My sensitivity used to make me feel so broken. And the reality is, sometimes it is very heavy.... it can make certain situations incredibly challenging to work through. Things that are easy for others to brush off without a second thought, I carry for much longer. I feel everything deeply and experience a wide range of emotion. I'm not gonna lie, this makes shit really hard sometimes. So in every situation, in every relationship, I have to choose if I'm going to guard my heart or if I'm going "all in"...
Sometimes I choose well and frankly other times I don't .... and then I have to deal with the consequences of that choice and do the hard work to change the situation. This often leads to heartbreak and grief, which of course I feel deeply. But I've learned that I need to let myself feel my emotions fully, even these painful ones. I need to explore what I'm meant to learn from the situation so I can choose differently next time. And I've learned that the best way for me to do this is to retreat in solitude for a day or a week, or however long it takes. This is what works for ME, it's how I tend to my heart when I am hurting.
But there's a flip side to the pain. The depth of my feeling isn't just limited to the painful emotions. I also deeply feel joy, gratitude, and love. I am a very passionate woman. I care deeply and when I choose to invest my energy somewhere, I truly do go all in. I am fully present and give my whole heart. Yes, sometimes this leads to heartbreak. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it leads to something truly amazing.
My sensitivity traits are what allow me to experience such richness in life and are what make ME. As challenging as it can be sometimes, I've come to embrace my sensitivity as one of my greatest gifts.
Today is World Introvert Day. I wanted to take a moment to share a few of my own experiences and insights on living as an introvert.... because sadly, many of us have been grossly misunderstood for much of our life. Part of my mission has become to help educate and increase awareness about introversion. Until I understood that I was an introvert and learned what that really meant, I often felt different, outcast, and/or broken, like I needed to be "fixed" or improved in some way. I've been either made to feel or outright told that I was too timid, too reserved, or too shy.
People think introverts don't like people or are anti-social. In reality, each introvert has his or her own levels of comfort with sociability. It's not that we dislike people... we can be very social and enjoy being in relationship with others. However, we may have different preferences in terms of what being social looks like, as we may become quickly drained when around too many people at once. Many introverts are uncomfortable in large crowds. We recover our energy through solitude and need ample time alone.
We have different needs and preferences in all aspects of our life. We are deep thinkers and processors, which means we spend a lot of time in our heads and like to think things through. Our many gifts and talents look different than the gifts and talents of extroverts. This doesn't make our way wrong, just different.
We have spent much of our life trying to learn how to flourish in an extroverted world. This in and of itself is exhausting. We feel constant pressure about trying to conform to the way others want us to be, when in reality, we are so much more successful when we are allowed to do things our own way.
Part of our challenge is to find our place along the continuum where we are pushing the boundaries of our own comfort zones so we grow, while also finding comfort in who we are and honoring the fact that we are different and have unique qualities, traits, and needs. Through this learning process, we find our inner power and learn to stand up for ourselves rather than trying to be someone or something we're not. Magic happens when we release external expectations and pressures and find the courage to follow our own heart and to create our own path through life.
Why is it so difficult to extend compassion and forgiveness to ourselves? My journey with self-compassion has been challenging for a variety of reasons...mostly, because I expected myself to be PERFECT .... All. The. Damn. Time. I expected myself to be perfect, even when perfection wasn't realistic (which, if we're being honest, perfection is rarely realistic!).
I used to have zero tolerance for mistakes or failure. When I did mess up, I was incredibly hard on myself.... mentally (and sometimes verbally) judging, criticizing, and berating myself. The negative self-talk would run rampant!
It took me a long time to understand that mistakes and "failures" are actually a good thing. Because if we are messing up, it means we are trying. We are choosing. We are taking action. We are taking risks. We're learning and growing.
We actually do most of our learning during the challenging parts of life. In our mistakes and failures we learn what works and what doesn't. We learn what's important and what's not. Through our actions, choices, mistakes and failures, we learn about ourselves.
In reality, there is no perfection in change. No matter how badly we want to change our behaviors and make better choices for our life and for our self, it is all too easy to fall back into old patterns. It takes a lot of inertia to implement new habits because it's *easier* to keep doing what we are doing rather than changing our behavior. This is NORMAL and doesn't make us a failure. Change is hard.
I like to approach change from the mindset of "practice." I will keep practicing the new behaviors until they become my new natural choice. Sometimes this takes days, weeks, or months. Sometimes it takes a year. It depends on what the change is and what else is going on in our life. As we experience setbacks, challenges, mistakes and failures, let's open to the idea of extending ourselves patience, compassion, and love. Because we deserve it.
Mommy Guilt. One of the heaviest things we can carry (aside from our kids, of course!). Here are just a few of the biggest sources of mommy guilt I've noticed in myself.
The thing is, Mommy, that not a single one of us is perfect. We ALL make mistakes. We all mess up. We all feel like we're "falling short" or failing sometimes. And for me, when I see myself falling short, I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself saying, "You're a terrible mother!"
But in reality, I'm not a terrible mother. True: I don't always make the best choices. I mess up. I make a lot of mistakes. I'm not perfect.
Also true: I'm human.
So I've been practicing rewriting my story. Instead of reprimanding myself with statements such as "You're a terrible mother" - I've been practicing with inquiries like:
Before I became a mother, I wanted to control every aspect of my life: I wanted to *feel* in control, always. I set incredibly high (*unrealistic*) expectations for myself and then would work myself to exhaustion trying to get everything done. As an over-achiever and people pleaser, I was always on the go, striving to meet everyone else's expectations, too, and then berating myself up when I didn't get everything done. 😩
Shortly after I became a mother, I realized (the hard way) that I needed to let go of my unrealistic dreams of perfection and control. I learned that I'm not in control, I'm not perfect, my child isn't perfect, and life isn't perfect. That was an unexpected wake up call.
As I've been learning to release my needs for perfection and control, I've also been practicing flexibility, patience, and SURRENDER (ugh, that's a hard one, isn't it?!?!) I've been learning to extend myself kindness, compassion, grace, and forgiveness. 🤗
This has been challenging work... these are deeply ingrained mindset and behavior changes that do not happen overnight. I mess up often. Sometimes I forget to be patient or kind or forgiving to myself. Sometimes my desire for perfection and control reemerges in a BIG way. 😟
Even though this has been challenging inner work, it's been equally rewarding. I've been shifting my perspective of what it means to be a mother. It's also making me a better mother. I'm learning to be more flexible, more present, more patient. I've been living more in the moment, and have been learning to appreciate the little things.
When do you tend to feel the weight of mommy guilt? In what ways do you struggle with control, perfection, high expectations or over-achievement? How have you extended yourself kindness, grace, or forgiveness?
I have been through a lot of big life changes over the last few years. Through all that, there has been confusion, uncertainty, doubt, fear (lots of fear!), pain, sadness, grief and loss. It's fair to say that my heart has been hurting for awhile. I've had good days and bad days. Some days I was able to get out into the world and function with a smile on my face, doing my best to mask my hurt. Other days, I needed to retreat from the world, lie on the couch all day, fill pages in my journal, and/or cry it out. I listened to my body and my heart and let that guide me in terms of what I most needed for my healing each day.
Several years back, I asked the Universe to help me open, heal, and soften my heart. In order to do that, I needed to be shown all the old wounds, fears, limiting beliefs and negative self-talk, patterns and habits that were blocking me. And the best way to see those is through life experiences and relationships with people (all relationships, not just romantic). So the Universe brought exactly what I needed to learn, grow, heal, and open. And I needed to show up and do the work. Some of my life changes were initiated by me, as I saw what was no longer a fit for me and where I wanted to be. Other changes and situations were brought upon me. Through each change, whether I chose it or not, there was loss, grieving, and hurt.
After a few years of this deep learning and big change, I got to a point where I literally pleaded with the Universe, "enough already... I'm exhausted!" I just wanted all the life lessons to stop. I felt beaten down and lost. But each time, I chose to keep moving in spite of the pain and difficulty. I dove deep into self-observation and self-reflection, paying attention to what I needed to learn from each situation. I started to see when old patterns would emerge and became clear on how my own thinking and behavior was causing a lot of the turmoil in my life. And now, I'm finally feeling like I'm coming out the other side. I've learned a lot about myself. I've evolved into a better person. My heart feels open. Softer.
I know now that this work will probably never end for me. I believe it'll be a life long journey. And I'm okay with that, because it's connected to my life purpose.
The reality is that shit gets hard sometimes. And for anyone out there who may be hurting and trying to keep that to yourself, I get you. It's unfortunately become kinda taboo to talk about the hard days and the pain, and sometimes we just don't feel like sharing that part of ourself with anyone... I know I didn't always want to.
Just know that you are loved.
Today, I woke up feeling so grateful and full of joy. My heart literally feels like it could burst open. I have so many amazing people in my life, each offering support in ways that only they could, sharing their gifts, their talents, their hearts with me. This woman is blessed.