by Avery Thatcher
As highly sensitive people, it’s very easy for us to lose clarity because we’ve been over told over time that our true selves and our emotional selves are too much, or even extreme and unacceptable.
I’ve learned that my emotions were wrong and they were meant to be hidden, in other words, they were meant to be moderated controlled, and silenced. So I learned to numb. I wanted to keep people happy. I didn’t want to make others feel bad because they said something that led me to cry. In truth, turning off your emotions is not as easy as turning off a light switch.
The first phase I have named is, ‘holding the apples.’ This phase was absolutely challenging for me because I was so desperately trying to be what people wanted me to be. However, every once in a while I couldn’t do it so that made everybody uncomfortable again.
I would stay emotionally level for a while, but then there was this inevitable and uncontrollable burst of emotion. It was like a summer thunderstorm that comes suddenly and leaves just as fast. This intense outpouring of stored emotions often left me unable to stand, crumpled in a heap on the floor. Sometimes I was lucky enough to be by myself when this happened, other times there was somebody there holding space for me from afar.
Every time I suppressed an emotional response, it was like I was handed one more apple to carry in my arms. I had so many apples being added on and they were not balancing well so they were slipping. I try not to walk too quickly and be careful to not lose balance. Of course, they would start to slide off my arms to the point it would just fall like a sudden big avalanche of release. All of that stored emotions would just bounce out and roll away everywhere, completely outta my control. In time I’d learned to weave a basket for these apples. In other others, I carried way more stored emotions than what I needed to.
Since I’d figured out a way to carry these emotions in a basket, I thought I had figured everything out. I was able to experience all of the joy in life without anything bringing me down. I felt like I was winning. I had found the secret to happiness and I could be everyone’s cheerleader. I was always able to find that silver lining and finding the positive side in everything was my secret to managing the challenging emotions. Honestly, I want to let you in on a secret, the silver lining is a lie. Silver linings are just lies. We tell ourselves to make it feel better in the moment, rather than actually experience what we need to experience. It’s how we soften the blow of what someone says or does, to us.
Maybe you have heard this said to you before:
My first thought was, ‘oh, this person is having a bad day.’ In reality, that was not true. I experienced my first major health concern at the age of 14, instead of feeling disappointment, frustration, fear, and anger, I just said other people have it worse. So I didn’t complain. I hung onto those silver linings like they were a lifeline. In truth, they were the only thing, that kept my head above water. Otherwise, I would’ve been just really drowned in all of the challenging emotions that I kept inside. After finding that ‘positive vibes’ for a long time, I finally slipped into the last stage of my numbing.
Thinking back to this time in my life brings on a lot of grief. I am so sad for the girl, the woman who thought she had to please everyone and make them happy and not herself. You may think that you’re winning when you learn how to assimilate into the highly logical and analytical world that you’ve learned how to shut your emotions off. You’re no longer making other people feel uncomfortable.
In fact, you’re making everyone feel so comfortable and you help meet all of their needs and you’re their favorite person to be around. I’d even worn the badge of honor for being kind without realizing how dangerous this honor really was when I numbed myself to the point I didn’t feel anything anymore.
I was denying my own needs. I tolerated almost any behavior because I didn’t have access to the emotions that let me know this wasn’t okay. Going through the motions kept me playing small. It was not challenging other people around me to grow and it keeps me in a place I was not meant to stay in.
Any time I tried to step out of this space, the people in my life would resist, they’d voice their displeasure because it challenged them in a way that I didn’t typically challenge them. In order to keep other people comfortable, I wasn’t reaching my full potential. I continuously dimmed my light and was missing out on beautiful opportunities which would unlock my true self and create an impact I was really meant to have in my corner of the world.
My stress was just left unchecked, completely unmanaged, and wreaking havoc on all of my body systems because I was doing everything for everyone and not taking the time for myself. We live in a society where stress is inevitable, but stress damage is not. When we numb our feelings and experiences, we’re never going to notice those subtle signs until something is really set us off and we either get burnout or sick, like a chronic illness.
When you come back home to who you are, what you want, separate from what other people told you, you should want and make sure that you’re making decisions that are in alignment with you.
Choosing to feel those emotions again was extremely stressful, and fearful that it gave me much anxiety. However, once I was able to create my clarity statement, I was able to say yes to things that would allow me to achieve those goals and say no to people that were either holding me back, keeping me stuck, or not in alignment with what I was working towards. People-pleasing tendency distances us from our true mission of what we want to do in our life. This is where writing a clarity statement can be huge for you because when you have a clarity statement that you can read and align yourself with you will feel a shift.
Shifting can happen in your:
Here is my clarity statement:
The purpose of my life is to live with vulnerability, resilience, and compassion to show others what’s possible when they master their stress habits, emotions, and self-talk so that others may feel safe to become their best self and unlock their potential.
When I read this, it helps me remember, what am I working towards. I ask myself if something is serving or sabotaging or even distracting me from my true self. When you decided what your clarity statement is, setting boundaries becomes much easier. My clarity statement really helped me remember why I’m doing this kind of work.
First of all, you have to know your core values. Our core values are really centered around emotional experiences such as vulnerability, security, connection, love, respect, and cooperation. These things are all different values that you may have. You can access discovering your core values free guide HERE.
Having core values helps with creating your clarity statement. When you remember, your core values, you can come back to them when something challenging arises. Also, having compassion is so important for overcoming these challenges
The next entry is going to dig into stress management and why stress management is so vital to us as human beings.