Read over on my new blog here.
Working on book 2 in the Help! I’m Sensitive series, Your Turtle Shell. This one is all about setting boundaries and includes Thoughts of a Sensitive. What topics and concerns as a sensitive would you like to see? Feel free to fill in the comment section below or email me if you prefer. I’d love to hear from you.
I am seriously confused.
It’s partly from the allergens that are flying around in my house. My cooler–it’s an Arizona thing that wets the dry air while cooling the environment–hasn’t been cleaned in at least five years I’ve been here so it’s making my head really foggy every time it spits out air with gunk. So I called up my landlords and they immediately responded because they are fabulous. At first, they thought they would have to brainstorm how to clean out this moldy cooler, so I thought I would have to wait awhile, sneezing. But then I got a call from them that an expert would be coming to clean out the ducts and make my life easier to breathe. This expert specializes in cleaning out coolers of allergens. It was the perfect solution and the landlords knew where to go for help.
That experience lit a lightbulb up in my head. I have always given myself a hard time for not succeeding at times in business matters and that’s because I would go for help in the wrong places. I wouldn’t have the right answers. I would flounder about and get lost in shame. After all, I am a Capricorn and we are supposed to be good at everything. (ha ha) But what if it’s not the right help?
A couple of times lately I have seen in action just the right piece show up for friends that they needed, but I have also seen in my life the opposite, where the wrong help creates more confusion.
I remember graduating from the Grad School program and having pretty much having vague help finding a job. I was told my skills and resume were fabulous and would have no problem finding something, but where/how wasn’t clear, except to look at a list of job search places to tackle. When what you do is so out of the box it is difficult to have a clear map. I always joke about wishing I was an accountant because the path is so clearcut. I’d go to school for a clear program, find jobs in accountant offices, and DONE. Vague help is the worst because it doesn’t provide you with specific steps. It’s almost like giving you directions to a house by saying, “Yeah, it’s somewhere over there.” Where? To the right of there or the left of there?
I have seen in others what happens when they have the wrong help. Trying to create something they bring in the wrong person who can’t really solve their particular problem and they make a bigger mess.
So what is the right help? First, I need to get very clear what is needed. That isn’t always easy. Often you are so overloaded that there are too many pieces floating around your head. It’s hard to pinpoint what the problem is or what you are needing. You know you need help with being healthy, but does that look like going on a diet? Starting a workout program? Going to do a doctor? What is the specific issue? I think I run into having too broad a problem. You can relate? And then overwhelm happens because there’s too much to tackle at once, and as a sensitive, I am already overloaded with stimuli and information ALL THE TIME.
So I write down very specifically what the issue is. The cooler was easy. It’s concrete. I know when the cooler turns on I sneeze, so that thing must be dirty. I then need to find someone who can clean out a dirty cooler. But what about more complicated questions like, how do I bring in more money? Or how do I bring in more peace to the household? Etc. etc. Those questions are trickier.
I am learning…
Sometimes having the right help is about lightening the load. You can’t do it all. (My Capricorn inner self just cringed.) You can’t be everything to everybody, you need to bring in assistance. Find what solves that particular problem– be very specific, research, ask around, and zero in on that one thing at one time to avoid overwhelm.
Until next time,
I can’t be on Facebook all day.
I’m definitely a leader, not a follower. I have had many part-time jobs in my lifetime that I “failed” at because I was asked to be a follower, and I just wanted to break out of that box and design a new one. (One of my first jobs was at a newspaper, and I got strongly lectured because I tried to design some ads when I was only the “typographer.”)
I hate when folks give me advice that is black and white that throws the baby out with the bath water (oh wow, that is one creepy expression.) I then feel trapped with no suggestions how to get out. This goes along with the “break out of the box” redesign thinking, I would guess.
I only know all of this from observation from when I finally checked in this week with myself. Now, it’s not always possible to do so when you are surrounded by people, but I realized this is mandatory for me.
As an empath, I am a pleaser and I have “mold disease.” I listen to everyone for advice and merge with most of the folks I interact with, and by the end of the week I have moments where I’m like, “Who the %$# am I?” And I get confused. And I think how everyone else is thinking. So I wrote that long list of how I felt. Now what I SHOULD felt, or what is NICE to feel, but how I honestly feel. Because when I am around stronger personalities, I think I should feel what they feel and I can get knocked about. And then I have to remind myself that I am a leader myself and a very strong person, and I am not a six-year-old child who needs to listen to anyone who seems like an authority. Oh yeah, right.
And some of what I realized writing that list is I really disagreed with how others felt, and that was okay. IT IS OKAY. Because being responsible for me includes making sure I know what I need and feel, so others aren’t stuck with the burden of trying to take care of my needs. And we can think differently, and see things differently.
I’ve written before about needing a lot of physical space, but I think the bigger need is EMOTIONAL SPACE. I can get that emotional space back by making a list of how I feel. I am no longer cramped. My stomach doesn’t hurt anymore (big red flag). I don’t have to feel what everyone is feeling, and what they want me to feel, and what they think I should do or what I need. Or maybe, they don’t even want me to feel anything, but I empathically feel they would like it if I did.
Most empathic folks are very strong. If we can take on that much emotional stuff from others and the world, PLUS our own stuff, WE ARE STRONG! We do double duty, right? When we drop down into our KNOWING, we make choices and decisions that are right for us. We don’t have to explain it, we just KNOW what fits, because we know ourselves.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY: Make sure you have a Weekly Check-in this week. I often play in my sketchbook and do a RECAP of the week to reflect and process all that has happened. I start out my list “I am feeling…” and the surprises clear out all that isn’t mine.
Yesterday I weeded. My entire yard is a giant weed from all the rain and early Spring. My allergies aren’t that bad so I sat down and began pulling, even though it seemed a daunting task when I began. Surveying around me I realized I might have made a small dent. I was fine for hours until mid afternoon and I felt like I was in the middle of a bad two-week cold with congestion and a voice that sounded like frog. Silly me, I forgot to create a boundary beforehand, meaning, take some allergy meds before I went outside to weed.
As per usual, the simple situations in life often mirror what I am learning, although learning how to set boundaries, as a sensitive empath, is probably my main lesson in this lifetime. But I have been forced to look at the many ways I don’t put in a preventative boundary in place or are reluctant to do so.
5 Ways I Need to Set Better Boundaries
Drum roll please…
1. I have to admit that I have pure panic when I am about to say NO and disappoint someone, or say I can’t do something. It’s usually happens when I need to take care of myself first and my body or needs are screaming. I am definitely a pleaser, and when I really care about someone, I want to please them BAD. And in prior relationships, if I said NO and spoke how I felt, I was punished in some way, so there’s a part of me waiting for the sentence or aftermath. I don’t please you, you won’t like me anymore. I will suffer by being ignored, rejected, or worse. (I actually have one friend I am terrified to speak up to and disagree with for fear of the aftermath.) Since as a sensitive I am FINALLY learning that I have limited energy reserves since I overload easily, and I am recognizing my limits and when I simply need that time-out. It’s my responsibility to let others know this, and hopefully, they will respect my needs and not take it personally because it isn’t about them.
2. I need to learn how to put boundaries up on others’ demands. I’ve never been good with this one. This falls into the category of pleasing others vs. pleasing myself also. It’s funny how everything goes around in circles back to that solid fear of punishment. Dang, maybe I need to look at that.
3. I need to not get others involved in my relationships. When everyone else is involved or has a say in your relationship, even from a place of concern or love, it still isn’t a good idea. They have no idea all the small pieces or details, they only hear you when you are upset, and then you invite them into a space they don’t need to carry, and then they are upset. Plus, they have their own ideas, fears, and experiences that cloud you. Nothing like having a well-placed fear that you didn’t have before fester inside. This goes for projects too. I realized a long time ago, that I only share what I am doing AFTER the fact. Going back to school? Working on a children’s book? Changing your hair color? Show/tell them after you did it. Trust me on this one.
4. Learn that not everyone has the same boundaries. A few of my extroverted acquaintances can talk my ear off all day or would probably visit and not leave, and my introverted self wants to simultaneously combust at the thought of it. Not because I don’t like them, but I’ve got that limited reserve thing. Some friends don’t need a lot of space or have no problem sharing important details of their lives, but I need space and privacy. One is not bad or good, it is just learning each other’s boundary language.
5. I need to ask for what I want and need. Lordy, this is a big one, and fits in with the other four. I see the roots of this one going deep down into the ground. I’m afraid to ask for what I need. Whether it’s support, or help (a big one), or more time to complete a task, or a shoulder to cry on when I need it (never been good at asking for this one), or attention, or money for what I offer (don’t want to be too pushy). This falls under boundaries, because when I communicate these things I help others to respond to me better. It’s a more direct route then pouting, assuming, resenting…you get the idea.
And finally…a big little hint
And a little hint, any area where you are feeling like you want to scream, “Get out of my f*cking space!” is a strong indication that one of your fences has been breached and you hit a boundary. Anger has its purpose.
How about you? Do you relate? Having a tough time with these areas setting boundaries?
Off to take some much needed Benadryl.
So incidentally, I write more about boundaries in my two fav classes, Better Boundaries for the Sensitive, and Empath Skills class. Both have a new session starting March 20th. Go sign up to learn more!