Awareness of personal boundaries is sometimes essential for protecting our personal and emotional energy, but how do we accomplish that?
If you identify as being highly sensitive, you may already know the struggle of finding the right energy and emotional balance each day. It’s easy to get caught up in daily needs and suddenly feel depleted. We can learn to develop better coping strategies through awareness and being patient with ourselves. Let’s consider a proactive approach to preserving that energy so you can end each day more relaxed and calmer.
More than likely you have a good understanding of those things that cause an internal reaction. Our days can often be filled with what may be called triggers. Take a moment to think about some recent events where you felt derailed. What was happening before, during, and after that time? Were you tired, hungry, emotionally spent, or even a reminded of a negative experience in the past? Sometimes other people also cause us some internal triggers that are difficult to pinpoint. Explore your internal reactions and feelings as well. Shame, feeling disappointed, anger, and even fear can zap our emotional self to the point of feeling fatigued. Keep small tabs on those situations, events, feelings, and people where you are experiencing an internal response.
Develop a Strategy
If you have been able to identify and create awareness on things that bring about a strong internal response, consider your next step in planning how to manage the potential for it happening again. Make the effort to be precise in your strategy. The idea here is not to allow the feelings to linger but to process a way to work through the challenge. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to think about a positive approach that leaves you feeling confident, even empowered, by your strategy. Envision yourself actively using your strategy. It may help to process this with a good friend or even writing it down.
Let’s say mornings tend to be very challenging for you. Take a moment to explore potential reasons why this transition can be difficult. Are you getting enough sleep or going to bed later than you would like? Does the morning feel chaotic and you scramble to get it all together? Or is something happening in your morning routine that sets you off? Some of the strategies here may mean determining an adequate amount of sleep and making an adjustment, developing a better morning routine where you spend the night before preparing things like clothing, lunches, etc., and being mindful of or refrain from things like the morning news or social media outlets. For some people, just reducing noise in their morning helps create a better start to the day.
If you’ve identified a strategy that you find helpful, now take small steps toward creating a change. Taking small steps will help you toward a bigger goal. People can sometimes make the mistake of making big changes that may ultimately not work out well and feeds into feelings of defeat. Who wants to approach the goal again when that happens? Review your strategy to see if smaller goals may be necessary.
In example, if your goal is related to increasing your social circle think about the environments that feel safest for you. Some HSP’s tend to have a tough time in large, noisy gatherings because it can be overstimulating. Consider smaller venues or limiting time in larger ones. Make plans with friends and acquaintances in places that match your comfort level or have get-togethers at your home with a pot luck dinner or lunch. What kind of hobbies do you have? If you are an avid reader or writer, look for groups you can join with low commitment to start. One-time workshops may get you inspired to continue with future opportunities. You may experience some anxiety- remember, taking small risks and working through some discomfort may help you gain strength in yourself.
Check for “Energy Leaks”
In some past posts we also looked at areas we may not realize we are giving of ourselves unnecessarily. Being the “yes” person can quickly deplete our energy. When saying “yes” too often we may realize our plate is full and now we have become overwhelmed with the idea we may let someone down by not being able to fulfill the promise we made. People we interact with may be “energy vampires”- those who have chosen you as the go-to person to listen and perhaps ask you to help solve their problems. Even if you recognize they are venting their frustrations it can be exhausting for the highly sensitive person, as HSP’s may tend to absorb the emotions of others or feel them on a deeper level.
Energy leaks can occur just about anywhere. In our families, responsibilities may not be delegated in a balanced manner. In our work places we may be faced with personalities that make us uncomfortable or we take on more work than we can manage. Take time away from energy leaks when possible. Limit personal time with those who drain your energy. Ask yourself if some tasks can be delegated to others and work on being confident with a “no” response. You don’t always have to be the person to cave in and take a task because nobody else seems to want to. (It’s amazing how often the HSP feels bad and will volunteer their self to tasks when it’s evident nobody else will budge!) An option to consider, ask a group, “How can we work through this problem together?”
Go with Confidence
The Highly Sensitive Person may have a greater struggle with feeling confident in creating boundaries. So many things can impact how or why we do things. We may struggle with thinking we are hurting someone’s feelings, letting others down, guilt, shame, and other feelings that may lead us into a hole of self-doubt and worry. If we take the time to evaluate our boundaries and explore why they are important to preserve our energy it may open that ability to find a healthy balance each day. If you believe your boundaries are reasonable, especially with other people, practice how to establish them. The more often you can practice these boundaries the more likely you can gain confidence in repeating and maintaining them- especially when you feel your energy is better preserved as a result.
If you feel you have been unsuccessful in identifying areas where your energy is being zapped, and need some extra guidance, consider reaching out to a mental health provider. If you are highly sensitive, check out www.hsperson.com for a Highly Sensitive Therapist in your area.
Creative Pathways- Rochester Art Therapy- specializing in treating the Highly Sensitive Person, is devoted to helping individuals face their struggles in a supportive and gentle way. Let us help you achieve your personal goals and develop in-depth solutions. If you would like to learn more and meet with a therapist, please contact us today to determine how we can help.
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Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.