It is easier for some of us to get caught up in worrying, overthinking, and overprocessing (which I kindly abbreviated as W.O. O.).
When I’m exceptionally tired, my state of woo-ness influences and amplifies nearly every nuance from the minute the sun taps the sky, with its colors, until nighttime deepens the queries. Lately, my insomnia has been triggering my sensitive woo trilogy, into overdrive.
Dr. Elain Aron, researcher, and psychologist for highly sensitive people (HSPs), refers to this as D.O.E.S.
D: Depth of processing. Highly sensitive people, go deep and do so naturally with just about everything.
O: Overstimulation. Too much of a good or not-so-good situation can really create havoc on sensitive souls.
E: Emotional reactivity and empathy. We feel others' emotions as well as our own. Therefore, we need daily doses of extra quiet.
S: Sensing the subtle. Sensitive people live inside the sensing world of the subtle. Every flicker, undertone, overreaction, every critical, or not critical word, (said or unsaid) is felt. Nature is part of our being.
“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me, too.” ― L.R. Knost
Healing takes time, and so does learning how to give ourselves the self-care we need. Over the decades, my idea of self-care has transformed. For me, self-care includes respecting my personal boundaries. Self-care is multidimensional too.
The difficulty with self-care, especially as a female, is how society perpetuates and abuses women as the caretakers of just about everyone. We genuflect to this role as quickly as the sky holds the sun and moon. We feel it is almost a righteous passage to give and give until there’s nothing left to give. At least, this is my take and what I was taught.
There’s a side of me that loves to be creative. Let’s call her Ms. Creative. She’s passionate about writing, poetry, and music. A passion that dips, slips, and feels into the smallest canary-lined tunnels seeking creative air to breathe.
On the other hand, there’s a side of me that’s extremely practical. Let’s call her the obvious. Ms. Practical.
She has a clipboard (old school) with a schedule and lists. There’s a list for work, home, groceries and even a writing list of ideas that she somehow starts, then stops, and pushes those ideas aside.
When Ms. Creative and Ms. Practical meet up, it’s not always pretty. Ms. Creative is flowy. However, Ms. Practical must have order. The only flow, for Ms. Practical, is in her Excel charts.
“Pies are not for eating but for graphing!”
Ms. Practical is also demanding.
“Ms. Creativity, what is your end point?”
How do we regroup psychologically and emotionally during political times where the chaos feels endless? For example, after watching the first US presidential debate, I was emotionally triggered and exhausted.
Our daily news is full, real, and intense.
Here are some strategies to help you regroup. Tryout a few and adjust these suggestions to fit your needs.
Ultimately, taking care of yourself is extremely important.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ― Audre Lorde
#1. Acknowledge you have been triggered. Don’t let anyone tell you what you are feeling is wrong, silly, childish and to ‘get over it.’ Quick fixes and denial of your emotions are shaming.
My hair is greying at the temples, where my thoughts dwell in a sea of clarity. All I feel are the zeros inside of circles. Such as the seasons, time, and earth, turn me into a Tree, I am.
Skies see me and blink in earnest, nodding as I walk my way.
I’m learning to understand who I am.
Mistakes are my wisdom. Unknowing what I thought I knew teaches me more than pretending. Asking for help to reach what I am unable to do, isn’t weak.
Sensitivity crafts me a vessel, and we sail over the seas not only to think but to weep. I’m not alone when the answers are few. More have come before me.
That’s why the oceans are so salty.
And so, with this bit of overthinking, I can still smile and laugh with myself, which leads me to poeticness too.
Let’s turn down the sun, and let’s turn up the moon. Let’s trace the stars with our eyelashes. Let’s listen to the circles together. Let’s dream a vast dream.
Because we are all intrinsically interconnected — equally belonging to the circle of loving, living, and dying.
Let’s make this world more true.
Originally published in Get Inside: Highly Sensitive for a Reason: Overthinking and overprocessing led me to a beautiful discovery.
Carolyn Riker is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in private practice. She is also an author of three books. Her most recent book is "My Dear, Love Hasn't Forgotten You."