3/20/2016: Circle

One very important lesson that 2015 gave me was the realization that, as a highly sensitive person, I have a tendency to absorb the energy of the people around me.

Sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, but either way I internalize it. I’m affected by it.
Now, there are moments when this sensitivity is awesome — it’s this same trait that allows me to be compassionate and to empathize with people, to connect. But, on the other hand, in moments of everyday social situations, it can be trap for all kinds of anxiety. Feeling acutely aware of whatever undercurrent of awkwardness, discomfort, and conflict that’s floating beneath the surface can be really draining. And, what can often make things even worse, is the compulsion that often follows these feelings which is my immediate need to FIX everything. To play peacekeeper or nurturer or therapist or whatever the people around me need me to be.

The only problem with this of course is that ultimately we are not responsible for the emotional well-being of other people; we are in charge of ourselves. And the moment we take on that responsibility, we put ourselves in a position to become depleted by something we have no control other.

Discovering all of this, I knew I needed to develop a mantra that would remind me to keep my emotional responsibility to myself. Not to reduce my capacity for compassion; to actually PROTECT it.
This is that mantra: stay in your circle.

Now when the energy around me becomes even slightly toxic and I feel the pull within me to fix it, I quietly say this phrase to myself and I’m reminded that it’s okay to let things unfold without me intervening. That I have a right to guard my heart and my sensitivity as I see fit. It doesn’t give me a license to be a jerk; it just gives me permission to stay focused on the things I can control and to let the rest go.

As my friend @margaretannk once told me: “It’s a real skill to become comfortable with other people being uncomfortable.” It takes practice, but remember: their drama doesn’t have to be YOUR drama.