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When seeking love makes you blind

Most of my life I thought that my Dad doesn’t love me. Over the years I tried to impress him, show off my accomplishments in order to get him to say it. He never did.

I had been so convinced that he didn’t love me that I had missed so many signs.

He is a very quiet, gentle man, an HSP Highly sensitive person, like myself. He doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeves. Yet he demonstrated his love for us every day, by the things he did for us. I was so caught up in my expectations, my wanting, my demanding that he would say it. I couldn’t see his love and adoration for me.

It has been a long process for me to let go of those expectations. I wouldn’t accept being loved, appreciated and acknowledged, unless it was my way.

I simply started to end each phone conversation with,”I like you”. Not expecting anything in return. For the longest time there was no answer, he either hung up or handed the phone to my mom. One day his answer was Thank you. Now, I knew he heard me.

We expect our parents and partners to love us the way we are, but we don’t love them the way they are. Are we just hypocrites until we accept them and love them the way they are? Maybe it is about accepting us first?
Maybe it is about accepting and allowing them to be who they are? Maybe it is about giving without expecting anything in return?

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Why are you always so sensitive about everything?

“What’s wrong with me”? whispers the familiar voice in her head. “I will never get this right. It will never change. I will always be too sensitive, too much.” She wants to run away but she can’t hide from herself. She is lying in bed, beating herself up. Her partner is in another room. Doesn’t want to talk with her. He can’t take another discussion about feelings.

Thoughts are tumbling in her mind. He just made an observation. She reacted strongly. Again. She retreated into her shell of silence. Automatically. She is caught in her silence. Paralyzed. Afraid to say the wrong thing. Again.

He comes back after a while,kisses her good night. She feels like she is made of glass. Scared. Certain that next time her partner says:” You are too sensitive,” she will shatter. She won’t be able to put the pieces together. She wants to cuddle up to him, but she can’t. It takes her forever to fall asleep.
I am sorry, I always react so strongly she whispers in the morning.

She knows, she needs to change something. She has tried everything. She needs help. It’s difficult to ask for or accept help. She desperately needs answers but other peoples answers never work for her. She knows, she can’t do this alone any longer.

I felt like that . I was ashamed for feeling and reacting so strongly all the time. For being different. Always defensive about it. I was at a loss. When I learned about High Sensitive People, I experienced a huge shift in how I perceived myself and my life. I realized I was not the only one. I still felt weird and different. I still felt everything strongly. I kept repeating the same thoughts and patterns of behavior.

Yet awareness was not enough.

I needed a way not only to work on the behavior, I had to get to the root of my behavior. I turned to EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques aka tapping and step by step my life started to change. I noticed why I overreacted. I saw patterns. I looked at my feelings and beliefs. I started to change beliefs about myself. Then, behaviors started to change.

Tapping helped me when I felt paralyzed. Hurt, pain and unexpected changes forced me to look at myself. In the process I discovered my strength, my determination and my tenacity and rediscovered my love for life, my curiosity and my joy. Through the use of EFT I am able to deal with the overwhelm and the strong feelings I still experience. Through tapping I find my own answers and I can help you find yours.

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Why would anyone ever cross this bridge?

We were standing in a public washroom. My hands and knees where shaking. I was close to tears. I was overtaken with fear. All I wanted to do was take off all the climbing gear and walk away. “Mama, you hiked up a mountain when you where three years old, you can do this” my 10 year old son said. He believed that I could do this. I felt like throwing up, and my hands were shaking when I followed the rest of the group, but he believed. So, I went. He was the only reason I went. With a lot of focus, and encouragement from of my son, I finished the tree top trekking experience. It felt like an eternity to me. My only motivation to do this, was his belief that I could do anything.

Once we were home again, I realized I had actually enjoyed the experience.I had this rush of emotion. I had done it, I was so proud of myself. I was feeling elated the next two days. I was so proud of my accomplishment.

As a highly Sensitive Person (HSP) it is very easy to step back from challenges, for the sake of feeling comfortable. Not realizing that our comfort zone shrinks every time we shy away from something that makes us nervous. It can come to a point where our comfort zone can feel like a cocoon or rather a sarcophagus. We don’t even notice that we buried ourselves alive. It isn’t easy to do things that are uncomfortable.

Just imagine how many opportunities you can miss. Take small steps and notice the fears that come up. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Don’t let your fears make your comfort zone smaller day by day. Stay outside of your comfort zone, until it becomes comfortable. Then, step outside again.

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Is it time to take off those old boots?

I have beautiful, brown, high heeled, lace up winter boots my sister gave me. In those boots I feel tall and elegant, I love the way I feel when I wear them. My knees and hips don’t. Yet, I keep wearing them. The pain prompted me to think about wanting to follow in someone’s footsteps. Why would I do that?

As a child I wanted to be like everyone else. I tried for years. I felt like a chameleon. Instead of taking on colours, I took on feelings and opinions. Since I was very perceptive of what was expected of me, it was easy for me to be what they wanted. I had no idea that I ignored who I was. I didn’t realize that this was the cause of my underlying unhappiness and sadness. I didn’t want to be myself. I didn’t want to be different. I only saw the painful aspects of feeling so strongly because I didn’t know about High Sensitivity.

As HSPs (highly sensitive person) we may have a tendency to overcompensate and totally lose who we are. We see only what we want in others and think we have to be a carbon copy. Life will be hard whether you walk your path or follow someone’s else’s footsteps. Might as well be authentic. Take the next step. And then another.

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Are you attaching labels to others or yourself?

Growing up in Austria, I often heard people making fun of the way people in the south of my province Styria, speak. In my mind, making fun of them separated us, believing that we Northerners are better and different. I never thought too much about it, until I moved to another province. Suddenly, I was the one with the weird accent, the one that was different, the one that stood out. During that time I became aware of how we Austrians make fun of how other Europeans spoke German.

Two years later I moved to Canada. Again I was the one who had a different accent. When I heard anyone who sounded like they spoke German, I would speak with them. This time I didn’t care if they were from Austria, Germany, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. I was just so happy to speak German. That got me thinking. First I had seen myself as someone from the North of my province, then as a Styrian, and Austrian and then a European.

Years later, I learned that I was a highly sensitive person. I suddenly felt like I had discovered a super power. I felt superior to non HSPs, I thought I was more sensitive, more aware of my environment, that I had a deeper understanding of the world, that I have a wider range of emotions. The funny thing is, that before I learned this and had a label for who I was, I always thought of those things as a negative. I felt too sensitive, too naive, too emotional. I had felt isolated, weird and different. Suddenly, I belonged to this exclusive group and that made me feel special, superior to people who were not as sensitive.

I had been made fun of, ridiculed and dismissed because I was very sensitive, emotional and opinionated. Later, I judged people who were different, who weren’t as sensitive. I couldn’t see that it was just a difference, that neither was better or worse. I separated myself in order to feel better about myself.

We artificially separate ourselves in our thinking from other people. We tend to put labels like HSP, extrovert or introvert on ourselves and others in order to name and understand who we are. There is nothing wrong with categorizing things in order to understand nuances and differences.

Learning more about being a highly sensitive person helps me to understand myself better. It explains why I react certain ways. It also helps me to understand my family and friends better. Sometimes I wish that I could shrug off things easily. However, when I experience overwhelming joy and delight, I am grateful for the depth of my feelings.

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Encouragement versus Feedback

Expectantly the seven year old girl showed the family friend, a visual artist her drawing. She felt great about her creation.“Nice, but look at those lines, they should all go into the same direction” he said and drew them differently. She was shocked and offended that he would draw on her piece.He offered two more suggestions and praise. She didn’t even hear them any more. She felt criticized and ashamed.
It isn’t easy for anyone to receive criticism but it is especially difficult for an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) HSPs think about things very deeply, sometimes putting too much weight on a comment. This HSP is now my client. She noticed that she had a difficult time,whenever her husband offered suggestions for her business projects, reacting very angrily and resentful towards him. She wanted his professional expertise but could not accept it. This caused friction, hurt and pain in their relationship.
During an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Session she remembered the incident with the drawing.We tapped on feeling harshly criticized and discouraged. All she had wanted from the Artist was praise and encouragement. Little did the man know that his well intentioned feedback was received as severe criticism and would influence her until now. During several sessions we looked at similar events where she had the same expectations, but had again perceived feedback as criticism. She could not even hear anymore when someone praised or encouraged her.This created a belief that she couldn’t do anything right.
After multiple sessions she has come to a point where she knows when she needs praise or feedback. Now she is able to ask for either or. Sometimes she still feels criticized but she doesn’t become defensive or go on the offensive. She is simply aware. The goal was never to avoid any feelings but to understand them, move through them and move on.
(Photo by Sarah Jane from Pexels)

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Sometimes a couch isn’t just a couch

The couch in our house is old, worn out and uncomfortable. Yet, I have been having a very hard time replacing it with a new one. Surprisingly, as I was talking about throwing out the couch my eyes welled up with tears. I know that I need to replace it. But I don’t want to replace it.
This morning I realized why. I have spent countless hours sitting on this couch chatting with my sons after school. This is where we’ve discussed their plans for university, their plans for life. Since both of them are moved out, we don’t spend as much time talking. Getting rid of the couch feels like letting go of my sons.
Keeping it makes me feel connected with my sons, it reminds me of how much I enjoyed our daily conversations. I am aware that change has already happened. I only became aware of all the feelings connected with this old couch today. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) I take so many things into consideration when making a decision. If I don’t do that, I feel uncomfortable about the decision. I know from clients accounts and personal experience how frustrating and totally in-comprehensive this seemingly long process of decision making can be for a partner and how it can affect your relationship. (Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels)

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Is hard work necessary?

Only hard work is valued and appreciated in our society. Remember the last time you told someone that a project was easy, like child’s play? I bet the first reaction was envy. Then it turned into skepticism. It was implied that you didn’t do a thorough job. That you took shortcuts or plain old,just cheated. Why is it not acceptable that work is anything but hard, difficult and miserable? Why can’t work be like child’s play? Easy and fun. The funny thing is, as kids we pretended to be grown ups at work. We imagined ourselves to be teachers, nurses, police officers, cowboys and doctors. Work was still fun. We did not take anything, anyone or ourselves too serious. What kind of programming did we receive in order to believe that work is more valuable then play? Did we not learn most of the skills we use as adults through play? How did play and fun get such a bad reputation? Grow up! Many of us were told when we finished our secondary education. Suddenly we had to take everything very serious. Especially our superiors. We were not allowed to enjoy work, work is something you do, but you never enjoy it. Work is serious business. You were definitely not allowed to question anyone and the way things were done. What has this seriousness brought us? Stress, worries and unhappy people. What if we could again approach work, like kids? What if we could have fun, be curious, be open to change, and look forward to playing every day?

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Are your feelings lost in translation?

Have you ever tried to explain to someone how you feel and they just couldn’t relate? You use different examples to clarify the depth of your feeling, yet they still can’t get you. It feels like you are talking in a different language. Even though they want to understand, they can’t.
You get louder to get your point across. As if, that ever helps.
When it comes to the feelings of HSPs, ( Highly Sensitive People) speaking louder about feelings through the use of bigger and stronger words, brings the illusion of understanding while being completely counterproductive. This can be exhausting to others. Have you ever visited a country where you did not speak the language? Remember how exhausting, frustrating, and annoying that is? Remember how helpless you feel when you need to communicate with another person but they don’t understand what you are asking for? This is how HSPs,their family and friends often feel. HSPs forget that others may not be on the same emotional wavelength, something that causes confusion equivalent to speaking another language.
Being able to express your feelings is important and while articulation is vital, don’t fear a lack of immediate understanding. Breathe. Give it time and let your authentic emotional experience be enough.
(Text Karin Goldgruber, Image Vera Arsic- Pexels)

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Jealousy is a good thing

What? I can hear your responses. No, jealousy is not a good thing. Jealousy is despicable. We shouldn’t want somebody else’s success or possessions.Wait! Hear me out.
We all grew up with those sentiments. It was really bad to want your sisters doll, it was even worse wanting your best friends boyfriend.But what if it was never about that particular doll or that boy? What if you also wanted a new doll? You just didn’t want to wait until your birthday to get your own. At that age, none of us knew that we wanted our own doll. The only new doll in the house was your sisters, of course you wanted it. You didn’t know how to ask for one for yourself, nor did you have the patience to wait until your birthday. You wanted it, and you wanted it now. You probably just took it.Then your sister would cry,tell your Mom, who returned the doll right away. You should be ashamed of yourself, for taking your sisters doll,she said. How many times in your life, were you told to be ashamed for wanting what someone else had? How many times were you told that you can’t just take what you want? I have learned to look at this differently. Now when I notice feelings of jealousy, I become excited. Yes, excited. I see something that I would like to have for myself. I am aware now, I didn’t really want to be with my girlfriend’s boyfriend, I just wanted to have a boyfriend as well. Does that sound familiar? When I feel jealous I start to ask myself questions. What do I want? What desire do I feel when I am jealous of someone’s promotion, long client list or success? Then I can figure out what I would like to have for myself. I can also see if I want to pay the price, do the necessary work or decide that right now is not the right time. At this point I am happy for the person who I was jealous about. I appreciate the work, the commitment they had to put in. I also know for sure that I don’t want their doll. I know exactly what kind of doll I want and I can decide that I can get it for myself.
This is why I believe that jealousy is a good thing. (by Karin Goldgruber)