How do you handle change?
I’m pretty sure most of us don’t naturally handle life changes so easily and smoothly that we don’t flinch at all. But after reading chapter one of The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, I was able to note some interesting facts about my experiences with change.
- When I went through my first breakup as a teen, I was devastated and didn’t eat anything for a week. I never had an eating disorder; I was just sad and didn’t feel like eating.
- When I first started college at a rather large state school, I couldn’t handle it. I was used to small town life where everybody knew my name. I didn’t make friends there, the classes were so big that I couldn’t get my questions answered, and marching band exhausted me. I felt depressed. I dropped out of band after the first week, and left the university after the first semester (although it took an intervention and my parents telling me they wouldn’t be disappointed in me if I quit).
- When I moved across the country for a new job, there was so much newness there that I burst into tears in front of my new coworkers. Later in the bathroom I was so overwhelmed that I threw up.
- For most of the morning on my wedding day, I had terrible anxiety. I do not like being the center of attention, and I almost passed out before having to walk down the aisle. I didn’t feel well most of that day.
Do you see a pattern here?
Now most of these changes were wanted changes. And most of them turned out great after the “change period.” I ended up transferring to a smaller college where I did exceptionally well academically and thrived as a person. My new job situation (at “The Fold,” see photo) turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Change resulted in personal growth.
But I have always felt ashamed of my initial responses to these changes. Which usually just makes it worse the next time I face a change. Not only am I dealing with my brain on overload, but I’m also dealing with the shame of my body’s responses!
Right before my wedding, as I think I was probably having a panic attack, my perceptive sister told me, “Kati, you have always manifested your emotions physically in your body.” I now realize that what she was talking about is what happens to highly sensitive people – when our minds become over-aroused, our bodies often flip out.
What to do.
It’s time to say goodbye to shame and accept who I am as a mighty sensitive. I don’t always like how my mind and body react to the over-stimulation that comes with life changes… but good things, like empathy and intuition, also come from this same neutral part of me. So in facing this reality, I can equip myself to handle changes better.
In the future, when going through change, I want to be more aware of my self-care needs:
- A support system; a feeling of “togetherness,” that I’m not going through it alone
- Telling God what I need and trusting he will do something about it
- Use my essential oils to feel grounded and stable
- Be okay with smaller group events
- Let go of other people’s expectations
First and foremost, I want to allow myself to need these things, without feeling selfish or weak. To honor my body and soul, as a way of acknowledging and honoring that this is the way God made me.
Your needs for going through life changes might look different than mine, especially if you’re not an HSP. But what are those things that help you handle big changes? Leave a comment to let us know!