Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Stress and Anxiety Factor

All of humanity experiences stress and anxiety. There is no question. All one has to do is look around to see the proliferation of "energy boosting" products, "road rage" possessed drivers, and the amount of people walking around who could win an award for impersonating "Grumpy." One of my hypotheses behind this, as my mom calls it, is the "Instant Society" phenomenon. We're all under more pressure to have it done yesterday. As a consequence, we've lost the ability to slow down and truly savor; to be aware of what's happening now rather than worrying about what will happen later.

We sensitives, however, seem to be drawn to a fairly constant state of worrying. My recent experiences have taught me to be more carefree and release a lot of the expectations that I usually place on myself. Very, very recently, I've learned that all the negative energy that I allowed to build up inside me had to release itself somehow. That release usually comes in the form of powerful, engulfing emotional reactions that aren't going to take me anywhere. This isn't to say that having a powerful emotional reaction is wrong. A powerful emotional reaction can mean the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one in many instances. It's when you assign yourself and your identity to those emotional reactions that you create the potential for destruction, self or otherwise.

I look back on situations and relationships in my life, realizing that I spent a lot of time crying, being nervous, worrying about what might happen, worrying about losing a relationship, about looking bad, about losing my position or status and countless other things. There were times where all that worrying literally made me physically sick or so emotionally drained and caught up in its negative whirlwind that I became unproductive and even a threat to myself.

It wasn't long ago that I let nervous anticipation consume me when it came time for anything having to do with potential criticism, a review of who I was and how I was doing in someone else's eyes, or what might happen "if" so and so was no longer in the picture. If I received criticism I wasn't able to let it roll off my back like others seemed to be able to. I felt it seep into me, consume me, bother me. I felt intense shame, I think, sometimes to the point where I would become so frustrated and want to inflict harm upon myself. Because after all, criticism is external harm inflicted upon someone else. The difference for sensitives, I think, is that the energy becomes internalized and then it seems as if that negativity is coming from within rather than from someone else's perspective.

Of course I'd be lying if I said that I still didn't struggle with these issues. It was only yesterday that I had the thought that I should allow myself to feel and work through the emotion(s), but not assign or identify myself with them. When I reflect on the difference between how I reacted on the inside a year ago, compared to how I react now, I realize that I've begun to distance my identity from not only the emotions, but also from the outside perspectives.

As for the anxiety over being what I'm supposed to be to someone else in a relationship or the possibility of loss, that's another ballgame that I'm not sure I'll ever master the rules of. However, one can always try. The first step might be to realize that the other person wouldn't invest their time if they didn't like something about you. You don't have to place yourself up on a pedestal to be interesting or lovable. And loss, it's bound to happen. But if you're worried about avoiding it all the time then you lose out on truly living. And that, the act of breathing in life, is one loss that you'll never really get the chance to gain back.


  1. Great post! You've described me pretty well. I worry about everything. I'm a hsp too. You're right, though, we can't live very well worrying all the time. So I'm working on it. My husband was diagnosed with cancer last year. He's doing well now, but I still worry. It's hard to step back and relax now...I'm trying to believe in life again though.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Thanks Joanne! Sometimes you feel like you're crazy for being the way you are and that you're the only one out there. I'm sorry to hear about your husband's illness. Cancer is such a frightening disease. I hope he continues to do well and improve. It is so hard to relax, especially with something like that looming in the background. You can't always stop the worrying reflex. All you can do is enjoy the moments you do have and hope, regardless of life's circumstances.