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 in the news, and that is so different from in the past.
It still happens that I feel overwhelmed at times, I mean, this crazy life, yowza! Whoa. But I can see that my choices and some daily habits are making it 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.
The Big Blend of Emotions: Gratitude + Mourning Example
Here’s an example of the emotional blend that is up for me right now. It’s a time of thanks and a time of mourning in the U.S.A., where I live. Tomorrow is called Thanksgiving by some, and a Day of Mourning by the Indigenous people who know that the story told about Thanksgiving covers up the real history of abuse by European settler-colonists.
So, today I’m feeling the blend: the gratitude for this sacred land we now inhabit together in the messiness of it all, and I am feeling the mourning too. So much loss and devastation, to say the least. Somehow, allowing it all to exist inside, together, is what helps me.
In other words, I try to allow whatever feelings are there, with compassion and respect. I make an effort to refrain from judging my feelings or others’ feelings or opinions. When I do that well, I don’t get overwhelmed.
Seems counterintuitive, but Allowing feelings seems to help.
When I resist feeling, that’s when I get overwhelmed. What I’m saying isn’t easy and certainly didn’t come overnight for me. It’s a daily practice. That’s the work. Radical acceptance, and radical courage, one day at a time.
What Helps Me Find My Footing in the Messiness
In addition to feeling what I feel, learning from role models helps me. I listen and learn from courageous people with big hearts, like Van Jones, Desmond Tutu, and Jane Goodall. Here’s another role model of mine:
Lyla June, of both Diné (often called Navajo/ Indigenous) and European heritage, knows how to live in the blend of radical acceptance and fierce courage.
In her music video, Lyla calls us all forth, from any cultural background, to continue to “fight” with the “only effective weapons in this battle, Truth, Faith, and Compassion.” Amen to that. (Be sure to catch the ending of the song in the video.)[More about Lyla June’s story here. I love this article she wrote.]
My Daily Habits for Staying Out of “Too Much-ness”
When I look at what habits help me stay out of the overwhelm zone, these are the big ones:
- Compassion for myself, for everyone, is my starting place.
I think strength and courage grow out of this. Taking a moment to send myself compassion when I feel off makes a huge difference. (This one thing changed my life!)
- Breathing, mindfulness, meditation – all that good stuff we know we should do.
I actually do it almost every day, even if just for five minutes. It’s far from perfect but it still helps me roll with life.
- I avoid mainstream hype-driven news media.
I catch news in my own mindful way, but I mostly avoid the hype-driven frenzy from the typical American news outlets. They are in the business of selling ads more than adding to the greater good. Consider the source. I stay informed in other ways.
- I do a nightly gratitude list.
Research proves it helps us and it’s surely true for me. So simple. It enriches my days because my mind is more attuned to the gifts around me. Gifts are always there.
- I list “conscious complaints” too.
That means I’m conscious of what I’m saying so I’m not stuck in my story. Just naming it helps honor the struggle, and it moves on through, eventually. Surprisingly helpful! Who knew?
- I say “no” to what drains me.
I know, sometimes people around me are disappointed that I don’t answer the phone or show up at social events. I have to remind myself that I can’t lose me in the process of pleasing others, or no one wins.
- I say “yes” to what is true to my strengths and values.
I consciously choose where to spend my energy in ways I think will matter to the greater good, including to my own well-being. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what will matter, but one thing I’m grateful to know for sure is that my chosen career fits.
It’s not perfect. Life is messy at best. At Best!
And, we were built for this. For compassion, for rest, and for perseverance. You are stronger than you think.
This Captures It Well…
I saw this quote yesterday and it captures my philosophy well.
The whole idea is not to figure out what you should do that will matter,
but to make each thing you do reflect the values you want,
because we don’t know what’s going to matter in the future.”
I save quotes like these here: