In my last post (Peace of Mind?), I encouraged readers to leave the safe and secure borders of feeling at home and strike out into unknown territory. At that time, I promised to say something about coping. Rereading my post a few days later, I realized that I had done nothing of the sort and still owe my readers an explanation.
Sometimes, it is not a good idea to go beyond the boundaries of the familiar. Sometimes daily life itself is overwhelming and it’s more important to learn how to cope with things as they are. In those periods of your life that you’re sleeping poorly, having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or bursting into tears at small futile events, going on a Hero’s Journey is not the issue. Coming home to yourself is.
Often, it’s a matter of pinpointing what it is that’s keeping you unbalanced and doing something about that. I went through a period of ill-health about a year ago and it took me several weeks to discover that, if I took good care of my body, eating the right foods, spending enough time outdoors, I wouldn’t feel as depressed.
It may be a matter of too many stress factors in your life at the same time. Changing jobs, moving house, losing an important person – these are some of the life events that can cause stress. Even positive life events can cause stress if they’re combined with other stress factors.
Highly sensitive people tend to get more easily overwhelmed by health issues, stress factors, and life events. It’s a lot harder to keep a sense of balance and firm ground under your feet when your perception is being bombarded by sensory signals.
One generally can’t do much about the circumstances surrounding one’s life. Things happen. They always do. But you can change your perception of these things. One friend described it this way:
Imagine: you’re walking down the street, nodding and smiling at everyone you meet. They all nod and smile back. Then one man passes you without smiling or even meeting your eyes. You can tell yourself, “That man doesn’t like me.” Or you can tell yourself, “There must be something wrong with that man.” Actually, you’re free to interpret the man’s actions in any way you wish. You’re even free to not interpret the man’s actions at all.
I like the fairytale of the Frog Prince. The princess was quite upset that she was going to have to kiss the wet, ugly frog. She only did so because she was forced to (either by her sense of honor or by her father, the versions differ). But, by confronting her distaste and kissing the frog, she was able to transform the entire event.
The stories you tell yourself influence how you feel about yourself and the world around you. If you are feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening in your life, it’s good to take daily quiet time and practice letting go of the stories you tell yourself. Can you change the situation you’re in? If not, can you change your perception of it? Can you be with things as they are?