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What you think about yourself matters

Even though I am at a family gathering, I feel alone. I listen in to the conversations. I find them shallow. I hate it when people talk about other people. It’s not even just talking harshly about others. It’s the comparisons, the comments about other’s choices and actions that really annoy and infuriate me. It’s the incomprehension that the other is not the lesser.

My biggest fear is that when I leave, they will talk about me.

What would they say?

“I don’t get it? Why does she do that? It makes no sense to me. She should do it this way.”

As a little girl I figured that since my family talked about everyone else in their absence, they must also talk about me in mine. It worried and scared me. The person who was talked about was singled out. Separated from the rest of the family. Different than the others.
I started to hide and isolate and flee into any other world I could find, within my mind and outside it.

I wrongly concluded that because they talked about me that I didn’t belong. I didn’t see that they talked about everyone. That they talked about them because they cared. That they didn’t talk about people that didn’t matter.

I started to see that conclusion as truth.
Diligently I collected evidence to confirm and validate my truth.
I felt excluded even though I had denied an invitation. I felt cast out when I retreated from family events because I was overwhelmed. I kept finding more and more evidence.

My mind twisted things around. I would read into things that were not even there. I was only looking for evidence that I didn’t belong. I only saw the world through my lenses, I only heard words through my filters. I filtered out anything that didn’t fit the parameters of my worldview.

Most of my life, my thoughts and beliefs about me were dependent on what I thought that my family said or believed about me. If I thought they liked me, I liked myself. If I thought someone didn’t like me I questioned myself. I have since learned that their feelings, thoughts and comments have nothing to do with me, only them.
I stopped talking badly about myself in my head. I began to like myself and feel comfortable with my choices and decisions. I stopped questioning myself. I began to be the only authority in my life.

I din’t need my family’s approval of my life and my choices any longer. I didn’t need to be liked by my family because I like myself.
I wasn’t scared to be talked about, commented on. It doesn’t matter what they say about me.
It matters what I know about myself.

I have decided to express my love and appreciation for my family without expecting anything in return. I know that I can deal with whatever feelings will come up.

Karin Goldgruber is a Certified Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner who specializes in working with Highly Sensitive People HSP who experience problems in their relationship because of this innate trait.
As a Highly Sensitive Person herself she has overcome many challenges and obstacles and encourages and empowers others to do the same.

www.karingoldgruber.com

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I went MiA Missing in Austria for ten weeks

I left Canada in the beginning of May on hiatus and I went missing in action. I had plans to review the course that I had taken, read books for work, get new customers, walk every day, bike every day, write every day, draw every day,eat well, lose weight, write tons of articles, spend time with friends,while being back home, helping my aging parents.

You probably think it’s impossible to do all of it , every single day. It was.
Yet every vacation I have the same intentions and expectations for my time. A large amount of unstructured time always begs me to quickly fill it with work. It’s feels impossible not to fill those void spaces with plans.

I was brought up in a very productive, industrious family with mostly entrepreneurs and workaholics. Parts of me wants to be like everyone else and work, work, work, even during a vacation. I felt pressure to justify spending so much time with my parents.

Things went right already in the first two weeks. I spend a few days with my younger son in Vienna. We had no plans. And it was wonderful. We slept as long as we wanted. We ate when we were hungry. We walked the city streets, watched people. I loved it. We talked about everything and nothing. It was simple, yet it filled my heart and soul to the brim.

I had such ambitious plans for the rest of my stay, after he left.
Luckily those plans didn’t come to fruition. I wasn’t motivated to write, study and work every day, as my busy brain had planned. I slept in,and read, books I enjoyed. I swam in ice cold mountain rivers and lakes. I hiked through a canyon with my sisters. I ate an abundance of wild strawberries.

I felt guilty looking at my books and my laptop sitting lonely on my desk, waiting for me to work, yet I closed the door behind me and did what I really wanted and needed to do. I walked often with my mom. I watched TV with my dad. We played cards. I did seemingly unimportant, insignificant things.

Yet those things helped me to relax and to realize how stressed and worried I had been. It helped me to make my peace with their age and that things will change. But for now we are alive and we will do and say maybe unimportant things. Nothing spectacular, but real. Everyday life together. That’s more that I could have planned for.

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Life goes on. With or without you

It’s so much easier to disconnect from a partner in advance, because of fear of rejection. We step back, scared, worried and expect to be hurt. We assume that they will reject us, because sometimes they did say no to spending time with us or making love. Somehow it’s so easy to take one no, or maybe later and see it as a rejection forever.

What was your big rejection that lead you to believe that nobody loves you? For me it was a month long separation from my parents when I was in hospital when I was only 7 months old. This separation was very traumatic for me and still influences my beliefs about myself, my relationship and all areas of my life.

It’s incredibly frustrating to see myself repeating certain behaviours again and again. I am aware of some of them. Using willpower and determination to change them will only bring me to a certain spot. There’s only so much willpower every day. It has been a struggle to stay connected most of my life. At the slightest signs of rejection I step back, afraid to be hurt. I expect to be rejected. Yet, again and again I come back from my emotional hiding place, trying to connect and stay connected.

However, I forget that life doesn’t stop for others, while I am hiding or away in another country or just at work. My life goes on as well. Yet, I expect them to drop everything when I am there, to be with me, like they couldn’t when I was fighting for my life in the hospital. As an adult I still try to fix a connection that broke, that was interrupted when I was little. Your interruption in connections probably looks different then mine. Staying connected to myself through writing, painting and Emotional Freedom Techniques tapping helps me to stay connected with the people I love. One moment at a time.

Life goes on. No matter what happens in our life, life goes on for all the people in our life.
It goes on and we have no choice. Life had to go on for my parents when I was lying in the hospital fighting for my life when I was little. They had no choice, they were not allowed to see me for a whole month. One weekly phone call, if they got through on the busy line, to find out how I was doing. Life went on. They had to take care of my three sisters, go to work and continue living. As long as we live we have no choice but to keep on living, to keep on going.

Life went on for me. Separated from my parents, fighting for my life. I don’t know exactly what happened to me during that time. I can only assume that the fear of hospitals that took me 18 years of conscious work to overcome, stems from that time. I recognized that fear while visiting someone in a hospital. Only after I gave birth to my youngest son, did I overcome that fear. Things that I experienced, lived, heard, saw, witnessed during that time still impact my life. It feels as if the memories formed layers in my personality. This experience shaped and formed me in ways I am mostly unaware off.

I always complain that my family’s lives goes on when I am in Austria to visit from Canada. As does my life most of the time when my family comes to visit me in Canada. Yet, I am always very hurt, when everyone continues to work, take vacations, meet friends and live their lives. Part of me expects them to stop their life when I come and just be here for me.

Like they couldn’t be when I was in the hospital. I am quite certain that I was on my parents mind a lot while I was there. This month of my life still influences how I think, feel and how I live my life now.
I have used EFT tapping to look at many different aspects of that time. I don’t know if I will ever be free of it nor if I want to be. I was all alone fighting for my life in that hospital and because of that I often feel disconnected from the family I love.

I could wish that this had never happened in my life. But it has happened and it brought me to where I am right now in my life. It influenced greatly how I have lived my life until now. I am not sure if I would change it or erase it if I could. I really don’t know. I know that it’s part of my life and that I can’t change that. However what I can do is to step away from feeling like a victim.

Through EFT tapping on different aspects of that time I have seen good things that came out of that time. My whole life it was easy for me to connect with strangers, even though I am a very shy person. I always knew who I could trust. Strangers have come into my life many times to help me when I needed help the most.
I never ever thought that something good would come out of that time.

I would have died if it wasn’t for all those strangers, who became like family, in a strange place that became my home for a short period in time. Since then, wherever I go in the world I feel at home, among strangers I always feel like I am with family.

How can I demand from others to put their lives on hold for me? No matter what’s going on in my life, my life always goes on.
It’s my choice to look at the trauma I have experienced. I choose to wake the sleeping giants, which influence my life. I want to face them head on. I have lived with their subconscious influence for way to long. Is it fun? Is it easy to deal with all the pain? No, but I don’t want to live with this chronic emotional pain and its effects any longer.
Will I be able to change everything? I have no clue. But, I would rather do this, then step back and let it run my life. This is my life and I choose how it goes on.

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How our assumptions about ourselves shape our future

Very early in our lives we make assumptions about ourselves. Either on our own or somebody makes a comment about us and we believe what they say.
I learned very early on in my life that strangers are helpful and benevolent. I also was able to feel at home away from home very early. Those experiences were very strong and formed my beliefs. Again and again I had experiences that gave me more evidence that those assumptions were correct. The more I believed it the more I saw them. I didn’t see any evidence to the contrary. Confirmation bias had a positive affect in those situations.
Yet there were other assumptions that had just the opposite effect. Because I was told that I was slow doing math, I became insecure and nervous about math. This kept slowing me down even more, giving me more evidence that supported that belief.
How many beliefs about ourselves are based on wrong evidence? How many influence our relationship in an unhealthy way? Have you ever questioned them?
Purposefully looking for evidence that supports positive beliefs about ourselves is a way to change the way we view ourselves.
Giving your partner the benefit of doubt can be one way to get positive evidence. Asking them to clarify what they said is another way to understand them better, without assuming the worst.
Whether you look for evidence that has a positive impact or negative impact, you will always find it. It’s up to you which one you look for.

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You know you

I might as well give up. What am I doing here? I don’t know what I am doing. Totally shocked I realized that a strong comment of disagreement by a stranger had almost made me quit my business.
My earliest memory of trusting someone’s opinion more than mine is when I was in grade one. My teacher criticized the way I had colored circles. In order to fit in, also out of fear of being publicly shamed again, I started to do things the way authorities wanted me to. Again and again I went against my better judgement to please others. Increasingly, I forgot what made me happy and what I wanted. I bought into the idea that others know me better than I do. I did what was expected of me. When I listened to myself and made decisions that made me happy, my family shook their heads in disbelief.
I stopped asking why. I didn’t question the status quo. I accepted that this is how things were done.
I have ignored my own judgments in order to avoid critique, conflict and confrontation. I am in the process of unlearning this behaviour slowly, very slowly.
However, my business and my place in my familial and personal relationships are built upon my authenticity, if they weren’t they wouldn’t be mine. So, trusting my own decisions and staying true to myself is crucial.
I know me, you know you.

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The emotional tightrope walk that Highly Sensitive People face

Some HSP kids quickly learn to suppress their feelings when they hear, “you are so sensitive, you are too emotional or don’t exaggerate”, because they feel like they are too much and don’t fit in.
On the other hand, some of them go the other direction, the other extreme. In desperate attempts to have their feelings validated or understood, they do exaggerate their feelings. Hoping that when they magnify their feelings their family will finally understand them.

The habit of suppressing their feelings persists because it creates a false sense of belonging, by being like everyone else. The problem is that deep down they may feel like an emotional chameleon, always adjusting to the feelings of the person they are with. This could lead to a feeling of not knowing who they are. Another downside of constantly ignoring and repressing their strong emotions is that when the emotions can’t be held down any longer, they come out too strongly and HSP’s feel like they are too much. Thus the cycle continues.

By amplifying their feelings kids get negative attention. However any kind of attention or sense of belonging seems better than feeling like an outsider. Inflating their feelings at least gets them noticed and makes them feel seen.

As you are reading this you may have noticed that these habits sound familiar and that your tendency is either to suppress your feelings or exaggerate them. Many people swing from one to the other. As you observe yourself and become aware of when you use each tactic you may want to take action right away. Suppress your feelings when you want to exaggerate them or exaggerate them when you want to suppress them.
Can you instead simply start to be aware when and why you are doing either? When we understand behaviours we can find ways of improving, and fine tuning them in a more gentle and sustainable way.

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You should know what I need

Let’s be honest. We expect our partner to know how we feel.To always understand us. To accommodate our needs. Which is impossible. They can’t read our minds. We don’t even know how we feel or what we want many times.
Yet we try harder and harder to make our partner understand us. To see our point of view. We demand to be seen and heard. We feel they owe us. When they still don’t get us, we try to change them. They try to change us. We are stuck.
Do we insist to be understood because we don’t understand ourselves? What lies underneath this yearning to be understood?
We expect them to know what we want. No matter what they do it can never be the right thing, when we don’t even know what we want. We are disappointed in them. We set ourselves up for failure. We don’t even take the time to figure out what we need.
It’s scary to state clearly what you need . Your partner might not understand it at all. Fear of disapproval comes up. Fear of being different and being rejected. Yet we constantly keep rejecting our needs and wants by avoiding them at all cost. Ignore who we are. Pretend to be what we think our partner expects us to be.

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Creating space to breathe

When was the last time you have evaluated the progress you have made as a person?

When something in our relationship is tough and painful all our attention is on it. We focus on making it better. When the situation is improved, it’s the new norm and we don’t see it any longer. We don’t appreciate what we have accomplished. We take it for granted. We are continuously unsatisfied with ourselves and stressed out.

By paying attention to my reactions to stress and overwhelm I’ve observed that I have a container that holds my feelings of stress. For many years this container was always filled to the top. When one stressful thing happened, it would overflow. Mostly into my relationship. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed was my norm. Only now can I see how bad it was.

Over time I have created breathing room in myself through the regular use of EFT Emotional Freedom techniques.The container is no longer full all the time. When something unexpected happens, and it always does, I have this extra space to breathe and respond in a better way. I am not as quickly overwhelmed and have time to think logically. I start tapping to reduce the current stress and make smart choices. Being more relaxed and calmer gives me the opportunity to reflect and compare. I see the progress I have made.

New states of operating quickly feel like the norm. It’s so easy to forget how bad it was before.

We need to compare and be aware of the positive changes we have made in our life and our relationship. Be proud and delighted of what we have accomplished. Human nature wants us to quickly move on and do more and better.

Take the time to speak about shifts you notice within you and your relationship.Then you will see that you dealt with a situation that maybe a year ago you would have not been able to handle at all. You see how much progress you have made.

Consistently reducing stress helps you to be stronger, calmer and better prepared as life presents you with challenges. We finally take ownership of our feelings and reactions. We start to regulate our own feelings. We begin to stand on our own two feet.

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How we break promises we never made

It doesn’t make a difference for me which car you buy he said. She had really liked a black sports car. It surprised her just how much she wanted to drive that car. Tears suddenly welled up in her eyes. You never get excited about the things that I like she thought. You don’t care about me. Nothing I say or do interests you. Both were silent the rest of the drive home. He kept looking at her. She wondered why it was so important for her that he liked the same things she did.
She felt resentful. She was always excited and enthusiastic about the things he liked. It’s easy for her to like things. It dawned on her that she expected her partner to be as enthusiastic about everything as she is. She wanted him to do something he couldn’t. She wanted him to be someone he isn’t.
She remembered how he always patiently listened to all her ideas and projects. Never interrupting her. Giving her the space to be as excited and enthusiastic as she needed to be. She had always given him what she wanted. She had never actually asked him what he needed. Anything she was doing for him was really for her, hoping that she would get the same back. That’s where the resentment came from. She felt cheated. Like he didn’t hold up his end of a bargain that they never made.

Photo by Juan Pablo Arenas from Pexels

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Why can’t you ever take a joke?

He teased her. Ha, ha very funny, she thought but she couldn’t say it. She knew it was a joke. Yet she felt criticized. The opportunity to react differently, slipped through her tired fingers.

With anyone else she could have laughed. Not with him.
Every time he jokes or teases her, she reacts strongly. She feels hurt.
Something pulled her into the familiar steps of taking everything too personal. She watched herself as she physically and emotionally retreated . She couldn’t stop the sequence. She felt the cold coat of silence enveloping her and creating an invisible wall between them. She stepped into her cell of detachment to protect herself.

All evening long he asked her if she was okay. “Yeah, I am okay”, she responded, not looking at him. Both knew it wasn’t true. She wanted to step out of her self imposed prison. Her old patterns kept her trapped. She could have taken the hand he offered to pull her out. She wondered why she couldn’t, even though that’s all she wanted to do.