I’d like to think that I treat people with kindness, class, respect and dignity. The only thing is that being consistent in that regard can become difficult when that treatment is not reciprocated. Similarly, it is hard to be gracious when I am met with negativity and judgement.
As I found out, I seem to be quite sensitive to the energy around me. Negative energy can be pretty contagious.
That being the case, I often found myself stepping back from certain situations and wondering to myself, “Am I being too sensitive”?
Intuitively, to survive in our sometimes not-so-kind world, I managed to develop a thick skin and just enough armour to make my way through life without getting trampled or taken advantage of… most times. And those who did cross the line remained on my “naughty” list for years to follow. Some might call it a grudge, but I prefer to call it a defense mechanism to prevent it from happening again.
As I head into the second half of my life, I realize that being empathetic, kind-hearted and sensitive is my natural way of being, and that’s OK. My challenge is that I tend to be overly sensitive to others’ feelings, and that I worry about it… a lot. And then my resilience pays the price.
Most time, it is not a horrible problem in itself. What a wonderful world it would be if people actually did take a moment to care a little more about others rather than taking people down a peg, giving people a piece of their mind, and losing sight of the fact that we are all human beings.
But it becomes a problem when my sensitivity toward others’ feelings becomes a higher priority than my own.
In recent years, I’ve had my sensitivities overwhelmed by a number of external factors at the same time. During that time, I often felt pushed beyond my limits yet was still determined to be the nice guy, to not make waves, and to make sure everyone was happy… except me.
But then I finally got the memo! To return to the guy known for his positive energy, sunny outlook and “relentless cheerfulness”, I needed to strengthen my boundaries and my boundary-setting skills to maintain my energy for my family, my friends, for my work and for my favourite activities.
A recalibration was necessary. I made a few changes to eliminate (or at least moderate) those situations that pose a challenge to my sensitivities, and a drain on my energy:
1-I have moderated my intake of news. When checking out the news online, I have stopped reading the comments.
2-I don’t discuss politics.
3-I have accepted that I cannot be in more than one place at once. I am not Samantha Stephens.
4-When people start stirring up drama, my response is usually flat and without encouragement. I don’t play along. It’s exhausting.
5-I don’t read social media feeds during live events anymore.
6-The musical playlist for my commuting is usually very calming and soothing.
7-I have accepted that I don’t have to be right and I don’t have to agree with my counterpart with whom I am debating. It just means “agree to disagree” and to walk away.
8-I have accepted that I don’t have to fix things for everyone.
9-I have accepted that I am not responsible for everyone’s happiness. I am solely responsible for my own happiness.
10-I try not to be as hard on myself. It’s about moderating expectations and seeing beauty in life’s imperfections.
11-Even though I am a planner by nature, I try to remain open to life’s occasional randomness.
12-I try to reserve a little buffer time between potentially stressful or challenging situations to regain my footing again.
13-When given the choice, I may need to opt out of a situation that I know will be overwhelming and stressful to me.
14-When facing adversity, I try to remember to take deep breaths and to take the steps necessary to relax and ground myself along the way.
15-And the most challenging change: Getting better at saying “No, I’m sorry”.
In doing so and in asserting myself, my limited supply of energy is reserved for what energizes me, rather than things that overwhelm my sensitivities and tap my energy.
I think the key to being “successfully sensitive”, if that’s a thing, is to care less about the things that shouldn’t matter and that exhaust me personally.
By channeling my energy mindfully and selectively into joyful priorities that matter more, I can keep the good vibes circulating, and continue to treat people with kindness, class, respect and dignity.
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Have a great day,