How a Highly Sensitive Introvert Held Strong in the Storm

Sometimes seeing the news about floods, hurricanes, fires, and all manner of disasters can really get to me inside, and I’m not even going through it myself!

My strength for empathy can be a real challenge at times like that. I can even feel it in my body as I write this. I had a good cry about flooding just the other day. Sometimes tears are just the thing.

I once lost my home in a fire, and escaped in the middle of the night, and that was a very hard thing to be sure. And I can’t imagine the horror of a whole region going through it at once. As a highly sensitive introvert and a “home-body,” I wonder how I would manage.

When one of many disasters had just happened and was on my mind, I asked people in my Facebook group for introverts to share their related feelings or experiences. One story came from Ksenia who had just gone through the latest hurricane and flood.

Hurricane Harvey flooding

I was inspired by her resilience and I think we all learned from her tips too. So I asked her for permission to share this more widely, to help others like us, so we can remember we are stronger than we think.

She gave me permission to share her story here. Continue reading

The World Is Changing Fast and Sensitive People Can Play an Important Role.

The world is changing at an accelerated pace, in unpredictable ways, thanks to climate disruption and other destabilizing forces that are all interconnected.

That acceleration and unpredictability is a scary thought to my human brain that craves stability. Sorry to bear this bad news but I think you already sense this, consciously or unconsciously. People with high empathy tend to feel it quite a bit.

Bear with me because I also have good news.

As I’ve been studying what is happening and likely to happen, one of the key things that wise people are suggesting, and I agree, is to know how to calm your nervous system so you can adapt and help others, in whatever scenarios we find ourselves in.

I know we can do that and it’s a good place to focus first. I’ll talk about how, and what about for highly sensitive people and introverts?

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Having a Big Heart Can Also Mean Big Exhaustion. Start with Grounding.

My clients and I have big hearts (naturally empathetic), which means we automatically care about people and how it’s going in the world all around us. It’s a gift, and… sometimes it can lead to taking on more stress or responsibility than one body can handle.

We can be at risk for overwhelm from others’ energy or the ever maddening news. Well, let’s be honest, overwhelm can come just as easily from the inner critic (which says things like “You’re not good enough”). This week it was the national news that got to me.

But we have things to do here on earth. Ya know? People with big hearts are needed!

So, I’m thinkin’ we have to find a way that works for us. We need to manage our outer and inner roadblocks as job #1. We won’t be able to live our purpose if we don’t. We need a giant Pause button so we can find solid ground and start from there.

Persephone, sculpture by Valerie Gilman

She’s saying to me: “Stop, let me take a pause!” Sculpture artist: http://www.valeriegilman.com

As a highly sensitive introvert, I’ve had to find good grounding methods so I can keep living my purpose without exhaustion. I know we can do this.

I’ll explain what I mean by grounding exactly, and share what I do, and offer a self-assessment for you.

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What Do I Do with All These Emotions?

One of the most essential lessons for my well-being has been what to do with emotions. Whether it’s the ones that seem to have no reason, or from big tragic causes, or in joyful moments, it all comes down to some simple understanding of what emotions are and what to do with them.

resisting emotions

The topic of emotions keeps coming up in conversations with friends and clients.

In this crazy culture of ours, the topic of emotions, a simple universal internal system, has become foreign to us, and something we hide in the closet.

And yet, it is discussed frequently… in private. Or at least when people talk to me.

An acquaintance recently asked me on the sidewalk, “I hear I’m supposed to allow emotions, but how does that really work when I’m afraid it will just swallow me if I look at all this grief?”

Good question! I know that feeling.

I’ll tell you about our conversation and how I’ve learned to understand and manage emotions as a highly sensitive introvert. Along the way, I’ll explain some simple truths about emotions that can bring you so much freedom and joy.

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Managing the Whirlwind of Feelings in a Whirlwind World

Dear Val: “Sometimes feeling all this stuff in the world and in my own life, and the people around me can feel like too much. All these feelings moving through me…. Sometimes I want to hide under the covers. But I also care. I’m not sure how to find the right balance sometimes.” ~ A highly sensitive introverted woman.

I’ve heard many versions of this same concern. As a sensitive introvert myself, I get it. I have now designed a life that doesn’t usually overwhelm me, even with all the feelings inside and around me, and that is so different from in the past. It still happens that I feel overwhelmed at times, I mean, this life, yowza! Whoa. But I can see that my choices and some daily habits are making it so much easier. #Grateful

If you’re like me and well, like all humans, you’re feeling a big range of things— from gratitude and love, to confusion or loss— all in this one moment. Seems strange but that’s life I think. And yet…

What if it feels like too much?
AND it’s also worth asking:
What if it opens you up to something wonderful?

I’ll share how I think of it.  Continue reading