I was born a sensitive soul. It was not a trait I fully embraced though until well into adulthood. It was hell to be a sensitive soul as a child, especially when it came to bullying, as even the slightest comment or shove could be devastating! And yet I endured it, arriving into adulthood with my ego pretty much intact. It was only as an adult, and quite possibly a middle-aged one that I began to fully realize what a blessing it is to be a sensitive soul. Really anyone can be insensitive, but it takes real guts & courage to be sensitive and to survive, in spite of it, or maybe because of it! As I have aged I have further embraced my sensitivity as I believe it makes me a good creative.
Part of my sensitive nature has been one of living with my feelings. I feel very strongly, whether good feelings or bad. A perfect example is all the disturbing news that fills our daily lives. What is wrong with people? How many times have I shouted that at the TV? Some people, like hubs, can watch copious amounts of (mostly bad) news and never react to it. But I react physically to too much bad news, because of my sensitive nature. A perfect example is last fall I had acute abdominal pains for over two months, and exhausted every possibility, including a CT scan and ultrasound to reveal the cause. No physical cause was the answer! And then the midterm elections came and went and mysteriously the pain stopped. Flat out stopped within days of the midterms. Another perfect example of how my feelings, mostly of disgust and fear, impacted my physical health.
So once again I am reminded of this lesson. I do tend to repeat them over and over and over again, until I learn. I am under a lot of stress as caregiver for my husband with stage 4 Parkinsons. Mostly I keep it to myself, but boy do I feel it. For the past 2.5 months I have been plagued by an old problem where my feelings manifest in my body. In this case, my knee becomes inflamed, painful & freezes essentially grounding me; I am held hostage by my body…or really by my feelings. All life comes to a screeching halt, which leads to even more feelings of sadness. I have had to cancel endless appointments, lunches, even a trip to Toronto, which I was very much anticipating not only for the cultural enrichment but for the respite of a much-needed week away. It takes on average a week to heal, and with any luck may stay away for a couple weeks or longer. My goal now is to get past the two-week mark, by focusing on thoughts over feelings.
With some reflection I traced the cause down to grief manifesting in my knee. Grief is a feeling. This latest round manifested from a feeling of isolation. What I am working on now, as a sensitive flower, is retraining my brain to put those disturbing feelings into thoughts instead. I am so isolated, what can I do to change that, instead of I am feeling so isolated, and bam, now you are held hostage, woman! This is some deep shit!
And what is humorous to me, is how many people have been asked in therapy…what are you feeling? not what are you thinking?! So here I am, needing to reverse that. There is also the tricky element of not allowing thoughts to become feelings which can trigger the inflammation. It is hard work, this retraining the brain.
In some sort of strange way, I feel liberated by the idea of thinking vs. feeling. And like any old habit, it is a daily mindful exercise to practice. For I know, in my mind, that I want more than anything to experience daily life once again, with no emotional hindrances.
This image is a magnolia blossom opening. It was taken on one of my morning walks, which greatly helps my stress level and overall attitude. It is a cherished routine from which I am grounded when I am too much in my feelings.
I like this shift of consciousness. Sounds like a thought practice. Every time I feel a reaction to something, (like anger, grief, frustration, etc) it’s a good time for me to practice stepping back for a moment, sensing the physical sensation, and labeling it, just a sensation. Huh, there it is, hot, vibrating, etc,…a sensation! My upset is in my chest. What a sensation! I can choose to think differently about it by giving it a nod and changing my aromatic reactions. What if I breathe deeply for 2 minutes (that’s a long time just thinking about my breath!). Love you and your genuine sharings, sweet sensitive sister!
Carol Larson says
Brilliant comment Rhonda! Thank you! I like the idea of labeling it as that would surely take the immediate reaction out of it. I “thought” my way out of this literal knee-jerk reaction seven years ago, after it affected me for well over a year. Time to put on thinking and breathing cap once more! 😍
Nancy Turbitt says
I’m sorry you are going through this Carol but can see that you have found a way to get through it. Bravo for that. My feelings of fear, insecurity, anything really result in classical migraine headaches. I have struggled with them all my life. I have never heard anyone talk of the relationships between feelings and illness, and feelings and thoughts, and I am going to try to understand this more fully and try to implement a more conscious effort to recognize my feelings and practice a more mindful way. Thank you for talking about it. On another note, you will be missed in Toronto. Wishing you wellness. See you next time.
Carol Larson says
thank you Nancy! it is indeed a very complicated issue, this thoughts vs. feelings thing. one practitioner says feelings are more important than thoughts while another says, focus on your thoughts, not your feelings! and then the whole fear/anxiety component is a whole ‘nother can of worms! i did eventually figure out the cause of my migraines was both what i ate and anxiety and arrested those, thankfully. living in this body at this age seems to have become a full time job!
Carolyn Ghearing says
Oh, Carol, I feel your pain. I too am a sensitive and it’s not a lot of fun… I hope you will heal again and soon. Your morning walks are inspiring and ever so beautiful, love your photos!! Please be safe and well 💐
Carol Larson says
thank you fellow sensitive soul!