On an overcast Saturday afternoon, our church was brimming with eager faces looking to better themselves. What my friend said about her character defects struck me:
‘It’s like my soul has these gorgeous church windows, but I can’t see the colours beneath all the dust and mud.
By not blaming other’s and being introspective about my resentments, I’m wiping them one by one, letting light back in and showing me all my shades.’
I’m a horrible people pleaser, and unlike others, I did not see me being an empath as a positive thing. Constantly aware of what everyone around me is feeling, I needed the whole room to be happy once I walked in. From telling jokes and anecdotes to including everyone in the conversation, it’s not hard to see how this can be a positive trait.
By practising healthy boundary work, I learned to not let other people’s opinions and emotions influence me (mostly, at least). Peter Levine‘s exercise for this goes as follows:
Sit down on the floor crosslegged or however is most comfortable to you.
Place a long piece of string all around you on the floor, marking your circumstance and physical boundary. Focus on the sensations in your body, your weight on the floor, and repeat:
This is my body. This is my boundary. My body belongs to me.
It may be my CPTSD, it may be my ADHD, maybe it’s Maybelline: but I like to overthink.
When I’m stressed it can turn into an obsession. My thoughts turn to months ahead, include everyone I’ve ever set my sight upon, and my to-do list will span multiple pages.
In the right context there is nobody who can handle tight deadlines and multiple angles better than I, but my mental health will suffer for it.
Although I love little more than crossing an item off my to-do list, I learned to have patience and mercy with myself. Just for today thinking along with mindful meditation taught me to tackle one day at a time. It’s still mind-boggling to me how much I can get done when I don’t stop to worry and overanalyse every decision!
My Buddhism teacher in Nepal used to say ‘Nothing worse than rushing! You get nothing done!‘
Of course, before turning my flaws into superpowers, I had to first become aware of them and accept them wholeheartedly. I also had to fight the impulse to constantly get something done, and learn to give my body and mind some well-deserved rest.
I found that my ‘negative’ aspect were only bothering me because they were diamonds in the rough. Have you ever had a similar experience?