Category Archives: Relationships

Abandonment

“I don’t feel good enough as a person because I don’t HAVE what I need to feel good enough about myself. If only I HAD…”
“I feel lonely because I don’t HAVE someone who intimately knows me. If only I HAD…”

When we do not feel “good” emotionally, many of us, highly sensitive people or not, are quick to think in this manner. We think that our negative emotions have to do with something outside of ourselves that is not quite right. As we look outside, we identify possible external problems and work hard on trying to fix or control them. This is our natural human tendency, a built-in survival mechanism that arises no matter what negative emotions we get struck by. One of those negative emotions that all people experience in some point in their life is the feeling of abandonment from one’s own parents.

The feeling of abandonment from one’s own parents is an entire emotion of its own out of the many that make up the whole human inner experience.

abandonment

Just as sadness is an unavoidable negative emotion that all humans are bound to experience in some point in life, no matter how “perfect” life is, the feeling of abandonment from one’s own parents is also an unavoidable negative emotion. This emotion says, “I am not equipped enough to be independent in this area of my life because you (parents) weren’t there for me,” “Where were you when I needed you?” “I have to be my own parent and look out for myself.”

Like the examples listed at the beginning of this blogpost, many people look outside of themselves as they experience this difficult emotion. So who ends up getting the blame? Most often the parents do. Parents make the easiest target for the root cause of this difficult emotion that is within every human being.

Upset children will do a variety of different things to cope with this difficult feeling. Many people use psychological strategies to make themselves feel better: “I guess I have it better than that other family does,” “At least I was not sexually abused by my parents,” “Considering the rough life my parents have had, I guess it’s only inevitable that they’d raise me the way that they did,” “Well, considering they didn’t have Google back then, I guess I can’t blame them for not knowing what to do.” Although these excuses that people make for their parents deliver momentary comfort, they cause other problems down the line. As you continue to invalidate your own real feelings, you will most likely feel that others, including your own children, are not allowed to struggle with these feelings either. In their times of darkness in this area, you will most likely lack empathy. It is exactly this lack of empathy which causes many parents to shut their children up and put them in their place when they express this “forbidden” emotion. If you respond to your children in this way, you may also be teaching them to carry guilt in possessing an emotion that simply is a part of every human being. Deep inside of you, you will also develop an expectation to be excused in the same manner once you become a parent. This expectation will most likely be passed down to your own children.

Some people try to fix their parents (I am guilty of this one). I criticized my parents’ parenting techniques. I tried to teach my stoic parents how to be there for my emotional needs. Hopeless, I tell you. In the end, I just got so frustrated with them. Frustration is the inevitable end result for all of those who try to fix their parents.

When this difficult emotion of feeling abandoned by one’s own parents is not dealt with in a healthy manner, resentment is very likely to develop. Highly sensitive people who feel their emotions very intensely are at a much higher risk of developing this kind resentment towards their parents.

So how do you handle this difficult emotion in a healthy manner?

Like I suggest in every one of my self-help blogposts about handling difficult emotions, go ahead and FEEL it. Do not run from it. Next, meditate on positive thoughts: “I will be ok,” “Though I may not be equipped enough to be independent in this area of my life right now, I will manage, I will learn.” Then, perhaps most importantly, forgive your parents in your heart. Do not keep track of how they have failed you but continue to wipe their slate clean again and again. If you have already built up a lot of resentment towards your parents, start forgiving them now. As much as you forgive your own parents, you will be able to forgive yourself for all your imperfections as a parent.

Lastly, for those who may be interested in a more spiritual explanation, I will also share my religious beliefs. I believe that, just like the emotions of joy and intimacy, our human heart was designed with the capacity to feel the wonderful sensation of having a perfect parent-figure. The Church happens to call this feeling “sonship” or “daughtership.” But when we attempt to find that joy, that intimacy, that wonderful sensation of having a perfect parent-figure in imperfect things, like our parents, we are likely to end up feeling disappointed and cheated. So I try to place my faith in something perfect (God) for those things and release my earthly parents from the burden of having to provide me with that emotion that I crave so much.

SO WHAT NOW?

So what will you do if your child expresses his or her emotional pain in this area? Will you let your ego shut your child up, put your child in his or her place, make your child feel guilty for possessing such emotions, and then leave your child alone to find rest in psychological strategies? What will you do?

It was only this morning that all of these things that I have written above were revealed to me. Before this morning, I was unable to fully grasp this difficult, confusing emotion. As soon as I figured that the root problem was not my parents, I immediately apologized to them for being so unforgiving and hard on them for so many years.

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Romantic Love

It has been a really long time since I last wrote on my blog. Why? Shortly after my last blog post, after I was freed up from my all-consuming epic year-end project, I fell madly in love with someone in a way that I have never fallen in love with anyone before. And like all things that I become passionate about, I hyper-focused on this new love, forgetting that an entire world exists outside of it.

When emotionally intense highly sensitive people fall in love, they fall VERY deeply in love.

Rose

I thought to myself, “Why did it take me so long to feel this way for another person? What was different about this time?” Of course it has to do with Kimberley-Rae, my now-girlfriend, being one of a kind – one does not simply come across someone as beautiful and amazing as her. But the intensity of the romantic feelings that I experienced also had much to do with the emotional freedom that I broke into after having successfully gone through a great deal of emotional healing and fear conquering over the past recent years.

Although emotionally sensitive people are designed to experience intense romantic feelings that are unattainable by most of the world, many of them, including my old self, have difficulty reaching those emotions because of their many areas of emotional anxiety. Emotional anxiety, the fear of difficult emotions, causes people to be very controlled in what kind of emotions they allow themselves to feel. All of this control gives people the illusion that their emotional experience will waver within the “safe zone.” The unfortunate side-effect, however, is that the underlying fear that never gets dealt with robs people of their ability to experience super high “highs.” In order for me to fall deeply in love as I did, I first had to bring myself to a place where I felt unconditionally safe to experience the whole spectrum of emotions. This place can only be reached after allowing oneself to feel anger, sadness, regret, loneliness, shame, guilt, heart break, etc.

Feeling the intense emotions of being in love for the first time was not so easy for me. I became obsessive. I clicked through every single one of her photos. Rather than simply “feeling” my emotions, my mind took over and I began thinking way too much. I fantasized about a nice future with her. I replayed our first date in my mind over and over again. Although I attended many Christmas parties, my mind could not be distracted away from thoughts of her. My conversations with my friends centered around her. As I meditated on her, my emotions followed and I fell even more deeply in love. I fell so deep that I began to think, “there is no possible way that she feels the same way for me.” This thought was so depressing. My romantic emotions then turned into love sickness. I could not sleep. I could not eat. I was a total mess. I finally understood how those famous sixteenth century poets must have felt in their epic poems about unrequited love. There was no doubt in my mind – I wanted her. For our second date, I was determined to eradicate all ideas of platonic friendship from her mind (if she had any). I did not let mystery have any place in our second date: I came with flowers, held her hand, and kissed her that night. It was one of the happiest moments of my life haha.

Daniel Kim and Kimberley-Rae

Now looking back, I realize that I could have saved myself from my emotional rollercoaster ride had I handled the emotion of being in love differently. I could have used mindfulness techniques to simply feel my emotions instead of letting my mind take over. I could have lived in the present moment rather than live in the past (replaying our first date in my mind) or the future (fantasizing about our future together). In the end, I know I still would have fallen for Kim. After having gone through this experience, I feel like I can be there for my future children when they fall in love and have no clue how to handle themselves.

For the next three months, Kim will be modeling in Tokyo. Please show my lovely girlfriend support by liking her Facebook page and following her on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr blog. Thanks!

Kimberley-Rae

www.facebook.com/kimberleyraec
www.instagram.com/kimberryrae
www.twitter.com/kimberleyraexo
http://kimberley-rae.tumblr.com

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Turning The Other Cheek

On the side of all my unpredictable, unstable, and inconsistent creative work that I do, I work part-time in retail, selling luxury goods. I am the newest addition to our sales team. Out of everyone there, I probably make the most mistakes.

For a lot of my co-workers, their job is their life. For them, there are no other options. Many of them carry out their job in a very aggressive manner. I, on the other hand, am so relaxed as I work and it really is apparent. I work there because I enjoy it. If this part-time job does not work out, I know I can just move onto another one that I enjoy.

Few weeks ago, our store had our annual holiday party. Everyone was in a good mood and looking beautiful in their fancy clothes. But as the night progressed and more alcohol was being consumed, some of my co-workers loosened up a bit too much. One of them felt it was the opportune time to say to me, “Daniel, you are a real fuck up to the team!… You just don’t care enough… If you even dare to tell our manager about this conversation, I’m gonna kill you…”

Heart in Eye

Of course it hurt to hear all of this, especially when I have only had good intentions for others at my workplace. I felt misunderstood. My emotional sensitivity also intensified the hurt that I was feeling.

The old-me would have resorted to the use of my psychological strategies to escape my present difficult emotions. Having learned from my past the ineffectiveness of this response, I did something drastically different. I allowed myself to just feel the pain without judging whether the feeling was “good” or “bad,” whether my co-worker’s behaviour was “good” or “bad,” or whether my co-worker was a “good” or “bad” person. I resisted my impulse to investigate why such words were spoken and what had to be done to “fix” the problem. I lived in the present moment, even though that moment was not so pleasant. I also meditated on positive truths about who I am as a person. By doing all of this, I was able to keep myself calm and allow my difficult emotions to fully make its way in and out of my system while centering my identity. After giving myself all the time that I needed to grieve over the experience, I forgave her. In no time, I was feeling much better.

Then came the time to think about what to do next. The old-me would have immediately, without hesitation, confronted my co-worker. I have so much confidence in my communication skills and my mind’s ability to rapidly organize the thoughts and ideas in my head that there are not too many types of people, social situations, or sensitive topics that I feel threatened by when words must be used. In the past, I would tactfully expose the crimes of my wrongdoers and draw out their emotions of guilt to get them to stop doing the things that bother me. This practice worked out for me very nicely for many years.

For the first time, however, I realized that this kind of confrontation was actually my mechanism of control. Underneath it all, I simply feared getting hurt again. Rather than going back to my old ways, I took a chance and resisted this form of control. I kept my heart and mind open to be inspired with a better course of action. In prayer, I asked my God that I believe in, “I am pretty sure my way will achieve the outcome that I want, but is there something else You would rather have me do instead?”

Shortly after, I had a “vision” of my co-worker’s life growing up (religious or not, “psychic”-like experiences are not so abnormal in the lives of a lot of highly sensitive people). I saw (with my spiritual eyes, of course) her growing up, making mistakes, and people being very hard on her. I saw a whole string of hurtful words being spoken onto her and crushing her. I saw her desperately trying to build her self-worth through perfectionism. Her lack of grace on others when they made mistakes stemmed from the lack of grace she received growing up. I sensed the many areas of brokenness within her and just knew what she needed to hear for emotional healing to take place.

On my next day at work, I wrote her a Christmas card that included a Starbucks gift card. I wrote something along these lines (the original was much longer, of course – I just don’t remember all the things that I wrote, word for word):

“I didn’t know the extent of all the frustration and damage you experienced as a result of all my mistakes. I’m sorry. I did not mean to make you feel that I did not care. The truth is, I do care about you and appreciate you as a person very much. You are an amazing, delightful, beautiful woman with a good heart… [specific examples...] I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. ~ Daniel”

After reading my card, she came to me, thanked me, and gave me a big hug.

I am not sharing all of this to boast to the rest of the world “Hey, look at me, I’m such a saint!” No. I share all of this to inspire others to try it out when people behave in nasty, hurtful ways.

One of the questions I get asked very frequently from my blog readers is, “Hey, I’m pretty sure my husband/wife has OCPD and it’s driving me insane. How should I break the news to him/her?” This entire blogpost is my answer: I do not think that it is so necessary to “break the news” to anyone. Rather than pointing out people’s faults, weaknesses, and crimes, I think it is much better to love one another and see people’s attacks as clues to their inner brokenness.

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Sexuality

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, author of “The Highly Sensitive Person,” 15-20% of the world is highly sensitive. This minority group senses stimuli from within themselves and in their surroundings much more intensely than the rest of the world does. They also experience thoughts and feelings that are very different from those of others.

Throughout my blog, I have written about various types of highly sensitive people (not just people with OCPD) and the different ways in which they experience the world. I have written about those who feel very different emotions that most people do not feel, those who think very different thoughts that most people do not think of, and even those who see and hear very different things that most people do not see or hear. After reading over the stats of my blog and seeing the interesting terms that my curious visitors plug into their search engines to find my site, I felt inspired to write about another aspect of high sensitivity.

Some highly sensitive people not only experience sexual thoughts and feelings much more intensely than other people do, but they also experience sexual thoughts and feelings that might be very different from those of others.

Sexuality

Highly sensitive people do not conveniently choose what stimuli enter their senses. Sometimes what enters is overwhelming, disturbing, or very different. This just comes with the territory of being highly sensitive. It is quite normal for highly sensitive people to experience sexual thoughts and feelings that are different from those of others.

When highly sensitive children experience their different thoughts and feelings (whether they may be sexual, emotional, imaginational, intellectual, spiritual, sensual, etc.), what they need to hear is, “I acknowledge and validate your thoughts and feelings, child. They are real. They come as a result of your heightened sensitivity.” Unfortunately, most of the highly sensitive population grow up being told that their thoughts and feelings are wrong.

But just because their inner experiences are real does not necessarily make it a good idea to give highly sensitive children complete freedom to follow all of their thoughts and feelings. Boundaries can help protect highly sensitive children from going too far down a path that ends with more pain and stress. For children with OCD, their thoughts of catastrophic events are real to them and they feel the immediate need to prevent those events from ever happening. When they are left alone without any boundaries, many of them go ahead with their preventative measures which, overtime, become compulsions that are extremely difficult to break later on.

Sexuality is one of those areas that many children are left without any boundaries. But do boundaries even need to be set in this area? Unlike the OCD example I have given above, no one can really argue that any path in sexuality, whether it be heterosexuality, homosexuality, or other, ends with more pain and stress. There are happy same-sex couples and there are people like Erika Eiffel who are married to objects. But one thing for sure is that most highly sensitive children are not fully aware of what really happens in their brain when they repeatedly act out on their sexual thoughts and feelings. They do not know what they are getting themselves into.

Sexual attraction works like a compulsion. After repeatedly acting out on sexual thoughts and feelings, the body and mind begin to automatically produce all the chemicals related to mating whenever the object of sexual attraction is present. The person that it affects feels like he or she has very little control over how he or she feels. This applies to heterosexuality, homosexuality, and other sexual preferences. If people ever want to develop sexual attraction for something different down the road, while it will be very difficult, it is not impossible. It is a matter of consistently accessing different neural pathways in the brain by behaving and thinking differently (read more on neuroplasticity). But since old neural pathways, even the ones that are not accessed any longer, still remain inside the brain, past sexual attraction cannot be completely erased. It always just sits there. There is no “cure.” But that does not mean change is impossible.

Sexuality does not always begin with the presence of sexual thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it is the absence of sexual thoughts and feelings that causes highly sensitive people to explore their sexuality. Highly sensitive people do have a tendency to place more meaning in the lack or absence of expected thoughts and feelings.

Finally, I would like to end off with a fun video clip by College Humor:

Did you notice how many of the stereotypes used in this clip also relate to high sensitivity? The focus on details, empathy, etc.

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Cooling Off VS Silent Treatment

Feeling wronged by others is an inevitable part of life. When this happens, honest communication that promotes mutual understanding can greatly strengthen relationships. This, however, is not so easy to do under the influence of anger. Anger robs people of their ability to communicate their own feelings in a sensitive manner. It causes people to be explosive, hurtful, and offensive in their communication.

In order to prevent the pains of angry miscommunication, many people temporarily remove themselves from the emotionally overwhelming situation to “cool off” and communicate again later with a clearer mind. When this only takes a few hours or a day at most, many agree that this strategy is acceptable and even healthy. But as soon as this strategy takes longer than this allotted time, all of a sudden it becomes unacceptable. Many highly sensitive people who just happen to take a longer time at cooling off are then wrongly accused of giving the “silent treatment.”

Highly sensitive people just take a longer time to cool off from their overwhelming emotions.

Cooling Off vs Silent Treatment

Even though the two may look the same from the outside, the motives behind cooling off and giving the silent treatment are very different! Cooling off serves to protect relationships while the silent treatment aims to attack, hurt, and punish others through emotional abuse.

So how do you determine which one it is that your highly sensitive partner or friend is doing?

Many people examine the length of time it takes their partner or friend to communicate with them again after a fight. In this approach, any form of withdrawal that takes too long (whatever “too long” means…) can be interpreted as the silent treatment. This approach falls apart, however, because it assumes that all human beings experience emotions at the same level of intensity. This assumption, of course, is not true. Highly sensitive people experience emotions much more intensely. Those intense emotions just happen to need more time to cool down.

The unsettling truth is that you can never really be too sure which one it is unless your highly sensitive partner or friend communicates openly with you about the reasoning behind his or her withdrawal. Communication as simple as “Sorry, I am still trying to cool off” can go a long way in saving loved ones and friends from feeling abandoned. It also saves everyone from the trouble of wrongly guessing what is going on.

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