden of an Emotional Soul
When I was younger, I hated feeling so emotional.
I seemed to feel so much, all of the time. The insensitivity of others baffled me. I wanted to turn off my emotions and grow numb to the world around me.
Then maybe I’d feel less hurt, less disappointment and less shame.
I wanted to bottle up my overpowering emotions and seal them closed forever, never to feel pain again.
A lot of us feel that way. Like we’re too vulnerable. Too easily wounded. Too sensitive. Our emotions can feel like too much to bear.
We need to toughen up. Feel less. Soldier on.
If only we could turn off our nagging emotions, we’d thrive. We’d laugh in the face of fear!
But it’s not true. Turn off your emotions and you lose everything. All of who you are. The comforting way you give love and nurture others. The depth of your empathy. The generosity of your spirit. The beautiful light that sparks inside of you.
Letting Your Light Burn
My three-year-old daughter has never been a good sleeper. I was constantly sleep deprived during the first two years of her life. When her younger sister came along, between the two of them there were nights where I was up almost every single hour. Night after night after night. Month after month.
Sleep deprivation took on a whole new meaning.
It felt impossible. Inhumane. Painful.
And while I love every minute of being their mama, the year that followed my second daughter’s birth was the hardest year of my life. Because quite frankly, sleep deprivation is a bitch.
And to my surprise, so is being emotionally detached from the world. Being too tired to feel all that you’re used to feeling. All the love, all the joy, all the connection. It’s like a light within you gets smothered. Smothered in exhaustion, longing for comfort and relief so that it can one day burn again.
Your soft spots harden. Your empathy fades. Your vulnerability vanishes.
You find yourself longing for the emotions that once felt like such a tough burden to bear. Longing to feel that powerful spark again. The spark that connects you to the world, deepens your relationships, and keeps you on a constant search for messages of healing and kindness.
You long for the softness you used to resent. The softness that guided your heart like a compass, and often came with its fair share of tears.
The softness that lit you up from within and made you the person you authentically are.
Tapping Back In
In the last couple of months, things have improved. For the first time in three years, I am getting uninterrupted sleep (a gift only those with kids can truly understand). And while early motherhood will likely always be full of both love and exhaustion, sleep deprivation is no longer a part of my daily story.
And slowly but surely, I feel my softness returning.
One night recently, after being lured into You Tube clips of the most emotional episodes of America’s Got Talent, I found myself crying for the first time… for two hours straight. I couldn’t stop. The floodgates fell open as I got looped into one emotional story after another.
Each tear was a gift. A cleansing. A rekindling of the light within me that is still slowly healing from all the months of exhaustion. The light that guides my life, my choices, and the person I hope to be. The light that connects me to my soul and the all the beauty that’s around me. The light that softens me, allowing me to love to my full capacity.
The light that lets me know I’m truly alive and awake as a sensitive emotional being.
Your Emotions Are a Gift
They may seem like a lot at times. And they may carry a lot of fear and pain. But it’s through our pain that we learn about love and life and relationships.
It’s our pain that deepens our understanding of the world and the goodness that exists within it. It’s our pain that helps us know who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. It’s our pain that fuels our creativity and helps us to craft what we hope to share with the world.
And on the other side of pain is all the love and joy, in emotional abundance.
As a sensitive soul, you do not need to “overcome” or “deal with” your heightened emotions, you need to honor them.
Learn their triggers and respect their limitations. Step away when they feel like too much.
But let them bring you back to you. Your truths. Your depth. Your kindness. Your gentleness.
Let your emotions be your guide as they lead you towards the life you were destined for. Let them guide your passions, your actions and your choices.
With each tear I shed now, my heart fills with gratitude. So thankful to finally reconnect with my emotional soul.
May you always tap into the spark that connects us all and be so fully awake to the world.
If you liked this post, please “like” it, share it & leave a comment!
The news these last few weeks has been heartbreaking. One tragedy after another.
I’ve found myself in shock, despair and often in tears. The things people are capable of are just unfathomable. As is all the suffering in this world.
It’s easy to lose ourselves in the despair of it all. To feel nothing but helpless and scared. To completely shut down.
And if you have a sensitive nature, it can lead to quite a lot of anxiety and withdrawal.
But there are things we should remember, to empower our hearts and hopefully empower our humanity.
You are not alone.
You are not alone in the shock and confusion created by one horrific world event after another. We are all feeling it. All wondering how it’s possible for there to be so much hatred. All wondering if things will ever get better.
We are all experiencing the range of emotions, from disgust to despair, and the fears the come with it.
We are all looking for answers either within ourselves or from a higher being.
We are all praying for change. And there is power in that collective prayer.
There is far more love than evil.
With news reports today, it’s so easy to believe there is nothing but ugliness in the world. But it’s not true.
There is far more love than evil. Far more compassion than disregard. Far more acts of kindness than acts of war. But the news plays to our unfortunate hunger for negativity, so those things rarely get covered.
Years ago I had an idea that I wish were in existence today – a “Good News” channel. A channel that only focused on the positivity in the world. How would it change our inner thoughts to see stories like that? How would it change the impact we believe we’re capable of having on the world around us? How would it change the actions we take each day?
But, perhaps a more important question is, what is it about our inner makings that instead demand the negative? Why is a focus on kindness often perceived as childish, but a focus on negativity is perceived as intellectual?
Whatever the reasons may be, it’s important to remember that love is everywhere. Evil acts may get prime time coverage, but loving acts exist in abundance.
You can create change.
The tragedy in the world symbolizes an absence of love that circulates within all of us.
We cannot control the actions of others, but we can cultivate more love within and around us. The more we do so, the more power we’ll have to heal the world.
We all have hatred and biases that live within us, as President Obama himself even noted recently. We all have pain that causes us to express our worst, instead of our best. We all have limiting beliefs that cause us to shrink and withdraw, instead of standing strong to positively impact the world around us.
We should ask ourselves, how did our biases get there and how can we eliminate them? Where does our pain come from and how can we heal it? What thoughts are robbing us of our potential to give the world our best?
And in what ways do we turn a blind eye to suffering (of humans, of animals, of the world), and therefore contribute to it? In ways do we allow our thoughts to remain closed off, instead of open to new perspectives? How can we each do better?
These are not easy questions. Placing blame on others is far easier. But it’s important that we look inside ourselves for answers so that we can help to create positive change, instead of just feeding negativity by pointing fingers.
There are lessons in every tragedy. We must find the lessons both collectively and individually so that lives are not lost in vain. And so that we are empowered, instead of oppressed by hatred.
We are all one.
We may live in a divided world, but we are all one.
We are one with the goodness in this world, and we are one with the hatred. And we must accept responsibility for that unity.
We must all strive to honor the gentleness and compassion within us, so that we can help to create a world that is full of the same.
We must all work to heal our inner pains, so that we can play a role in healing the pains around us.
We must all work to reach our potential, so that the world can benefit from the gifts we possess.
The more we empower ourselves, the more power our collective prayer for change will have, and the more empowered and full of love our actions will be.
How are you coping with the all of the recent tragedies in the world?
Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it <3
We spend so much time dwelling on our past.
We analyze it. We relive the pain. We repeat the patterns.
We allow it to determine our feelings of self-worth.
Sometimes a painful past becomes so deeply imbedded within us that we live in response to it every single day. It controls our thoughts and actions, our relationships, and who we think we’re capable of becoming.
We drown ourselves in pity. Why did X, Y or Z have to happen to us? Why couldn’t our life had been like so and sos? Why weren’t we loved more fully?
We can spend years in therapy trying to understand it. Picking apart the words, actions and raw emotions we experienced until there’s no mental stone uncovered, but still never feeling quite healed.
Sadly, some people stay stuck in the framework of their past forever. Never able to break free of the mental chambers it created. Never really emotionally moving forward.
But it doesn’t have to be that way…
The Truth About Your Past
The truth is, there’s nothing you can do to change it. And there’s nothing you can do to change the actions or words of the people in it or the tragedies that came with it.
As unfair as it may have been, as brutal or depressing, it happened. And it can’t be undone.
But the other truth is, whatever harsh things you experienced, whatever ways you were victimized, you didn’t deserve. And if those harsh experiences are still robbing your present life, you don’t deserve that either.
You deserve far better. The past is always going to be part of your story. But it’s up to you to determine the role it plays in your future.
A New Perspective on the Pain You Carry
What if instead of viewing your past as a tragic story of suffering, you view it as a necessary part of your destiny.
What if your past was exactly what you needed to go through, as hard, painful or tragic as it may have been, to become the person you were meant to be.
What if instead of feeling like the victim of your past, you view your past as the story that was necessary to lead you to your triumph.
What if everything in your past was perfectly engineered to give you the strengths, perspectives and compassion needed to live the life you were destined for.
That’s not to excuse or condone anything that may have happened to you. But you can live stuck in feelings of past injustices, or you can empower your future by reframing the role your past plays in your life.
Reframing your story to one of empowerment can change everything.
The Power of Perspective
You can be a victim. Or you can be a survivor.
You can be full of broken pieces. Or full of wisdom and depth.
You can deem yourself forever worthless. Or you can honor your innate worth and unique strengths.
Perspective is everything.
Whatever you may have gone through in the past, you can find a way to use it to empower your future.
Our time on Earth is short. And you have a purpose to fulfill. Your past is very likely the key to that purpose.
So accept your past as part of your destiny. Use the strengths and tools it’s given you. And allow your past, however painful, to empower your future.
What strengths have the painful parts of your past given you?
Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it <3